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Old January 13th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #1
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best way to record signal from a video mixer

I need to get a feed from a live video mixer recorded and into Adobe Premiere for final editing. Currently we're mixing two cameras live and outputting to VHS. This tape is then later captured into Premiere through a DV camcorder (set to AV->DV passthrough).

Does anyone have any suggestions for a better way to do this? We've bounced around the idea of recording to miniDV, Digital8, DVD-R, or even direct capture to a firewire hard drive or PC. Any thoughts? Unfortunately it'll likely come down to the least expensive solution rather than the best image quality.

I should also mention that these recordings are then edited in Premiere to a specific time length and sent out on the local public-access cable channel (which is currently broadcasting off of VHS). We're mostly just looking for a way to eliminate the first VHS generation.

Thanks!
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Old January 13th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #2
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Recorded onto VHS?!?! Broadcast from VHS?!?!? That makes the head spin. VHS is the WORSE format to record to...much less master to.

Get a DV deck. DSR-11 minimum. That will take an S-VHS signal, which is better than composite. And the DV format is MUCH better than VHS. I can't believe that even a Cable Access station takes VHS.

I'd highly recommend a DV deck with component inputs...like the DSR-45. But, it all depends on what signal the mixer can output.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 03:52 PM   #3
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Yes, VHS. It's sad, I know. Rumor has it the station is hoping to upgrade to a DV-based broadcast system, but I have no clue when that'll happen. Until then, it's low-budget all the way.

I think the mixer has S-Video out but component is very unlikely. I've only used it once or twice (I'm mostly just providing advice for the upgrade), but I know it's nothing special.

I've borrowed a DSR-11 a couple of times (a friend had some DVCAM tapes from a PD150 -- 'couldn't play them with my Canon equipment). The problem is cost -- I doubt a $2000 deck is going to fly with their budget. Like I said earlier, the final decision will likely come down affordability rather than cutting-edge quality.

Is a small 1CCD camcorder with AV inputs and Firewire a reasonable alternative to a deck?
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Old January 13th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #4
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Lots of 1CCD camcorders have a S-video port on them. However, check that it has analog input- some can't convert analog-->DV (may be crippled intentionally or omitted on lower end models). It's likely your best bet.

If the camera has analog-digital passthrough, you can use the PC to record which will allow over 60/80 minutes of record time provided you configure your software correctly (many have features to limit capture now time; disable it).

There's also the Canopus converter box, which will handle 7.5IRE setup so your VHS masters won't look too dark.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 04:14 PM   #5
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We actually had someone suggest digging up a used Digital8 cam for a "record deck" -- I guess you can get longer tapes for D8 (though I realize most are only 60min in digital mode). We need about 80 minutes of uncut record time.

Has anyone tried using something like a settop DVD-R recorder? No one has mentioned it yet (either yay or nay), so I thought I'd offer that for discussion.

Thanks for all your recommendations so far!
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Old January 14th, 2005, 06:53 PM   #6
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The set top recorder is a great way to record a fully produced product. Everything comes out the mixer straight to the hard disc in the recorder and can be burned to dvd and then duplicated. It's fast and easy when the final product is coming out of the mixer.

However, in your case your taking the footage and editing it down after the production. You won't want to get the set top recorder for any type of work that your going to re-edit. You'll run into major quality issues when you have to work with the mpg2 file in editing and you run it through another compression cycle.

Your best method would be to buy a analog to dv converter that will pass the mixer output directly into the computer and use the computer as the recording device. Canopus makes some very nice converters that run about $200. You other option for a converter would be to use an additional camera with the pass through and it will act as the go between for the computer and the mixer. The stand alone converter is the best choice however.

Right now your wasting time because you have to go back and record the same program to the computer and it's at a very low quality. If you can skip the upload step and record directly as the event happens live then you'll not only save a lot of time but you'll also boost the quality up a considerable amount from what your at right now.

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Old January 17th, 2005, 02:56 AM   #7
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I've never used the long play on my mini dv camera so I'm not sure of the quality, but this would give you a 90 minute recording.
You could use a DV cam to record onto. And If you used the same record camera to replay and capture into your NLE this would asure you that the tape would replay correctly. You could even consider hiring something like firestore or capdiv hard drive recorders.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #8
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Panasonic makes 80 minute DV tapes. They are 80 minutes in SP mode and even longer in LP. They area little harder to get ahold of though, plus they are a few dollars more per tape.

I think I would just go with LP mode (90minutes) on a standard 60 minute tape. Since you are coming up from VHS anyways - 1 or 2 dropouts would never hurt you. Besides I use LP all the time on little projects where I just need to transfer bulk amounts of footage and have never even seen a dropout. I just would steer away from using it on a really important project.

I have one of these canopus convertors (ADVC-100) and I absolutely love it. It would suit you well unless you don't have the computer there to capture at the same time your doing the recording/mixing. If not then just pickup a cheap mini-dv camcorder that has everything you need.


I'm going to take a guess and say your doing this for a church. My church did all of this different stuff, but they finally just settled on a settop dvd-r recorder. Since our local cable uplink accepts dvd we just finalize it and drop if off down there. It works well for us, since we're not doing any after the fact editing (non-linear) and we're not looking for an incredible amount of quality.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 07:44 PM   #9
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I'm jumping in a little late in this thread, but here goes.

I'm going to have a similiar situation in February, where I'm going to shoot some single-camera stuff which will end up as streaming video on the client's web site. (It's also going to a real-time video feed to another location, probably via triax). I've also been debating what to record to, and had about decided on a DVD recorder until I read through here. How about (don't gag guys) S-VHS? The camera is an older Hitachi Z-1B which is a studio camera. Any suggestions here? Thanks.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 07:54 PM   #10
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What is wrong with DV?

That is the LOWEST I would go. S-VHS was only used (in my experience) on peoples weddings...and even then, it was low quality.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 08:17 PM   #11
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DV would be the preferred, but I'm up against the wall budget-wise. I'll be taping about 50 hours total and don't have a DV recorder or an available camera.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #12
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SVHS will be fine for your purpouses. I back alot of my DV stuff up to it as a fail safe and am usually suprised at the quality of SVHS material.

Honestly at first glance it is hard for me to see a difference between miniDV and SVHS on my 27" Sony Wega. If I remember correctly SVHS is ~425 lines of resolution.

I use used Fuji SVHS Gold tapes I purchased off ebay. Its nice to back up to tape projects and once I had to use the backup and once mastered to dvd there was really no discernable quality difference between it and my original DV version.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 11:23 PM   #13
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Jeremy... as you stated your looking for cheap! and although I agree with Brandon that the canopus ADVC100 is excellent you would need to firwire out of it to capture live.Scary with the level of gear your talking.
The cheap DV cam is an excellent option make sure it will analog in.
Although I disagree with Shane as Svhs is still used by studio and can achieve excellent results most of these are with $10,000+ cameras( 750 lines at the head) you will loose quality after multiple generations and so can't recommend this.
Joe , I think the hitachi has an output(BNC composite) from the head.You could send this in to a cheap DV cam with analog in and record to that.Sending it from the head will give a little better quality
Brandon why not backup to DV as you won't get as much generation loss?
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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #14
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Thanks to everybody for the good input so far! Brandon, you guessed right; this is a church project. We don't need an incredible amount of quality either (remember our final broadcast medium?), but we do have to do some editing to make it fit our time slot.

The Canopus box would be great, but the computer is not onsite, so we have to record to something which can be transported and loaded in later.

So far the cheap miniDV camcorder sounds like the best route. DVD-R is still tempting, and even though I realize that we would lose some quality in the conversion from MPEG-2, it may still be an improvement over VHS.

Thanks again for everyone's advice. After this upgrade, the cable station itself may be the next limiting factor (however, a new rumor has surfaced that they may be able to broadcast from DVD -- 'will have to look into that).
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Old January 18th, 2005, 01:20 PM   #15
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Be aware that the quality diffrence from a re-encoded mpeg file will not be as good as the quality from the vhs. The reason is because the footage will become very blocky, and thus much more noticable to the eye. Vhs may be low grade but the analog signal also tends to hide the lack of detail by simply making for a softer picture. When the mpeg footage gets blocky there's no hiding it and it's very apparent and eye catching.

First generation footage recorded to a stand alone unit will look and playback great as long as it's un-edited. But once that mpeg file goes through any other encoding cycle you'll see the Lego factor take place.

Since the editor is external the mini-dv cam may be the best alternative. It's a tough call. The extranal hard disk recorder also sounds like a very good route if you had a little bit extra money to make it go.

Ben
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