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Video recording system for Church - help needed

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Andrew Curran
Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 12:56:50 pm

Hi,
I hope this is in the correct section.

I need some advice on a video recording system for my church. I want to spec a system using a Mac Pro, that will capture live feeds from up to 4 HD cameras, and allow real-time editing within Final Cut Pro. A guy I talked to tells me this is possible, but he wasn't all that sure of the specs or what companies could provide such technology. (AJA? Blackmagic? Matrox?)

We have received a spec from a company for a proprietary system that provides live editing and records directly to DVD (no computers involved), though coming from a Mac/FCP background myself, I don't like the sound of this. I want to go the Mac route so we can have more flexibility and creativity, including DVD menus etc.

I'd really appreciate some feed back and ideas on this. Please keep it in lay-mans terms so that I can take it to my Pastors.

Thanks in advance.

Andrew



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Mark Suszko
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:16:16 pm

Your terminology is a little confusing. What do you mean by "real time editing"? Did you mean editing on final cut without rendering? Because that's already generally the case.

I'm guessing you mean something else, I think you mean to say, live-switching between up to four cameras, and recording that on the fly, so that the progam is 'edited' as it happens in real time. Am I right?

If that is the case, what you are looking for is a switcher and at least one recording system, because while you can "sorta" feed a live-switch directly into final cut, it is not normal procedure and it doesn't have the safety factor of high reliability. The intake process can get disrupted for any number of reasons, especially, for longer periods of time, and you don't have a back-up for the lost time. AJA used to offer a free application for their IO boxes that was supposed to be a better way to do this, but darned if I can find it on their site anymore.

What I would look to do for your application depends on the cameras each being camcorders that also can record their own point of view internally to themselves, we call this "Iso recording". If your 4 cams can record isos, then you have that as a back-up source to fix things in the edit, should you make a mistake in the live-switched feed. That's good, and you now have the "insurance" to go ahead and feed the four live shots to a switcher and recorder.

The live switch will save you a heap of time on church service recordings, over having to first digitize all of the tapes from four separate cameras. When the event is over, the master live-switched recording is essentially done, though you can go back to load in just the segments of tape from the iso cameras that you might need to patch over a mistake. This is a LOT faster process, and uses less hard drive space. Without it, you're back to inputting each camera's footage one camera at a time. For a 2-hour, 4-camera program, that would be eight hours or more of just loading-in the footage before you made your first edit. With a live-switch, you are done when the live event is done, and you can begin the clean-up edit or enhancements right away, no delays to digitize.

So you can see that a live-switched recording, though it costs more for the gear, makes up for it in time saved.

One of the popular pieces of gear to get for "worship video" is a Newtek Video Toaster, because it is more or less an all-in-one solution. Apple unfortunately doesn't offer anything like this. This is a switcher, character generator, audio mixer, special effects box, animation station, non-linear editor, DVD authoring system, and hard-disk recorder, all in one, plus, it even does live internet streaming. You will have to check the specs to be sure, but as I remember, on the advanced versions, you can set this bad boy up to record multiple inputs at once to individual internal virtual recorders, like having a whole rack of ISO recorders inside the box. I would use it to record a back-up wide shot, while simultaneously live-switching all four cameras to an internally-recorded master. The built-in editing software lets you trim it up and fix mistakes once you're done, without needing to digitize, because its already in there.

As a safety backup to the toaster, I'd attach a cheap and simple stand-alone DVD recorder to the video monitor output, so if the Toaster burns up, you STILL have a back-up copy of the live-switched feed.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:02:21 pm

I just re-read your initial post and noticed the HD part. This is going to complicate matters and increase expense. By quite a bit. Video Toasters, AFAIK, are not yet HD capable.

In that case, you are going to need a stand-alone HD switcher, probably one that uses SDI (Serial Digital Interface) cables to feed the HD signals from the cameras to the switcher box. Then you'll need an HD-capable recorder to record the firewire, SDI or HDMI output of that switcher. That might be a tape deck, blurray machine, or a firestore hard drive. That last one is cool becasuie you just plug it into your final cut system and you can edit immediately right off of it.

The switchers generally do not offer any graphics, though some models like the Panasonic 400 have an internal memory where you can pre-load HD-quality graphics you pre-composed in photoshop, and then key those prepared titles and logos and such over the live video as you work. You'll also need to mix the live audio and feed that to the HD recorder, obviously.

There's nothing "wrong" with the advice I gave you earlier, however, the HD factor takes your project up quite a bit in costs and complexity. As good stewards of your church's money, you owe it to them to not rush this project and waste resources.

Specing and integrating such a system is complicated and you really should give the job to a qualified vendor-engineer-consultant (also called a "VAR"- Value-Added Reseller) who is familiar with building these setups. Not only will they put together the system, they will trian you on its use and service it after the sale.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:48:55 pm

Mark:

I just re-read your initial post and noticed the HD part. This is going to complicate matters and increase expense. By quite a bit. Video Toasters, AFAIK, are not yet HD capable.


In fact, the term "Toaster" is now dropped in favor of VT[5]. They are very capable machines. SDI, component, graphics, hard-drive recording, streaming capable, they can do it. No HD yet, though, except in editing.

Linky goodness: http://www.newtek.com/vt/index.php

It's a very good choice for this. Self-contained, and it works.

(I have no material interest in VT[5] or NewTek, just thought this was something worth mentioning.)

There is also the TriCaster, which is slightly less massive and still very nice - I have used them repeatedly in multiple situations for a number of projects, and they just work.

More linky goodness: http://www.newtek.com/tricaster/index.php


But of course, they're not Mac-based, so according to the original poster, they can't possibly be used for "creativity"...sigh...


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Andrew Curran
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:19:53 pm

Hey man, OP here. Your comment about macs and creativity was uncalled for. The context of my comment is the fact that the 3 video editers like myself in the church in question who are mac/fcp based, so I simply wanted to know if there was a system we could link to the mac.

Otherwise thanks for your help.

Andrew.


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Micah McDowell
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:03:42 pm

There's a thread over here that is similar to what you're looking for; you may find it useful.

Mark's advice is great, and I work at a church where we do almost exactly what he described... two or three cameras iso recording to tape as backup, all going to a Newtek Tricaster Studio (basically a standalone Video Toaster), switched live and recorded to a DVCAM deck and/or DVD and Tricaster hard drive backups.

Only problem is, the Tricaster is currently SD only, but the HD Tricaster XD300 is supposed to be released before the end of the year.


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Andrew Curran
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:17:20 pm

Thanks Mark and Micah.




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Mark Suszko
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 1, 2009 at 6:55:35 pm

If you can wait for the advent of an HD capable Newtek Toaster system, I would go towards that for the sake of simplicity. Research what it would take to run the video signals back from the cameras to the switching location. Simple Coax cable witb BNC connectors, feeding HD SDI is cheap over a long distance run, firewire cables with repeaters will cost a bit more, but HDMI cables of serious length are going to really kill your budget. Also, figure on an intercom for your camera operators: you can go with ahrdwired ones or a radio-based system, but they need to at least know when they are "on". Think about how to get talley light signals to the cameras too. Though I've been doing multicam remotes without them for decades now, I would still rather have them than not.

Applications like this are one reason I say standard def gear will stay around for a while yet, it is so much cheaper to use for these kinds of jobs.


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Todd Perchert
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:00:26 pm

I think I just read about something like this in the Creative Cow Magazine. ToolsOnAir or something. Uses a Mac and AJA or Blackmagic card. SD/HD.
Not sure if it does everything your looking for or not, but certainly worth checking into if you want to stay Mac-based and not go with Windows.
TC


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Richard Cardonna
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 16, 2009 at 2:10:18 am

You can also check 2 software based video switchers

avtake.com at the moment only by firewire connection but shortly they are releasing a blackmajic intensity card version where you can mix 4 cameras via component of hdmi for hd or composite for sd. At present its only sd 720x480 it records in 720x480 avi and exports simultaneous realtime multigraph video using most encoders for internet, you can import pgn and tiff files for titles.

vidblaster.com looks promsing and the interface looks better but as far as i know it will not record avi 720x480 or hd which to me makes it useless for profesional broadcast. I hope it gets their.

I have used avtake for sporting events and talking heads with great results. i use 4 cameras with fw extenders meaning i can have the cameras 100 ft away from the computers.

Depending on youy setup you can have a full system starting for under 5k

These only run under windows

good luck

RC


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Devin Crane
Re: Video recording system for Church - help needed
on Oct 21, 2009 at 9:13:32 pm

Not a 100% sure what your looking for but you might want to take a look at the Telestream Pipeline encoder. It can handle 2 streams of HD or there's a 4 stream SD version that hooks up to your Mac Pro via Gig E. It can also do a multicam edit on the fly while you're recording.



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