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3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?

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Richard Dolesh
3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 2, 2010 at 7:16:58 pm

Hello,
Now I know that this topic has been discussed quite a bit. But while I've done a dozen searches and tons of reading in this forum I am still need advice here because: I have to shoot, edit, and spec playback for a 3 screen horizontally arranged looped tradeshow video. I 'can' produce in SD if needed, but wanted to consider HD.

1. I have to SHOOT much of the content

Considering 3 cheap/HD 720 cams mounted horizontally on a tripod.
To simplify post: I'm thinking having 3 files all the exact same length as ideal (then I don't have to trim/sync start in AE) So a cheap/toy HD flash camera with a IR Remote would be ideal.
Audio is not critical because I would create it mostly in AE, It would be approached much like this incredible piece:
http://www.digitaljuice.com/dj_showcase/detail.asp?page=2&portfolioid=&sort...


2. Playback: So far I am thinking of: Master Computer with 3 Brightsign HD210's for playback and sync onto three 42" LCD panels arranged horizontally (with 3-4 inches between) They may need to stay in sync all day.

BUT, could one of the dozens of cheap HardDrive HD media players found at newegg.com be used as well? Many have ethernet connectivity. (I have no experience with them)

2. Modest budget of $6,000 for hardware AND production? I don't think so, unless there are major compromises, but again looking for ideas, as new technology is constantly changing...

3. Question: Will working with toy camera footage be to 'frustrating' in CS5?? Even if I don't need much audio.
I'm shooting a steel processing machinery in a shop and editing in supplied 3D animations /graphics in AE

Now I'm really not to worried about the postproduction, but again, is there something I am not seeing. I have heard some bad things about working with toy cameras. I am already concerned about focus , but I do know the client will be happy with anything that looks slightly better than SD, and the screens are not 'that big' to show the compression artifacts...(would approach it like Mike Hall did here (but just horizontally):
http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/designing-content-for-a-multiscreen...

Any thoughts? I really appreciate any feedback!
Richard

Richard Dolesh




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Gary Hazen
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 2, 2010 at 9:08:05 pm

I'm working on a couple projects that are similar to your project.

The first one is like the horizon project, item #1 on your list. I'm editing a single HD video (1920 x 1080) which I'll move to AE and slice it into three 640 x 480 pieces. I'm still in the editing phase, but I think it's going to work out well. Play out will be on three 4x3 screens.

The second project is syncing two BrightSign 210's for HD playback on LCD panels. The hardware just came in on Thursday so I haven't dug that deep into this project. I did have a chance to throw some of our HD video on the box and it looks great. My intent is to sync 2 units together over ethernet, no cpu. I don't know if it would be possible to sync three 210's together without a computer. If I find out more I'll chime back in. Regarding the cheap HD players, I don't know how you would sync the playback.

General thoughts on your project. Enough can't be said about pre production and planning. It seems you're already knee deep in pre planning now. Do some testing to get a feel for the work flow. Working with three HD streams edge to edge in AE may prove to be a painful experience. Creatively could you limit your pans to 2 screens and use the third screen for graphics? If you ran at it this way you be able to shoot with one HD camera and slice it into two (864 x 486) sections for the pans. 3 screens? 2 screens? HD? SD? However you decide to run at it you should handle the editing and visualization in the NLE first. Get it all nailed down as much as possible before moving to AE.

These kinds of projects are big fun if you don't pull out all of your hair before you reach the finish line.


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Richard Dolesh
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 3, 2010 at 3:24:40 am

Hello Gary,
Thanks for the input! I'd love to know your experience with the Brightsign 210's. Especially sync'd.

Interesting thought about working in the NLE first. I never thought of it that way... Knowing how Premiere Pro is...I'd still probably prefer, for creative flexibility to just stick in AE and really make the most of draft mode/ shrinking down the size. I guess you could make a custom project (720 x 3840 or so) in PPro though...I may have to try that.
Thanks
Richard

Richard Dolesh




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Gary Hazen
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 3, 2010 at 2:14:07 pm

You can also work with proxies in AE to speed the work flow as well.

I'm out of the office for awhile. Once I get back at it and finishing up testing the sync I'll let you know how it turns out.

Here's a link on syncing the BrightSign players:
http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=24669


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Walter Soyka
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 1:25:52 pm

[Richard Dolesh] "Interesting thought about working in the NLE first. I never thought of it that way... Knowing how Premiere Pro is...I'd still probably prefer, for creative flexibility to just stick in AE and really make the most of draft mode/ shrinking down the size. I guess you could make a custom project (720 x 3840 or so) in PPro though...I may have to try that."

I agree with Gary -- an NLE offline followed by an AE online will be a huge timesaver. I'm a FCP guy, too, but I'd think the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro CS5 would be perfect for multi-screen editorial.

Gary also mentioned using proxies with AE -- and that is great advice and will be a huge timesaver. I also recommend using RAM preview and Shift-RAM preview; I use RAM preview for high-quality previews to judge fine detail, and Shift-RAM preview for low-res previews with skipped frames to judge gross movement.

AE CS5 is supposed to be better with interframe compression like the cheap cameras use, but I would still recommend transcoding to a lightweight, intraframe-compressed codec to lighten the load on your processors while working in AE.

You haven't mentioned anything about your system, but the more RAM you have, the happier you'll be. Larger-than-HD comps burn through RAM very, very quickly.


[Richard Dolesh] "Considering 3 cheap/HD 720 cams mounted horizontally on a tripod... Playback: So far I am thinking of: Master Computer with 3 Brightsign HD210's for playback and sync onto three 42" LCD panels arranged horizontally (with 3-4 inches between)"

I think that the hardest part of your project is going to be making the cameras' perspectives match the displays as you intend. I'd budget time for testing.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Richard Dolesh
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 8:40:06 pm

Hello Walter,
Thank you so much for your input.

[Walter Soyka] "I agree with Gary -- an NLE offline followed by an AE online will be a huge timesaver. I'm a FCP guy, too, but I'd think the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro CS5 would be perfect for multi-screen editorial."

Agreed. You echoing Gary's comment helped me 'understand'...to do an 'editorial' will nail things down tremendously. And I'll be able to output the audio track right from PPro.


[Walter Soyka] "I think that the hardest part of your project is going to be making the cameras' perspectives match the displays as you intend. I'd budget time for testing."

I can't tell you how appreciative I am for flagging me on this! This now intuitively strikes me as a glaring point I overlooked...

Okay, that being said, I really only am concerned about the cameras. I researched 3 'toy' cameras and found the Kodak Zi8 (SD card/various framerates/sizes/ext mic) But it records in the Kodak Zi8 '.3ivx' format which sounds like a major hassle converting. I'm starting to think about buying 2 more EOS 7d's, sure it would be $2800 (2 body's and a 55mm lens for each)but I could sell 1 of them on ebay afterwards when production wraps, and maybe keep the other as a backup/2nd camera if I can afford.
Or any other modest camera ideas? I was thinking about a LUMIX as some of the models have inter-frame compression (easier to edit) as I don't need state of the art HD.

Thank you so much for your help Gary and Walter--I very grateful for your help!



Richard Dolesh




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Walter Soyka
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 8:46:24 pm

[Richard Dolesh] "Okay, that being said, I really only am concerned about the cameras. I researched 3 'toy' cameras and found the Kodak Zi8 (SD card/various framerates/sizes/ext mic) But it records in the Kodak Zi8 '.3ivx' format which sounds like a major hassle converting. I'm starting to think about buying 2 more EOS 7d's, sure it would be $2800 (2 body's and a 55mm lens for each)but I could sell 1 of them on ebay afterwards when production wraps, and maybe keep the other as a backup/2nd camera if I can afford. Or any other modest camera ideas? I was thinking about a LUMIX as some of the models have inter-frame compression (easier to edit) as I don't need state of the art HD."

You could rent the cameras instead of purchasing them outright, which will open up a whole new class of camera for your budget. You'll just want to allocate plenty of time for testing the perspective on your rig.

Kodak's site says the Zi8 records h.264-encoded MOVs. Conversion to an intraframe codec should be painless.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Scott Buford
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 12:11:49 pm

If you're going the DSLR route and don't want to rent, you might want to look at the new Canon T2i.

It has a nearly identical sensor to the 7D, the HD video from it looks outstanding, and at a price point of $800 it's much more financially attractive than the 7D.

Good luck!

-Scott


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Richard Dolesh
Re: 3 Screen Sync'd Loop (for tradeshow) for under 6K?
on Jul 13, 2010 at 3:37:11 pm

Scott, Thanks for the info on the Canon T2i. Looks like a great alternative to the 7D. If I could do it over, I'd consider purchasing a T2i instead of the 7D because it would be fine for those primarily using it for video...

Richard Dolesh




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Gary Hazen
BrightSign 210's
on Jul 6, 2010 at 6:10:43 pm

This morning I tied two 210's together with an ethernet cable and no cpu. One of the units serves as the master the other is the slave. It works like a champ, they're still in sync after a couple of hours. I think you could syncc three(or more) 210 units together with the addition of a hub.


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Richard Dolesh
Re: BrightSign 210's
on Jul 6, 2010 at 8:54:28 pm

[Gary Hazen] "I think you could syncc three(or more) 210 units together with the addition of a hub."

Gary, that's amazing! I just called brightsign and someone in sales said that since I am just playing looped video, I would NOT need a controller! Awesome not to need a pc for a tradeshow playback system.

Thanks so much again, Gary,
Richard

Richard Dolesh




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