Video hardware/software suggestions?

I know there’s a number of filmmakers around here, so I hope this is close enough to be relevant. Currently evaluating the feasibility of a weekly DVD production. Fast, cheap, & easy turn-round are the bigger factors than flexibility, editing and quality (though a minimum reasonable quality, of course)

Can anybody speak as to how something like a hi-8 analog camcorder & a decent but non-pro digitizer would compare to a cheaper digital camcorder? Hoping for at least as good as a good VHS - I’ve seen normal 8mm video and that’s not worth it! It’s for a weekly church service, low volume, so cheap & fast is important. Not likely HD, too rare & expensive at this point. Hoping to minimize the extra equipment as well, due to limited amount of space and the extra costs, just plunk the camera on a tripod about a foot above the (flat) floor about 100 feet from the platform and hit record. There’s only a couple of fixed flood lights on the platform, not theatrical lighting either. Sounds bad for video, doesn’t it. :frowning:

Plan could include running a volume leveller on the sound (so probably have to add sound & sync to video), maybe a lighting adjustment to the video if absolutely necessary (unfortunately existing lighting is limited). Then just drop in an intro and the synced video into a prepared template with a few standard clips, and burn. Hopefully.

Ideal would be to have a copy available within 20 minutes, as there are occasionally visitors who could not return the following week (and also reduce the strain on editors time!). That would mean about 15 minutes to pull the final master together (including any filters & sync). I’m not sure what optimizing & setup would be needed, bearing in mind the lower expectation of quality editing.

I don’t think complicated editing software would be needed for a single take, just Windows Moviemaker or nero’s editor, maybe something like VirtuaDub if we need to run filters on it. Any burner software, like we would get with the computer, e.g.nero express, should be able to put the clips togther in a standard DVD right? (I don’t have a camera myself and so haven’t actually made any videos).

It could be piped directly into a digitizer box of some kind and read the sound from the mixer so that it wouldn’t need to digitize later. ($~100-200 Hauppage or Plextor say, not $1000+) However, I’m not sure if the onboard digitizer on a digital camera would be a better choise, and then download with Firewire, although that would take some time, it might be faster than running a filter on the video to clean it up.
(Sound is currently being done already, but getting a new computer because the current one is pretty old, hoping an E6600 will be fast enough to do video AND sound. Not crazy enough to record sound, record video AND run the projector on the same machine though.)

One guy is going to try his Hi-8 camera and then record with his HP multimedia PC, mostly to show how bad that would be. I suspect the Hauppage would be about the same quality as the bultin one. Shop said the CDN$200 Plextor digitizer he stocks is a good pro-sumer one.

Of course, Blender would be required, for… er… I know! Generating the credits, compositing them over an establishing shot, and… the 3d walk-through of the building! :smiley:

Anybody have an experience with something similar?

The killer’s gonna be the “need a copy within 20 minutes” thing. There’s no cheap, non-digital (analog) way of retrieving the master footage faster than real time that I know of. Then having to edit & burn off a copy in addition? The closest (non-pro) way I could think would be to have a hard-drive camcorder and burn a disc straight from it as a logical drive. Then, it wouldn’t be a DVD or anything - playable only on another PC with the proper codecs. (Tho some HD Camcorders come with a direct-to-DVD docking station.) Or maybe get one of those DVD camcorders, then just make a copy of the disk for your visitor (which also takes longer than real-time in my experience.)

Your best solution for the “visitor who can’t return” issue would be to have it posted online. Give them a URL for later viewing at their leisure. This gives you a bit of time to get things ready. IMHO, its not worth the effort to rush for this reason.

Digitizing the Hi-8 footage should deliver slightly better-than-VHS results. I think its just a matter of slightly higher resolution - and that would depend on the capabilities of your capture card.

Authoring & duplicating a DVD that’s playable in standard players is not always as simple as copying say, a data CD-ROM. Look for software that can handle that in a “one-click” sort of way. Count on at least 1.5X the length of the footage to copy the first time (make an ISO image) then about a 1/4 to 1/2 the realtime for each subsequent - unless you have a multi-drive setup. As with anything, the more $$$ you can throw at it, the more you can cut your times.

Reference website to help with all things video: www.videohelp.com

For capturing analog video, I have a Canopus ADVC-100. It is system agnostic, in that it takes analog video input and has a firewire output. If you connect it to a computer with a firewire connection, it just appears as a firewire camera - no drivers required. This is great because it can work with any OS that can capture from firewire camera. (Many camcorders can do this as well - they’ll call it something like ‘passthrough’.)

In contrast, most capture cards will capture the video to something like MPEG1/2 or MJPEG as opposed to DV. While all of them are lossy, DV will hold up to edits a bit better than MPEG2 (for example). You’re better off editing a DV stream and then outputting to MPEG for your final DVD than working with MPEG2 all the way through. If you don’t need to make any edits, however, then going straight to DVD compliant MPEG2 would be a timesaver for you.

How would this compare to a cheap digital camcorder? It really depends on the quality of the HI-8 camera compared to the quality of the digital camcorder. If you have a really good HI-8, you could get a nicer picture than you’ll get out of a cheap digicam, but assuming the cameras are of equal quality (optics, CCDs, etc) the digicam has the advantage of not having to go through one generation before it gets to the computer.
(Though a good software encoder might give you better results than the encoder built into a cheap capture card. Here’s another area where results can vary.)

Given your extremely quick turnaround time, you might want to get one of the cameras that records to mini DVD and just duplicate the DVD. I still don’t see you getting into the sub 20 minute range unless you have a wall of duplicating machines, though.

Thanks guys!

Ouch. Okay, I guess it’s doubtful for 20 minutes if we have to digitize, edit & burn. I’d forgotten about the sheer volume of data and that copying is a low multiple of real-time at best. I can burn a CD in a couple of minutes, but there’s way more processing going on for a DVD. Although, it would be not much more than double that. If it could be burned immediately, it might be managable, 1/2hour maybe.

Ordering & pickup the following week would be the preferred delivery method. If we do create the videos, posting them online would be okay, but I’m not sure how good the quality is. I know youtube isn’t usually that great, but I’ve seen a new one that seems to let you post pretty decent quality, called, what else, “godtube” :slight_smile: There’s some pretty interesting stuff on there actually.

Thanks for that link, I’ll have to check it out! I don’t know much about digital video yet - mostly messing with video mode on still cameras and backing up some discs. I knew a little more about analog.

Hmmm… one other thought, sparked by the DVD camcorder mention. We could feed the camera signal (analog or digital) to on one of those TV-DVD recorders and burn direct to DVD I think. Probably quality would not be as good as possible, and no editing obviously but I think you can leave DVD’s open on those things. We could pre-burn an intro and then direct burn the video for the day and then close it.
But we could rip it onto the computer (hopefully 1/2 the time to copy) and if someone couldn’t wait, then give them the original disc. Or give it to an editor to take home for further processing. As if that’s likely to ever get done! Cough.

You know, a direct to DVD recording is a pretty tempting solution if a partially burned DVD could be created. An immediate copy, and then use the computer for further copies or editing.

Hmm… you know what, I’m going to see if the guy with the sony hi-8 and the guy with the dvr can bring their equipment in and we’ll give it a shot! A buck to try it out is worth it :slight_smile:

Well, for the curious, tried it out yesterday.

Worked pretty decently for what we had, a 10 year-old Hi-8, not very good lighting and a $100 DVD recorder unit, and split the audio between the computer sound card and the recorder in. Sounded excellent! The picture was ok, better than I was afraid of at least.

The dim beige background wall had a yellow-ish flickering noise, not so great. I’m pretty sure that was the camera noise level, not the 2 hour quality rate since it was like that on the live monitor from the DVDRecorder. The yellowish floor-space lighting was not fixable becase we had no white-balance on the camera, but we mostly focused on the stage and lighting was okay there. The camera was at about the floor+5.5’ level (1’ platform + still camera tripod), which was not enough (it’s a flat floor) and only about 2.5’ high stage.

And although the DVD+R seemed to be read by the onsite DVD player (all 10 second test), my home DVD player kept freezing irrevocably after every guide mark jump (although my player is probably grungy from kids’ fingerprints on discs), it’s not a good sign. And the provider of the record said he knew it worked with those discs. Apparently this is an issue.

I still want to try a decent basic video capture card, and also a decent digital camera with firewire pass-through (although one of the FAQs said the onboard video to firewire conversions are usually not very good). Might be a better choice than the DVD Recorder unit, because of the preference to preload the disc with other material. I guess it will depend if it’s faster to rip the finalized disc (which took another couple of minutes) to HD (to keep a copy) or faster to write a DVD from the HD. We could record the video at highest quality if it runs a bit longer and then burn at a lower value. Also any given discs can go bad and we’re toast. Of course, we’d likely be relying on Windows instead … ha! But at least we’d be able to create a reusable template and drop in the week’s recording.

I’m going to keep investigating.

Thanks, dgebel, for the update. Keep us posted on your eventual solution and lessons learned!