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Old August 10th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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Recording to laptop instead of field recorder?

I've been considering field recorders once again to bypass the HDV audio limitations. The Tascam HDP2 and Sound Devices recorders are great options (I forgot about the Tascam actually), however now what I'm wondering is... could I just use my laptop? Are there any severe drawbacks with this technique?

I have an M-Audio Fast Track Pro which would allow 2-track recording at 24bit/96kHz but I'm not sure how the pre-amps would compare on it versus my HVR-V1U. It's a pretty cheap sound card and obviously couldn't be compared to what the Sound Devices gear would offer, but would it be better than going straight to my camcorder?

Do sound cards like these usually have better pre-amps than camcorders? And if not, would I be better off getting a good mixer and just sending it to the laptop for recording as a line signal?

Also, once it gets to the computer, is there any particular software that's good to use for this purpose? Will Sound Forge do the trick?
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Old August 10th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #2
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There is nothing wrong with going straight to laptop, there are many interfaces that you can combine with your laptop to get good sound along with 24-bit recording.

Laptops are great for the price point, and a lot of audio software out there is good enough to do the trick. I'm sure sound forge would do just fine, although there are other more popular applications in use for location sound.

Being in Toronto myself, gear is a lot more expensive to purchase here than the US... I love working with the SD recorders, but laptops work just fine as well w/ a budget crunch.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #3
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That's great. Perhaps Adobe OnLocation would be better? At this point I'm wondering if I should even bother recording video to my camcorder. heh.

However OnLocation may just take the audio that's coming through my Firewire (i.e. my camera audio which wouldn't have anything connected to it). I'm not sure If I could use my Fast Track Pro for audio and use the video through Firewire at the same time. I'll have to look into that.

But I'm happy to hear the results may be better going directly to a laptop than using my camcorder.

And I agree with you on the audio equipment cost up here in Canada. It's quite ridiculous. Apparantly I can't even get a Schoeps CMC641 here, I'd have to import it from the US. Which makes sense anyway considering the exchange rate. And if I decide not to get the Schoeps, I'm considering the AT4053a which is also $250 cheaper than anywhere I've seen in Canada. It's very annoying.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 03:24 PM   #4
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You can get a Schoeps in Canada at Trew Audio at either Vancouver or Toronto locations. Still very expensive though, I bought most of my gear in the US when I was living there, and just moved back to Toronto a few months ago.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #5
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Oh I didn't know. I looked at Trew Audio's website and it said "Not available for sale in Canada". I guess that's just online though.

While we're on the subject though, do you (or anyone else in Toronto) have an idea where I can rent a CMC641? I want to make sure it sounds as blissful as Ty describes it :)
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Old August 10th, 2007, 03:47 PM   #6
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Ok maybe I was wrong.. maybe you can't get it in Canada then.. LOL.

Not sure where you can rent them.. But I'm a very proud owner. :)
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Old August 10th, 2007, 04:33 PM   #7
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OnLocation just records from the camera. Premiere Pro CS3 supports ASIO drivers so you can plug in a digital interface and record multiple channels. I've used an Alesis firewire mixer to record 4 mike channels simultaneously straight to the Pemiere timeline, complete with level meters for each channel - pity it can't capture video to the timeline at the same time !
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Old August 10th, 2007, 05:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Irving View Post
Oh I didn't know. I looked at Trew Audio's website and it said "Not available for sale in Canada". I guess that's just online though.

While we're on the subject though, do you (or anyone else in Toronto) have an idea where I can rent a CMC641? I want to make sure it sounds as blissful as Ty describes it :)
Why don't you drop by Trew's shop down in the waterfront or give 'em a ring? I'll swear they had Schoeps in stock last time I was in the store a few months ago. Of course, things change.

You might give Paul Lico a call at Resolution Pro Audio over on Pardee Street near the Exhibition. Don't believe they do rentals but they're a Schoeps dealer so he might have one in stock for you to audition - he certainly can get one for you to purchase. In fact, they have a quiet booth set up specifically for mic auditions. Tell him I sent ya -got my new monitors there a few weeks ago - they're 100% professional and they'll treat you right.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #9
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Hi Tony--

Glad I found this thread, cause I have similar questions, both involving recording to a laptop and using Adobe's OnLocation.

We were talking recently about recording more events, like recitals, plays, etc. where our camera would be more stationary. And recording straight to a laptop would be a great option. We've not upgraded to CS3 yet, so haven't tested the laptop recording here at home (maybe we'll download the free trial).

That's good to know that one can record four separate audio channels, but a bit disappointing to hear that it won't capture mutiple video streams(?).

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Old August 11th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #10
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Take a look at:

http://www.gallery.co.uk/metacorder/intro.html
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Old August 12th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #11
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And for Mac users, get BoomRecorder software for running on your laptop on location.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old August 31st, 2007, 05:14 PM   #12
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A quick update.

I've just tried simultaneously recording an HDV stream and four audio channels into a laptop. The HDV cam was daisy-chained into an Alesis firewire mixer which was in turn plugged into the laptop. I used Adobe OnLocation to record HDV (it doesn't do multichannel audio) and Premiere Pro CS3 to record four mike channels from the Alesis mixer.

It worked fine, at least for a quick 3 minute test - no dropped frames, no crackling audio.

This is encouraging, because both audio and video were recorded to the internal 5400rpm drive of the laptop (T7200 dual core processor - 2x2GHz, 1 Gig of memory) so it should be able to manage 90 minutes continuous recording to external SATA or firewire drives, which is what I'll need to record a stage show.

Would be nice if it could handle 2 HDV streams and 6 or 8 channels of audio ... hmmm - I wonder....
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Old August 31st, 2007, 05:19 PM   #13
 
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The problem with two HDV streams and 8 channels of audio are more bus-related than stream-related. I have successfully recorded 8 channels of audio with OnLocation/DV Rack running at the same time. I could not record 16 channels of audio, however, because now I'm using three 1394 ports on the laptop. Adding a second Cardbus however, I could record 16 channels at a time, with DV Rack running.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 05:48 PM   #14
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Hi Douglas ...

I'd really like to use 2 Cardbus cards, one for the extra firewire ports needed for the 2nd cam and the mixer , and one SATA card for my external drives, but being double height they can't be used together. So I'm planning to use USB drives cos I've got more spare USB ports than I know what to do with.

Don't know if all of this is going to be robust enough for use in the field, but anything is better than the slog of capturing from tape. I recently recorded 2 evenings of a 3 hour stage show at different venues using 2 cameras & 4 mikes - a total of 13 hours of capture including rehearsal footage, not to mention the re-captures due to glitches caused by Prem Pro CS3 - it was soul-destroying !

Tony
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