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DV / Firewire recorder?

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Todd Terry
DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 15, 2019 at 10:05:11 pm

I'm trying to get some life out of our old Canon XLH1... or more accurately, I'd say "resurrect it," as it has been stored for several years now. It was a great camera in its day... and would come in handy when I have the occasional need for a more ENG-style camera (shoulder mount, nice zoom lens, etc.). I usually shoot with a more cinematic setup (C300 and primes), but occasionally there are jobs that would benefit from the H1.

I don't want to shoot tape though... and even if I did, I can't. The tape deck on the camera is dead (and has already been replaced twice... we used it a lot). I just want to record the firewire signal to an on-board recorder.

Those kinds of recorders used to be plentiful, but in this day and age they don't seem to exist anymore. I've been meaning to buy the one I still knew of (from Datavideo) for a while, and just when I went to go buy it minutes ago, B&H shows it to be discontinued. Grrrrr.

Anyone know of any other small on-board recorders that will take in an HDV/DV/Firewire feed?

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Blaise Douros
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 20, 2019 at 6:41:45 pm

Hey Todd--doesn't the XL-H1 have an HD-SDI output on the right-hand side of the camera, on the shoulder rest? If so, wouldn't that be a better (and more compatible) choice that would allow you to interface with modern recorders like the Atomos Ninja and Blackmagic Video Assist?


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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 20, 2019 at 7:06:53 pm

Yes it does, Blaise... and that would seem the logical and best choice...

BUT... (and isn't their always a "but"?)...

For some reason in their infinite wisdom Canon chose not to embed audio in the HD-SDI signal of the first generation of the XLH1. They wised up and did in later versions, but not at first (and of course mine is like serial number 000008). So, I could go that route, but I'd need a recorder that can take analog audio in, and more of an arrangement of cabling that I'd rather avoid. I would get a better full HD data stream rather than the HDV via firewire, but sacrifice the ease of just plugging in one li'l cable.... and for most of the applications that I'd be using this, HDV is more than fine.

Also, I think (and I don't know that this is true) that the first generation H1s only pumped out 60i interlaced video via HD-SDI... and that you were out of luck if shooting in one of the camera's other modes (which I always do). I never tested this, but that's what I was told.

At any rate, I hit the old Electronic Bay Dot Com (as Ron Swanson would say) and bought a near-mint Focus Enhancements FireStore FS-4. We'll see if that works (it's not here yet). Even if it is DOA it was only a couple hundred bucks.

If that doesn't work, B&H turned me on to an alternative, the CitiDISK CompactFlash Digital Video Recorder, which is pretty much exactly the same thing, and still available. I'll try one of those if the FireStore doesn't work.

If only Canon had rigged the HD-SDI port properly in the first place. I love Canon products, but every now and then they'll pull a boneheaded move.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 20, 2019 at 9:45:00 pm

We used the CitiDisk unit with a Panasonic DV /HD equivalent to your Cannon... it worked great. Internal battery wasn't the longest-lasting thing, though. If you want the most compact solution with the least amount of gack to plug-in and thread around, the CitiDisk may be your best bet. I'm surprised they're still available.


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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 20, 2019 at 9:56:35 pm

Yeah, you can still get it....

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1006307-REG/shining_technology_fw125...

I'll probably buy one if the FireStore I bought on eBay doesn't work out.

I'm not too worried about power (something tells me the FireStore's battery is long kaput). I power my H1 with a goldmount brick on the back (because I used to use it with 35mm primes and a P+S Technik converter, so I used the same brick to power both the camera and lens converter. So I can use the powertap from that to power the FireStore, too. I'm guessing (hoping) that setup would work with the CitiDisk unit as well.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 20, 2019 at 10:10:33 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Feb 20, 2019 at 10:40:31 pm

I used the firestore a time or two as well, I think as a rental. The on-board internal batteries, like the citidisk, were never quite long-lasting enough. It worked okay for shooting commercials, but for longer-form work it would always make me nervous. As I recall, our guys didn't like the fact they couldn't see an on-the-spot playback out of it for confidence monitoring. Had to trust they'd set it up right and find out when they got back to the shop. I recalled telling them this was no different from changing film mags in a bag and hoping you set the camera and film up right.

You could go the ninja recorder route with SDI, set time-of-day, free-run time code, and simply rely on "dual system" sound... you still got a stand-alone boom operator/mixer operator/recordist on hand, right? ☺


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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 21, 2019 at 4:38:54 pm

[Mark Suszko] " you still got a stand-alone boom operator/mixer operator/recordist on hand, right? ☺"

Not since I was shooting film when the dinosaurs roamed. Who do you think you're dealing with, Mark? Some pro? You know me far better than that.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Blaise Douros
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 21, 2019 at 4:34:35 pm

Hah, it's never as simple as that, is it? Sounds like you're on top of the problem, sorry to imply you hadn't thought it all the way through!


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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Feb 25, 2019 at 5:47:13 pm

In case anyone is wondering... I got the recorder in, the FireStore FS-4Pro HD...

Even though quite old I'm sure, it looks to be mint, original box and all the stuff, even all the various cables which were still in their individual un-opened plastic bags. The battery won't hold a charge for more than a few minutes, but I'm not surprised by that, I expected the cells in it to long have been kaput (but I will power it via the powertap on the goldmount adapter on my camera).

I've recorded a few clips with it and they seem to look fine and import into editing just fine.

I've got a continuous test running now that I'll let last for 90 minutes or so... I have the camera set up just recording the second hand sweep around on a darkroom clock (and yes I still have one of those, but it's in the audio booth for timing VO cuts). Hopefully all will be good.

Thanks to everyone for the input!

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Mar 4, 2019 at 5:41:54 pm

Just an update.... in case anyone else wants to get more life out of an ancient camera...

I got the FireStore FS-4Pro HD all rigged up and mounted up and cabled up and all that jazz. I'll admit it is a tad Frankensteiny (which I don't like... I hate loose cables and such).... but I have to say it does work like a charm...



... and so for 200 bucks I'm able to get some more use out of once-reasonably-expensive camera that was just sitting in storage. Actually, it wasn't even properly stored... it was literally sitting on the floor in a corner of the audio booth because, well, that's the last place someone put it down, who knows how long ago.

The FireStore battery is long since shot, so I'm powering it via the goldmount powertap so the same battery that powers the cable powers the recorder. I have that big brick mount on this camera because I used to use it with a P+S Technik 35mm lens converter, so rather than use little individual batteries I had rigged this so the same brick would power the camera and the lens converter... so that mount was already there. I just had to make one cable that had the FireStore's power plug on one end and an AntonBauer powertap plug on the other.

One thing I did notice, the FireStore's hard drive breaks up long clips into individual files that are about 8:45 long. They say they are seamless when stitched together, but in reality it does drop one frame at the stitch point. I can live with that.

I did find a guy on YouTube who gutted a couple of FireStores and replaced the hard drives with CF cards. It looked incredibly easy (or at least he made it look easy), and only takes one $4 part. I might try that later.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Paloma Etienne
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Mar 17, 2020 at 8:29:57 pm

Hi, Todd

I have a question for your about this. I have a Canon XL-1 and I would like to know if the image would be of better quality or resolution when captured with the recorder. Would it? Please, let me know. Thank you!

Paloma



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Todd Terry
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Mar 17, 2020 at 8:42:43 pm

I'm sorry Paloma I really can't say for sure.

BUT... in theory it should be exactly the same as recording to tape. You are recording the same set of ones and zeros whether you record to the XL1's internal tape, or an external recorder via the DV output.

In theory with a newer camera like the XLH1, you can snag the signal before it is compressed to HDV by using the HD-SDI output, which would be better than you get off the tape.

But... the XL1 is just a standard definition camera and if memory serves it does not have an SDI output, so that's not an option (I could be wrong... I don't remember the XL1 having an SDI port. We do actually still have one, but it has been packed away in storage for just years now).

So... I think it's going to be the same quality either way for you.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Paloma Etienne
Re: DV / Firewire recorder?
on Mar 17, 2020 at 8:54:42 pm

Thank you for the info, Todd!



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