How to Record Webcam Video using VLC Media Player

For recording videos from your Laptop or Desktop webcam using VLC Media Player, you will have to use the Capture Device feature present in VLC’s Media menu. This special feature will allow you to select your webcam as your capture device and then stream what is captured to a file. Basically, you’re telling VLC to capture your webcam video and save it into a file.

This is a really simple way to record video using the already present webcam in your machine. This feature also allows you to specify advanced options like the ratio of the videos width and height, and the total size of the video. The quality of the video depends upon the specifications or Megapixels, and other built-quality of the webcam that you have.

We will be using the “Open Capture Device” feature which is accessible from “Media > Open Capture Device”. In the options we will be choosing “DirectShow” feature which will allow us to select our webcam as our video recording device.

If you did not get that, then follow these detailed steps:

  • Go to Media > Open Capture Device [CTRL + C].
    Open Capture Device
  • In Capture Mode, make sure “DirectShow” is selected.
  • In Video device name, choose your webcam: HD WebCam.
  • Optional:
    • For Audio, you can specify “Microphone” or “Stereo Mix”. Microphone is your default mic and Stereo Mix is the sound that your device is playing. Just leave it to “Default” option if you are unsure.
    • Other optional fields that you can specify are the video size and advanced options such as “Picture aspect-ratio”.
  • After setting up the options, choose “Stream”, hit next and you reach “Stream Output” step.
    Webcam Capture Options
  • Hit next in Direct Show (dshow) options.
  • In “Stream Output” be sure “File” is selected in “New destination” and hit add.
    New File Destination
  • Browse and give a file name and extension for container. Hit save.
    Destination File
  • Choose a video profile. The default one works great. Hit next.
    Video Profile
  • In the final step hit “Stream”, VLC will minimize and your webcam will begin recording.
    stream-to-file
  • The moving time counter tells us that the video is recording. Hit “Stop” button in VLC to stop recording. The video will be saved as a file you specified before.
    Stop Streaming

36 thoughts to “How to Record Webcam Video using VLC Media Player”

  1. HI.. It really works.. but a little issue.. the recorded video plays quickly (playing forward with a considerable speed ).. i cannot handle it .. any clarification????

  2. This tutorial does not at all deal with VLC on a Mac, which does not have a Media menu. I found instructions elsewhere which fill that gap, though VLC does not recognize either my built-in microphone or the one on my webcam. I can select them, but when I try to record it throws an error message.

  3. Hi – Oddly, these steps worked the first time I attempted them, then did not work again — that is, the video capture part did not work. The active light on my MS Surface Tablet lit up, but no video — audio only. I retried multiple times. No idea what when awry.

    But …

    VLC does have another way to do this I found completely by accident — Follow the steps up to the “choose stream” part. Choose instead PLAY. VLC will close the dialogs and *should* show you the camera input. Now, from the PLAYBACK menu, select the RECORD option. When I do this, VLC records to a file using defaults (AVI – which I’m fine with), and names the file some default name. I can finish by clicking on the STOP button, then rename the file as I wish. So, you loose some control over formatting and filename, but at least it can be done if the above steps for some unknown reason stop working as they did for me.

  4. Thanks for the instructions. I didn’t realize it was recording because it didn’t show the live feed. Is there a way to do that while recording?

  5. Hi. I’ve found this very easy to set up and use. The videos are fine when I play them using VLC media player. But when I play them in a media player other than VLC there is no sound. Am I missing something?
    Thanks.

      1. I’ve figured it out. There’s a codec missing in the version of Windows Media Player I was using. Thank you and apologies for wasting your time.

  6. I can’t figure out how to find the file. Also, do I need to specify “stream” or “play” when opening the capture device?

  7. Well, please forgive me if I raise a very long-standing problem under this head. All I’m trying to do is to use an oldish digicam in lieu of a webcam on the media player.
    For your understanding the computer is a Dell desktop with both XP and 8.1 operating systems (media player on both, and Pinnacle Studio under XP). Digicam to computer data transfer is Firewire to a PCI card, and I’ve been through the necessary routine of downloading the appropriate s/w for the card under 8.1.
    Digicam output to Studio is as it always had been, ie OK.
    The media player problem I’m facing is the same whether using the older VLC software on XP or that recently downloaded on 8.1. I do not have the tech terminology but taking Audio first it is being captured with some sort of echo, quite unuseable. The problem with the video may be caused by the same incompatibility – the picture is broken into largish blocks, within each of which are horizontal bars.
    I think I’ve been duly diligent in running all sorts of options in the browser to try and find a solution (what I think is essentially the same problem appearing as long ago as 2009). Anyway I’ve ended up here as my last throw of the dice.
    Surely after going on a dozen years someone has found the solution and posted the instructions for fixing it? If you’re reading this (and hopefully “Admin” is) could you kindly point me to it? Or do I walk away from this otherwise valuable programme and try and find something which does what this claims to do without hassle?
    Thank you.

  8. Really crappy and complicated way of recording. Why not just simply press RECORD and when you hit stop it opens file browser asking where you want to save the file?

    1. I agree. But VLC is mainly a video player. The recording webcam feature is there for some reason but it is difficult to get to.

    2. Because VLC is not a dedicated webcam recording app. It is a multipurpose video player that offers the ability to record video from multiple sources. If you think the method is crappy then you are welcome to try and invent a better way to record. Of course to do that you will need to find a method that maintains the functionality that VLC already has and you will need to find a method that is simple and intuitive. No one will thank you for removing functionality or for cluttering the GUI. Frankly, I do not believe you or anyone else can accomplish that task. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying. Even if you fail miserably, you will still walk away from the attempt with a far better education than you have now.

    3. Because VLC is not just a video recorder. It has so many uses and functions, and inside each function so many options, all of them very useful for somebody else (if not for you).

      I’ve used VLC for nearly everything: convert video from a given format into another, broadcast live over the Internet directly from my personal website, record software tutorials from my desktop, add subtitles to an existing video, add voice-overs, remove the voice-over from a video and replace it with a voice-over in a different language, add background music… Oh, did I mention watching videos in my computer? Not to mention the variety of interfaces you can use to control it, even including a command-line interface which allows you, for example, have the recording/playing/whatever starting automatically at a given date and time. And all this comes for free!

      Well, actually, there is a price: many many menus, options, controls, parameters and values. If you don’t like it, just take the blue pill: go buy a Mac and start paying for each one of these things I mentioned, if they even exist at all for that platform.

      The morale here is: Just because you are into exploring woods and mountains in an ATV, don’t say a Ferrari is crappy. Just say it’s not for you.

  9. I don’t understand… VLC is a hell of a program for video and it really can’t be used for recording a single video?

  10. Since 2013 we have been recommending VLC as our webcamera programme of choice to our customers who are using an external 1.3mp webcamera to record events in a bird nestbox.via the excellent VLC software. This month we had several people moaning that the video capture has become really pixelated, so we tested it here and it was pixilated quite badly over a 6 camera trial on 2 pcs. Any ideas what’s gone wrong or about how it can be fixed from the user end? Many, many thanks, Rachel (Birdboxview)

  11. I used these steps and it worked perfectly:
    Click Media > Open Capture Device.
    Select your video and audio device names ( I used my webcam video and audio).
    Click Advanced options and change the Video input frame rate to 30.00.
    Click OK and then click Play. This allows you see yourself live on the screen so you can make any necessary adjustments (lighting, etc) before you begin recording.
    Click Record to start recording and click Record again to stop.
    Your video will be saved in your default video folder.

    1. That’s not what VLC is for but you could open a picture and record your desktop while giving in the voice comments. That should work but it wouldn’t be the most effective way of doing it.

  12. it works, partially.
    I am struggling to find some info about how to use the schedule which is showed in the menu.
    I want to schedule that the webcam starts at a certain hour and stop at the time which i need. (and record the file on my computer).
    If someoune could help me with this, it will be much appreciated.

  13. Hi
    I have tried it a couple of times but I cant seem to find where it is saving the file to.. even if I specify the directory. is there a default directory it would save to?

  14. Almost _all_ of that is not necessary, just open the “capture device”, and when the second screen pops up just hit “play”, vlc default settings almost always are fine as far as picking up video and sound and correct input device.

    Your webcam will open in a regular vlc window with controls. Use the “playback” tab at top to find “record” button to start recording. Use “video” tab to find the “take snapshot” command if you just want a quick selfie pic.

  15. Hello can i get the ubuntu command line for this, I want my linux box to record a video with my webcam headless

    1. Try

      vlc v4l2:// :input-slave=alsa:// :v4l-vdev=”/dev/video0″ :v4l-norm=3 :v4l-frequency=-1 :v4l-caching=300 :v4l-chroma=”” :v4l-fps=-1.000000 :v4l-samplerate=44100 :v4l-channel=0 :v4l-tuner=-1 :v4l-audio=-1 :v4l-stereo :v4l-width=480 :v4l-height=360 :v4l-brightness=-1 :v4l-colour=-1 :v4l-hue=-1 :v4l-contrast=-1 :no-v4l-mjpeg :v4l-decimation=1 :v4l-quality=100 –sout=”#transcode{vcodec=theo,vb=2000,fps=12,scale=0.67,acodec=vorb,ab=90,channels=1,samplerate=44100}:standard{access=file,mux=ogg,dst=output.ogg}”

  16. Great guide. I don’t know VLC can record computer screen. In my mind, it’s just a good video player. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  17. I always get the error “Streaming / Transcoding Failed: It seems your Livav/FFmpeg (libavcodec) installation lcks the following encoder: H264 – MPEG-4 AVC (part 10). I’ve tried googling this specific error and can’t seem to find an answer. Any help would be appreciated.

  18. Holy smokes…this was NOT easy for a first-time person who just wants to make a little video using my webcam. I gave up!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.