Fancy Zoom Calls

AKA, how I set up my Sony DSLR to use as a webcam.

Unless you’ve only just woken from a months’ long coma and the first thing you decided to do was read my blog, you’re likely aware of (waves arms around) this quarantine. I’ve been home and isolated for two months now. Fun times.

As a result, I’m in a lot of Zoom calls. As a result, I’m envious of the few people with their fancy camera and mic setups. As a result, I decided to do something about it.

The lowly Mac camera
The lowly Mac camera

First, here are a list of articles of what other people have done to get this going:

Read them? If so, you may notice as I did that every single one of them use the Elgato Camlink. It’s a hardware dongle that allows you to plug in your camera via HDMI and it’ll be recognized as a webcam.

Cool cool cool cool. Here’s the thing: everybody and their grandmother have clearly read the same articles and ordered themselves the Elgato Camlink. As such, they are sold out everywhere. If you’re in the United States, it seems some people have still been able to get their hands on them. Up here in America’s Hat (i.e. Canada), I couldn’t find them anywhere.

I had pretty much resigned myself to living with the Mac’s FaceTime camera. Is that so bad?

Well, then I came across a YouTube video that perfectly describes how to setup a Sony DSLR as a webcam using a piece of free software called CamTwist.


The amazing Sony camera
The amazing Sony camera

Well, kinda sorta. It’s a clunky setup that requires me to fire up my camera, then fire up Remote, then fire up CamTwist, then fire up the remote streaming tool of choice.

Except, when I opened up Zoom, it wasn’t recognizing the CamTwist webcam. (Skype seemed to work fine but everybody is using Zoom these days.) Everything I was finding on the web was telling me to downgrade to a previous version of Zoom to allow this to work.

Turns out, as Zoom tried to fix a bunch of security issues, they decided to lock out any unsigned webcams. (This is explained in this Reddit thread.) CamTwist is 10 year old software and isn’t signed. As such, it doesn’t get recognized. To solve this problem, you need unsign Zoom so that it’ll allow unsigned webcams. This feels icky but it worked and since we’re dealing with a global pandemic at the moment, unsigning an app seems like the least of my worries.

Per the instructions in the Reddit thread, you’ll need to have Xcode installed and then you’ll be able to run this line of code:

codesign --remove-signature /Applications/

Just like that, you’re in business.

Now, like I said, it’s not ideal. You can’t minimize the Remote app or the webcam doesn’t work. You can’t use Spaces or the webcam doesn’t work. You don’t want to resize the Remote app or CamTwist will show the wrong thing. Remote resets its height and width every time its opened, so best not to mess with it at all.

On the upside, CamTwist is studio software, so you can play with effects and text overlays and even cut between multiple video feeds, if you’re feeling overly ambitious.

So, while not perfect, it’ll do.

Published May 05, 2020
Categorized as Conferences
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