How to Use Potplayer to Record Webcam Video

record webcam

While exploring how I could use Potplayer to record video playing from various sources (TV, Streaming etc.), I stumbled on the fact that it could also use it to capture and record video from the webcam. Now this is something that we're often compelled to purchase software for or if lucky, use whatever the OEM may have bundled for us (Cyberlink YouCam?). However with this now, I don't have to worry about any of that.

It may not have all the bells and whistles of commercial products, but for what it's meant to do, it does it quite well  while providing a plethora of options on the final output. To top it off it doubles up as a powerful and very customizable media player. What more can you ask for?



Here's how you can use it to record the video feed from your webcam:

You'll need:
  • Computer running Windows.
  • An installed Webcam (external or built-in).
  • A mic (external or built-in) if you wish to record the audio as well.
Don't have a webcam? If you have an Android phone you can actually use it as a Webcam. Just search online and you should find some online tutorials on how to go about it.


STEPS

1. If you've not yet installed the player, you can get it from the official page here. It's only available for Windows (32 & 64 bit).

2. After installing it, launch the player and go to Device Preferences by going to: menu/right-click > Preferences > Device. Alternatively, you can just press the combination Alt+D.

3.In the Device Settings window, switch to the Webcam tab. Under the Device, select your Webcam from the drop down menu.
webcam settings
Setup Webcam in Potplayer

Under Type leave it at Capture and Format (resolution, fps, aspect ratio) at Default. If you however want a particular resolution, you can select it from the drop down menu. On Audio leave it as it to Use audio capture device.

Enabling Skip preview will disable the video feed from being viewable in the player. It will show a black screen instead and therefore the webcam feed cannot be recorded. Don't use this otherwise you'll get an empty video.

Under Audio capture device select your Microphone if you intend to record your audio. Alternatively, you can instead record an audio file playing on your computer, for example some music. To do that select your Speakers or Headphones as the device.
audio source
Select Audio Source to Record

Enabling Preview audio will play the mic input through the speakers. Turn it on if you want to hear (repeat) yourself during the recording.

NOTE:
  • There seems to be no way of disabling audio capturing but selecting WASAPI - Default Device on my laptop doesn't record any audio. You can also just select Speakers but of course don't play anything on your computer otherwise it will be captured.

Once you're done configuring these options click on the OK button.

4. Next go to: menu/right-click > Open > Open Webcam/Other Device or just press Alt+J. That should now preview your Webcam's feed on the player. We are LIVE.
Live Webcam Feed

If you get a black screen instead, go back to the Device settings and make sure you've selected the correct Webcam (they may be more than one).

5. Now onto recording the webcam feed. To do that first go to: right-click > Video > Video Recording > Record Video or just press Alt+C.

In the Video Recorder settings, first select where to save the recorded video and give it a filename prefix if need be.
video recorder
Video Recorder Settings

Next, from the drop down menu select the video format you'll want the player to use for the recording and below it the codecs to use.


NOTE:
  • For maximum flexibility, MKV is the best choice as it gives you the widest choice of video and audio codecs to use (lossy and lossless ones). MP4 is however the most widely used format and so that's most likely what you'll want to use. The caveat though is that it will lessen the choice of codecs you can use.
  • Regarding the codecs to use, for good quality at reasonable sizes use H.264 for video and AAC for audio. MP4, AVI, WMV and MKV will accept this combination. For any other combination, MKV and AVI will provide you with the widest choice of codecs to use.
  • On the other hand, if you choose to use lossless codecs (RAW, YUV, Direct Stream, VFW, PCM, FLAC etc.), MKV is your best choice. However, note the output size will be very large (hundreds of MBs for just a couple of seconds) so make sure beforehand that you've the space to accommodate this.
  • The other parameters (size, fps and bitrate) will suffice as they're. Leaving the size (resolution) in Original will use the size you selected in the Device Settings (the default being what the Webcam supports, for instance mine does 854x480). The only thing which you may want to adjust are the video and audio bitrates if you're not happy with the quality (increase) or want to reduce the file size (reduce).

6. With these parameters set, click on the Start button to begin the recording. Now just play your guitar cover, showcase your sick dance moves, try your best to elicit various emotions from internet strangers, make a fool of yourself... and so and so forth. When you're done, press the Stop button or press Alt+C to stop the recording. 

7. Now just check the save location you chose and you should find your webcam recording there - encoded on the fly and ready to be put to good use. Well, that is if you don't mind editing out any parts.


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