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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:10 AM   #1
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PCI card that has multiple analog inputs?

Does such a thing exist? I'm hoping to build my own mixing system and am wondering how to get 3 or 4 video signals into a PC.

Anyone know of such hardware? PCI, USB, FW?

-Kevin
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:40 AM   #2
 
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u'll need multiple firewire bus cards...one for each camera....then switching becomes somewhat problemmatic
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
u'll need multiple firewire bus cards...one for each camera....then switching becomes somewhat problemmatic
I'm not talking about a full firewire feed of each camera. I'm looking for a USB or Firewire breakout box or a PCI card that accepts analog (NOT DIGITAL) signal. This shouldn't require as much bandwidth overhead.

I'm really not sure if this even exists but it seems to me that it should.

-Kevin
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Old January 18th, 2007, 11:18 AM   #4
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There are multiple firewire cards available on the market, I'm using a triple card ($25). Beware of switching glitches though - in case you want live switching, you will need a switcher with time base correction.

If you need to digitize analog signal, check out Grass Valley's ADVC series converters (aka Canopus).
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Old January 18th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #5
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Ervin,

What is this triple card you're talking about? Is it a Canopus card? I basically want to be able to accept analog SD signal from camera's via BNC or SVideo, or even RCA into the computer.

-K
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:27 PM   #6
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Kevin, you might want to look into Newtek's video toaster or tricaster products.

www.newtek.com
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #7
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Actually I just got off the phone with them. I'm going to go get a look at their box but I'm still more interested in building my own so that I can make it more multi-purpose.

So if anyone else knows of hardware I can add to a PC, I'm still looking.

-K
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Old January 19th, 2007, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Kimmell
Ervin,

What is this triple card you're talking about? Is it a Canopus card? I basically want to be able to accept analog SD signal from camera's via BNC or SVideo, or even RCA into the computer.
Kevin, I was talking stricly firewire cards (for capturing digital video from DV camcorders) - your post was not clear at the very beginning, you asked for either PCI, USB or FW cards, but what you really meant I think is an analog capture card that connects to the PC via one of these three ways.

It is still unclear to me what you mean by "building my own mixing system". If you mean live switching/mixing analog signals, then you need an analog mixer plus an analog card to digitize your analog signal. Coming back with all of the details would help.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 07:33 AM   #9
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Looking for suggestions for a multi-use rackable box...

Okay, I'm planning on building something special to use onsite at festivals and events. I am invisioning three separate PCs, two of which that will be pretty much identical and a third with a bit more muscle. I'm hoping to get suggestions for hardware and even software.

Let me start with what I'd like the overall system to be able to perform:

1. Three cameras will feed via firewire into each machine for direct-to-disc recording (WinDV or DVIO should be fine)
2. The more powerful of the machines will also have a live video mixing app to output to the web, a projector, and -if possible- to disc.
3. The powerful machine should also be able to run an NLE (Premiere/Vegas) to piece all of the sources together for a post mix to fix any bad mixes that were done live. It would be nice to network them for quicker rendering and somehow have them timecoded so that editing can happen instantly after a show.
4. Then finally each of them should be able to burn DVDs in case that option is wanted onsite after a show.
5. Ideally the machines should be SFF or mATX so that they will fit in a rolling SKB (or other) enclosure but not necessarily rackable machines themselves as it would be nice to be able to break one out to use by itself at another location if needed.

I'm wondering what the minimums I should consider for the 2 identical machines should be? I was going to look into blades but the ability to pull one of these out for a further remote spot or to be used at another shoot the same day is more attractive of an idea.

I'm thinking that the mATX format is looking attractive and in particular the Ultra Black Microfly case is nice and compact with most of what I'd need built in. The question then becomes AMD or Intel and Dual or Single core for these two less powerful machines. I'm thinking that 512MB of ram with a couple of stripped drives would do for the memory needs but I'm not sure what my best price for performance for capturing/encoding would be.

Then, on the more powerful machine, what should I shoot for? Does it even need to be more powerful? Will I be able to capture firewire to disc and dump a video mixer to disc on a single machine? How do I get three or four video clips into this box? Is there a PCI card that will accept multiple BNC or RCA video feeds? I'm hoping to avoid using the USB or Firewire bus if possible to isolate the direct to disc and video switcher feeds.

And finally, what video switching software is even out there? Do most of them have the ability to push their content to the web? Could I slap a Verizon PCMCIA card into this box to make it able to upload my feed to a streaming server?

Is this project out of the bounds of reality? I'm thinking that the smaller boxes are in the $700-1000 range and I am thinking that I'm working off of a $5-6000 budget.

Ideas/comments apprectiated.

-Kevin
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Old January 19th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #10
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"Is this project out of the bounds of reality?"

At this time, although the end result is doable it's not gonna happen on a PC IMO - it takes just about all the "gusto" a 3 gHz machine has just to run ONE video feed without stuttering in most cases. Trying to get three TIMES that much bandwidth thru a PC doesn't seem to be feasible, especially under the bloated system we've come to know and tolerate that's known as "win-doze" -

If you were a serious machine code programmer, you might be able to write an entire operating system that was optimized toward your purpose and ONLY your purpose, and then MAYBE most of the system could handle the thruput - but if you want to RECORD each video feed with relatively little loss, the next bottleneck would be disk drives or other storage - plus, the hardware as it exists today is bottlenecked at the PCI bus level. (when it comes to multiple un-compressed video streams, that is)

This is the main reason why, if you DO happen to find a multiple analog video input card I will be amazed.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, you'll probably have to go with a dedicated, multiple input switcher as previously suggested. Then, any reasonably fast off-the-shelf PC with a single-input, either analog or firewire, should be able to keep up with a single output (the program bus) from your dedicated hardware... Steve
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Old January 19th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #11
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OK Kevin, I remember now you posted this already.

I am working on a similar but less demanding setup for my church, and also it doesn't have to be mobil. I will be using 3 HD camcorders (Z1U/FX1) in SD mode for now, but need to make the whole system "future proof" aka HD capable. So I opted for a firewire switcher (ordered the nNovia with analog video monitor output and analog audio input from B&H but after seven weeks it's still on back order, so I'll probably go with a different manufacturer). The mixer has time base correction for glitchless switch, and two firewire outputs: one will feed into a live streaming PC (Windows Media Encoder), the other one into a stand-alone DVD recorder for "on the spot" DVD burning.

I still have a couple of technical details to sort out (for example to bring into the mix the signal from another PC that runs a worship/presentation software) but all in all I have it figured out.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask further questions. If you need the footage from all of your cameras for post production, you might be better off either taping or splitting the firewire signal and recording with FireStores.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 02:29 PM   #12
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Below is my horribly childlike representation of what I think I am heading towards. Keep in mind that until I'm fairly certain of the PCs stability and ability to keep up with what's happening I'd still be running archival tapes... But the end hope is that I can take tape out of the equation -- perhaps reusing tapes X amount of times to cut costs...

http://externalis.com/ybp/ProductionFlow.png

And the nice thing is (*I believe*) the TriCaster should be able to save the switched output to it's local disc.

Thoughts?
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Old January 19th, 2007, 03:23 PM   #13
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And one more thing I'm wondering about. I know it's kinda been covered but can someone clarify this...

Is it possible to record two firewire feeds to disc? Maybe a Core2 Duo and SCSI or 3-4 disc SATA RAID span?

I'm wanting to get all of this into a low rolling SKB box and having three SFFs and a tricaster along with clear comm, power conditioners and lights it'll be getting tight.

-K
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Old January 20th, 2007, 06:02 PM   #14
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OK, I understand now. If I were you, I would go for three Firestores directly on the cameras (saving the firewire cables which are not cheap), use the PC for live streaming and later for editing. As for direct DVD burning, a $200 direct recorder will do. Just my opinion.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #15
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Firestores are nice from what I've read, but the cost is too high for this project. And on that note, I've got one system built now and I'm going to do some trials...

I've heard many people say that I wont be able to record firewire direct to disk from two sources... Is this fact? I'm waiting on my second SATA-II drive to arrive before I can properly test this but here's the plan:

Two cameras fed through two of the 5 available 1394a ports...
I will have two 320GB SATA-2 drives setup as a STRIPPED raid set (I'm getting 70Mb/s linear reads on a single drive). I will also attach an external USB2 disk to the system.

Using two separate small footprint capture programs I will attempt to write to the SATA RAID set with one and to the external USB2 with the other. Since I'm working off of different busses for the devices and using tiny capture software like WinDV and DVIO I have high hopes that this is doable.

I'm assuming that there might be interest so I'll post results and hardware if it's successful in case anyone else would benefit from such a setup.

The replacement for the DOA hard drive should be here late next week hopefully. Stay tuned...
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