Supercharge your web cam with SplitCam: add effects, broadcast to IM services, use with multiple programs at once, etc.


SplitCam is a free the program that not only allows you to split the output of your web cam but also allows you to do that nearly anything else you can think of with your web cam, such as adding effects to live video, using your webcam with more than one application at once, and the ability to broadcast your video stream to IMS or video service, and video chat with multiple friends.

It is so loaded with features and options that can take an hour or more just to review all of them. Thankfully, SplitCam has decent documentation as well.

With a frenzy over the last 12 years of everything video, be it 3D glasses or televisions, to smaller and smaller video players (including one that actually fits on your wristwatch like Dick Tracy and holds 4gb of data!) There has, of course, been a proliferation of free software to do various different things with your web cam.  With laptops becoming more and more common, and most of those laptops with built in cams, there is more and more software available.  This means that almost every social networking site or program has its own claim to your web cam and its output stream.

So if you’re running, say, Skype alongside Windows Messenger, as well as ooVoo, you may have at least three different requests for video chat at any one time, all from different sources.  Now, the uninitiated might think that this would be no problem because after all, they think, they paid for their web cam and they’re paying for Internet service so what could be the problem?  As a matter of fact most of us don’t even think that deeply about it when we first make the attempt.  We simply assumed that it will work.  At least 90% of us have then they’d gotten that error message telling us that only one program can use the web cam at a time.  It comes in many different forms and flavors but the end result is the same: you can’t do it.

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SplitCam fixes that error, simply put.  It is a free little program created back in 2003 and remains free to this day.  Granted, it has become donation-ware, but that still counts as free in my book.  What SplitCam does, essentially, is too literally split the feed from your web cam to your operating system in such a manner as to allow you to have multiple programs accessing the single feed of your lone web cam at one time.  So you can run and Skype and Windows Messenger and ooVoo and whatever else you want and have your live camera feed going to each of those programs simultaneously.  The increase in CPU Power as well as RAM that would be needed to successfully run so many messenger/video programs at one time notwithstanding, SplitCam makes it possible.

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That’s handy enough, but SplitCam also does a number of other things.  So many in fact that you might not need another video program for much of anything else.  SplitCam is designed to allow you to do many things with the feed that comes from your web cam. It allows you to do things like add special effects, such as black and white filters or (my personal favorite) red neon filters, as well as things like animated flags or face cutouts so you can be Kenny if you’re really into South Park.  Now most of these are pretty standard effects but it’s nice to have them all in one single package that can go to multiple sources, and I think that’s where SplitCam’s true value really shines through, as a freeware program.

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Another great, and perhaps more rare feature that SplitCam offers is the ability to stream video from your hard drive through your web cam as a source.  You can also stream audio in the same way. This is really great even if you’re not interested in splitting to multiple different communication programs.  It allows you to show a video on your hard drive two someone else on their screen and continue audio communication as well.  That the next best thing to being there, and it is the cyber equivalent of a movie date. Given that the SplitCam is a free program that allows this powerful usage, I was more than impressed.  On top of that, SplitCam also allows you to share your live desktop as a video streaming in the same way.  This would allow you to provide any easy method of remote assistance to any of your friends by showing them what needs to be done on your own system.  This is particularly effective for those people who trust you to give them information but always want to “do” everything themselves.

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It’s worth noting, too, that there’s an informative ‘tour’ of the program on the web site, and the ‘help’ pages really do contain useful information on how the use the program. The interface was pretty intuitive all by itself so I didn’t find myself referencing the help pages often, though.

The Downside? Not much of one. An ad or two here or there, it seems. Along with some minor guilt if you use the program a lot and donate a lousy buck to the developers. Other than that, not much to worry about with this one.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The Verdict: Overall I found SplitCam to be one of the best video programs I have reviewed and I would recommend it to any one who is interested in expanding the capabilities of their web cam, whether it’s a built in laptop model or one of those fancy clip on numbers, you’ll find SplitCam will help it fulfill it’s full potential. [Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this software].This could be a great tool for classrooms, especially as more and more classrooms are of the virtual sort with cyber students. So, give it a try, put on a silly beard and moustache and video call your aunt. See what it has to offer, at no cost to you. Until next time, my friends!

Get SplitCam here  (Windows).