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recording from 3 different cameras for one video

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Arturo Celleri
recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:24:22 am

Hi,
I am preparing to video a live workshop where the teacher will be inviting students to the front of the room to do one on one sessions or up to 3 people in the "stage" area and other teams simply be teaching to the class by herself. I would like to use 3 video cameras positioned in a triangle so that I can get good face shots when students are up on the stage.

I am wondering how to best capture this video which will be up to about 20 hours of video so that I can use all three cameras to create one final video of the workshop.

I have done it with two cameras in the past and captured one to my AVCHD camera and the other directly to Quick Time on my MacBook Pro. The quality of video captured directly to Quick Time is poor, and when I import videos from the AVCHD camera, the file sizes are huge.

I haven't tried to put them together yet, but I think it will be difficult.

Does anyone have any better recommendations on how to do this to make it easier in post production?
I prefer to record directly into some digital format (no tape).
I have Final Cut Pro 6 for editing.
I have a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro.
I have a Sony HDR-FX1 video camera , and a Sony HDR-SR 11, AVCHD camera, and a Canon Vixia HV 30.
I also have a Mackie Audio Mixer Board.

Thanks,
Arturo


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Chip Thome
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:12:11 am

Here's been my experiences with SD, which is going to be different, but the theory is probably the same.

I can capture two cameras into my laptop, one via the factory firewire port and one via an express card firewire port. Each port needs it's own capture program, and that program needs to be associated with just one of the two cores on my laptop. The other, gets the other core etc.

In SD, files sizes for AVI are captured at a rate of 13 gig per hour. I made the mistake once of capturing in a compressed format like WMV, and it was trash, as you experienced with Quicktime.

Each camera needs to be captured to a drive that is separate from the main OS drive. Otherwise you risk getting an OS callup, giving you a serious drop out without notice.

So when I have done multiple camera capture I had Adobe Premiere capturing one camera to one USB drive using one core and one port and Adobe OnLocation capturing the other on it's own unique USB drive, core and firewire port.

So basically, I am running two unique single core systems, through one dual core laptop.


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Chip Thome
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:24:18 am

Now as far as putting them together.

First, start all three cameras recording.

Get a standard camera with a flash and have someone aim it toward you. Aim all three of your cameras at that person and especially at the camera, and have the person "flash" the camera to set a beginning point for the files your cameras are going to create. A camera flash will last about one frame. When in post, find the "flash" on each timeline, delete everything ahead of it and you have the common start point to sync up all your files both video and associated audio. External audio, this won't help.

Do this EVERY time you start or restart any camera. All cameras must be flashed together, in order to sync them later in post.


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Arturo Celleri
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:36:59 am

Thanks for your help Chip.

So it sounds like my best bet will be to capture in SD if I can because when I capture to HD, the file sizes are very big. Much bigger than 13 gb/hr.
Or if I do capture in HD, then I need some larger external drives to store all of the info.

So, as long as the video format I capture in can be imported into Final Cut Pro, I'm good and ready to edit.
I'll do a test tomorrow to see how well it all comes together using two cameras going directly to an external hard drive into Final Cut Pro, and another camera capturing AVCHD footage and importing it into FCPro.

Do you think that will work?


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Mark Suszko
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:02:35 pm

If you are shooting 20 hours with three cameras then importing into final cut, you are importing 60 hours of material.

Got the hard drive space for that? Or the time? This could become unmanageale in a hurry, if you have to do everything in post. Faking the live switch in post at best is going to take double whatever the realtime length of the program will be, more likely about three times longer for someone unexperienced.

Your more efficient, timely, and cost-effective way to get this done is to live-switch the cameras to a single recording and use in-camera recordings only as a safety backup to fix parts of the live switch you might have messed up on. AVCHD is a poor format for this job as well. For what you are wanting to do, plain old DV25 is perfect.

Really what I think you want for this job is to just rent or buy a real switcher; a standard def 3 or 4 input switcher is pretty cheap these days, you can buy one for under a grand so rental should be much less than that. And you could be able to feed it with the cameras you already have. If you have to rent the switcher more than 4-5 times you might as well just buy it. You can always re-sell it later and get back part of what you spent, meanwhile it buys you the most expensive thing; TIME.

You might also try one of the software-based live switching programs like Channel Storm or avtake.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 5:38:06 pm

What Mark said.

I used to do the multicamera flash-sync thing too, and I loved it, but this was back when I was still cutting on tape, and I had an edit room that could sync-roll multiple transports and let me both cut from the controller like a live switch and build and store a list on the fly.

Ingesting this all to drives and an NLE is going to take a lot more time than that.

Hire a TriCaster with the switcher panel, switch the show live, and then you just have to access whatever you need to cover up any errors. And you record to a file, so it's there to be edited. (Just remember to plug in an external drive for that!)

While you're at it, hire comms for your camera people. Trust me, it makes life so much better.


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Mark Suszko
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 5:55:23 pm

What Alan said:-) About the coms, particularly, if the cameras you use don't have tally lights.


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Chip Thome
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:42:17 pm

Just remember, you have one firewire port, one capture program and one external USB hard drive for each camera. Then you assign one of your processor's cores to that capture program.

A dual core laptop will give you two cores. Then as long as you have two firewire ports that are on separate busses, and two external USB drives you are going to functionally end up with two complete computing systems, running inside of one laptop at the same time, capturing two different cameras.

If a budget allows it, the switcher is a great route to go. The drawbacks, the costs and if you have the wrong camera selected, you are won't be archiving the footage you might be really wanting for a given segment.


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Mark Suszko
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:58:39 pm

Frankly, the lash-up of three unmatched cameras running different formats, a computer with three capture cards, three separate hard drives or hard drive RAID arrays, and three independent usb ports, trying to seamlessliy record live, is asking for trouble, just to imitate what a purpose-built video switcher does as naturally as you breathe air.

My friend Lou had a saying about this:

"Stepping over dollars to pick up dimes".

Go get the right tool for the job or don't do the job. When the final product looks like poop and they are all glaring in your direction, excusing yourself by saying: "Well, at least it was CHEAP!" is not going to help you.

Shoot this with three DV camcorders feeding a toaster or tricaster, or use the SD composite outs from the cams going into a cheap rented or purchased switcher like the tiny Edirol for under a grand from B&H. Record the output to DVD or Dv25 tape, you can easily edit either of those. (The DVD footage you edit by first using the free mpeg streamclip utlity to convert the mpeg2). The DVCPro or DVCAM or Consumer DV tape you record will edit just fine as-is. This workflow is pertty much bulletproof.


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Arturo Celleri
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 9, 2010 at 10:57:21 pm

Wow, Thank you for all the feedback. This is great.

I'm wondering about one more simple option. I already have a blackmagic intensity pro card in my MAC Pro, and I could buy one more and be able to input two differerent cameras using their On-Air program.

What do you think about this option?

I wonder if I can use these cameras to capture in SD instead of the large files associated with HD.



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Chip Thome
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 10, 2010 at 2:56:52 am

Arturo,

A few questions.

What is the budget and pay for this project ???

Have large a crew do you have doing this with you ???

Do you have experience with the additional gear being suggested here ???


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Arturo Celleri
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 10, 2010 at 5:49:34 pm

I am doing this video as an in house job for my own company. No pay.

My goal is to up the pro appearance of the teaching videos with the use of more cameras shooting from diff angles, etc

I have no experience with equipment mentioned.

The budget is not set. We may invest I'm creating this set up for future events if it is the right thing to do. For this event, most affordable solution is desired.

I learned that blackmagic is not a possibility.


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Mark Suszko
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Mar 10, 2010 at 9:34:34 pm

The most cost-effective thing to do in a one-off situation where you don't know for certain if you're going to keep doing the thing, is to hire out the thing to someone with the skill and the gear. Second best is to rent the proper gear one time to benchmark what the best way to do it is. The worst thing to try and do is a project completely outside your area of expertise, while still under the expectation to deliver a legitimate quality product. It is GOOD to expand your core competency, don't get me wrong. But... it is BAD to do it on a high profile project without backups. Do it right on the first try, with the right gear.


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Lance Roller
Re: recording from 3 different cameras for one video
on Jan 23, 2016 at 7:02:07 pm

Love the flash point idea, Thanks Chip


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