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Old September 12th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #1
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Can I use an existing external hard-drive?

And to continue that question, it is a 300 gig Seagate, with both firewire and USB-2 inputs.

I have used it already to transfer DV from my Sony DCR-HC-30 camcorder via Pinnacle 9 Studio plus software just fine, including doing a complete editing of video and a generation of a final product.

Now, why such a "cheap" camcorder?

It is small, light and easily to install upon a special rig, using a Bogan Monfroto pan head, on the dash of my car, taking videos on the fly while I am driving! It's small size reduces the hazard of visibility reduction a larger camcorder would produce.

Now, what I want is some "hardware/firmware" device that would take the firewire output from that camcorder to record directly to the above mentioned hard-drive! (Firewire input from the camcorder to a firewire output to the external hard-drive.) I have no need or a requirement for a small size hard-drive as a big hard-drive would exist easily along side of my CB radio, Beringer mic mixer and Prosine pure sinewave 1000W 12V/120V inverter. I could do a whole trip of video recording into 300 gigs! :)

I know I could use a laptop computer to do this, but then I would have to buy a laptop computer! The interface should be able to respond to the camcorder's record button without further ado, allowing me to then to edit via my Pinnacle software when I return home from that same external hard-drive and my desktop computer.

Why do I really want to do this? Too many defects and drop-outs noted in even the best tape I can buy! Too much "garbage" DV tapes!

Any suggestions/recommendations?


Bill

Last edited by William Putnam; September 12th, 2005 at 07:42 PM.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 05:17 AM   #2
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No, that is not possible. However, there are devices like the Firestore (see our
direct-to-disk sub forums) that can record directly to a harddisk. Depending
on budget they might be too expensive. The only other option is using a laptop/
computer or plain old tape.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 03:00 PM   #3
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There is no "intelligence" built into external hard drives that would allow you to do this. As I see it you have 3 choices:

1. A FireStore (or similar device), but that does not allow the use of external drives. You would be limited to 2.5" laptop hard drives. 120GB looks to be the largest capacity on those drives at the moment.

2. Laptop capture with DV Rack. To reduce size you could use a TabletPC, with the associated increase in cost. You could record to an external drive and just move the drive between car & home.

3. See the thread "Homemade Direct-to-Disc on the cheap". This is what I did to create a less expensive solution than either # 1 or # 2. If you record to the local drive then you are limited to 120GB just like with a FireStore. I haven't tried an external firewire drive but it has recognized external USB 1.1 drives without issue.

I don't know that any of these solutions would meet 100% of your WANTS. But they all could probably meet your NEEDS.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 03:27 PM   #4
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since Firestore FS-4 is a bit complex to be dismantled safely, you can find old FS-1 that accept standard firewire drives.
videoguys was selling for VERY cheap
www.videoguys.com
FireStore FS-1 $299.95 - While Supplies Last!!

Citidisk is making a box for 2.5 drives but since the box has only one button, the elctronic inside can probably stripped out of the box and reused on a bigger 3.5 hdd with an adapter.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #5
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First of all, thanks to Rob Lohman for his imput. He confirms what I already thought - no simple "black box" that can provide the "intelligence," David Suthers speaks of below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Suthers
There is no "intelligence" built into external hard drives that would allow you to do this.
Indeed! Which is why I was looking for the "intelligence" a little "black box" would provide! :) Also, the Firestore3 (I think Rob was recommending) would be that "black box" but at an expense that is out of the question!

Quote:
As I see it you have 3 choices:

1. A FireStore (or similar device), but that does not allow the use of external drives. You would be limited to 2.5" laptop hard drives. 120GB looks to be the largest capacity on those drives at the moment.
The Firestore3 (which Rob spoke of) would apparently do this, allowing you to bypass the internal small hard-drive within to export to any external hard-drive of choice via a firewire output. but alas, way too expensive for me to go!

Quote:
2. Laptop capture with DV Rack. To reduce size you could use a TabletPC, with the associated increase in cost. You could record to an external drive and just move the drive between car & home.
Actually, I am (reluctantly) considering getting an ACER Ferrari 4000 notebook (with bluetooth) which has power for many things I can do, including using DV Rack to do this, wondering if it could also do a multitask of also doing a GPS mission via Delorme's Bluetooth unit and software! Multitasking to include this, plus capture DV steaming from my camcorder simultaneously may be out of the question, however.

I can dream on... :)

Quote:
3. See the thread "Homemade Direct-to-Disc on the cheap". This is what I did to create a less expensive solution than either # 1 or # 2. If you record to the local drive then you are limited to 120GB just like with a FireStore. I haven't tried an external firewire drive but it has recognized external USB 1.1 drives without issue.
Yes, I read your thread on this and it was quite helpful. In fact, it was the first hint I got in this forum that I could use a lap-top for this purpose.

Quote:
I don't know that any of these solutions would meet 100% of your WANTS. But they all could probably meet your NEEDS.
David, thank you for the information you have given me! (Rob too!) Such feedback adds to my decision process as to how to proceed in this.

It also goes to show how valuable these forums can be... :)

Bill
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Old September 14th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #6
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Looks like Giroud Francois' idea of the FS-1 (ON SALE!!!) may be your best bet. Cost wise it would be pretty close to my setup and would give you the external drive you desire. I'd check to see if there is any information about problems with the FS-1 on here and other forums before committing to one as I'm not familiar with them.

You mentioned using a laptop to dual purpose between GPS & DV capture duties. I'm not sure that would work very well. The reason is how Microsoft captures DV streams of data. Everything is run through their DirectShow interface, which is a subset of DirectX. The overhead on this is HUGE. I've done captures at home on a Dell Dimension 4600 (P4, 2.8GHz, 512MB RAM) computer and had dropped frames. This is when I'm not doing ANYTHING else. So it makes me wonder what luck you'll have on even a high-end notebook like the Acer. (FYI: Linux breezes through this at only 17% utilization on a P3, 400MHz, 192MB RAM tablet)
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Old September 14th, 2005, 12:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Suthers
Looks like Giroud Francois' idea of the FS-1 (ON SALE!!!) may be your best bet. Cost wise it would be pretty close to my setup and would give you the external drive you desire. I'd check to see if there is any information about problems with the FS-1 on here and other forums before committing to one as I'm not familiar with them.
I will have to look closely at that possibility.

ON EDIT: I am a day late and a dollar short! They are now all sold out! :(

ON EDIT: Also, I may be better off to simply go for VideoGuy's 80GB FS-4 for about $1500 that includes their field kit, which is cheaper then the lap-top I am contemplating...

Quote:
You mentioned using a laptop to dual purpose between GPS & DV capture duties. I'm not sure that would work very well. The reason is how Microsoft captures DV streams of data. Everything is run through their DirectShow interface, which is a subset of DirectX. The overhead on this is HUGE. I've done captures at home on a Dell Dimension 4600 (P4, 2.8GHz, 512MB RAM) computer and had dropped frames. This is when I'm not doing ANYTHING else. So it makes me wonder what luck you'll have on even a high-end notebook like the Acer. (FYI: Linux breezes through this at only 17% utilization on a P3, 400MHz, 192MB RAM tablet)
I think you are right concerning the multitasking idea, it being a big dream of mine. I suspect I would have to get a separate GPS unit, such as Garmin, Magellen, etc, and let the lap top do the DV capture dities by it self.

Notice how easy it is to "spend money" when you are thinking about doing all of this?! :)

I have a computer expert in my house right now who knows a bit about Linux, so I will explore that avenue further. I think I would have to do a dual-boot setup so that I can boot into either Windows XP or Linux. And FYI, on my desktop, I have to pull my Linksys router, kill my anti-virus program, and otherwise do a program called "End It All" that shuts-down all of the other hidden utilities that comes on usually at boot-up to give the computer full reign on video capture so that I can get a clean capture. For the laptop, if I get one, It would be treated likewise before I would have it capture video.

For others reading this thread, are there similar experiences with laptops in frame dropping? I suspect a laptop, with Windows XP Home Edition, would have a bare bones setup for this purpose when capturing video in the field.

I wonder what the minimum requirements for a laptop would be for this purpose?

In any case, I would be likewise need a laptop with a "clean-no-background-junk-running" setup as I travel through the nation in my car, especially through National Parks, where I would be doing good video. Stopping frequently to clean the windshield, of course! :)

Bill
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Old September 14th, 2005, 01:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Suthers
The reason is how Microsoft captures DV streams of data. Everything is run through their DirectShow interface, which is a subset of DirectX. The overhead on this is HUGE. I've done captures at home on a Dell Dimension 4600 (P4, 2.8GHz, 512MB RAM) computer and had dropped frames. This is when I'm not doing ANYTHING else.
dv capturing has been around for years, and it captures fine on computers a whole lot slower than a p4... if you had dropped frames capturing with a p4, there was something drastically wrong with your setup... don't blame it on windows.

if budget is an issue, perhaps you could locate a used laptop for capturing dv with scenealyzer.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 02:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
dv capturing has been around for years, and it captures fine on computers a whole lot slower than a p4... if you had dropped frames capturing with a p4, there was something drastically wrong with your setup... don't blame it on windows.
Usually when I have dropped frames, it is due to a bad spot on a previous recording on the DV tape, which is why I want to investigate recording to a direct-drive in the first place. And by the way, my desktop is an AMD Athlon 2200+ runing at 1.8 Ghz with 1 gig of Ram. Of course, if my anti-virus softeare suddenly wants to download a new update, that messes everything up, of course, which is why it must be disabled, among other utilities that are running in the background.

Quote:
if budget is an issue, perhaps you could locate a used laptop for capturing dv with scenealyzer.
That may be my course as well, going to something less then the ACER Ferarri 4000 series, which is a 2,000 plus laptop. But I have some high end games I may want to play on it, thus considering the aformentioned laptop.

It comes with the AMD 64 bit Turon, running at 2.2 gig (I think) with a gig of ram and is up there among the top line of laptops. With that laptop, I can have it run the GPS program, capturing my video via a Firestore 40 gig of appropriate version (and reasonable price) then transfer it onto my 300 gig external hard-drive via that same laptop at convenient motel stop. And then, relaxing in that same motel, I can run a passenger or freight consist from Shelby MT to Whitefish MT with Auron's Trainz 2006, which indeed, taxes even the best of desktop computers, let alone any laptop. Microsoft's Raiload simulator also taxes the best of computers, greater then any shoot-em-up high-end games ever could! But I stray here...

Anyway, All you guys are a great help!

This amateur video maker relishes hearing from all your professionals here! :)

Bill
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Old September 14th, 2005, 03:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
dv capturing has been around for years, and it captures fine on computers a whole lot slower than a p4... if you had dropped frames capturing with a p4, there was something drastically wrong with your setup... don't blame it on windows. snip...
There isn't anything "drastically wrong" with my setup. But my home computer isn't tweaked specifically for capturing video. It doesn't have a bunch of background tasks running, just my antivirus (which I will NOT turn off), and whatever else Windows XP requires. This computer is our main computer and the kids use it for homework, gaming, etc.

I wasn't saying that I can't do video capture on my P4, just that it isn't a guaranteed 100% clean capture. Nothing makes me madder than doing an hour of capture and finding a capture caused "jitter" in the middle of the tape. Now I have to go back, find the place on the tape, capture some more, splice it in.... WHAT A PAIN IN THE BUTT!!

I know this is going to sound like MS bashing, and I guess it is. In my opinion, DirectShow does way too much processing on the DV data stream. You don't NEED to show the video on screen during a capture. I program computers for a living, and as a programmer, I would have offered "/novideo" as a option in the DirectShow API. Then it would have been a simple matter of not processing the data if this switch was set. Doing it that way would make video capture on a 400MHz machine feasable again.

I get clean captures EVERY TIME on my Linux tablet, provided I don't try to do anything stupid (like edit & capture at the same time). I'd much rather have that than the pretty "this is what I'm doing" video that plays on screen on my Windows machine. And if my Linux box drops even one frame. It tells me... immediately.

David
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Old September 14th, 2005, 08:40 PM   #11
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you are trying to capture dv footage with a virus scanner running in the background? good grief, NO! don't do that.

the capture utility called scenealyzer allows you to turn off the video display of the footage while capturing, as do other capture functions in some of the editors... i used to capture to a 600 mhz pentium without any dropped frames at all.

bill, i use an AMD Athlon 2200+ as one of my editors as well, but it sure won't cut the mustard for these new games... nowadays you gotta have at least 256 mb of ram on the video card, or you'll have problems.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 09:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
bill, i use an AMD Athlon 2200+ as one of my editors as well, but it sure won't cut the mustard for these new games... nowadays you gotta have at least 256 mb of ram on the video card, or you'll have problems.
I believe you are right. I forget right now what I have as a video card, and it is probably the bottle neck right now, running Doom3 pretty well. But the train simulators I run just bog down with stuttering frame rates, again probably due to my video card. 64MB comes to mind, off the top of my head, on my card, insufficient, I am sure.

I am zeroing in on the the ACER Ferarri 4000 class lap top will satisfy my requirements, at least for a few months (weeks?) :)

Will it do a GPS program and also capture video at the same time? I actually think it will! But I am afraid to test the theory right now! :) (I wish this forum would activate "smilie's"!)

You should see my set-up. I have a Prosine 1000W pure sine wave 12V DC to 120V 60 Hz AC invertor that is no slouch! You don't buy one of these at K-Mart or Wal-Mart! :) It would power the lap-top, Videocam, Beringer mic mixer feeding a sterio mic (simply because I have one) with phantom power rigged over my head, etc., with the AC adaptor they are supplied with, so you see I have invested a bit of money aleady! :)

All this professional gear, surrounding a cheap commercial grade tiny camcorder mounted on a Bogan Monfroto pan head with a LANC remote on the pan arm! Tiny because it is small to minimize the visual interference with recording video while underway in my car!

BTW, I am also experimenting with a "bullet cam" mounted on the same pan head to further minimize the visual interference. The camcorder is then operated as a simple video recorder (lens cap in place) using a special LANC controller to operate the camcorder in that mode, recording to the laptop (possibly) as already explained. The only disadvantage is, no capability to zoom.

I love driving! And I want to video record the experience! :)

Bill

Last edited by William Putnam; September 15th, 2005 at 10:13 AM.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
the capture utility called scenealyzer allows you to turn off the video display of the footage while capturing, as do other capture functions in some of the editors... i used to capture to a 600 mhz pentium without any dropped frames at all.
Dan,

Just curious as I've only been at this a little while and it appears you're an "old hat"... When you were capturing on a 600MHz computer, what program did you use to capture? The reason I'm asking is that I'm wondering if the older programs used DirectShow or not. From what I can tell, if the capture software REQUIRED DirectX then it used DirectShow (Scenalyzer requires DirectX).
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Old September 15th, 2005, 12:16 PM   #14
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i think that the first dv capturing that i did was with the early versions of premiere... pre-6.0? whenever it first had that capability... i moved to scenealyzer years ago, tho.

a guy named black viper has a great site on how to disable all the unnecessary garbage that runs in winxp... it's mandatory reading as far as i'm concerned... unfortunately, these days there are some very sophisticated viruses that are self-replicating, and run in the background, creating files that you can't find with a windows explorer search... they don't show up in the typical cntr/alt/delete process window either.

i had one yesterday that crippled the vsmon.exe used by zonealarm... it was a backdoor hack deal that sent out passwords and such to a website named template-something(?).com... i'm running a fresh win2k install with all the updates from microsoft, but it didn't help, and virus scanners couldn't find it either.

i switched to the sygate firewall, which unlike zonealarm, told me exactly which application file was going online... i couldn't find the file itself, but i could enter it's location on the hard drive into a program called killbox, which was able to delete it on the next reboot.

so there are many things that could prevent a clean dv capture... in theory, you should be able to completely exit your virus scanner while capturing, then reboot and have everything running as before... but don't get the false impression that a virus scanner is always going to save you from a lot of pain.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 02:23 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info. I still wonder if Premier wrote their own firewire capture software on the really old versions? The reason I wonder this is that Windows adds a HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) that sits between the OS and the hardware. The HAL is good from a programming standpoint as it standardizes the API's for similar devices. But the HAL comes at a cost... Performance. The same situation used to be the case with video cards on Windows before DirectX. Everybody had their own drivers that wrote directly to the hardware. Great performance (for their time) but they were a pain to work with.

I don't concern myself with trying to capture in XP anymore since I got my tablet running. If I don't already have it on the hard drive, I capture to the tablet first while I'm working on other files on my main PC. It's a nice feeling to not have to worry about the validity of my captures. If I ever need to do any serious capturing on Windows again I'll definitely look at Scenalyzer.

I work on computers (software, hardware, networks, etc.) as my primary profession so I've seen my share of malicious software. Unfortunately just because you have an AV doesn't mean it's any good. I used to use Norton AV and had to find something else because it missed too many things. Same goes for the free version of AVG. Don't get me wrong, any UP TO DATE antivirus is better than nothing, just don't think you're bullet-proof.

If you've got a virus on your computer that your AV can't fix, see if the vendor fixes it in their next set of updates. If they still can't fix it... find a new AV. I'm now using Panda AV and it does very well, even detecting and stopping a lot of spyware as well (try their online scan to see for yourseslf at www.pandasoftware.com). Plus they release incremental updates several times a day. And remember to run periodic scans of your whole system to catch anything that "flew in under the radar".

Another piece of advice... DITCH INTERNET EXPLORER!! (Especially since you're running Win2k). Microsoft made several improvements to IE in WinXP SP2, but it still isn't as safe as Mozilla or Firefox. I've been installing both at work and the number of spyware infections has dropped to near zero on those computers.
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