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Old December 27th, 2005, 10:15 AM   #1
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Need multi-cam advice... have questions

I'm preparing to do an interactive, long term, not-for-profit children's series (DV for now) in southern Brazil where I live. Since I do all the editing, as well as coordinate (direct/produce) things, I'm looking to gain some time by capturing all video as standard DV via firewire, to either a portable RAID array, or a single CPU, then transfer via Gbps Ethernet or Firewire to my editing suite later.

Here's the available equipment in this studio setup followed by my doubts:

2 DV cams (with XLR inputs for synced mic input)
2 HDV cams (1 with XLR inputs for synced mic input)
3 hidden, balanced super-cardioid mics (phantom powered) feeding into cams
1-UHF transmitter with headset mic for main talent (feeding into cam)

Now, my doubts:

1- though the sets are fairly small, the distances from cams to capture point could possibly exceed 30ft. Too far for IEEE-1394, right? How do I do it without a very expensive solution?

2- what is the best way to input those 4 streams of DV video/audio into a single RAID or multi-disk equipped CPU for transfer to my editing setup later?

3-Is it better to input each Firewire channel to a separate disk or to a fast RAID setup? I have a spare CPU with both IDE and 4 disk SATA RAID. Does each firewire input need a separate disk? If so, why, since DV capture is way below the speeds of those disks?

4- I normally edit in PPro 1.51 and plan to purchase Multicam 4-camera software to help with the multi-cam editing. Is this good, or unnecessary? Since there will be many cutaways/animations/visuals, is there a better way?

Okay you multi-cam pro's, I need some good advice...

Stephen Armour
ABE Prod.
Chapecó, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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Old December 27th, 2005, 11:58 AM   #2
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Hi Stephen, here's one approach that would work:

A- Record onto miniDV tape on each camera. During production, use a slate to aid in syncing the shots. In post production, you will need to capture from each tape. And then you need to sync up each camera, which is not difficult. It might be annoying if you have a large number of takes.

Capturing: If you want to speed up the capture process, you can have multiple computers capturing. If you capture to a firewire drive, you can simply plug the firewire drive into your editing computer.

Syncing: You can look online for pictures of slates. Basically the way to sync is to use the audio waveforms in your editing program. When the two parts of the slate hit each other it causes a spike. In case you don't have audio for some reason, you can sync things visually by findind the frame where the two parts hit. You can also write down what take is what, so in post you can figure out which take something is.

You don't actually need to feed sync sound to each camera... you could feed your 4 mics into two of the cameras. The last two cameras can use their on-board audio for syncing in post.

This is the cheapest and highest quality (highest quality since you can edit out mistakes), although it can take the most time.

B- Another approach is to do a live edit-to-tape (switching the video live as you record to tape). If you watch soap operas on TV, they shoot things in a way that makes things easy. The actors always have huge pauses in between their lines of dialogue, making cutting easy.

To do this you need a switcher/mixer... there are various posts on this.

This is the fastest, and can be the 'cheapest' because it's the fastest. But your camera operators do need to know what they are doing, and you have to make an initial investment in monitors and the switcher and the cabling.

C- I think there is some $100k solution for recording multiple inputs all synced. This would be the highest quality and fastest.

4- I normally edit in PPro 1.51 and plan to purchase Multicam 4-camera software to help with the multi-cam editing. Is this good, or unnecessary? Since there will be many cutaways/animations/visuals, is there a better way?
Personally I would use Vegas and one of the third-party multi-camera tools or scripts. The VASST website has a free multicamera script somewhere, and I think there are some posts in the Sony Media forum about free scripts. VASST also sells their Infinitcam product designed for multi-camera situations (designed to save even more time).

The nice thing about Vegas is that you don't have to wait a long time for Premiere to build the audio waveforms (if it still does this). The building process is very fast in Vegas.

The takes feature in Vegas and the multicam tools available should make multi-camera situations really easy to handle.

But anyways, all the programs will do the same thing here. If you find things take too long in Premiere, then look at your options.

3- You don't actually need a RAID to handle this situation. If you want to play back 4 streams of DV (i.e. for anything like Infiniticam) I think one drive might actually be enough. Otherwise do a RAID with 2 drives, or have two independent hard drives with 2 angles' footage on each drive. The two independent drives will actually be faster, although file management is slightly harder.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 12:43 PM   #3
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multicam questions - still hunting...

Thanks for answering Glenn. I have used your first suggestion in the past for multicam projects, but I am hunting info specifically for 4 DV firewire feeds to CPU, not to tape (except as backup). Please reread my post.

Since this is a very involved project, hopefully destined for broadcast TV here in Brazil, and I already edit using PP 1.51, I need something more specific for helping speed post production. This is not a "live production" and cannot be done with a normal video audio switcher.

The audio is easy to input with the DV streams (like you mentioned), however via firewire it is not, due to the distances (see my post again).

Here's what will probably be my final solution: use a spare CPU (I already have) with SATA RAID using the two onboard firewire inputs, add another IEEE-1394 board and input just 3 of the closest DV cams (two are actually HDV) directly to that CPU. Since they'll automatically be synced the moment I start capturing, sync is a no-brainer. I really don't even need that "clapper" or a flash, or clap or anything.

The most distant (fourth) cam will have to be captured to another CPU (or to my laptop). All this hassle is to speed transfers to my main dual-Xeon editing station, so I DON"T have to capture via DV tape later!

Maybe I'm just creating trouble with all this, but somehow the idea of constantly re-capturing from DV tapes leaves me cold. Especially given the difference in cameras. If you want trouble, just try that and you'll soon discover it is NOT the way to go!

Still hunting for suggestions...
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Old December 27th, 2005, 12:56 PM   #4
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HOw will you simultaneously capture three seperate DV/HDV streams to one Raid?

Don't know of anything that will do this. You can 'switch' between them, but then you don't have the unswitched material to work with later. This is essentially switching live to tape, which you've indicated you don't want to do. Switching between cameras requires synch generators.

You CAN capture to various hard drive devices, like FIRESTORE and then they are ready to edit from directly, but each camera will require a firestore or computer/storage device on it's own.

30 feet of firewire will need a 'repeater' that boosts the signal.

SO, to sum up. You'll need seperate hard drive/Capture solutions for each camera, as I know of NO software that will capture three cameras to one raid simultaneously, without switching. (Please correct me if I'm wrong someone.) Such solutions as FIRESTORE are likely what you are looking at. This leaves you with material ready to edit without re-capture.

You will need a 'repeater' for long firewire leads... however, if you have firestores docked on each camera, this is a moot point.

You will need an editing app that will edit multicam materials from dissimilar sources (DV and HDV) simultaneously in the timeline. (Don't know if PP does this, Avid does.)

Good luck.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 02:02 PM   #5
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good question Richard. Answer: below

It's really pretty simple...if I can somehow figure a way around the (very expensive) IEEE-1394 repeaters. Here's how:

I will not use a RAID, but only the SATA drives. Each firewire input get a separate drive. Easy on the CPU, and the drives. Should easily handle up to four cams! The IDE serves as the boot and OS drive.

Just transfer the input later via Firewire. Easy.

I'm sure it'll if I can reduce the distances to the 3 cams and CPU, I've got it figured out. This is WAY CHEAPER than 4 Firestore, which are unnecessary for studio work, only field productions.

Raptors would let me handle up to 8 cams easily, check the specs...

Transport from the studio to editing suite will be done via large portable Firewire drive for all four (or three...or eight) separate streams.

Last edited by Stephen Armour; December 27th, 2005 at 02:25 PM. Reason: adding more info
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Old December 27th, 2005, 04:33 PM   #6
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First, a question: Have you captured multiple streams of DV to one CPU before? Does windows recognize multiple cameras simultaneously? The total data throughput is not so high, but don't forget about latency. Computers are not always perfect about switching between tasks and I would be concerned that some of your streams would get lost in the shuffle.

When suggestion a solution to a problem, it is good to look at the situation as a whole. My suggestion would be to reduce the number of cameras used. Do you really have 4 qualified camera operators? Do you have sufficient cause to use all 4 cameras? Are the different cameras getting in each others shots? With small sets and many cutaways to graphics, I can't really think of a reason for more than two or three cameras. Honestly, I can't come up with anything other than a medium shot and a closeup shot with a third cam for a reverse-angle shot. Your life would be easier and your production better if you can limit your footage to that from three good cameras with three good operators.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 07:25 PM   #7
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What is your "CAPTURE SOFTWARE" that will allow you to capture all these streams simultaneously on one CPU?
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Old December 28th, 2005, 11:23 AM   #8
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things are coming together...multi cam input

Marcus, that is definitely a good question and the answer is no, I have never captured multiple Firewire streams to one CPU before. I suppose if I had, I wouldn't be here asking questions about it...?

The reason I am even considering this, is because I have a good friend, with a private business, working on very sophisticated video projects for gov, industry and military. He works on a level that I seriously doubt anyone in any of these forums has worked (or is working). It was at his suggestion I am even considering doing this, and because of his experience in multicamera extremely high resolution capture rate video.

Now today, he's just decided to build a solution for me (pretty good bud...) that he's going to market with very soon. Linux box, embedded OS, multicam digital (4 inputs or even more + HDV and uncompressed digital too) video inputs, transfer for editing via Firewire (for now). Mostly will be for studios/sets, but he will make it tough for field too. Can change the capture codecs via CF cards and has hotpluggable HDD(s). This is all a spinoff from some "big" projects he's got going, so you can guarantee it'll work at gov/industry specs.

I'll be the guinea-pig beta tester for the 1st box, so will let you know what happens.

BTW, HIGH quality Firewire cables can be up to 10 meters no prob. Word from the guys that know...

Stephen Armour
ABE Prod. - Brazil
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Old December 28th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #9
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Okay, so that answers my question. No such software exists... YET.

Looks like your buddy holds all your answers... good luck!
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Old December 28th, 2005, 01:37 PM   #10
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My buddy said the prob is "Windows". Get away from that, and poof***, gone are your multi-cam, multi-stream video probs! This solution will also have config and transfer of the data from the Linux box via LAN to Windows, however. So people like me can deal with Linux.

Looks like he'll offer it for what should prove very attractive for many, many pro's and prosumer's. I will try to post info here when he has a final price. This solution may be sold through retailers later, but lucky will be the ones getting in on ground floor, especially those wanting robust, but reasonable solutions for multi-cam work! Like me!

BTW - for Marcus: the reason for 4-5 cams is simple: since this is a truly "interactive/spontaneous kid's production", ANY camera/gaffer/lift movement would be highly distractive to 7-11 yr olds! These are not "little actors and actresses", but real live, normal kids. There will be two groups, switching off to vary somewhat from week to week, and to provide "no-show" coverage.

I can't totally eliminate the camera-people (one is a woman) obviously, but will try to keep them down to an absolute minimum. Curtains and props provide some cover from the distractions, but it's still a hard production to shoot. If I had my way, I'd have 5 cams (2 low>high, high>low, for over-the-shoulder shots, one cam on main talent, one cam for kid closeups, and one cam set wide a little nearer center stage, but without a cameraman) instead of 4. But greed and need have limits...I'll eliminate one over-the-shoulder cam just to relieve my editing load later.

For exactly the same reasons, I'll be using 4-6 mic inputs, then doing mixing later with FX and music. This is for broadcast TV, DVD and then streaming to a potential audience of 200 million people in 5 countries. Gotta get it right the first time and do it with a pretty sparse budget! And you thought miracles can't still happen? We'll see in a few weeks...
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Old March 19th, 2006, 08:06 PM   #11
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Multicam shoot

I am going to shoot a recruitment video for the company that I work for.
I have a XL2 and a PD 170. I travel to South America for mission trips. This is the reason for the cameras period. Most of my work is live event for church functions, but I need to recover some on my investment.
Would it be sudden death if I bought A FX1 for the second camera instead of buying a second PD170 or XL2? Could the average joe or customer be able to tell the difference?
I bought the PD170 for the low light. But it lacks the features of the XL2.
The PD170 travels better. The FX1 has native 16:9 chips and is small like the PD170. Maybe shoot in HDV and downconvert. What do you think?
Thanks in advance
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Old March 19th, 2006, 10:39 PM   #12
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a quick answer

HD downconverted looks cleaner to non-vidiots. (us) : "Hey did you get a new camera"

(Between a PD150, XL2, F900, and Z1) I'd just do a sit down with the client between the 3 cams, shooting outdoors scenes, color bars, horizontal bars, and complex lit scenes. See if they can tell, and base your decision off of that
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Old March 20th, 2006, 09:23 PM   #13
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Thanks for your reply Daniel. No I didn't get it yet, I have to go out of town for a week and I don't want it to show up while I am gone.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 08:38 PM   #14
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Multicam editing:What are the PC software


Once upon a time I had the luxury of doing real time,on the fly editing using a live switcher between several cameras,these days however...alas.. due to the present circumstances I need to learn to do it the painful and time consuming way,i.e on the computer at least for a while to come.My platform is a PC as my Mac is an aging one.I do not have vegas,premiere pro 2,final cut pro or anything of that stature which has an built-in multicam feature. I've only been able to come upon United Media's 4 camera program (well it's really a plug-in) which looks like it will do the job.Have any of you have hands on experience on this software or would reccomend any other similiar stand alone programs or plug-ins which would be a viable solution,a solid alternative to tedious editing?Thanks and I hope to hear from you.Any insight,comments, experiences or tips welcomed.

"The newbie in video digital editing land"
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Old April 20th, 2006, 04:57 AM   #15
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Avid Liquid (previously Pinnacle Liquid Edition) does multicam in post. I cannot remember if it supports 9 or 16 different cameras. I have never used more than 3. My workflow includes logging (non-synced) tapes (it will do sync too and you change the logging style to select a specific camera), finding a common frame and setting a clip marker, then selecting all the clips, then select to create a multi-cam clip. It then gives me a dialog that I select sync on first marker. It creates a new clip in my bin. I then "play" the clip in the source viewer and it gives me a display with all of the clips. I click on the clips to change the camera. I usually take it to full screen to do it. If I make a less than optimal cut, I can undo the switch (it is a numbered marker). When done, and add it to the timeline and it is the switched clip.

I think I remember that Vegas does it too, but no experience.
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