While social distancing is critical to flattening the curve of a global pandemic, working from home has some disturbing consequences that can no longer be ignored: Video conferencing and LiveStreaming from messy bedrooms in our oldest sweatsuits has become the new norm.
It seems our collective standards have dropped, and now only the most anal overachievers consider making their bed before letting Tom from accounting virtually hang in their room. Friends, there is a solution. You may not have a home office, or perhaps your kitchen table does double duty as your desk, but augmented reality lenses can hide a multitude of sins.
A once-obscure tool from Snapchat called the Snap Camera allows you to use your favorite Snapchat lenses on your desktop PC or laptop while streaming, capturing video content, or even during your Google Hangouts or Zoom video calls. It’s available for Windows and MacOS, and basically processes your webcam through your Snapchat AR lens of choice.
While we’ve written before about the untapped potential of the Snap Camera and AR lenses for brand marketing, in this post I’ll explain the technical aspects of getting it all set up.
This handy How To Guide is broken down into the Snap Camera’s most relevant use cases: Video Calls, Video Recording, and Video Streaming, but first, let’s set up the Snap Camera itself:
First, download the Snap Camera here. When this is complete, locate the installer and run it. The installation process is pretty straightforward, and once it finishes you’ll see something like this:
Continue clicking next, and soon you’ll reach the screen below prompting you to install the Snap Camera Twitch extension. Just press Finish, and I’ll tell you more about the Twitch extension later.
Soon, you’ll find yourself in the Snap Camera’s home screen, where you can change your selected lens, search by lens name, and add to favorites (by pressing on the star icon in the top left corner). Scroll down, and you can browse lenses grouped into categories.
Now, you have the Snap Camera pretty much set.
Tom can thank me later: you can use your Snap Camera with just about any program that uses your webcam. There are exceptions, of course (we’re looking at you, Nvidia’s GeForce Experience) but in terms of the most popular video conferencing services—Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom—you’re pretty much covered.
Here, I’ll show you how to enable it for Hangouts:
When you’re ready to jump into a meeting room, select Snap Camera when Hangouts asks for permission to access your camera:
Depending on whether or not today was the day you just couldn’t face the dishes, or if you couldn’t think of a single good reason to brush your hair and put on makeup, choose your lens accordingly. Some are designed to obscure your background, while others will give you a full face of fantasy makeup. Top tip: avoid lenses with text, as in the Snap Camera, the words will be backwards.
Swap between fun lenses in real-time to give that sales call some real pizazz. You may not close many deals during the crisis, but at least you can have a little fun!
If for any reason you have troubles finding the Snap Camera when you start your call, you can adjust in within the Hangouts settings…
Here, in the video section, you can select which camera to use. In my case, I have two options: the Snap camera, and my vanilla, unprocessed webcam.
There are many streaming programs, but for this guide I’ll use OBS, a free and open source software for video recording and live streaming popular with experienced streamers. Before I start, it is worth noting that you should open Snap Camera before you open OBS, as your Snap Camera might not be picked up by OBS.
Login to your Twitch account in OBS, and then setup the sources for your stream. Click on the + sign on the sources section of OBS:
Select Display Capture, as that will allow you to record your desktop.
A new window will appear, and make sure the Make source visible box is checked. You can also change the name of the capture if you wish. Then, press OK.
In the next window that pops up, select your screen on the Display drop down Menu (If you have just one monitor, it should be selected by default). If you wish to show your mouse cursor during recording, check the Capture Cursor box. When you’re done here, press OK.
Click the + sign and repeat the steps above, but select Game Capture instead. You can leave the options unchanged in the two pop up windows that appear after you select Game Capture.
Adding the Game Capture is important as it will let you record full screen applications.
Now, you can add your Snap Camera to the OBS setup. Click the + sign and select Video Capture Device.
In the window that pops up, press OK.
You will find yourself in this window. Click on the Device dropwodn menu, there you will find your available cameras. Select Snap Camera, and press OK.
You should see something like this:
That red outline is the limit of the webcam area. You can resize the webcam by dragging the red outline, and you can also move the webcam to another place, like I did here, dragging it to the lower right corner:
Now, if you take a look at Snap Camera, you’ll find that you can change your lens at anytime, and it won’t mess up your OBS setup:
That’s it! If you press the Start Recording button, you’ll create a recording of your desktop and webcam that will be saved by default to your Videos folder. If you press the Start Streaming button, you’ll stream to your connected Twitch account.
The Snap Camera Twitch extension gives you access to a ton of tools, useful for more advanced streamers. While it is completely optional and I won’t go deep into the various capabilities, you can enable it from Snap Camera by clicking on the little Twitch icon in the top right corner of the Snap Camera window.
A new window prompting you to install the Twitch extension will open up. Click on the Open Twitch button.
If you aren’t logged in to Twitch yet, a window will open up prompting you to login, followed by a screen asking if you would like to authorize the Twitch extension.
Once you’ve done that, you’re all set!
Now, you only have to enable your extension. Simply go to the Twitch Creator Dashboard, and click on the hamburger menu at the top left corner of the screen. Here, you will find several options, one of them being the Extensions category:
Once in there, go to the My Extensions tab at the top. Here, a list of your extensions will appear. To enable the Snap Camera extension, simple click on Activate, and then select which component you would like to set it as (I set it as Component 1).
The twitch extension gives you access to a ton of tools for your streams, including activating a lens when someone subscribes to your Twitch Channel. You can also activate different lenses according to the subscriber tier level. Your viewers will be able to unlock and use the same lenses you use in your stream.
The Snap Camera is a neat little tool that’s highly underutilized—both in those work from home scenarios and with its potential to increase engagement with your brand. There are a ton of other use cases beyond what I’ve shown you here: brand influencers and gamers can use their own custom Snapchat lenses while Livestreaming, while content creators can leverage to enhance their pre-recording branded videos, no post-editing required.