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Old April 30th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #1
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Live video switcher choices

I need to buy a live video switcher for my church.
- Inputs: three SD cameras via component cables, and a scan converter to capture the projector screen via a VGA splitter.
- Audio from the existing sound board.
- Output: firewire, to feed a live streaming PC and a DVD recorder, possibly DV capture for post production (will need a firewire splitter). Of course I also need to monitor each input and the output.

With a budget of under $5K the best I can find is Datavideo SE-800. What I really like about it is the flexibility, both input and output modules can be added to accommodate digital (firewire) inputs/outputs – at this point only an output module looks justified, as firewire inputs would be a step backward compared to uncompressed component inputs. Other nice add-ons would be the tally interface and the SDI overlay capabilities as money becomes available.

Anyone with direct experience using live switchers please bring your input, especially if you have an SE-800. Why do you like, what you hate about it, weaknesses, strengths… any other options within my budget?

Thanks,
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Old May 1st, 2007, 06:57 AM   #2
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Ervin:

I currently use a DataVideo SE500 to tape City Commission meetings here in Rome. I really like the product. I am in the process of purchasing similar equipment for County Commission meetings and have also looked at the SE800. In the end, I decided to go back to the SE500 and then add a AV/DV converter such as the DataVideo DAC-200 bi-directional Converter to do the final output to DV.

Attached is a pdf screen shot of the equipment we are looking at from B&H. The work flow is as follows:

2 PCs and 1 DVD/VHS combo feed video to the Kramer push button switch. Output from that switch along with 3 camera feeds are input into the SE500. The 2 Marshall triple displays give me a monitor of each video source. 13" JVCs are used as the primary displays. One for the SE500 preview and one for the final output. Final output is then routed to the DAC-200 along with sound system output and then converted to DV for storage onto my FireStore FS-4.

If you would like to see video shot with this set up just visit:

http://www.romega.us/minutes/min_com.asp

If you want to sit down with it drop me a line and we'll get together.

Randy
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Old May 1st, 2007, 02:45 PM   #3
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Randall, you have a nice high-tech meeting facility, and I don't know of many cities or counties that film their meetings and post them the way you do; nice job!

It seems like your quality requirements are somewhat lower than ours, so the SE-500 suits your needs - we are targeting local cable TV distribution, so we need to go a little higher, that's why I would like to stick with the SE-800, to be able to go the component route (as opposed to S-video or composite). Nevertheless, I appreciate your feedback on Datavideo products, for the price range they seem to perform very well.

I would love to stop by, but my daily commute takes me from southern Gwinnett to Jackson county up I85... I am not wondering around your area too much, although I was practically in your backyard this past Sunday, I filmed a wedding at beautiful Barnsley Gardens.

Thanks for the info!
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Old May 4th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #4
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Barnsley is great....

Its been a while since I went to Barnsley. I bet it was great this time of year. Let me know if you get back out this way.

Actually the commission meetings are produced first for local cable. I work for the public library and we broadcast on the local PEG channel 5.5 hours each week night. 2 hours of meetings and then locally produced community info type stuff. The webcast is something new that the city started. I don't think the average viewer could tell the difference for my application. I would think yours would not either. You of course know your project and audience better.

What cameras did you go with?

Will you use the switch in house to display to a projector? Our church needs a switch for that. We use a variety of computer generated media as well as VHS/DVD and to me it looks crappy to see the projector switching from VGA to s-video and back during the service.

Randy
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Old May 4th, 2007, 11:43 AM   #5
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We use two Sony HDV camcorders, a Z1U and an FX1, in DV 16x9 mode for now, but we wanted to be "future-proof", looking for high definition in the future. So far we have no plans on using the captured video to be displayed on the projector, but who knows, needs may change.

Yes, we have also experienced frustration going back and forth between VGA and video, although we ditched VHS a few years back (never got to actually throw the player out from the console thinking maybe we still need it, but honestly, we used it zero times the last three years). DVD is much better, even on our old 800x600 projector, but it looks even better via the PC - we now have a killer multimedia PC at the sound board, and that's what we use for ALL of our multimedia projection needs: Easy Worship, PowerPoint, DVD, slide shows, computer-based video. We may add a video capture card and Easy Worship will project the incoming video if we need it, possibly a firewire card since we will digitize the video coming out of the switcher anyway... or maybe we get really fancy and go uncompressed all the way... money will talk...

What cameras do you have at the townhall?

By the way, I have already ordered the SE-800 yesterday, I only heard good things about it, nothing negative - and they have an awesome custumer/tech assistance in place: I got e-mail replies within minutes... I hope that's not only for pre-sales questions.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 02:04 PM   #6
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The city wanted to go with some 1 CCD PTZ cameras for the commission room but I took my GL-2 and a Sony hanycam type camera and showed them the difference. We had been filming from a tripod on the left side of the room with a GL-2 for 2+ years and they became accustomed to the 3 chip quality. They finally agreed to spend the money and we got 3 Sony BRC-300's.

Let me know how you like the 800. Two things I'll pass on and they are not really negative. First, the plastic housing of the SE500 was not what I was expecting. When I first got hold of it the entire unit felt light weight and almost....toy like. The plastic is not the hard smooth plastic that I was used to from a camera or even a Panasonic WJ-MX50 editor that we have. I was afraid I was playing with a toddlers toy when I first sat down at it.

The other thing is that after using the MX50 the t-bar control on the SE500 felt backwards. With the SE500 you select your first source on the top(Input1 for example), select the source you are going to on the bottom(Input 3) and when you move the t-bar the unit reassigns them so that Input 3 is now on top and Input 1 is now on the bottom to go back to on the next movement of the tbar. With the MX50 you assign an input to the top row and one to the bottom and they do not move until you reassign them. The Tbar location indicates if you are currently viewing the top row or the bottom row. It was just confusing to me. Any idea which one is industry standard? If either?

Once I have gotten used to both issues though there has not been any problems.

Randy
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