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Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?

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Jonathan Fowler
Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:40:30 pm

Hi all,

I know this topic has been dealt with in one way or another through other posts, but perhaps someone has some advice on my specific situation:

I need to use my HVX-200 for static, indoor shoots and the video needs to have the time/date stamp in the footage.

I understand that there is no simple way to burn a stamp onto miniDV tape or onto my p2 cards. Though, via cards it seems as though the meta-data contains the necessary info - and I I could use a plugin (like Automatic Duck ProDateDV) to insert/overlay the info in post. BUT, due to the nature of this work, I cannot manipulate the footage in any way in post - it has to be as-is, right out of the can, so to speak. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this so far.)

I just purchased a Sony VRD-MC5 DVD recorder in hopes of a solution. With the HVX I can turn on the On Screen Display (OSD) and turn off everything in my display but the date/time. I can send this to the recorder via composite video... and the the final video burned onto the DVD has the date/time. GREAT!! Almost. It also has the red "REC" (or green "PAUSE") indicator. I can't have that in the way of the footage, as it's too distracting and essentially centered on the top of the screen.

Is there any way to include the date/time in the OSD, but NOT the REC/PAUSE indicator?

If not, any ideas? B&H sales suggested this character generator: Needless to say, I'm not too keen on spending $360.

I found a similar generator here:{9}48&osCsi.... Does anyone have experience with this item? It looks like it would work in theory, and $65 is more like it... any reviews/feedback on this one appreciated.

Another solution might be a DVD Recorder similar to the VRD-MC5 that has the option of laying in a time/date. I haven't come across such a piece of equipment, but if anybody knows of one... that would take the extra generator out of the equation.

There's more. I need redundancy - i.e. if the DVD Recorder fails, I need a backup medium. Naturally, I can write to my p2 cards as I send the signal to the recorder - but as I mentioned, there doesn't seem to be a way to burn the date/time into the footage on the cards.

SO, assuming the solution is using a time/stamp generator in the signal to the DVD Recorder, could I just get a second recorder and split the signal (one to the master recorder, one to the backup)? Again, I found this amp/distributor on B&H:

Anyone have a review or feedback on this item?

Any help appreciated on any of these issues. I've suggested a few possibilities, but if anyone has a better approach to my workflow, please let me know. (Aside from buying a different camera or buying a Firestore, that is... trying to keep costs to a minimum).

As a note, I have a MBP with FCP... I've haven't toyed with using Capture Now on the fly for such a scenario - but if that's a possibility I should check into, please advise!

Other possibly useful info is that the VRD-MC5 accepts component video, S-Video, and 4-pin i.LINK (IEEE1394) inputs.

I realize this is a long one, but I couldn't really break it down into smaller, standalone questions, as someone out there might see what I'm trying to do an have a novel solution.

Thanks all,

Jonathan Fowler

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Michael Sacci
Re: Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?
on Feb 25, 2010 at 1:09:36 am

It seems like you have answers but just wanting confirmation on the equipment. This is a real specialized application, I sure it is legal stuff so you may want to look at sites gear to that. There are also a lot of review sites on the net, most stores have customer reviews for the equipment they sell.

Every Recorder is going to have video out so you really don't need a DA, you can just daisy chain 2 recorders, but that only helps if the DVD-R fails not if the equipment fails.

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Jonathan Fowler
Re: Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?
on Feb 25, 2010 at 1:55:56 am

Thanks Michael -

You are right that I essentially have the workflow sorted - though I posted hoping that someone might have a more elegant solution (Or know of a DVD Recorder that burns a time/date stamp - or know a way to turn off the REC indicator in the HVX's OSD, etc.)

As for the equipment - I honestly could not find a review for the stamp generator I have my eye on... from GonzoModz.

I have scoured the net on all of the relevant forums, etc., for a solution, but I've only been able to piece together bits from different sources - no one has discussed a situation as specific mine.

As for the DA, I wish you were right about no need for one... but the DVD Recorder I just purchased and have been planning to use (Sony VRD-MC5) has no output. SO if I do go the route of stamp generator to 2 DVD-R's I would need a DA?

Thanks for responding... all of your hunches are correct.

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Jim Scott
Re: Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?
on Mar 21, 2011 at 11:18:55 am

i am in a similar situation.. i was wondering if you ever found a solution? To anyone looking for answers i will comment on the fact that id be scared of A) the digital amplifier failing... cords always fail.. thats why i think its good to record on camera. B) i would be concerned that the time stamp needs to be burned onto master footage by the actual camera and not a secondary device. I dont know if it states that in the federal or state laws but it seems like its better to avoid grey areas when your clients are on the line for what could be a multi million dollar case. "sorry i wanted to get creative with my video acquisition" isnt going to cut it. however, i would readily make an appeal and think most court reporters/legal videographers would too that a new standard should be for time stamp generators (approved ones) to be acceptable for legal video work. I mean a well made portable time stamp gen with a variety of hq input and outputs would make any and all cameras on the market with clean video out useable for legal work.. the freedom it would afford would be great. heck u could bust out an hdslr and if it output clean video u could time stamp it split it then record it onto and an atmos ninja and a dvd via dvd recorder.. the key would be in building a time stamp gen and splitter (possibly in the same unit) that could really hold up. because if at any point it fails you are screwed because nothing else is recording your depo. nothing on camera or off. If you did record a clean backup on camera i would think that would be a legal issue because it would be too easy to later add a new time stamp for illicit purposes.. that is probably why law makers would want all time stamp burning to time place A) on camera and B) while recording -- because this is fool proof and cant be doctored. anyway, that was long winded even for me, but as you can tell i am really in the middle of it right now with trying to choose legally acceptable but aesthetically and fiscally reasonable video equipment. PS we wouldnt be in this mess if camera companies were nice even to have the ability to port menu features from one camera to another through firmware upadtes.. i understand why u wouldnt include every feature in a consumer camera thereby overwhelming the consumer but at least give us the option to hack the system and add a feature or two.. dont make us spend 2k dollars more for a worse camera just cause it does time stamp? wasnt to hard for those hi8 cameras in the 80's ? shouldnt be hard for us in 2011 people.

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Jonathan Fowler
Re: Date/Time Stamp on HVX - Workaround?
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:03:18 am

HI Jim,

Well, I was able to find a solution though you may find it residing in the grey area of acceptable. I spoke with various depo videographers in many states and scoured the guidelines for the state I was in (I have since moved on to non-fiction, web based production of the documentary genre - but shooting depos paid the bills in a rough time for freelancing and was certainly an interesting experience).

I am guessing you are using an HVX? Similar later models do allow burning of date/time stamp into the image directly - as do older tape-based cams. First - there is absolutely no way to get a stamp onto the P2 cards in camera (or burned into the tape, for that matter). Of course there could be a highly complicated hack if you're of the engineer mindset - but I couldn't go there.

There was one way to tweak the OSD settings such that the output going to another recording device (e.g. DVD recorder) DOES show the date/time stamp. All other portions of the display need to be turned off to pull this off. But, the placement, if I recall was not adjustable and nearly 1/3 into the frame, vertically and only slightly off-centered. Not ideal. Also, I found no way of recording (to p2 as a backup - even without the stamp) without the red indicator also mucking up the frame.

This is what I did: video out directly to a Horita SCT-50 generator. The format of the date/time generated is customizable - I think over 20 presets. And one can position the stamp where you chose (just within title-safe, of course). There was a limit of 20 characters/line if I recall, but I was able to get it all in.

No need to record anything to p2/tape, as the stamp would be added in post. First, I do see a distinction of adding something in post vs. downsteam in the output, live. My thoughts were this... if the camera could output a stamp natively something physical (a chip in the cam) must be creating it. I see no real reason why that is different than an external generator. Either could fail. Yes, there is a cable going from cam to generator - but there would be a signal going from the sensor to the chip in the camera as well. So failure is possible regardless. (If you opened the case of the cam and "installed" the generator, pulling from the cam power, then covered inside a modded cam body case, would that make it "internal" and somehow less prone to failure or manipulation? Not at all.

With the right input and adapters, one can output redundant streams to multiple generators (e.g. one S-video, one component, and yet another composite if you really want redundancy). Then on to your recorder of choice (DVD recorder, Ninja, or any other trusty capture device). At the end of the day, you have to deal with the law of diminishing returns. Nothing is fail safe. Your cam could always die and that would be the end of it. You could have 2 cams. But both might crap out. Highly unlikely, but possible. And no one I know shoots with 2 cams unless it's for another specific reason.

Sorry for the long message, but I wish I had gotten a thorough response months ago when I was trying to sort this all out. Hope this helps. (And should you run into troubles, this is obviously just my 2 cents - not legal counsel here!)

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