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Old June 16th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #1
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setting up school Vegas suites

hello all-- i'm in process of suggesting a Vegas-based spec sheet, wishlist, budget etc to my department, which currently uses the DPS Velocity broadcast platform (circa 2002). We're looking to equip 4-5 bays, using the decently robust computers that are already running Velocity-- as well as utilizing the decks and vid-monitors already in place.

A concern of theirs has been capture into Vegas; we currently have Panasonic DVCPRO decks that capture via SDI cable into the computers, using the MiniDV adapter for that size tape. The pc's presumably do not have 1394 cards (trivial), and the decks *may* be too old to accept the 1394 upgrade card either, i think. And they don't like my initial idea of buying a fleet of cheap cameras to use as capture decks.

I know Vegas supports deck control using DeckLink cards-- that's outside of budget i can safely say.

But what about just simple capture via the Vegas vidcap function? Will an SDI connected device be seen and capturable? If so my budget has just gotten a LOT of wiggle room.

Or would the 1394 retrofit to the Panny decks be the simplest way to go?? (if they actually support the card itself)

This is new ground for me-- i've always cap'd directly off a camera.

Thanks much, gang

MRP
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Old June 16th, 2006, 11:19 AM   #2
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Would they go for a convertor like the Canopus ADVC series or ADS Pyro? It would convert to firewire just like the camera would.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 02:30 PM   #3
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thanks for the tip, Edward.
After posting that this AM i checked BlackMagic card prices-- they have lower end cards that would suit us for 300-600$ retail. I has assumed they were around $1000 each.

Thanks again, hope you're feeling better

best,
MRP
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Old June 16th, 2006, 05:09 PM   #4
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Would the blackmagic cards be compatible with the motherboard in your computers?
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Old June 16th, 2006, 06:27 PM   #5
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dunno, Glenn-- those PCs predate my arrival there by a few years. No idea what the component specs are.

Thanks for the reminder to check component compatibility. Stuff like this may well prove to be persuasive ammo for arguing for a few new turnkey workstations (or at least separate Vegas machines) instead of trying to cobble something together from older gear.

Thanks again,

MRP
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Old June 17th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #6
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The utility CPU-Z would be able to check what the motherboard is.
http://www.softpedia.com/progDownloa...load-6980.html

Unknown Device Identifier should detect everything else.
http://www.soft14.com/Utilities_and_...55_Review.html

2- I believe if you need to capture SDI/uncompressed, you'll need a fast enough hard drive array. I believe 2 drives in RAID 0 will do it, but make sure the RAID controller is decent (i.e. doesn't cause data corruption). Some of the off-brand ones built into motherboards seem to give people trouble.

I don't have experience in this myself, but the Blackmagic site should have information on this kind of thing.

3- You probably want to start with new computers... I believe Velocity is hardware-accelerated and that won't work with Vegas. A computer 4 years old will be kind of slow at running Vegas.

4- Retrofitting the decks with firewire/ieee1394 cards might be advantageous since:
A- You don't need a RAID.
B- You get *a lot* more storage. DV is less than a fifth of uncompressed.
If you want students to store their projects on the computer, this is advantageous. But that's a can of worms itself, because then people are going to be unhappy when someone deletes their project. But it does allow people to store things on firewire drives.
?- I can't remember if SDI carried over the user bits, which enables DV scene start/stop detection (break clips up based on date/time). With DV, this is somewhat of a time-saver... although it doesn't necessarily teach disciplined workflows.

5- At Ryerson University, they faced a similar situation where there was DVCPRO + Velocity systems.
They decided to:
Upgrade to Final Cut systems.
Use one of the Aja hardware products for in/out (can't remember which, but it presumably has SDI in).
Capture via SDI and transcode to DV. This way they don't need a RAID. I don't think quality is as good as it could be... but that doesn't really matter.

IMO Vegas would be just as good a choice for an editor. I prefer it over FCP. one reason to go FCP would be that FCP is more common if students want editing jobs... but there'd only be a few students into that, and they'd probably be better off learning outside of class time on a FCP or Avid system.

6- The DVCPRO decks can be sketchy when playing back miniDV tapes... it is more suceptible(sp?) to problems. Not sure if it's different lubricants from all the kinds of tape (metal particle for DVCPRO, metal evaporated tapes for miniDV with dry or wet lubricant).
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Old June 18th, 2006, 10:04 AM   #7
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*Outstanding* post, Glenn. You've not only steered me toward alternate ideas, but you've echoed my own deliberations on several points (which is confidence-building: i'm new to this level of curriculum input/responsibility.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
3- You probably want to start with new computers... I believe Velocity is hardware-accelerated and that won't work with Vegas. A computer 4 years old will be kind of slow at running Vegas.
you bet. My initial thinking of upgrading the current PC's shows my own bare-bones DIY background. I'm simply not used to 'buying a new workstation' being a remote possibility. I could get used to this!

Velocity is hardware based, to make it realtime re: no timeline playback renders. BUTT... i have now seen several instances where a student has the gall to put more than one dissolve or FX event on the timeline and it chokes it into demanding a pre-render. Pathetic, especially given its clumsy circa 2002 interface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
5- At Ryerson University, they faced a similar situation where there was DVCPRO + Velocity systems.
They decided to:
Upgrade to Final Cut systems.......IMO Vegas would be just as good a choice for an editor. I prefer it over FCP. one reason to go FCP would be that FCP is more common if students want editing jobs... but there'd only be a few students into that, and they'd probably be better off learning outside of class time on a FCP or Avid system.
absolutely. I'll be teaching the basic NLE course starting January, and the cornerstone of our efforts is to stress that we cannot compete w/ industry training or industry-intensive film programs. Slim budgets primarily dictate this, as well as the fact that Florida already has a heavily-funded industry-prep film school at FSU. No way is the legislature going to fund duplicate programs at the smaller feeder universities. So we're coming from a different angle, one that harps more on the expressiveness and _soul_ of editing technique (storytelling, of course) instead of how to snag an apprenticeship in LA, schmooze with Avid reps, etc. I want to take the students from Eisenstein to the timeline via their own footage, learning how to edit with punch and kick the story up a notch. A specialist trainer can instruct them later on the minutiae of keystrokes on specific platforms-- stuff that will have changed by the time they leave our program anyway. I want their lessons here to be timeless and universal.
Your point about FCP being better career training is a well-known trusim, but it is one that i personally don't feel like supporting or promoting. I don't want to train students to believe that there are only 2 accepted work platforms in the universe (Avid & FCP); that is BS and it sets up a cockeyed elitism at a very young (impressionable) level that i think is counterproductive. I've seen people come in from the sticks off the legendary turnip truck with NO computer savvy (much less editing knowledge), get exposed to Macs and FCP (in the captive-audience school setting that Apple cultivates so well), and then start looking down their noses at anyone doing differently.

Vegas can more than handle anything our undergrads throw at it, and it will allow me to bring in my pet arenas of audio and sound design in easier and earlier. My belief is that these students will take away raw, core learning experiences that will aid their future work, regardless of platform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
The DVCPRO decks can be sketchy when playing back miniDV tapes... it is more suceptible(sp?) to problems.
Sounds like you've been hanging out in our department Glenn. We have bizarre deck issues every semester without fail. In fact we usually have at least 1 bay out of 5 that has no deck at all due to repair downtime.

again, thanks VERY much for the ideas

best,

MRP
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Old June 18th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
I'm simply not used to 'buying a new workstation' being a remote possibility. I could get used to this!
If the workstations are four years old, you might as well get a new computer because a $1,000 workstation will likely be faster. If you want to go really, really cheap... a basic Dell workstation can actually be slightly cheaper than assembling your own computers. I've posted about this before and there are cons to it (limited upgradeability, Dell's upgrades can be quite overpriced so do them yourself, support, proprietary parts).

For ~$650... you can get a basic Dell computer (i.e. today you can get a 2.8ghz dual core, 1gb RAM, 19" LCD). The prices fluctuate unfortunately (so that may be bad for quoting, unless you overquote conservatively), but you can get information from hot deals sites like gotapex.com
You might want to pay extra for things like dual monitors (need a basic video card, possibly with a DVI-VGA adapter), DVD burner, possibly firewire drives for students to borrow (you can roll your own, but avoid Prolific chipsets), etc.

Quote:
I want to take the students from Eisenstein to the timeline via their own footage, learning how to edit with punch and kick the story up a notch. A specialist trainer can instruct them later on the minutiae of keystrokes on specific platforms-- stuff that will have changed by the time they leave our program anyway. I want their lessons here to be timeless and universal.
If you think about it, editing is a lot like writing... except you're working with pictures and context instead of words.

But to look at what you should teach at another viewpoint, your students will likely be interested in getting jobs. It might help to teach practical things like:
A- How to work with people. This can be more important that how good you are at editing/shooting/whatever. If you can't work with people, you'll be unemployed. Now some people skills would be hard to teach, but there are probably some things you could teach. i.e. if there's a commitee of clients and you need to get your way, then present them with two choices. Make the second choice something stupid that they're unlikely to pick... this will make your choice more appealing.

B- How editing fits into the big picture. i.e. when shooting, you need to make sure you shoot for editing (i.e. get coverage). And maybe technical things like avoiding timecode breaks, syncing sound (or picture from multicameras), avoiding continuity errors (crossing line of axis).

C- For those who are interested in editing, it would help to point out the things they should learn that you don't teach in class.
i.e. Workflows (online/offline, working with film, etc.)
Technical things - how to make a broadcast master (with proper timecode, legal video levels, etc.), about timecode (all the different kinds), sync, etc.
Some of this information may probably be best learned interning somewhere, since the workflows evolve and the equipment necessary can be expensive.

But the point is, students should be aware of what they don't know.

2- For some reason, graduates of broadcasting programs don't necessarily dominate their field. There's lots of people working in the field that don't have a relevant degree/diploma. So it makes me wonder why the schooling isn't giving graduates a huge edge over those without formal schooling.

This is in contrast to engineering, law, or medicine where graduates do dominate their fields.

It could be that success mostly depends on the person, while education can help you get a foot in the door (or high initial salary). If you look at MBAs, they are quite well-paid but they do not dominate at the very top (i.e. CEOs running fortune 500 companies).
It may be that the best approach is to give students a good base of knowledge... so that they take little additional training when they start working. Certainly this base knowledge (i.e. technical, artistic, interpersonal) would give students an edge over others.

Anyways I'm just rambling on here... :P
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Old June 18th, 2006, 05:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
But to look at what you should teach at another viewpoint, your students will likely be interested in getting jobs. It might help to teach practical things like:
Naturally. And this is key for me to remember as i run around the net getting prices on the nuts and bolts. Thanks for the reminder.

But back to the nuts 'n bolts: i've just been looking the last hour at the 'recommended turn-key resellers' list on the Videoguys site. Ha. I think 1 out of 7 or 8 companies actually mentioned Vegas as an offered turn-key installation, but not a single one of them showed prices or specs. Tons of Avid and Premiere solutions though, natch.

New, complete PC's from a mass-marketer (Dell) and 5 site licenses from Sony is sounding more likely now. And i suspect we could do just fine with that kind of solution, performance and budget-wise.

Thanks again for helping in my continuing educator's education, Glenn. These points you're raising are crucial ones to the success of this program i'm trying to launch.

Best,
MRP
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Old June 18th, 2006, 08:53 PM   #10
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It's hard to beat Dell's price on their base systems because of their pricing scheme. They are close to cost on the base system, and make money on the upgrades. So just be sure to throw in your own upgrades, if you're up for that. If not, eMachines or another vendor may be a better choice.

As far as needing a turnkey vendor... the advantage would be better support (and they sell you a working configuration). However, in my opinion it's really easy to setup a Vegas system. There's nothing tricky about it (unlike hardware-assisted systems). Vegas will even run on a celeron 700mhz machine.

2- Does Videoguys offer academic pricing? Other vendors that offer academic pricing might save you even more money. froogle.com, pricegrabber.com, studica.com would be sites I'd check.

I'm sure Videoguys is a good dealer though since they're sponsoring this site (and Chris Hurd filters out the vendors).
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Old June 19th, 2006, 09:02 PM   #11
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Michael, I was in almost the exact situation a few years ago at the college I work at. We have 2 dpsVelocity workstations that were getting rather long in the tooth (P3 800s) so, when our boss told us we had some extra money, we went for 2 IBM Intellistations (M-Pro, P4, 3.4 GHz, 1.5 GB RAM, extra 200 GB. SATA internal drive & dual 19" LCD monitors) and have never regretted it. The extras we bought were additional firewire cards, M-Audio Firewire 410 audio boxes and the M-Audio LX4 speakers (both the 2.1 & 5.1) to give us full 5.1 authoring capabilities.
We still keep the dpsVelocity workstations going but it's more for one instructor that prefers them. I have no idea why as his students, when exposed to Vegas, all say "Why aren't we using these machines? They're SO much easier to edit on."
I just looked on the Dell site and you can get an XPS 600 that's fairly well loaded for around $2400.00 (far less than the IBM M-Pro was) or step up to a Precision 690 for about $500 more.
Either way, you'll be getting a machine that Vegas will fly on. You'll still need to render (usually no render times was the only good feature about the dpsVelocity) but, with machines like this, it'll be pretty quick.
Alternately, if you know a good local PC builder, have them build you a machine to John Rofrano's ASUS/AMD X2 Dual Core System specs. Details at http://johnrofrano.com/pcequipment.htm
Best of luck with whatever decision you make.

Mike
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Old June 20th, 2006, 12:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Kujbida
Michael, I was in almost the exact situation a few years ago .............We still keep the dpsVelocity workstations going but it's more for one instructor that prefers them. I have no idea why as his students, when exposed to Vegas, all say "Why aren't we using these machines? They're SO much easier to edit on."
well this is creepy, you could very well be describing my dept! The guy in question is the one who researched (maybe i'm being generous) and purchased 5 Velocity bays years ago. I'm coming to understand his defensiveness about my upstart sh**t-stirring: he's taking the proposed platform change as a personal affront, which is quite unfortunate (and certainly unwarranted). I do all this w/ the students in mind-- the DPS gear we have now is cumbersome and unecessarily limiting on numerous levels; in the arena of audio the current situation is patently unacceptable.

I am a Vegas evangelist (cutting on it since V3), but to be fair: in my proposals i've been evaluating the Premiere Pro 2.0 demo alongside Vegas 6. I ditched Premiere back at 6.0 in 2002 and never looked back. To my astonishment PPro has still not implemented such throwaway no-brainer interface tools as mouse-wheel timeline zoom or automatic single-track dissolves without a transition subtrack between A/B roll type track placement. Maybe these features are set in prefs but i could'nt easily configure it to be as simple as the Vegas flow. I'm doubting it's there, frankly.

To me there's no friggin' debate: these students we get are chomping at the bit to get into DV editing that they can duplicate at home. Since they can all qualify for V6+DVD at the hellaciously cheap academic pricing levels ($270 or less last week i checked) the kids can learn Vegas at school and potentially get set up at home. The ability to share .veg files between home and the lab via portable storage drives, email me problem .veg's for analysis etc makes Vegas the clear choice. Our students are coming from 99% PC households-- academic pricing makes workable Vegas editing at home a real possibility for almost all of them. You simply cannot offer that kind of home-to-campus overlap by insisting on Mac/FCP stations. And with our budget we will field 5 bays of Vegas machines vs. only 2 or 3 (not even) FCP suites.

Thanks a million, Mike for letting me realize i'm not alone with the Velocity departmental wackiness. It helps me a lot.

Best,

MRP
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Old June 20th, 2006, 10:35 AM   #13
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Videoguys does sell educational versions of our products. We do it through a seperate division we set up called Specialty Video Supply http://www.specialtyvideosupply.com/

We require proof of eligibility before we ship. We are set up to accept POs (purchase orders) from educational facilities. We can also assist you in the bid process.

Gary
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Old June 22nd, 2006, 12:00 AM   #14
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setting up school Vegas suites: UPDATE

great news today: last week somebody in the department mentioned the existence of 3 Dells that another prof was getting rid of. I was dismissive of this, imagining some old jalopy clunker machines that would be more trouble than they were worth.

Well-- i saw them today:

they look like fairly recent upper-end Dimensions or lower-end Precisions, but regardless, this is the current spec:

XP Pro SP2
P-4 2.4 GHz
512 RAM
standard-issue CRT's, kbd's and mice

I'm excited-- there's $ for adding-on RAM, large video drives, 1394 cards, latest DVD writers, maybe even video and audio card improvements.

All this means a LOT more $$ available for more cameras, tripods, mics etc, which are also sorely needed. I can get these 3 edit stations set up in the new lab and get the Vegas era underway here a lot sooner than i was planning for.

P-4 2.4 GHz is more than fine for the all-SD DV capture and editing we'll be doing. Bumping the RAM up to at least a gig will be a priority--

Any other add-on enhancements i should be thinking about??

Thanks everyone

MRP
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Old June 22nd, 2006, 05:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Pace
Any other add-on enhancements i should be thinking about??
What about field & edit suite video monitors? I've been very happy with the JVC line. I ended up with 4 of the JVC TMH-150CGU 15-Inch Color Monitor ($500 at B&H) for edit suite use and the JVC TM-910SU 9" Color Monitor for field use ($600 at B&H).
ALso, don't forget things like feeder decks & speakers for the edit suites, headphones for field use and additional batteries for the camcorders and lots of external hard drives for project storage/backups.

Mike
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