If you’re the kind of person who wants to add some literal “wow” and “bang” to your digital communications, then we have the perfect new toy for you.
Live streaming and video calling special effects experts Cyberlink have released a new version of their popular YouCam software–we’re up to iteration number eight–and it’s just as silly, fun, and entertaining as ever…although we’re not quite as convinced about the seriousness of the package as the manufacturer.
If you haven’t played this game before, Cyberlink’s YouCam is most popular for the hundreds of avatars, masks, stickers, animated emoticons, frames, and special effects that can be used during live broadcasts or calls or on pre-recorded videos. You can even create your own effects.
The YouCam 8 software is a downloadable desktop version of the animated tricks made famous by instant messaging services like Snapchat and Instagram, only Cyberlink wants to convince us it’s a form of digital makeup that’ll give your presentation a professional shine.
We’d suggest you take a more lighthearted approach to YouCam 8. There’s no doubt it can be an asset to the live streamer or video caller, but these features are really more about fun than formality.
YouCam 8 is a lot of fun. It’s easy to lose an hour of your life (trust us, we know) just trying the more than 200 different effects that digitally ship with the Deluxe edition–which retails for $49.99, although you can use the more compact Essential version for free.
The software has to be paired with a webcam to work properly–we tested it out on a Logitech C920, an older model webcam that still performs well and which we were pleased to find was perfectly compatible with the YouCam 8. (But honestly, if you’re still using the C920, you should really upgrade your webcam to the C922).
Once you’ve downloaded the YouCam app, you simply select it from the streaming or video calling camera options within your usual platform and the effects package’s menu will pop up in a separate window alongside your usual controls. Cyberlink specifically mentions Skype, Hangouts, and its own video caller U as possible video conferencing platforms, but we used it with BlueJeans and can report all went smoothly. Live streaming fans will be glad to know YouCam also works with the two major streaming platforms, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Once you know your webcam is compatible, it’s on to the fun.
The YouCam 8 Puts Your Face on the Jumbotron
So, back to those 200 special effects. YouCam is at its best when you approach it in a lighthearted spirit. There are lots of digital frames, filters, and special effects available that serve no real purpose other than to play around with. You can put your face in the pages of a newspaper, on the screens of a jumbotron, or in a hail of falling jewels that will stick to your skin. You can even frame your image with “Happy Birthday” wishes.
Things get a bit more intense once you start to explore the various digital avatars that attach to and replicate the movements of your face on camera. We found the accuracy of these effects can vary, with some slippage noticeable at times, but on the whole, they add another–pretty entertaining, we’ll admit–dimension to your streaming and video calling. If you’ve got the patience, you can even create your own avatars and augmented reality masks, although we didn’t have much success matching the impact of the built-in versions.
For live streamers (or YouTubers), the most useful tool may be the range of animated emoticons. It’s easy to see how you could spice up a stream by throwing in the occasional “wow,” “bang,” or angry face to emphasize your opinions.
All these wonders are going to be a hit with the younger members of your group video callers. Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics has announced that video conferencing is okay–even good–for kids, YouCam could make it easier and more fun to forge online relationships across the extended family.
That’s about as serious a cause as we’d pursue with YouCam, however, despite Cyberlink’s claims to the contrary.
YouCam 8 Features for the Professional
The marketing behind the launch of YouCam 8 focuses on using the software’s skin smoothing feature and filters to present its users in their best light–presumably for professional, work-related video calls. It’s true that features such as auto lighting and visual noise reduction have a noticeable impact on your image, but they’re not game changers. We’ve seen more deliberate attempts at full-scale digital makeup disappoint due to the fragile nature of digital mapping. If you’re after a more professional online look, you’re better off investing in external lighting or a higher grade webcam.
The app’s video editing functions are a welcome resource for more serious pursuits, and we like the fact that you can upgrade your current YouCam edition to version 8 (at a cost of $34.99), but overall, this probably isn’t a service you’ll be using during that big Skype interview.
If you want to add the fun of smartphone emoticons and masks to your desktop video calls or some dazzle to your live streams, then YouCam 8 is for you. If you want to impress with your on-camera professionalism, well, you may be disappointed. YouCam is fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Note that while this site is sponsored by Logitech, reviews contain the writer’s own opinions and are not influenced by the views of our sponsor.