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Old September 1st, 2008, 10:21 AM   #1
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Cheap B Roll Machine

I edit a local news show for cable/web on an intel iMac with FCP Studio 2. One my guys is using one of my cameras to get B-Roll shots. I don't want to look at his hours of B-Roll. Instead, I want him to condense them on to one mini-dv tape. But when he does this using a low-end PC with probably the cheapest Sound Card/Video Card, with Windows Movie Maker, I wind up getting an almost unusable tape filled with drop outs and audio screeching. The problem is either happening when he captures or when he prints to tape. My guess is that the problem is in the capturing stage.

So what to do?

I had a non-intel mac-mini that gave me audio screeches. I can't pin point it, but I'm assuming the old mini didn't have a great sound card. Or maybe it was the video card doing the problem. I got the problem when I captured the video from the camera. It was so bad that I had to capture the sound onto an R-09 and sync it to the video later.

What's my cheapest Mac solution to avoid the dropped frames and audio screeching? Is it a used non-intel Mac-Mini or Imac? (but I had problems before). Or does the newest intel Mac-Mini work? I could be wrong, but I just think the problems are sound/video card based.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 02:17 PM   #2
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If you really need another computer try an iMac. I use a Mac Mini for simple video capture but to an external FireWire drive not the Mini's internal drive. Once you add on the peripherals (drive, memory) to get a MacMini running smoothly you are about $100 to a new iMac that can handle video capture out of the box.

Want a cheaper solution? Get a low end consumer miniDV camcorder that records thru FireWire (iLink). Have your b-roll guy simply transfer the best scenes from his camera to a miniDV tape in the new camera. You will get nearly perfect copies.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 03:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt View Post

I had a non-intel mac-mini that gave me audio screeches.

What's my cheapest Mac solution to avoid the dropped frames and audio screeching? Is it a used non-intel Mac-Mini or Imac? (but I had problems before). Or does the newest intel Mac-Mini work? I could be wrong, but I just think the problems are sound/video card based.
Is he using firewire or analog to capture? Like Scott said capture to an external drive instead of writing the edits back out to tape. Dirty/worn heads or reusing tapes too much are most likely the cause of drop frames or screeching audio not old macs or sound/video cards.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 05:51 PM   #4
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Hey William, that's a great idea about the other camera. Thanks. And yeah, my wish is toward the iMac.

Now about this external drive and my screeching audio with dropped frames. I've always used an external drive with my mini and got the screeching. Was it dirty heads? I don't think so. I had the cameras cleaned and then got the same results. And then when I went to a new intel Imac the problem went away. Also back in my mini days, I would run into a lot of audio lagging behind the video problems.

The non-intel mac mini was definitely the problem. The question is, what was it about that particular machine that caused the problem. Maybe its just a guess, but I wouldn't want a repeat performance of problems with another machine.

My B Roll guy gave me the first problem when he used a lowend PC weighted without much available space and printed straight to the camera. On the second time, he used a USB external hard drive. There were less problems than the first time but there were still problems.

Maybe its just a guess at this point, but both of you guys seem to think I shouldn't be blaming Mac Minis with or without intel for my problems and I know I had the problem while using an external drive and I had the problem using several different capture cameras.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 07:02 PM   #5
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Well I wouldn't capture to an external hard drive. In addition not all externals are the same some older ones are 5400 rpm. Some are usb not firewire if that's what your doing that's the problem right there. I've never used a mac min but I've heard they use laptop components and 5400 rpm drives, this in itself shouldn't mean it won't work its just not optimal.

What I'm getting at is that capturing video isn't a cpu intensive task I've worked on old G3 and haven't had a problem. But it does task your hard drive, so when you are using an external the computer has to do an extra step to convert the data stream to firewire then back to sata/pata. If you're doing things in the background like playing music you can cause drop frames because the drive can't keep up. In addition capturing an entire tape at once increases your chances of a lag.

Bottom line: capture to an internal and don't do a lot of stuff in the background and you should be fine Pc/mac/old it shouldn't matter. then copy it to an external. I know ppl are going to say you can capture to an external but if your experiencing problems then you should go back to basics.
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Old September 2nd, 2008, 12:51 PM   #6
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I agree that MacMinis can work with video but my experience is that an old G3 tower has better bandwidth for worry free video capture and playback (to a second internal drive) than a Mini does. My Mini never could playback off the internal drive without dropped frames. Once I attached an external FireWire drive, it's been trouble free, capture and playback. Mind you this is not my main system, it's only used for very simple jobs.

The audio screeching is probably from some component of the system being overloaded by the bandwidth needed to record/playback video. I've had this happen with HD files playing back on an old G4 iMac.
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