As workstation videoconferencing is gradually becoming a viable alternative to independent units, focus of research and development is being transferred to efficient use of the computer controllable peripherals: cameras, capture cards and the sound system.
The demanding user, researchers and pedagogues will not be satisfied by the quality of web cameras. Canon, Sony and Panasonic have produced cameras which can pan, tilt and zoom. These devices have quality lenses, adjustable brightness and focus — capabilities which are all necessary in demanding educational videoconferences and netcasting.
This utility was designed as a way of exploring the capabilities of the Canon VC-C4 camera. The program presents a user interface for input and read out of parameter values of the control functions. It guides in making meaningful use of the control software, by filtering unacceptable parameter values and by channelling user input into valid call sequences.
Although the design is based on an ActiveX module produced by the manufacturer, special care was taken to monitor the serial communication traffic between the computer host and the camera. Commands, responses and notifications are all recorded in a message pane. This log can be saved by the application.
Most of the operations are directly accessible in the form view, but static read-only values can be read in a status information dialog which is activated as a menu command. In addition, the VC-C4 Explorer produces reports of the communication messages and the status of the camera.
Please, copy the VCC4.dll and Vcc4AXCtrl.ocx to the system directory of the workstation (which maybe e.g. C:\windows\system32). Register the Vcc4AXCtrl.ocx ActiveX control by issuing the command 'regsvr32 Vcc4AXCtrl.ocx' in the system directory.
The application defaults to the same communication parameters as the factory settings of the camera, i.e. 9600 baud and 1 stop bit. In order to use other communication speeds, both camera and program must be set to corresponding values. Communication port can also be set from the setup menu.
Please, note that Canon allows emulation of the protocol of an earlier model, VC-C3. To ensure proper operation of the utility, check the menu settings of the camera to see that the camera really is in the VC-C4 mode. The current version of the program also assumes that the camera ID is set to 0, which is the default.
Please notice that the implementation of the VC-C4 protocol is still not quite complete. This is a project under development which is presented here mainly for pedagogical purposes. The application is being developed and tested on a Windows XP SP1 workstation.
— Ph. Donner