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$200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?

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michael deleon
$200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:27:04 pm

Hey all! Sorry if this is the wrong forum (though this does involve a corporate gig!)

I'm working on a project that will require 15 inexpensive video cameras (about $200 each). Each camera will record two people talking from a distance of about 3-5 feet in a closed, quiet room. Only one person will review the footage later, so it just needs to be passably audible and viewable. HD, SD or lower is fine.

The cameras will run about 8 hours, though the actual amount of footage from each will probably be around 4 or 5 hours, so another requirement is that the cameras run on an AC adapter. It seems most pocket cameras do not.

Finally, there won't be any editing of the footage, but the clips will need to be encoded to QuickTime H.264 overnight. I'm looking to record tapeless and then drop the files into Compressor or Episode. So, the final requirement is tapeless recording (ie, SD, SDHC)

So, what say you? Can anyone offer some recommendations based on the above? Basically anything will do as long as it meets the requirements ($200, SD/SDHC, AC power). Any thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks!


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Mark Suszko
Re: $200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?
on Nov 17, 2009 at 3:46:25 pm

Go to a place like Supercircuits and use their cheap POV cameras, plus a multiplexer and hard disk recorder? Maybe something like this:

http://www.supercircuits.com/Digital-Video-Recorders/16-Channel-DVRs/DMR29U



If you don't mind possibly violating the warranty, you can adapt the flip type consumer cameras to AC power. One way would be (this relies on their ability to shoot while being on USB connection, something you'd need to test in advance) to use an AC to USB adapter. I see these power adaptors used for ipods and the like at Walgreens in their automotive section for under $20 each.

Another way is to buy wall wart power supplies from Radio Shack or Digikey and solder on some battery connectors to match whatever the battery inside the Flip is. If the flip for example takes AA batteries, you can just put mini-alligator clips on the inside battery terminals (suitably insulated, with correct polarity) and power from a wall wart. (Slang for AC/DC transformer)

However, I doubt the Flip cams can shoot as long as you're asking for in one continuous take. Sufficient media cards would cost way more than the cameras. What you're working on sounds like either an avant-garde performance art piece, a high-concept music video, a low budget Big Brother house or some kind of gitmo interrogation project:-) Which is it? You're asking to record at least 90 hours total of simultaneous coverage from 15 cameras.

For this application, I think what you want is the multiplexing, hard-disk-based recorders used by security video systems, that can simul-record from multiple inputs. The cheaper ones rotate one recording feed, alternately cutting between each camera, so iyour master recording looks like you're channel-surfing, but the more you spend, the more cams you can record simultaneously, in parallel, without interruption. At higher levels, your picture quality gets better and the image size in a multi-window screen recording gets bigger. For 15 cams in parallel, you're talking pretty high dollar, might want to see if some security firm can rent it to you just for the duration of the project.


If you could be more specific about your project, how it works and what the point of it is, I could maybe give better advice.


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Mike Cohen
Re: $200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?
on Nov 19, 2009 at 7:57:42 pm

I too was going to suggest a security camera scenario. My local Costco has a multi camera system on display, but like Mark said, I think it rotates what gets recorded, which is kind of silly because everyone knows that criminals know the timing of cameras so they can sneak into your ventilation ducts at the just the right moment before stealing your jewels.

Mike Cohen


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Mark Suszko
Re: $200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?
on Nov 19, 2009 at 9:45:46 pm

Mike has also apparently read the Evil Overlord Handbook. My fortress uses ducts too small for even a midget to enter, and they are lined with razors.


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Mike Cohen
Re: $200 Tapeless Video Cam that Runs on AC?
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:48:09 am

[Mark Suszko] "My fortress uses ducts too small for even a midget to enter, and they are lined with razors."

Mark - luckily most of my operatives are middle-school dropouts with high IQ's and sick martial arts skills. And they have Shark Skin Ninja jumpsuits, so your razors are as deadly as nobs of land o lakes butter.

To Michael D - what is it you are trying to accomplish? Rendering massive amounts of raw video on the fly is going to tax your recording computer especially if you are recording multiple streams simultaneously. Also $200 cameras may seem cheap but the hardware to do the rest of the job could get pricey, especially if speed is important.

Mike Cohen



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