Network Camera W/Audio - Recommendations?

I have a school wanting to mount a network camera on the ceiling of an auditorium to make video and audio available on the LAN so teachers/directors in a different room will know when to send actors onstage. It doesn't have to be great video or audio, but it does have to be clear enough to understand dialog. I am assuming I will have to hook up an external microphone. Either a box or dome camera would work. I work at a K-12 school so cost is important. I would like to set it up so anybody on the network could access it through it's web interface without a password. We are a Mac district, if that makes a difference. Anybody have any suggestions of a specific camera?

Andy, how possible would it be to get a feed from your auditorium sound system? That would be the absolute best option for audio, in my opinion. Most sound systems should be able to provide you a line output you could connect directly to the camera. It may be an issue if all the audio inputs and outputs for the auditorium are at the front of the auditorium, however... that could be one long cable run.

As far as cameras, I don't have a specific recommendation off the top of my head, but I can poke around. A lot of cameras will use Quicktime in the web browser on Mac, which almost always introduces latency, and that could be a problem in a production. Don't want kids running out on stage four seconds late!

Ethan, I will look into connecting to the sound system, and also check with the end users to see if the system is always in use when they would need it.

I just pulled up the camera that I happen to be in front of (Axis P3344, MacBook Pro with 10.8.2, Firefox browser) and had just a small fraction of a second latency so hopefully that won't be an issue.

Thanks for the audio suggestion and the heads up about the latency.

I use this sony mic with my axis q1755's.

but will work with alot of other axis cameras and its powered by the camera so you dont have to worry about the battery in it

With Axis cameras you might want to consider their new free software Streaming Assistant - Check out

That will help for scaling streaming but not for PTZ control.