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What Happens in Vegas...
...stays in Vegas! This PC-based editing app is a safe bet with these tips.


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Old June 2nd, 2005, 05:38 AM   #1
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Laptop Capturing, Editing and rendering

Hello folks,been lurking this forum for a while now but this is my first post, first up just wanna say thanks to everyone for sharing all the great info and tips on vegas, checkin up on this forum has definitaly made my veg experience a hell of alot easier and also makes learning it more pleasant :)

I recently purchased a new laptop by Asus (specs - PM 1.6 60gb 512 ram 128mg radeon & 1 firewire port) this is now become my primary editing machine. Video is captured/stored on a external enclosure (firewire/Usb2.0) 200gb 7200 western digital hdd. Now to my dilema, i can never achieve a clean capture without having dropped frames. Im hoping u guys can advise me as to how i should properly setup and capture from my handicam, ive tried all the different ways to connect the camera and the Hdd to my lappy, even bought a 2 port pcmcia firewire card so that i dont have to daisy chain the camera and the hdd but still same results. One thing that is suprising is i get whole lot less frames dropped when i just capture to the laptops hdd which is only 4200rpm, weird huh? Any suggestions as to how i can eliminate getting dropped frames would be very much apreciated :)

I also would like to know about how i should set things up for editing and rendering, the videos are stored on the external hdd,i render the videos to the external drive too,is this the right way to do things?ive read around about this and others say that u shouldnt render to the same drive. They also say that u shoudnt render to or from 'c:' the primary hdd. How do u guys do it? Does anybody notice any difference in rendering speed with the different settings?

So thats my little quiry, im really looking forward to hearing the helpfull responses and advice :)
Also, if anyone out there works vegas on a lappy, it would be great if u could share your experiences with us, the problems encountered, the solutions etc etc....i think alot of people would like to know the best way to set-up a laptop for editing.
All info and hints n tips is much appreciated.



Thanks in advance
Adrian
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 08:36 AM   #2
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I have a laptop that is connected to a hard drive via firewire. The hard drive is then connected to a deck via firewire. I can capture from the deck to the firewire drive with zero dropped frames. Daisy chaining should not be an issue.

However.... (there's always one of those) some people have reported problems with that setup and their solution seems to be to connect the computer directly to the deck via firewire and then connect the hard drive via USB. That eliminates the daisy chain and should, hopefully, let you see zero dropped frames.

If you don't get ZERO dropped frames, something is wrong.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 02:34 PM   #3
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Yeah, what Ed said...

I've been big all over this recently too, both because capturing "live" directly to the laptop saves a lot of time and also because my primary DV editing desktop machine died last week, which left me capturing a lot of tape to the laptop as well. I find it a little amusing, this poor little laptop in the middle of a big ol' pile of USB/Firewire cables and external devices. A little amazing too, come to think of it.

My laptop (HP zv5120, I think -- 2.4GHz celeron, 512mbRAM(-128mb for the stupid thievin' video card). I had bought for the purpose a 250gb external Western Digital USB/Firewire drive and recently picked up a Seagate 300gb USB/Firewire drive as well. (Advice: Go with the Seagate drives!) My laptop has three USB 2.0 ports, but does not have a built-in Firewire port, so I picked up a two port Dynex PCMCIA card at Bestbuy which seems to work fine.

I had planned to stick with Firewire as much as possible, but wasn't sure how that would play out. For those who haven't pondered this, the problem is that you're capturing at roughly 4mb/sec off the camera and simultaniously pushing about the same out to the drive. Loading down a single interface with 8mb/sec of data (in + out) could prove problematic, as Edward indicated.

My first test was live capture, using Canon's software (I have an XL-2). Their software has the capability to test the drive I/O transfer rate. I used that to test the WD drive hooked up first by Firewire and then by USB. Both were about 6-8 mb/sec, with Firewire being a meg or two faster. Not impressive speeds, but it is a laptop after all, and regardless, those numbers are fast enough for capure. (I have not yet done the I/O rate test on the Seagate drive -- need to do that.)

Since Firewire was faster I figured I'd try live capture that way first. That is, both the camera and ext. WD drive hooked up to the two ports on the firewire card. I already had the HD hooked up and running. When I hooked up the camera and turned it on, the HD disappeared(!) and Canon's live capture software complained that there were two cameras hooked up. WTF? Ok, so much for that plan...

Round two involved hooking the WD drive up to a USB port, with the camera enjoying the Firewire card all to itself. I ran several live capture tests and had no further problems, no dropped frames. Also good results later using Vegas 6 to capture from tape.

I did however run into problems with dropped frames later on, when the drive only had about 20 - 30gb of space left. Apparently it was fragmented enough at that point that the heads were having to jump around too much and it couldn't keep up with the incoming flood of video.

So the moral of the story is:

- Don't try to put your camera and hard drive on the same interface.
- Don't let your drive(s) get too full.

And another as a free bonus:

- Always run a tape in the camera too, just in case.

Oh what the heck, here's one more:

- If you run the Diskeeper defrag software, be careful about when you let it work on your external video drives. First you already have a problem with lower I/O rates, and Diskeeper is apparently only paying attention to user input between files, so if it's defragging a 15gb file, you could be waiting a looooong time to get a responsive laptop again.

Hope that helps!

-cw-
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Last edited by Charlie Wilkinson; June 2nd, 2005 at 02:42 PM. Reason: I'm a perfectionist...
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 02:42 PM   #4
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A lot of benchmarks report much faster speeds than 6-8MB/s for both firewire and USB2 interfaces. Firewire has a slight lead in sustained transfer rates, and a good lead in CPU utilization (around 6% versus 15% or something like that).

2- Many people report problems capturing to a firewire drive on the same bus. It seems that some device combinations just don't work well together.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 02:51 PM   #5
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I used to capture on an old 900 MHz Dell laptop with 256 MB of ram and my cam daisy chained to the external drive. So your setup will do it.

Make sure you shut down any programs you don't need such as browsers, email, virus scans, spam filters, chat, IM, etc. You should probably disconnect from the web since your machine will be unprotected.

Also, check that your Firewire card is OHCI compatible and running properly. You can check the status in the Windows Hardware Manager.

I used to render to and from my external drive (also a WD 7200 rpm unit, too). Firewire should be plenty fast to daisy chain for capturing and for doing all your rendering work.

Oh, and make sure you have all the latest Windows SPs and patches.

One more thing, try another capture program just to confirm something isn't set wrong in Vegas Vidcap.

And to be 100% sure it isn't the cam, maybe try a different cam to see what happens.

Good luck.

Dennis
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 10:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Vogel
I used to capture on an old 900 MHz Dell laptop with 256 MB of ram and my cam daisy chained to the external drive. So your setup will do it...
If only life, or computers were so simple. :-) Never safe to assume much based on just the numbers. This is true of desktop systems and especially true of laptops. And generally speaking, laptops are notorious for not performing as well as desktops, because the priorities are different. Chiefly, heat, power consumption and cost vs. performance. Some newer systems (especially the pricey new Centrino-based laptops) make the compromise highly dynamic, but it still exists.

Otherwise, lots of good advice. Particularly:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Vogel
Make sure you shut down any programs you don't need such as browsers, email, virus scans, spam filters, chat, IM, etc. You should probably disconnect from the web since your machine will be unprotected.
Just to add a bit to that... Better still if you can keep all that cruft from creeping onto your "work" machine in the first place. A DV editing system should ideally be just that and not much else. No weatherbugs, no blue monkeys, no p2p, and most especially no IM, MSN or AOL software. (Yeah, I realize the ideal is not an option for everyone - myself included...)

Also ideally, it's not connected to the Internet, unless through a firewalled home/office LAN. Any system connected to the Internet (directly or otherwise) is at greater risk. Consider what you're risking (i.e, your source of income). At the very least, if you must surf or read email on your DV editing box, look at options other than Internet Explorer and Outlook. Assuming a good hardware firewall (such as a Linksys router, about $60), IE and Outlook are now your largest remaining risks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
A lot of benchmarks report much faster speeds than 6-8MB/s for both firewire and USB2 interfaces. Firewire has a slight lead in sustained transfer rates, and a good lead in CPU utilization (around 6% versus 15% or something like that).
Yeah, another good example of "the numbers don't tell everything." USB 2.0 is theoretically a little faster (420mbits/s vs. 400), but in practice, Firewire usually does at least a bit better because it's optimized better speedwise.

As far as my piddly 6-8mb/s goes, it's a laptop thing. On a desktop system, 20mb/s or more is to be expected. Others might get better than 6-8mb/s on their own laptops, but that's what I'm stuck with on this HP zv5120. (And luckily, it's good enough.)

If daisy chaining the camera and drive on the same Firewire interface works for someone, fantastic. Likewise, if frames are being dropped, they will want to try moving the drive to a USB port and see if that fixes the problem -- If for no other reason than it's an incredibly simple thing to try (assuming the ext. drive and laptop support both interfaces, which is often the case these days).

To be clear about it, neither Firewire or USB 2.0 are the likely bottlenecks for us laptop-bound folk. (Either spec is 2-4 times faster than what we need for DV capture.) The bottleneck is inside the laptop -- the interface between those ports and the rest of the system.

And speaking of dropped frames, if anyone wants a small VB Script program to keep your external drives from spinning down, let me know.

-cw-
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Last edited by Charlie Wilkinson; June 2nd, 2005 at 10:11 PM. Reason: can't leave well enough alone
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Old June 4th, 2005, 11:32 AM   #7
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Thanks alot guys for the info.
I think i found the major cause for my problems....damn stupid SPYWARE..and lots of it running hiddenly in the background. I used to scan my system with Spybot only, but ive been told to also try Ad-aware by lavasoft and also the new microsoft anti spyware, gave it a try yesterday and was shocked with all the crap it found on the system. After doing the scan and re-booted, i captured 20 min of video with the external hdd conected to the firewire port on my pc and the camera daisychaned to the hdd (camera to-->external hdd to-->laptop) and suprise suprise, zero frames dropped.

Charlie's right about eliminating the problem by not goin online in the first place, but for me (and probably many others)not being able to go online would be like living without a refridgerator. Soon i will use this for a good excuse to purchase another computer so i have one for play and one for video but in the meantime il just have to work with one but regulary scan for spyware/adware and what i mean by regular, is daily or couple of days, i know its a hassle but its the only way to maintain a clean system and maximise performance of your machine for editing and capturing.

For the guys who edit and surf on the same machine it might be a good idea to run mulitiple scans for Adware/Spyware. Im using Spybot, Ad-aware and ms antispyware. Any u guys using any other good programs?

thanks again to all who replied
Adrian
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Old June 4th, 2005, 01:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Taufik
For the guys who edit and surf on the same machine it might be a good idea to run mulitiple scans for Adware/Spyware. Im using Spybot, Ad-aware and ms antispyware. Any u guys using any other good programs?
For most of the guys I know who take their spyware scanning very seriously, they run both Spybot and Ad-aware, just as you have done. If they are particularly paranoid, or suspect there's still something evil lurking about, they run "Hijack This!" and analyze the results. I've never run "Hijack This!", but as I understand it, it's purely a scanner, not a remover. It just gives you a list of everything that's running on your machine, or somesuch. It's left as an exercise to the user to figure out what's bad (if anything) and how to remove it. If you go that route, remember Google is your friend. Just search on the suspect program name and you will easily find useful info on it.

My M.O. is a little different. I'm just darn careful not to install things accidentally, and equally careful about what I purposefully install (i.e., some desired programs have spyware piggybacked on them). I still run Ad-aware/Spybot a couple of times a year just to be sure I've behaved myself. So far (knock on wood), I've had zero incedents.

The biggest virus/spyware problems I've seen happen to people who seem to regard the Internet as a giant candy store, and they want to taste (install) everything in sight. Installing programs is more like dating. If you "sleep around", you're likely to catch something. :-) You should only install programs (at least on your work machine) that you are pretty certain are going to serve some useful purpose and (as best you can determine) have a clean bill of health.

I'm glad to hear that simply scrabbing the malware off your machine was enough to give you the extra performance boost you needed for capturing with Vegas. I've never heard of a situation quite like this, but it doesn't surprise me in the least. The people who write those evil programs don't seem particularly concerned about conserving your system's resources...

-cw-
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Old June 4th, 2005, 01:30 PM   #9
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Microsoft anti-spyware beta is supposedly very good.
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/secu...e/default.mspx

Spyware Blaster is a good program because it works passively. It blocks known spyware sites from installing anything onto your computer by adding those sites to IE's restricted list. Because it runs passively there's no drain on system resources. I don't know if it overlaps with Microsoft Anti-spyware beta.
http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

Spybot and Adaware as mentioned already are also 'free' and will catch some spyware and adware.

If you suspect your system still has stuff on it, HijackThis is good for scanning. It shows everything including good programs. A faster way to sift through hijack this logs is:
A- Get someone else to read it. There are various forums out there, but only bug them after you tried all four programs listed above. Tom coyote is one... http://www.tomcoyote.org/
B- Do it yourself, and run the log through hijackthis.de first
http://hijackthis.de/
Google the unknowns.

Hijackthis can also remove some things. Because it doesn't discriminate, it can be kind of 'deadly' if you're not sure what's what. Honestly though, you could probably remove all your startups and nothing necessarily bad would happen. Just anything good you put on your system would get broken.
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Old June 29th, 2005, 04:59 PM   #10
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Just a quick addition to a point that Charlie made earlier in the thread about the problem hooking up his XL2 and a hard drive through the same interface.

This seems to be a common problem with the XLs and, in my case, with the XM2 (GL2). Apparently the Canon hogs the firewire bus and fails to release it which is why the external hdd disappears.

I struggled with this (and trying to get a straight answer as to what was going on) until I finally gave up and hooked up my 2 x externals with USB2. Works fine now.

What I haven't tried (lack of slots) is having two separate f/w cards.

I have just put my order in for a highly specced Alienware MJ7700 laptop which has 2 x fw. I may get a PCMCIA firewire card as well and see if that makes any difference.
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