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Live performance recording advice

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Vince Dyer
Live performance recording advice
on Apr 10, 2012 at 8:04:32 pm

Hi guys,

I am starting up a live (namely music) performance recording business and am humbly seeking professional advice on a couple issues (there is a lot that needs to work together here, please bare with me). Right now I have a portable audio set up that runs 2 matched ribbon mics through pro tools LE 7. I am able to get high quality stereo audio with these things, and they do a fantastic job of accurately capturing the ambience of the venues I am in without distorting the EQ too much, so audio is fine.

I have yet to purchase a more professional video camera (something I am seeking advice on), and up until now have just been using a consumer-grade Canon camcorder, which is not producing the quality we're looking for. I have been told to look at Canon 3CCD camcorders, 5D Mark II and III, and other DSLR cameras, as well as the Sony NEX-VG20. I am trying to keep my camera costs under $3000 (including lense), and don't really need the super high megapixel images that the Mark III will produce, and plus would like to be able to record a whole show (over an hour) all at once, so I think I'm choosing between the 3CCDs and the VG20. Thoughts?

The first issue we ran into was syncing. I've been recommended PluralEyes and FCPx (10.4 i believe?), but apparently FCP7 is unable to properly synchronize the separate audio and video files. We had to do this manually instead, and spent hours deleting extra frames every couple minutes. This is not something that I can afford to continue doing, and must solve this problem soon!

The second issue we ran into was compression. The files we are currently working with are almost 200 MB, and they need to be under 100 MB if one hopes to avoid YouTube's awful compressor. I tried using the Quicktime compressor on my macbook, and somehow the file actually came out larger than when it went in! Talked to people at Apple about it and they basically told me they had no idea why that was happening, but that I should probably just buy FCPx and use that compressor... Again, this is another issue that must be resolved soon, as we cannot afford to spend hours on end manually adjusting compression settings for each and every video that we put out. Loading FCPx on a macbook that barely has the RAM to handle it and the compressor is not ideal, so I will likely need a new computer if I want to get serious about this.

I am looking to solve all of these issues under $4000. Right now I am looking at buying the VG20 (~$2000), an iMac with at least 4GB of RAM (>$1300), and FCPx ($300). Do you guys think this will work? Do Sony camcorders record in formats compatible with FCPx syncing software? Would you recommend a different camera? computer? software?

Your advice is greatly appreciated, thanks a bunch!

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