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Old December 14th, 2011, 11:02 AM   #1
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Analog to digital conversion & capture/streaming question

My first post here: sorry if it's not in the proper section:
Quick Background: I am new to video production, so i don't have any technical background.
My church ministry uses 3 minid cams (canon- xha1, xl1, gl2 (all SD) for a show we broadcast on TV. For live production/streaming, we use an analog switcher (datavideo- SE-500..we wonít be getting a digital one anytime soon..$$.) Our PC is firewire able, but i don't know anything about the video card.
Our Process for capture:
1) s-video out of switcher > into pinnacle converter
2) USB out of pinnacle > into PC/ Windows media encoder..producing .wmv (looks TERRIBLE)
3) i then run ULead and turn the wmv. into an avi.....ugh

I know this encoding process is horrid, and we lose so much quality after going into the pinnacle/WME, but i really don't know what to do. We have very little money for upgrade (maybe $200 at the most.) Any suggestions to improve quality and maybe end up with .avi instead of .wmv would be greatly appreciated. Because i am quite new to this, i would love ANY links to products/forums you might recommend.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:41 PM   #2
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Re: Analog to digital conversion & capture/streaming question

Hi Jonathan. I think I understand what you are saying, but let me recap to make sure. I think you are actually doing two things.
1) You have three cameras running and use an analogue switcher to switch between them live with output to a screen at the venue. You are satisfied with the results of this.
2) You also record the output for later streaming or broadcast. You are not happy with this.

If this is the case then I suggest:
Continue doing as in 1 above. You may wish to record the output as before to use as a reference later. Since all of your cameras have firewire out, get a four pin to six pin firewire cable to connect them to the computer and use a video editing program to capture and then edit (hence the reference) the footage. Then output to your desired file type. Your workflow would be all digital. (If you are not doing step 1 above, get rid of the switcher- you donít need it.) One widely used such program that meets your budget is Adobe Premier Elements. There is a free trial available. There are many tutorials available on the internet to help learn the program. You will also be able to do things like add titles and subtitles as well as add a standardized beginning and ending each week.

Let me know if I have completely misunderstood your problem. Good-luck.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Re: Analog to digital conversion & capture/streaming question

Thanks for the response. I understand your answer, but let me be a little more clear about what I am trying to improve:
(1) We run S-Video out of all 3 cameras into the switcher because the fire wire ports in our cameras are not functioning do to years of hard use (except in the xha1, but i think that is a moot point given that the other 2 cameras' firewire ports dont work) so, using the firewire ports to export live won't work.
(2) We use the switcher to cut down on post production of the footage we air on TV/dvd/youtube/etc..-I use adobe premiere and import our mixed footage from the switcher into a template we made-- that mixed footage is captured in windows media encoder as .wmv, then converted to .avi in Ulead.
(3) What I'm really trying to do is cut down on the quality loss that happens in between the switcher, the pinnacle converter, and the windows media encoder. i feel as though an improved encoding system (i.e.-not WME making .wmv) AND/OR analog to digital converter box rather than the pinnacle is what i need. but i really don't know. Again, I really appreciate your help.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #4
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Re: Analog to digital conversion & capture/streaming question

I understand exactly what you are doing and why. We do the same.

The first downgrade in image quality is happening in the cameras in down converting to s-video. you are stuck with that as long as you stay with your analog SD switcher. The next loss in IQ is happening in the Pinnacle device converting to digital (USB). Then you lose some more with your encoder for the web.

The conversion to digital in the Pinnacle device. That component matters. It matters a lot. If you are using USB v1, it's gonna be horrible and easy to improve. There are Firewire converters that may be an option since you have Firewire on your computer. Again, the chips in media converters matter. It's why you can spend thousands on them. You get what you pay for.

If you are getting acceptable quality from the Pinnacle device, then your encoding software can be replaced or learn, through experimentation how to get it to produce good looking web content. But if your input is bad, it's not going to help.

We use a Laird Inertia converter to a Firestore device then run the DV footage through Squeeze.

In the $200 price range, Sony made a DVMC-DA2 converter that was noticeably better than the rest of the pack IMHO. They aren't made anymore but maybe a used one could be found.
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