With the increase in bandwidth seen over the last few years, along with it has arrived the opportunity to communicate with people across the globe, not just by typing, but with full audio and high quality video too. So much so, in fact, that simply being able to see and hear each other is no longer enough, and we night look for ways to enhance the experience further, and have some fun into the bargain, which is where a webcam enhancement program such as ManyCam comes in.
ManyCam has been around for a few years now, as have other similar programs, and it’s gone through several updates, culminating in its latest incarnation, ManyCam version 2.6.
Installation of the program, which is about 15mb, is quick and easy, with the usual options to add shortcuts to the desktop, quick launch toolbar etc. Once installed, you have the option to auto start the program with Windows if desired, so its ready when you start chatting. Version 2.6 also comes with a very detailed user guide, which explains in detail how to access all the features, in order to make the most of the program.
When run, the program sits quietly in the system tray, from where you can gain quick access to the main program window, or to close the program altogether.
If you already have a webcam installed, the program will detect it and, in its main window under the Sources tab, you can see your webcam input. Other switchable sources available are the ManyCam Virtual webcam, movies, still image, snapshot images, desktop etc. In fact, you don’t even need to have a webcam installed to use the program. By selecting, for example, movies, as your ManyCam Source, you can open a movie file (mpeg, avi etc), stored on your computer, which will be played as webcam output in your chat window! Similarly, by choosing still images, you can select pictures stored on your computer, and ManyCam will display them, cycling through the list, changing at intervals you determine. Desktop is a really handy source when, for example, you want to show a friend how to do something on their computer.
There are, also, many effects you can apply to your output, which are available on the Effects tab in the main program window. The program comes with many effects available, and more are available for download. There are a couple of dynamic backgrounds which add some clouds or a waterfall behind you. Overlay graphics such as avatars and flags are there by default, as are a couple of backgrounds and you can apply some of the more well known effects like sepia, negative, lens distortions or flames, text or combinations of all to the image with a simple click. You can even add comic glasses, hats or big eyebrows to your output, which follow your movements around the screen!, and the snow effect snow settles on the surfaces in your webcam image!
Other effects include text over video, showing the system date and time and a facility to draw pictures over your video output. By default, the program comes with many effects, an many more are available for download and you can very easily create your own.
All in all, if you’re looking for a program to add some fun to your webcam chats, ManyCam is well worth a look.