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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old March 7th, 2003, 10:38 AM   #1
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Lengthy Recording Sessions

I recently completed a shoot of an exercise class where the duration exceeded one hour. The primary camera for the shoot was an XL1s using 1-hour mini-DV tapes. I realized that I would not be able to get the entire class on one tape.

Rather than forcing the instructor to stop the class after an hour so I could change tapes, I connected a small Canon Optura camera to the XL1s through firewire. As I neared the end of my tape in the XL1s, I began recording through the Optura camera and changed tapes in the XL1s.

After I reviewed the footage I noticed that as soon as I started recording on the Optura, the XL1s recorded no image. It seemed that the digital signal bypassed the XL1s recording stage and went straight out the firewire to the Optura.

The process worked fine as all frames were captured, but I was wondering if anyone out there had experience with this type of shooting situation and what solutions they had come up with.

Dave
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Old March 7th, 2003, 10:45 AM   #2
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Hi Dave,

One alternative is an external hard disk recorder, which can either augment or replace the Mini-DV tape. There are many options available, one of which is the FireStore, which I wrote about here.
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Old March 7th, 2003, 12:22 PM   #3
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Iíve had this nagging thought for while. Is it possible to link a small portable fire wire drive directly to the XL-1s to capture video? Will a hard drive capture the video without it being some how connected to a machine running either DOS/WIN or MAC? I guess the question really is can a hard drive recognize the camera and accept the information given it. While I good at concepts this is way over my head Ö
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Old March 7th, 2003, 01:03 PM   #4
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Ah if only 'twere that simple. But no. Some software/firmware component between the camera and the disk must process that signal and build a DV file from it.

Don't depair, however. And don't be too quick to plunk down $1,500+ on today's versions of disk recorders, either. A solution that will seem nearly as simple as your query cannot be far away. Several Firewire drive manufacturers (which are basically drive enclosure makers) already offer empty enclosures into which you can plop the IDE drive of your choice. The enclosure's brdge circuitry handles the conversion between IDE and Firewire. Can such a DV enclosure be far off? Looking at the Firestore and the new Laird disk recorders leads to a resounding retort of NO! That's basically what these devices are doing with non-removable drives.

The slogan, "Patience pays" applies far beyond the medical profession.
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Old March 7th, 2003, 01:05 PM   #5
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Well, the deal is you need the hard drive to capture an edit-ready file, so that you don't have to go through the time-consuming video capture process. That's what FireStore does, it writes a QuickTime or AVI wrapper around the incoming DV signal so that your editing system can recognize it.
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Old March 7th, 2003, 04:05 PM   #6
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Another option would be to use 83 minute tapes as long as the class was not going to exceed 1 hour 20 minutes.
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Old March 7th, 2003, 04:38 PM   #7
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Ken, thanks for the note. Shortly after posting I spoke with one of our IT guys about it. Said the same thing - only he had to stop laughing first. Hey...its a thought. So if I can thing of a way to do this I can retire earlier right?
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Old March 7th, 2003, 04:57 PM   #8
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Ah, if only 'twere that simple.
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Old March 8th, 2003, 06:00 AM   #9
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While at a WEVA seminar, the Sony rep was showing off a portable HD backup for their cams. It snaps onto the back with the battery, and holds about 3-4 hours. You still shoot with a tape, but it gives you a little more room. It also has a cache so that you can record what just happened, and no jitter for those active moments. I believe the price was like 12 grand.
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Old March 8th, 2003, 06:35 AM   #10
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Okay, retire now and start picking up cans - lets see how many cans do I need for $12K god thing is by the time I get 12K it'll be less and I have more money for other things...
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Old March 8th, 2003, 11:08 AM   #11
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Keith,
Yes, that Sony recorder is the best design so far, in terms of size and where it's located (on the camera). It's priced as though someone's yen/$ calculator went haywire but Sony claims that the "value proposition" (busy-ness school language for rationale for excess profit) is the capture-time savings. That's a bit of a stretch based on broadcast technicians' salaries, but...maybe they were using the same calculator for that calculation, too. You can bet, however, that it would be a give-away to induce a large order away from JVC.

Still, that's the best design I've seen so far.
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