[AG-TECH] Better Video with Vic on Windows

Brian Kelly bkelly at unidata.ucar.edu
Tue Oct 5 11:39:51 CDT 2004

Greetings wise Access Grid admins,

I'm working to improve the video quality of our version 2.3 Access Grid 
configuration running on a dual Athlon 2400+ system with 3 GB RAM 
running Windows XP.  I'm quickly running out of things to try and would 
appreciate any input the group might have.

We have three capture devices, a Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000, an Orange 
Micro iBot FireWire Web Cam and a Sony Handycam TRV460 using USB 
streaming.  The QuickCam and Handycam connects using the systems 1.1 USB 
ports while the iBot attaches through an Adaptec AFW-4300B FireWire 
card.  All cameras work fine with the 2.3 AG configuration using the 
Microsoft WDM Image Capture driver and broadcast at 320x240 (24fps, I 

I know the Handycam captures at 720x480 and I've seen the h261 vic 
protocol broadcast at 352x288, so I purchased a FireWire cable thinking 
I could at least transmit a cropped version of the digital video signal 
from the Sony.  So far, no success with any of the versions of Vic that 
I have found.  I'll detail the steps I have taken and the problems 
encountered below.

My first question would be how are some of these sites transmitting at 
352x288 since I doubt they use cameras that capture at this resolution.  
Are there any video utilities I can use to grab a video signal, shrink 
it down and then re-stream it as a DirectShow device so the Microsoft 
WDM Image Capture driver can use it?  Would moving to Linux help this 
situation at all or should I look into buying some more professional 

Thanks in advance for any other ideas, suggestions or infodocs.

Brian Kelly
bkelly at unidata.ucar.edu
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Here's my experience so far with getting a Sony Handycam TRV460 to send 
video over FireWire to Vic running on Windows XP:

I first installed the provided Sony drivers and plugged the camera into 
the FireWire port.  The system saw the device and configured it.  I 
looked under the "Scanners and Cameras" device section of the "My 
Computer" listing and saw the device defined there.  I double clicked 
the icon and got a 360x240 picture from the camera.  Great!

So, I ran a stock Access Grid 2.3 and entered a venue.  A dialog box 
asking me to select a device came up and I selected the DV Handycam 
signal.  When I clicked "OK" I got the well known vic error:

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library
Runtime Error!
Program: ...vic.exe
This application has requested the Runtime to terminate... 

I tried fiddling with the video settings in vic, but the error never 

I also started playing with a Microsoft video tool called AMCAP that was 
installed with the Orange Micro camera.  It shows all the DirectShow 
sources and will display the video from any of them upon request.  It 
worked fine for all the video sources except the digital video from the 

I started looking for some answers around the net, and came across 
another version of vic stored at 
It's the same version, but has a later date, so I downloaded it and 
swapped the VideoProducerService directories in 
AccessGrid\local_services.  I re-ran the Access Grid client and tried to 
connect to the FireWire device.  It still failed, but I got a more 
descriptive errors:

capDriverConnect: dev=0 failed - 0
capGetDriverCaps: failed - 0
capGetVideoFormat: failed - 0

This told me that vic was failing earlier than I suspected.  It couldn't 
connect to the video feed at all, so I started looking for newer Sony 
drivers for the Handycam.  There were some, but they didn't include 
anything for digital video.  More digging showed that Sony depends on 
Windows drivers for video transfer.  One site recommended making use the 
driver file C:\Windows\system32\drivers\msdv.sys was at least version 
5.3 with some cameras or there would be problems.  Mine was version 5.1.

I started looking for the latest, but had more problems.  msdv.sys is 
part of DirectX, but we had the latest installed, 9.0b.  I kept 
searching for a place to download the latest version, but came up 
empty.  Finally I decided to download Windows XP service pack 2 from 
Microsoft's update web site.  To my surprise, a new version of the file 
was included in the package and I had version 5.3 of the driver.

The AMCAP utility now worked and showed the camcorder's video at a 
beautiful 720x480.  I then fired up the Access Gird with the new vic 
driver and tried to connect.  It failed again, but with different errors 
this time:

Image dimensions not suitable.
ICLocate: Unable to find supported bpp for format 64737664!
RGB_Converter: Unsupported bpp!

Then came the old vic.exe runtime error.

To me, this looks like I'm now running into the 352x288 limitation of 
h261.  I was hoping vic would either scale or crop an oversized stream, 
but that appears to not be the case.  So, I've been looking for 
something that can do the job for vic.  I've not looked into hardware, 
but I have downloaded a few software products that look promising; 
however I've not found a way to get the video into vic after it has been 

I've seen a few recommendations on this group to try the openmash vic 
distribution with h263 support, so I downloaded that and gave it a try.  
It seemed to work fine with my USB video sources, but when I selected 
either the iBot or Handycam FireWire signal, it gave the error:

vic: cannot open capture device. Is another program using the device?

My guess is that the mash version doesn't currently support FireWire 

And that's where I am today.  Either I need a hardware or software 
solution to shrinking a video stream or a h261 compatible version of vic 
that can handle 720x480.  I just saw the ACE port overview at 
http://ace.netmedia.gist.ac.kr which supports 720x480, so I'll look 
there next.  If anyone else has some additions, they would be most welcome.

Thanks again!

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