Virtual, online, streaming tools – a lot of them are inflexible when it comes to inputs beyond just a webcam. The solution: a free utility that lets you route video from any Syphon app on the Mac.

The Mac visual developer community is a friendly bunch. This time, the love comes from TroikaTronix, makers of the excellent, artist-friendly visual media tool Isadora. The free tool builds on the existing goodness that is Syphon – an open source protocol for sharing video textures between apps.

The upshot of this: start with your creative app / VJ tool / game engine, and route into a chat / streaming app or the like.

Sources (Syphon): Isadora, Adobe After Effects, VMDX, MadMapper, Modul8, Grand VJ, Unity3D, OpenFrameworks, Processing, and many others (see Syphon for full list)

Destination (virtual webcam): Chrome, Safari, Zoom, Discord, Slack, and of course the ubiquitous OBS (Open Broadcaster Software)

Syphon Virtual Webcam sits in between – it takes Syphon video textures from your source app, appears as a camera in the app you want to use to broadcast/chat.

All of this is non-trivial for developers, in that they do have to keep up with Apple’s increasingly tight security. Just as we as artists really want to freely share video from app to app, people concerned about security really don’t want us to do that. But fortunately, developers are finding a way to give us the use case we want and still comply with security rules.

This also means that macOS developers, after some major hurt as they migrated to newer Apple architectures, should be really future-proof when it comes to new Mac stuff – including those upcoming Apple Silicon-based Macs. But that’s another story. For now, just know that the future looks reasonably positive.

Here’s the latest on Catalina and Mojave, in fact:

[SOLVED] Syphon Virtual Webcam and Zoom

But wait, what about Windows? OBS has an official Windows tool, OBS Virtualcam. And there’s a Windows OBS tool for Spout, which is the Windows equivalent to Syphon (using Windows’ own APIs, which have a different architecture). Plus there’s cross-platform NDI support, which is yet another means of running video between software. See this previous story – which also includes some tips for using OSC to control OBS parameters (useful in Isadora and all the other tools just mentioned):

Good stuff.

Let us know how this works for you; I know I’ll be testing and supporting more of these things in the near future.

Syphon Virtual Webcam [announcement page on TroikaTronix community site]

Download from Troika plugins page

OBS Mac Virtual Camera [prerequisite]

Support thread for Q&A

And hot off the presses, there’s an update from this morning, 0.9.5:

  • Ensured that the OBS Virtual Camera Is Inactive screen would not appear when the Syphon source had a very slow frame rate.
  • Ensured that “App Nap” was disabled for Syphon Virtual Camera.
  • Fixed a bug where a scrambled image would be shown if the Syphon source width was not divisible by 4.
  • Fixed a few small memory leaks
  • Added “Download the Latest Version” to the Help Menu