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Old July 12th, 2013, 01:18 PM   #1
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Live switched multi-camera setup

Greetings!

I am looking for some advice in upgrading my current SD multicamera setup to HD. Specifically I am looking for suggestions as to what cameras I should be looking at.

I already have a 2 camera SD setup. I am using the Blackmagic ATEM TVS as my switcher. My cameras are Canon GL1's. My switcher is already a high def switcher, so I am hoping I can simply replace the cameras with high def ones and be good to go.

I don't want to spend a lot of money though. I have about four grand to spend altogether on this upgrade. What I am looking at doing is picking up three Sony FX7's used off of Amazon for about $1,000 a piece. I am also looking at getting a 14' Proaim jib kit off of ebay with pan-tilt head for about a $1000.

What I am wonder is are there other cameras I should be considering? It would be nice to stick with cameras that offered lanc control ports. If you were me, what would you do?

Here is a video showing my current setup-

How would you upgrade it with $4,000?
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Old July 12th, 2013, 02:25 PM   #2
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

You have a very nice set-up. Your solution to the delay caused by the SDI converter is great and I will keep it in mind.

I set up specialty switcher installations for clients frequently and the issues caused by HD usually force the client to remain with SD. The big issue is the lack of usable HD outputs on many economy priced HD cameras, the FX7 being one of them. The live output on the FX7 is via the FireWire port which means that it's transmitting a MPEG stream for HDV. Perhaps there is a FireWire to HDSDI converter out there that costs less than $3000 but I have not heard of one. Convergent Designs made one similar to the converters you have now but it's long been out of production (Convergent Design HD-Connect SI HDV to HD/SD-SDI Converter). You should really try to search for old HD cameras that have SDI out but I can't assure you that will be cheap. There are quite a few used HD cameras that have analog HD-RGB outputs (by coincidence, I'm trying to sell one now on eBay) but converters you'll need to get will cost about $800 each new.

Seeing that the ATEM switchers have HDMI inputs along with the SDI inputs perhaps you should look into HD cameras with HDMI outputs. You can get some very decent semi-pro cameras with HDMI that are close to $1000, a new Panasonic AG-AC7 is around $1200, a new JVC GY-HM70U is around $1500. Of course you should make sure that the outputs can be set clean without viewfinder info burned in. HDMI cables can be an issue depending on the lengths you foresee using, SDI is much better for long distances. This page should give you an idea: How Long Can HDMI Cable be Run? -- Blue Jeans Cable
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Old July 12th, 2013, 02:42 PM   #3
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Regarding the FX7 for wedding work, switching issues aside, was never much in low light to begin. It's 1/4" inch sensors are to blame for it's poor low light performance. I had an FX7 and used it for one wedding before I happily sold it at a loss.

Best of luck to you.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:11 PM   #4
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

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Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
You have a very nice set-up. Your solution to the delay caused by the SDI converter is great and I will keep it in mind.

I set up specialty switcher installations for clients frequently and the issues caused by HD usually force the client to remain with SD. The big issue is the lack of usable HD outputs on many economy priced HD cameras, the FX7 being one of them. The live output on the FX7 is via the FireWire port which means that it's transmitting a MPEG stream for HDV. Perhaps there is a FireWire to HDSDI converter out there that costs less than $3000 but I have not heard of one. Convergent Designs made one similar to the converters you have now but it's long been out of production (Convergent Design HD-Connect SI HDV to HD/SD-SDI Converter). You should really try to search for old HD cameras that have SDI out but I can't assure you that will be cheap. There are quite a few used HD cameras that have analog HD-RGB outputs (by coincidence, I'm trying to sell one now on eBay) but converters you'll need to get will cost about $800 each new.

Seeing that the ATEM switchers have HDMI inputs along with the SDI inputs perhaps you should look into HD cameras with HDMI outputs. You can get some very decent semi-pro cameras with HDMI that are close to $1000, a new Panasonic AG-AC7 is around $1200, a new JVC GY-HM70U is around $1500. Of course you should make sure that the outputs can be set clean without viewfinder info burned in. HDMI cables can be an issue depending on the lengths you foresee using, SDI is much better for long distances. This page should give you an idea: How Long Can HDMI Cable be Run? -- Blue Jeans Cable
Thank you for the detailed reply. As far as connecting the FX7, or any other camera I may get, to my switcher via SDI I was hoping to use the blackmagic mini converters I am already using with the GL1s. As I understood, the FX7 did offer analog component out in HD. The HD component out could be connected to the mini converter, then SDI from the mini-converter to the switcher.

I have also been checking out the Panasonic AG-AC7 and the JVC HM70u. If I remember correctly, both these cameras only offer a single 1/4" chip. Would I not be getting a bit better quality with the 3 chips on the FX7? Also I am not sure if the Pansonic or the JVC supports lanc controls.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:22 PM   #5
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Hi Adam,

As an FX7 owner, I must share that it DOES have an HDMI out port, seems to be a misconception in this thread that it does not? Also has the component out. As you are likely aware, HDMI is good for very short runs only, so you'd want the Black Magic HDMI to SDI mini converter for best results.

I do have to agree that the low light on the FX7 is mediocre at best. Don't let the gain go above 6, gets very noisy very quickly. I often drop shutter to 30 to gain some light!

Regarding LANC - even though there is not a LANC jack on the FX7, it might be possible to get that feature using an adapter cable, see here - Sony LANC Adapter Cable - AV/R Pro LANC 10 pin Adapter Cable 2.5 mm to D connector Video Audio

Not sure what the used prices are, but check out the Sony FX-1000 cameras, much better low light than the FX7.

Thanks
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:23 PM   #6
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Don't know the other cams. I do know that for wedding work, 1/4" sensors do not cut it in low light, whether you have one, or three sensors.

I would look at the FX1 or Z1 (don't know about it's output abilities, I had two of them but it's been awhile ago) which can easily be found for around $1K or less. You will find, coming from the 1/3" CCDs of the GH2, that comparable HD cams are not quite as good in low light, but the FX1 is far superior to the FX7 at least. The Canon equivalent is the XH-A1, I think, but again in low light, the FX1 is superior in low light. Low light ability is king in wedding work, and in it's class and price range the FX1 is a best bet.

I personally would not opt for a tape based camera, but that is me. I prefer to shoot with a camera that offers full 1920x1080 as opposed to 1440, but again that is me. Best of luck to you.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:25 PM   #7
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

I agree with Jeff, the FX1000 is an excellent choice, better than the FX1, but it's going to be a tad more expensive. You'd save money with the FX1, but the FX1000, of which I had three, is a much nicer camera.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 05:46 PM   #8
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Sorry about the mix-up, I was using Sony's spec sheet here: HDR-FX7 | HD HandycamŽ Camcorder Review | Sony Store which leaves out the HDMI connector but they offer HDMI cables for the camera. Analog HD-RGB isn't listed either. Go figure. I have an old Sony HD1000 which has an HDMI output on it.

Apparently if one gets a decent HDMI cable under 45 feet, one can expect to transmit 720p, 1080i and 1080p successfully. Longer than that an HDMI amplifier is needed. From experience I know that USB and FireWire need amplifiers for runs of 15 feet or longer and I have installed them. HDMI I have never run longer than 10 feet. I would recommend exploring the HDMI option first.

A related question, are you thinking of live switching a wedding ceremony? It's an interesting idea to save time in editing but I would be afraid to do it unless I was able to practice at a rehearsal in the chapel. I live switch interviews (and sometimes music) frequently but that's easy compared to a complicated ceremony of any sort. Would you use an intercom to talk to the camera people? How far away do you think you have to be to not interfere with the event?
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Old July 12th, 2013, 06:29 PM   #9
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Yep one off events on location like weddings, will be a tough call.

Adam I watched your video ^ and with live TV production experience and noting your upgrade path, imo you need to look for pro presenters both male and female. Eventually you become the TV event producer with maybe, a director switching in the truck. All this doesn't happen overnight but keeping a lookout for the talent can be an ongoing thing.

Cheers.
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Old July 16th, 2013, 11:56 AM   #10
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Thank you so much everyone for all of the replies. Especially thank you for pointing me at the Sony FX1 and FX1000. Unfortunately, purchasing three of the FX1000's are a bit outside of my price range. The FX1 looks like it will be a really good choice for me though.
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Old July 16th, 2013, 12:12 PM   #11
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Also, keep in mind the Z1, which as you may know is the pro version of the FX1. A Z1 just sold on the classifieds here for $1000. With the pro audio connectors, it is a nice camera.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 05:05 PM   #12
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

I figured I would post an update on how my multi-cam HD live system is coming along since so many of you took the time to give me such great advice.

I ended up going with the FX1 cameras. I looked around for Z1's, but couldn't find any in my price range. At this point I have almost all the major components ordered, I am just waiting for everything to arrive.

When completed the system will support four cameras- Two tripod mounted FX1s, a jib mounted FX1, and a handheld JVC HM700. There will be two graphics channels and two video playback channels. I will have a total of six possible audio sources- Four UHF wireless mics and two other inputs from an external mixer or house audio. The system will also have the capability to do live internet streaming.

Additionally I will be using a power conditioner with battery backup to protect the equipment. This way, if needed, I can run the whole system off of a gasoline generator if shore power is not available.

I don't plan on doing too many weddings with this system. Weddings really aren't my thing- I don't mind doing them from time to time, but there are so many really great videographers that specialize in weddings and that simply isn't my area of expertise. I do more live performances, such as dance exhibitions and concerts. Though I still may end up doing some weddings, that is not my main intent. Besides using this system for my own projects, I also plan to rent it out to other videographers in my area.

Attached to this post are a few pictures of things so far. I only have a couple items installed in the rackmount case. I am also building a rackmountable PC that will handle the graphics and video recording.

I will continue to post updates as the system comes together.

Again, thank you everyone for all of your suggestions and advice.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 07:08 PM   #13
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

Adam,
That's a really cool system. Thanks for osting.

I'm wondering if you have already spent more then a comparable Tricaster system?
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:30 PM   #14
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

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Originally Posted by Al Gardner View Post
Adam,
That's a really cool system. Thanks for osting.

I'm wondering if you have already spent more then a comparable Tricaster system?
I love the tricaster. I think it is a fantastic piece of gear. Adding up the cost of everything though, I am still saving a fair amount over a tricaster.

With the tricaster I would still need an audio mixer, mic system, power conditioner, monitors, and many of the other things I have in my system anyway.

If I were to go the tricaster road, the things that it would replace in my setup are the PC and the ATEM switcher. The ATEM switcher I am using costs just about $1,000. The pc I am building is pretty inexpensive, only $550. By comparison the TriCaster 40 is about $5,000. So I am saving $3,450 over a tricaster based system.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 11:24 PM   #15
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Re: Live switched multi-camera setup

So are you using the PC for live streaming?
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