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Video Monitors and Media Players for field or studio use (all display technologies).


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Old September 26th, 2003, 05:43 PM   #1
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Portable DVD Player as Monitor?

There are definitely times when I could use a larger monitor when filming with my VX-2000. At one time I purchased a varizoom monitor to solve this problem, but I was very disappointed with the quality of the image. It was dim and if you got off axis at all, the picture was terrible. The battery was also a real brick. I ended up returning it to the store. Recently I have been looking at portable DVD players to solve this problem. I think some of these units have the characteristics that I need:
-good visual angle
-reasonable screen size
-battery operation for several hours
-relatively low price
-ability to use as a DVD player at shows, ...
-video input (this is the hardest feature to find!)
My thought is to mount one of these to my tripod, probably under the camera. Has anyone done anything similar? Is there a particular unit that you would recommend? Is there an alternative approach that you would recommend?
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Old September 29th, 2003, 05:29 PM   #2
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have you looked at the sony mini-dv walkman?

i have a dv-900, it is both a playback device and a spare screen for looking at what your shooting.

matthew
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Old October 6th, 2003, 04:43 PM   #3
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The GVD-900 from Sony would be a good solution, although it was expensive when it was shipping (>$1000 is my recollection). It doesn't appear that you can get these anymore, and the replacement is over $2000. A mini-DVD player at $300 seems like a better alternative if I can find one with the right capabilities.
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Old October 7th, 2003, 10:03 PM   #4
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i use a laptop running scenalyser thru firewire

supported on a manfrotto caddy

Cat. No.: 139 => Bogen code (USA only): 3145
VIDEO TRIPOD CADDY see bottom of page at

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a second user Pentium III 500 can be had for a few hundred

You can also grab lots of video via NTFS...
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Old October 11th, 2003, 01:19 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply.

Can you tell me more about the Scenalyzer via Firewire? Do you need a laptop with Firewire built in or is this a PCMCIA plug-in? What speed processor and memory configuration do you need on the laptop. You made it sound like 500Mhz would work...
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Old October 11th, 2003, 10:05 AM   #6
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Do many of the small 7" or so portable DVD players have "inputs" for an incoming signal? If so- I don't see why they couldn't be used as a field monitor or ext desktop video device.
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Old October 11th, 2003, 10:13 AM   #7
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If you look at the specs, the resolution is pretty low on all those DVD players (only 240 vertical lines from what I've seen). Also, I have not seen one that has s-video input.

I have gone the laptop route, but am using a Mac Powerbook instead of a PC. There's a very nice shareware program called BTV Pro that will turn your laptop into a monitor. It will also capture directly to your hard drive and can even do timelapse recording. The main feature that attracted me to this program is the ability to scale the image size. I'm shooting anamorphic 16:9 with a PDX-10, and BTV Pro lets me view a full screen, full frame image in the correct proportions.

And that's another thing to consider... do the portable DVD players overscan? I'll bet they do...
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Old October 11th, 2003, 10:25 AM   #8
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If you look at the specs, the resolution is pretty low on all those DVD players (only 240 vertical lines from what I've seen). Also, I have not seen one that has s-video input.

I have gone the laptop route, but am using a Mac Powerbook instead of a PC. There's a very nice shareware program called BTV Pro that will turn your laptop into a monitor. It will also capture directly to your hard drive and can even do timelapse recording. The main feature that attracted me to this program is the ability to scale the image size. I'm shooting anamorphic 16:9 with a PDX-10, and BTV Pro lets me view a full screen, full frame image in the correct proportions.

And that's another thing to consider... do the portable DVD players overscan? I'll bet they do...
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Old October 11th, 2003, 08:19 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Alan Christensen : Thanks for the reply.

Can you tell me more about the Scenalyzer via Firewire? Do you need a laptop with Firewire built in or is this a PCMCIA plug-in? What speed processor and memory configuration do you need on the laptop. You made it sound like 500Mhz would work... -->>>

a P3/500 should be fine, 256 ram is useful and if it doesnt have firewire, I recommend IBM 1394 Cardbus Card (it has the industry standard Texas chipset)

There are lots of apps which will give you scaleable monitor and video grabbing capablity, I just happen to like scenalyser (www.scenalyser.com), in addition to the essential video caddy for supporting your laptop on the tripod you will need a very specialist piece of equipment for outside daytime use......:)

Get along to your local grocer and ask for a cardboard box big enough to fit your laptop inside - when opened in the laidback L-shape configuration. Spray the inside with some matte noire car spray paint and voila you will be able to see your monitor in the brightest of conditions

Further if you get your laptop second user make sure the battery is in good form otherwise figure another 50-100 for a replacement. Also if you are just monitoring, arrange the power saving settings to disable the hard drive after a minute - that way your battery should give you about 4hr monitoring off a single charge..
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Old October 13th, 2003, 03:24 AM   #10
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portable DVD player as "HD" monitor?

Anyone know of a good portable DVD player or relatively cheap portable HD monitor, so we can make sure the whites aren't always blown out on this camera. I was looking at a couple portable DVD players with component video input and was thinking they could make a sufficient monitor in a pinch since their resolution is 1280x720.
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Old October 13th, 2003, 03:47 AM   #11
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ahh nevermind, found Alex Raskin's post on the truth of HD10 recording...guess there is no portable HD monitor solution
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Old October 13th, 2003, 08:40 AM   #12
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To make sure that your signal does not exceed the boundaries of digital video's lattitude, always check your image with Zebra and Vectorscope/Waveform in real time while recording.

Composite out is good enough for waveform, don't bother with HD thing (unless of course you have a Budget.)

Because these cams don't have Zebra (not 70, not 100...) then vectorscope/waveform is your only option.

Cheapest ones are actually *modified oscilloscopes* and they sell for over $1K new. I found that they are technically adequate.

Note that these devices are big and heavy. Portable ones are available at premium cost.
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Old October 14th, 2003, 05:11 AM   #13
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Review -- the FLUKE 123 ScopeMeter

Passing by the FLUKE booth at NAB `98 I spotted a "slightly smaller than a cigar-box" test instrument that looked like it would be useful for videographers. Now after working with FLUKE's Industrial ScopeMeter 123 my initial impression has been confirmed. At under a $1000, it provides the capabilities of both a digital multimeter and a dual channel oscilloscope. The multimeter can measure: VAC, VDC, VAC+VDC, resistance, capacitance, current, temperature, dB, Hz, and phase.

The later two are of special value for checking video and audio equipment. Two special features are available: "Connect-and-View" enables hands-off operation to measure and display the waveform of complex unknown signals.

I found the instrument to be of great value in working with audio signals. I could check audio level as dBm into 50 ohms, dBm into 600 ohms, dBV, as well as peak-to-peak and rms volts. Signal frequency could be measured as well. And for complex audio signals, the signal waveform was displayed on the FLUKE's backlit screen. I've been interested in creating more consistent audio levels over a production. So I played an edited tape and used the TrendPlot function to draw a graph -- over the video's duration -- of the minimum, average, and maximum audio levels.

The ScopeMeter also functions as a video waveform monitor. You can select the field and line to be displayed. I checked the levels of 75% and 100% white; the chroma levels and chroma amplitudes of the six color bars; pedestal; the chroma color burst; and horizontal sync depth.

My test tape was also played into a Tektronix waveform monitor as a validity check. Chart values have been decremented by 6IRE because the ScopeMeter measurements were slightly high. I suspect my jury-rigged 75 ohm termination resistor might have been the cause.
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Old November 26th, 2003, 01:25 PM   #14
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Portable Notebook-Style DVD Player

I've been thinking about getting a portable battery-operated
5" - 7" color CRT TV to use as an inexpensive field monitor, mostly to check exposure/color.
I've also been needing one of those newer, notebook-type
DVD players to show demo reels to prospective clients. Most of these units have A/V in.
Do you think I could skip getting the TV and use the porta-DVD
for both purposes? Or would an LCD screen not be adequate for judging exposure? Do these 7" DVD porta-players normally have
settings for contrast, hue, brightness, saturation? And how does
grainy footage show on an LCD screen? Worse than CRT?
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Old November 26th, 2003, 02:17 PM   #15
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Dave, I thought about getting one of the Audiovox portable DVDs, then decided aw heck, why lug around still another piece of gear, when I am already carrying a 15.2" LCD with a built-in DVD player. Otherwise known as a PowerBook. Hee hee. Oh yeah, it also does have Final Cut Pro on it. Such fun, a post-production suite in a briefcase. I can show a client an actual working cut in progress. Plus it's quite good for watching movies.

As for a little field monitor, I have been using one of those DelvCam 5.6" TFTs, it's nice and compact, it can be mounted on the camera like a studio viewfinder, and you can buy it as a package with 12-volt battery & charger and soft case. Great for fielld playback...it even has built-in speakers. LCD screens are not really calibrated for color and exposure, but then a cheap color TV is not going to be equal to a regular NTSC monitor either.
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