HOWTO use a Canon Camcorder with iChat

John and Dave are two of the latest among my co-workers to succumb to the siren lure of the Mac. They both have recent iMacs with the built-in iSight, so last night we tried a three-way video conference to see how it works (very cool, in case you were wondering). My iMac, being a bit over a year old now, has no in-built iSight, and I haven’t seen fit to drop the 150.00 USD for one.

Instead, I plugged in my Canon ZR65MC via Firewire. iSight was happy to comply, but the camcorder wasn’t. After 5 minutes, it shut off. Thinking it was a battery issue, I plugged it into AC power, and re-connected. Five minutes later, I was off the air. It seems the Canon has an auto-off battery saver that even works when you’re not on battery power.

Several minutes fruitless searching in the onboard menu system revealed no way to disable this “feature”, nor did 15 minutes flipping through the manual. The support website was also mum. Google eventually hinted at the answer, after alot of searching. For the next brave soul, here’ s the short version: Remove the tape.

It appears that if you have a tape in the camera, it assumes you mean to record tape, regardless of the firewire connection to the Mac. Without the tape, I guess it assumes you have another reason for powering up the camera, and disables auto shut-off. This makes sense to me, since I had to remove the tape previously in order to use the camcorder as an analog-to-digital converter for my old 8mm camera.

And just for the record, iChat video chat rocks. My wife and her father have been trying to get an audio chat working via Yahoo IM on their PCs for weeks, with only one (brief) success. iChat just worked. As the old commercial says, “There’s no step three.”

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7 Responses to “HOWTO use a Canon Camcorder with iChat”

  1. chornbe Says:

    Why is that as we get olders, our toys become simpler and more expensive?

  2. Jason Says:

    It’s just like those TV Crime dramas- you have to look at means and motive. We’ve always had the motive; the older we get, the more we have the means.

  3. Zack Says:

    I had the same problem and typed in “zr80 turn off automatic shut off” on google and this page came up with the tip, so thank you!

  4. John Kreidler Says:

    Thanks for the tip. It also works with my Sony camcorder. I had to turn it off of “demo mode” which was the default. This is the kind of low tech hack that even I can do.

  5. Jonny-boy Says:

    You are a life saver, I’ve been trying to figger out how to stop the auto shut off for over 4 years with no answer from manuals, canons website, and of all places someone random web blog. thanks

  6. hugo Says:

    thanks a lot! the auto-shutoff has been giving me a headache for the same reason and i was ready to take it apart thinking myself tech savvy… what a simple solution!

  7. KSM Says:

    Thank you!!!!