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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old March 17th, 2009, 01:25 AM   #1
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Cheap Live Vision Switching... Is it possible?

Hi all,

I have had a bit of a ook around and havent been able to find any answered questions to this topic. So thought I would ask the question...

I am currently filming small scale corporate lectures. What I do at the moment is record 3 cameras.
Wide, speaker, projector screen.
I then take this away and cut it together on Final cut pro. SD is fine, as usually the clients want it on a DVD.

Trouble is the budget for these events makes it a struggle to do this and be competitive.

The solution that I am looking(hoping.... praying) for is a way to bring these 3 camera feeds into a laptop and into final cut pro and do the switching live on FCP. and then go back over it all, throw in some titles and burn off a DVD for the client... Piece of cake right??? lol...

I had a look at the crossover vision switcher, but for 20 K it seems to be way out of my league and price range. I was informed of a "pipeline and quad unit??" that gets upto 4 lots of cam footage into FCP all at once. This is around 11K US. and now that you buggers have a stronger dollar again, that makes it even more horrendous over here in Australia. ha!!

So is there any cheaper options for me to make this happen using more software based stuff and with FCP??

Maybe not, and maybe I am dreaming, but I just thought that I would ask.
Would appreciate even being pointed in the right direction...

cheers,

Anthony...
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Old March 17th, 2009, 01:51 AM   #2
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The cheapest set up I can think of is to run the cams via S-video to a live switcher and then get a box that will let you capture s-video right to your laptop. You will need a live switcher and 3 cheap video monitors. U could do this for probably 2 grand or so. S-video is still pretty good for SD.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 08:40 AM   #3
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thanks Tim,

i will have a look into that. What are the cheapest 2 channel vision switchers out there?
And you think that not being digital still supplies a good enough picture for output onto DVD?
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Old March 17th, 2009, 08:43 AM   #4
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You can try the Panasonic MX mixers, are you switching from camera to PPT to camera? You can also rent a scaler (Extron) to do the switching camera to PPT.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:20 PM   #5
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I faced exactly this same question about 6 months ago. I choose the Videonics MX-1 (long since discontinued model) a s-video based live video switch with many many problems, handycaps, and issues..... but you can get them for ~$300-500 used on ebay (kind of a gamble iw they work or not) but they will do the job.

You plug your cams into the switcher via s-video, you plug your audio in to one of the inputs, then you route that same audio input as the default audio input for all video input channels, and then you can freely switch back and forth with smooth crossfades, hard cuts, PiP, and dozens and dozens of cheesy wipes or other effects transitions that you will never use for corporate work. :-)

Then you take the s-video output from the MX1 and pipe that into your computer and record the feed live.

A few issues you will run into.....
-The video feed out of the MX1 will be a few pixels off on one of the edges of the picture probably due to some analog video refresh issues.
-The MX1 is a very old system. IT may hard power off or freeze (requiring a hard popwer cycle) in the midle of the event. Be sure you run a tape backup on all the cams just in case!
-The MX1 has no live preview of all the cams video, so if you cams are close to you, you can run s-video out from each cam, and then RCA composit out to a monitor. I use Colby portable 7" LCD DVD players with video input to monitor my cams in this scenario.

It will run you a few hundred in cables to et some 100' s-video cables so you can put the cams at any decent distance to get different angles, but the cables are pretty useful anyway. Just be sure you have either 1) multiple cam ops that can follow the corporate speaker as he / she wanders the stage, and 2) radio comms to direct the other cam ops for what they shot should be.

I shot a live web cast with 4 cameras for a 5K person regional music contest back in Oct. The performances were simulcasted to the internet for viewing by a few hundred people all over the nation as well as being recorded live to DVD using a pair of live DVD burners (for the musical contestants to review their performances). It was a massivly complicated production but amazingly fun.


Now having said all that, it looks like you are mainly interested in cutting down on post production time (aka logging all the tapes and doign the multi-cam cutting, etc). I don't know of any NLE that can record multiple DV streams with out costing multiple thousands of dollars. The main benefit of a live switch is the elimination of most of the entire post-production step so that your sunk time is less per billable $$. This solution WILL help you in that regard, but introduces an extra layer of complication and risk. Only you will know if the extra risk is worth it.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:31 PM   #6
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Or you can demand a professional rate and if they can't come up with the money you don't continue shooting their jobs for next to nothing.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:41 PM   #7
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Or you can demand a professional rate and if they can't come up with the money you don't continue shooting their jobs for next to nothing.
heh. there is always that. :-)
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Old March 17th, 2009, 05:51 PM   #8
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Hi All,

Thankyou for your replies.
Jason, thankyou for your extended reply. That does sound interesting.
I will have a look around for the unit on ebay. Is there anyway to get titling on with this unit??

Ethan, its not a case of the client trying to be extra tight with their payment. They run alot of seminars and want to tape the seminars for just under $1K for each 3 hr seminar.
The purpose of the videos is for people who are not able to attend and to have a digital hardcopy of what was discussed. They always pay and are good clients, I think that it is a reasonable fee if I can get in and out within 5 hours and deliver the job.

Currently I am providing them with a one camera shot which includes both screen and speaker in the same shot. It goes down onto a portable unit that has a hard drive and dvd burner.

While the one camera static camera does deliver what is required, its hard to get past the fact that it is a terrible looking frame trying to get everything in the one shot.

So I am trying to come up with a way of providing a better service to this client (who does provide ongoing bread and butter work) and to hone my skills for new clients and be able to up the dollars and know that I can execute a cost effective on the spot multicam shot DVD.

Cheers,


Anthony
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Old March 17th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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Anthony,

Wirecast is a decent solution. I use it from time to time with only two cams running into a laptop via firewaire.

Telestream Wirecast - Overview

You need separate cards for each camera. In my laptop, I have one built in and use a PCMCIA cardbus card for the other cam. In my studio desktop I have three firewire cards but haven't used three cams there yet.

Check it out. Maybe it'll do the job you need.

Jeff
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Old March 17th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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woah woah woah, it's $1,000 for 3 hours of shooting a seminar? If you can live switch that bad boy you'd be coming out of there at $333/hr.

Even if the (very simple) editing and encoding of DVD used up another 4 hours you still be pushing $150/hr on the job. Not bad from where I'm sitting.

If you're doing a lot of these seminars at $1000 a pop and you're pretty darn sure that with more of a name you can get an even higher rate then you might want to spring for a decent switcher and start banging away at that $333/hr rate.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 12:46 AM   #11
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Hi Jeff,

Funny, I stumbled onto that product a little bit earlier today and was having a play with the demo. It seems to be a great little set up!!

I had my Sony z1 and the inbuilt isight camera in the imac both going and was throwing up titles and mixing bits and pieces together, just to test out the multi cam function...
I am really impressed.
the other thing that I like about this piece of software is that every time i hit the record on off button I am saving that segment onto the hard drive and I know its safe from that point backwards if i do have a computer crash.

I have two firewire ports on my computer, that would allow me to get two cameras in without any additional cost. (always handy).

My next query would be...

Could I get a feed from the PC that they have in the lecture rooms that provides all the powerpoint presentations. (like say a monitor feed, from what is projected up onto the screen). That way I could do away with the 3rd camera... Hmmmm???
Just looking at the wire cast again as I am typing this reply... is this what the "desktop presenter" function is for??? I will have a look into it.

I am stoked to hear that you have used this little program successfully.


Ethan, yes I think its a good little earner.
The price do vary from 700 to 1000 depending on what is being provided, but it looks to become more regular if I can create better production values without really increasing my price too much..

By the way your wedding shoot in france looks fantastic!! I used to edit weddings for an australian company a while back. What camera did you shoot this on?
Also I like the choice of running the priests words over the start of the footage. We never used that template on our videos...(we should have though, now that I saw yours) Nice one!!


Anthony...
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Old March 18th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #12
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Ethan, yes I think its a good little earner.
The price do vary from 700 to 1000 depending on what is being provided, but it looks to become more regular if I can create better production values without really increasing my price too much..
A post workflow that works for you would be to shoot both tapes and hard drives? That would save a lot of capture time and you'd have an emergency backup.

I've never used it before and don't know an awful lot about it but what about the Grizzly remote heads? Don't they have an option to do a rough live switch and you'd in theory only need one operator.

Quote:
By the way your wedding shoot in france looks fantastic!! I used to edit weddings for an australian company a while back. What camera did you shoot this on?
Also I like the choice of running the priests words over the start of the footage. We never used that template on our videos...(we should have though, now that I saw yours) Nice one!!
Thanks, that was a once in a lifetime job. Everything was absolutely perfect and almost nothing went wrong at any point of the job. Right after the shot where I'm following the bride and groom up the stairs out of the church my wife leans over to me and says "you know you'll never shoot anything this good again right?"

We currently shoot on FX7's and some of the shots at the beginning were done with a Letus Extreme and HV20.

Almost none of my ideas are original so I'm sure I picked the audio thing up from somewhere. Probably Glen Elliott.
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