For Educational Purposes Only... Capturing the Lecture and more.
This is my first post on CreativeCOW, but I have view hours of posted and recorded tutorials from this site and its submitters' in regards to Adobe CS5 Photoshop.
But now I am in search of a solution to a more complex undertaking.
I record live lectures at a small college in Alaska, these lecture are for distance education and student resource.
Currently, using two small Sony HD handheld cameras on motorized bases, through a switcher and on to a PC with pinnacle software all materials are captured live by a interesting dance between chasing with one camera while predicting with the other through two pairs of motor and camera controls lashed together. If greater detail is needed I'll address that when prompted.
It is time to move onto a more dependable configuration, being that the current is a collection of non-directly compatible units band-aided together with converters and luck. I'll also provided pictures if prompted.
Before I go-on I am looking for direction and advice from experience, I can do all the research and leg-work.
The jist is... Using an Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 software based platform,
1. How can I simultaneously record a class from two cameras at once, that are again simultaneously controlled by me.
2. View what the cameras are seeing, on a single monitor, while eliminating the 99% useless switching component.
3. And can I do it all through Premiere CS5?
This, I suspect is too much to ask, and a burden upon those who would extend the favor of an answer. But given the difficulty I have encountered in hammering down a clue as to what or where I should begin, I humbly inquire to all of you.
I'll be very close by to address your responses and actively following up any suggestions.
Hmmm, Adobe has a live recording application that many people use with a laptop connected to a camera, called "On Location", IIRC. And it should interface with the rest of the Adobe Suite quite well. But AFAIK, it can only record one such stream at a time, same as your Pinnacle application.
For the computer to be able to record two camera inputs at the same time, assuming it is powerful enough to handle it, you're going I think to have to add a second video card and drive to the computer, or put two laptops side by side to record the cams separately, then import those files to Premiere, align them, and fake a live switch in post. This will double or triple your time to complete each project, so I don't recommend it. You already have a live switcher, live switch plus rolling back-ups in both cameras is the efficient way to do this kind of thing.
At this point I think we have to know what your budget is, I'm guessing "not much" but can you be more specific on that, because it will save a lot of time looking up things you can't afford.
The standard answer to this kind of question for a long time has been "buy a Newtek Video toaster or Tricaster". That is an all-in-one solution (except for the robotic camera controlling) that will let you see both cameras, switch live on-the-fly, add flashy graphics and audio, record to internal hard drive and even live stream the result. Plus it comes with it's own non-linear editing system, in case you want to do some touch-ups to the finished live recording. Maybe a used Tricaster is in your ballpark.
Tell me more about your camera robotics, please.
Thank You for your interest Mark,
Being that the campus is closed until tomorrow, I have done my best to clarify the current configuration; it is... for the most part:
2X HDR-HC3 HDV 1080i Handycams from Sony, controlled by wired pads, typical of what you see on-line for controlling zoom. Our second set in two years due to case failures at the mounting points.
2X Bescor Motorized Camera Pan Heads of the MP-101 series, steadfast but loud due to the use of the microphones on the cameras for capturing the student participation. If this can be defined as robotics, I’ll just have to accept it.
A dual and triple, set of High Definition Series LCD Rack Mount Monitors, one of which has failed on the triple set
One Data-Video SE-800 DV - Digital Video Switcher, of which the A, B, & C video feeds, and “Take” are the only buttons in use. Button B and the “Take” have failed.
And a wireless microphone setup from Shure.
When you include the (two years old) considered powerful single GPU desktop, flat-screen monitor, and dual backup power supply, just over eleven grand has gone under the bridge in just over two years.
So on the matters of budget; this has become a once bitten twice-shy scenario in the eyes of the administration.
This is not my system, and I am not even certain how it is all patched together, as several converters and band-aids have appeared and disappeared, without explanation. I am the future of the program, and it is now up to me to get the program up, stable, and on a budget that does not eclipse the previous.
What is required is this:
Two, independent capture systems, comprised of two cameras each, a wireless microphone for the instructor, and a microphone for the classroom (not using the cameras’ mic, motor noise, from great amounts of movement). Mobile enough to jump from classroom to classroom all over campus, it is small but.... That is two say the whole thing breaks down and sets-up in minutes less than ten.
One editing desktop, where all the postproduction will take place.
The challenge is the construction of a fully compatible configuration, which utilizes the most seamless software package, allowing me to dual record and capture very rigorous and technical classroom lectures and board work, and then post edit the material for the best educational resource possible. And be able to train student employees like myself to use. No not the post-editing component, which is perhaps my fate.
Honestly, I can build a computer, a house, and an engine or turbine, even an off-shore oil rig... but I am just becoming aware of the terms used when connecting an audiovisual system and it’s peripherals, it is certainly not complicated... just new.
The Tricaster is not in the plan; hardware video switcher free is, beyond the obvious, that is. I have reviewed the tip of the software-based video switcher Iceberg, and what escapes me is the connectivity required. How does it all come together, and which of what is available can play with Adobe?
While I am just beginning the Premiere Tutorials, The On Location software is new to me and not currently owned by the school, or me but it seems promising for what little I know. Pinnacle is not part of our mother universities (UAA) blessed software license purchases, and is languishing in its non-updated state, but Adobe is, and I own the Cs5 Master Suite.
So far I have looked up the software based switchers called vMix, Boinx, Enosoft, and Vidblaster.
Enosoft is the only product, whose creators have made efforts to explain the specifications as far as its compatibilities, but their information is dated (A DV, pre HD 2009 forum, and site), or I have not yet located the latest.
Suffice it to ask, that while many other software based video switchers state compatibilities with other post editing software packages, and since they all compile the information into AVI, MP4 or 3, what have you, which ones can get me to my destination on Adobe, or do I need to regroup?
Thanks again Mark, and I pray that I covered some part of what you or others could use to narrow in on some guidance to the solution.
Oh, I do have on location, well isn't that special...
I get where you are coming from regarding old gear and low budgets, we're used to pharoh demanding we make bricks without straw... but there's a limit. You are going to spend some money, get used to the idea. Hopefully, we can find a mix that gets you the most for the least money.
Main item:, your switcher is not just limited to standard def, it is also broken. You have to tell the money men that's unacceptable. Tell them the money spent to repair an old, standard-def switcher would be a waste in 2011, plus, though your cameras are quite modest, with the setup you've got, assuming it wasn't broken, you currently can't even make use of their HD quality. Not a tragedy for lecture standups, but HD quality would be a big help on the blackboard work.
I think what you have to decide is between getting a new but modest hardware switcher, versus doing everything thru a modified PC as the heart of the system. Factors that may have an impact on this decision could include how your organization characterizes computer hardware versus other kinds of purchases. Often a large organization gets better deals on long term PC leases and can get IT-related things much easier than something that the accountants classify in another way as office equipment, for example. Your funding may come from several different budget lines, so find out if one of those lines has more, er, "flexibility". By breaking up the bill between multiple accounts, it looks less intimidating.
Explain the magic triangle to your admins: speed, economy, quality; you only ever get to pick two. Any two, but ONLY two. You can do this whole job "cheaper" by just eliminating the live switch and shooting 2 cameras, then combining them in post. However, you will spend three times more hours per finished instructional hour, at a minimum, if you do all the work in post, and you will soon have jobs backing up and filling all your storage drives very quickly, your turn-around time will be SLOW. A live switch saves all that time in post production and gives you near-instant turn-around on the product. Even if you still have to edit, the edit takes less storage and is much faster to do, working from a master that is 90-plus percent done already.
Add to your software-based switcher research this item:
$500, comes in mac and windows formats. You are, I think, going to need two of the video processor cards in the list they mention in the specs, to handle your two cameras, and the computer you have will have to be checked to see if it has the processing muscle and drives to handle this. My guess would be... no. It is very possible that when you add up the cards, new computer and RAID drive(s), the Newtek product will begin to look more competitive, and remember, it has all the other functions integrated including streaming and editing and nice graphics. take the time to do the math. Also see if they will authorize a used/refurb tricaster purchase.
As for hardware switchers, look at this one:
Marked down to $3500, you hook any LCD flatscreen TV to this, you'll have all the monitors you need on one screen, pretty compact, yet adjustable. It can handle HD and SD inputs. It can be linked to a robotic camera controller. You could then record the switcher's output to a laptop using Adobe OnLocation, and have a file that can be edited or streamed or turned into a DVD. The cameras each still record a backup iso copy of their shots as a precaution, you can use that to fix an edit if necessary.
The Panasonic system is cool in that if you also got their tiny robotic cameras, the whole system can be run remotely, the 2 rooms each controlled alternately by one remote station, using IP connectivity, the cameras have pre-programmable default aiming and focus points. Meaning you don't need the system to be portable, you could operate the cameras from another building or even another STATE. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Your existing PTZ camera platforms are probably OK, and if so, keep using them.
As for your audio problem, I have two ideas: one is to put a good shotgun mic in a diagonal corner of each classroom, on a wall bracket or a floor stand you move with the rest of the system, to try and cover the students, without getting the motor vibration by being directly attached to the camera mounts. Azden makes a pretty good and yet economical mic for this.
Or you could instead place one or more PZM type boundary mics on the ceiling in the center of the room, and these have a remarkable ability to cover a wide area. I use an AudioTechnica brand one that is awesome, runs on phantom power, so no batteries to change. Put a boundary mic on the blackboard and lectern, and the teacher can be heard without worrying about wireless mics and/or cords. Very transparent to the users. Boundary mics have an interesting property: they turn any large flat surface they are in contact with, into a mic, so a blackboard would work very well I think.
I would suggest going to a Tricaster System by Newtek. It will capture, title, switch, & stream all in one small box. We produce a live TV show streamed throughout a network in all the classrooms.
They have an educational pricing for around $5,000. Worth the money if you can get them to pony up the cash.
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