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Portable studio setup for trainings

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Matthew Skibor
Portable studio setup for trainings
on Mar 1, 2014 at 2:23:39 pm

Hi guys, I need your advice.

I am about to get involved in a training business, namely 2-day TV presenter workshops. Working as a / with TV presenters has been my area of expertise, so I am pretty confident I can handle this. Aside from my talking, people talking etc., I obviously want to give the participants some studio time, so they can get acquainted with talking, listening and movement in front of the cameras.

My requirements are:
- max portability and ease of setup: short setup and fold-up time, 1-2 person operation
- 2 static cameras (tripods)
- green screen support (live green screen, post not enough)
- software-based video switching on a laptop computer (tested some solutions, leaning towards vMix over Wirecast and VidBlaster as it's not CPU-hungry)
- ability to record switcher output for further post work for showreels
- cheap :)

Quality is not a big issue - I am thinking SD, as long as chroma key is bearable (vMix's chroma key is decent even with webcams).

Obviously, the bottleneck for the whole system would be the laptop - no built-in HDMI, SDI or analog inputs, but I can't be bothered to use a desktop workstation. This somehow limits my choice of cameras, so I'm thinking of either:

a. cheap camcorders with composite/S-Video out (JVC everio anyone? outputs not hidden behind LCD panel) -> A/D USB video converters (EZcap-style) -> laptop
b. decent webcam via USB 2.0 (Logitech c920 HD for its lens quality / MS Lifecam for its prosumer look) -> laptop
c. cheap camcorder/DSLR with HDMI out -> external capture hardware (Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle) - > laptop (this would require a laptop with USB 3.0 controller)
d. a mix of some of the above (say, 1 camcorder with composite + 1 webcam?)

Camcorders and DSLR with their LCDs would allow me to prepare my shots without resorting to switcher preview, also allowing me to use zooming when needed. Also, they would look a bit more professional, but they do require external hardware for connection.
Webcams would be much easier to use (just plug to USB) and more portable. On the other hand, they would look a bit too consumer-ish - little devices awkwardly sitting on their tripods, and the lenses are probably worse.

Priorities are: cost > portability > quality
I don't want to invest thousands of $$$, this won't be a pro broadcast studio. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

[MOD please move if there's a better forum!]

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Mike Cohen
Re: Portable studio setup for trainings
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:00:04 am

You use the term "cheap" a few times in your post, yet you are running 2-day workshops which cannot be cheap to attend. It's 2014, go with HD.

Look at the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle. Using a Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt you get real time full HD.

If you are training people to work on camera, don't use consumer gear.

As for software to use I'll let others chime in.

Mike Cohen

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Mark Suszko
Re: Portable studio setup for trainings
on Mar 4, 2014 at 8:12:48 pm

I would also look at the new version of Anycast

and a used Tricaster.

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Jeff Pulera
Re: Portable studio setup for trainings
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:27:05 pm

Anycast is $20k. I would second the motion to find a used TriCaster (an SD model), should be perfect for your needs. Has chroma-keying, virtual sets, titling and recording built-in and is portable. Why would you want to use "web cams" for pro training? Used SD camcorders (miniDV) are dirt cheap and are a much better option.


Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers

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