Once you've acquired your WebCam hardware, it is time to get it put images on the Web. Some cameras will bring you trial versions of WebCam software or even a fully registered copy of them.
If that's not the case, you'll need to get an alternative WebCam software solution. Some of them will allow more features than others, but you just need to consider (again) which are your resources and act accordingly.
Also, be sure to meet all the hardware requirements when getting WebCam software: Operating System, memory and so on.
Based on your resources, decide if you'll be able to keep your WebCam live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or just when you get on-line. Note that not all the software can handle video streaming, so keep in mind if you're gonna send video or just snapshots.
The most easy, cheap and efficient way to start putting some life in your static web page and converting it to a true WebCam page.
The snapshot software usually uses your Internet connection (even with a dial up account!) to upload via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) a single snapshot captured from the camera set up on your computer. This occurs each xx seconds (often 15, 30, 60,... seconds) and combined with the refreshing techniques we explained before, allows any kind of Internet user (even that ones with a slow Internet connection) to view live images coming from your system at the time you decide to have the camera on.
So, snapshot software is fast and an easy-to-set-up solution for novice users, with few resource consumption, low motion but that allows to put some live in the web page you have.
Streaming video software
If you plan to broadcast live video (with or without audio) through the Internet, you may want to first check your Internet resources: don't plan to put full video and audio support in your WebCam page unless you get a fast and high bandwith connection.
If you plan to broadcast video and audio, you'll probably need a dedicated computer to host the video server (often implies a fixed IP address for that server) which will grab the video streams coming from the WebCam hardware and put them available to the rest of visitors of your page. So pay close attention to this, since putting this kind of broadcasted image also often implies to put available to your users some kind of plugin (third-party program to be downloaded aside from the Web browser) to view the video and listen to the audio simultaneously.
If you just plan to put video (no audio) available in your page, you'll still need some bandwith for it and a fixed IP your users may connect to. Nowadays, there are some java applets that don't require the user to download and install any plugin: they just connect to the page the applet is and the applet gets in contact with the video streams coming from your system.
If you have a dial up account to the Net, you'll probably have a dynamic IP address, that is, a changing IP, an IP address that changes every time you dial up your ISP number. There are some solutions to get a fixed domain with a dynamic IP address (so users can enter a DNS name that will take them to the current IP in your system) but since this would imply a non-24hour broadcast, it will soon bore your visitors.
The last point is obvious: just be sure your WebCam hardware allows to capture video streams: recommended minimum frame rate is 10-12fps. You'll discover that to achieve such frame rate, you'll have to sacrifice image quality and size, so keep this in mind when choosing to broadcast video.
As a summary, broadcasting video (with or without audio) is often used by big companies or individuals that
have a good (and cheap!) connection to the Net (Cable, DSL, Frame Relay connections, for example). Broadcasting video requires
a lot of bandwith, so if you don't have all the required resources for it (with a minimum set of
quality, of course), you better plan to broadcast snapshots only.