Very cheap multicam-laptop setup at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Open DV Discussion
For topics which don't fit into any of the other categories.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 15th, 2010, 08:12 AM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 204
Very cheap multicam-laptop setup

Hi all,

I'm investigating the possibility of making a very cheap and quick multi-cam setup, using a laptop and three pocketcams. I basically want to film actors from three different directions in a rehearsal setup. It's not really about image quality, I just want to use it to evaluate the performance with the actors. An extra microphone would be nice to be able to hear dialogue well enough. The problem is that I'm not sure if I can make this work, since I don't have the cameras here to test.

So my ideas was to have three pocketcams, like flip HD's, or kodak zi8's, connected somehow to a laptop with a program that can do multicam, like premiere pro. Ideally I could hook them up to the laptop without the cameras recording themselves, just live outputting the video, and I could sync start/stop the actual recording with the laptop. An external mic could also be recording the audio simultaneously.

So, in short, my questions are:
- Do these pocketcams have a live video out in the first place?

- Would it be possible to get a live feed from these kind of cameras over usb (laptops usually have 3 or more usb ports)? Or, if usb doesn't work, would it be necessary to get some type of convertor, to transfer the hdmi out of the cameras into something the laptop can handle in threefold (there are usually no hdmi-in ports on a laptop, let alone three)

- Would the laptop be able to process three streams of video and one stream of audio simultaneously? I figured that an advantage is that these pocketcams usually have low bit-rates.

- Has anyone tried something like this in the first place?

Thanks!
Steven Fokkinga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Efland NC, USA
Posts: 2,315
Those cameras do have low bitrates but they use a difficult codec. Most laptops will struggle with playing one stream of H264 encoded video. Playing 3 is highly unlikely.

Since you aren't looking for the ultimate quality a trio of USB webcams might make the most sense.
__________________
http://www.LandYachtMedia.com
Chris Medico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2010, 09:09 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 204
That's a good suggestion indeed. For judging performance the suboptimal resolution and image quality of a webcam is not really a problem I think, but the fact that they often have low or variable frame rates can be problematical. I think it is very distracting if you try to judge things like timing and truthfulness of a performance if you do not have a consistent frame rate of 24/25/30 fps or more. But maybe there are webcams now that can hold their frame rate, problem is, these things are rarely put down in the published specs.
Would you know of such a high quality webcam?
Steven Fokkinga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2010, 09:59 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Efland NC, USA
Posts: 2,315
Logitech for sure makes webcams that will do 30fps. Even a no-name brand one I picked up at a local electronics store can record plenty good video directly to the hard drive.

What will make the most difference is how much data your laptop can process. If it is reasonably new with a dual core or better processor you should be OK with a few webcams attached.
__________________
http://www.LandYachtMedia.com
Chris Medico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 247
what resolution and frame rate are you recording?

are you recording each camera individually or a mix of all three?

if you want to record all three cameras you could do so at the camera and then sync each cameras recording and multi cam edit in premeire. multiple audio sources could also be synced and edited. this way you do not need to use the laptop at all during the recording.

if you want to live switch and select the best shot from each camera and live mix a good program is

VidBlaster - Video Production at Your Fingertips! - VidBlaster - Video Production at Your Fingertips!

there is a free trial download available. the trial is the full software and adds a watermark to the video.

with a laptop you could capture any camera source by usb. most usb controllers only recognize one capture device per usb hub, so three may or may not work on your laptop. processor speed is the main factor in resolution and frame rate.
George Bean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #6
Wrangler
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 4,093
Yeah, to my knowledge PPro / OnLocation can only do live capture via 1394 (Firewire) from one camera so for simultaneous capture of several varied cameras you'll need other software and perhaps hardware. If you don't mind having each camera recording onto its own medium and then transferring to your computer, the multicam in PPro will do the job, including extra audio tracks, nicely.
__________________
Pete Bauer
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. Albert Einstein
Trying to solve a DV mystery? You may find the answer behind the SEARCH function ... or be able to join a discussion already in progress!
Pete Bauer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 204
Thanks guys. After a lot of research I have decided that multiple webcams are (currently) not a very good option for a cheap multicam, so I'm going another route. I want to use several Kodak Zi8's to record quasi-simultaneously, after which I will manually sync them. One thing I couldn't find out though, and maybe someone with a Zi8 could chime in, if you have the Zi8 connected to your computer with USB (and an extension cable), are you able to record video? Or is the Zi8 in 'file transfer mode' or something like that, and unable to film?
Steven Fokkinga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Efland NC, USA
Posts: 2,315
According to the manual its a file transfer mode. You can't record from the camera directly to the computer. You can only record onto the memory card then download it later.
__________________
http://www.LandYachtMedia.com
Chris Medico is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:16 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network