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Alan Herr August 11th, 2004 03:58 PM

Filming & Importing Simultaneously...
I have to do a lot of weddings... been wondering if it would be worth my while to invest in a mac laptop and import the ceremony via firewire to my PdX10 while I film it to save time and then do a little editing during down time at the reception.

I am worried that the computer might screw up the camera via the firewire and then in turn mess up someone's wedding. If the laptop chokes you can always restart but the camera?

Plus the possibility of the laptop getting stolen at the reception.

Any thoughts or experiences?


Boyd Ostroff August 11th, 2004 06:00 PM

A security cable might help at the reception. I have captured some live footage from my PDX-10, but nothing mission critical or in large sections.

I think if it invloves filming for more than a few minutes you'll want an external firewire drive though. Now what I have done frequently is to connect my PDX-10 via firewire to my Powerbook G4 which runs BTV Pro. I generally only use it as a portable monitor, however the software will also capture. I have found it extremely stable and haven't had any crashes. It runs for over 3 hours sometimes when I'm filming our operas.

Seems unlikely that a crash would affect the camera, but you raise a valid concern when you're in a situation where any sort of glitch could be a disaster. If I don't like my opera tape there's usually another performance where I can return and re-shoot.

All I can suggest is that you experiment around for awhile, maybe filming wedding rehearsals or whatever, just to gain some experience and confidence which will help you decide.

Alan Herr August 11th, 2004 06:11 PM

Thanks Boyd
thanks. I think to make it worthwhile I want to capture directly to FCP - that way I will be ready to edit by the time the reception arrives. (There is usually downtime during dinner).

That app you mention looks interesting but not sure how it could save me time.

Ideally what I want to try is making my initial cuts of the Ceremony while people are eating. I trust my PDx10 - has never left me down but don't know how much of a burden sending out to Firewire at same time could be. I do carry a backup camera of course but it may not be near me and isn't as good as the PDX.

Your right - I need to experiment - unfortunately for the price of a laptop - an expensive experiment.


Sean McHenry August 11th, 2004 09:20 PM

You might want to consider one of the several "direct to disk" methods of recording directly from the firewire output of the camera to a hard drive recorder unit.

If most of you haven't heard of this by now, you're missing a big potential...

Check the Firestore series located here: http://www.focusinfo.com/products/firestore/firestore.htm

or the Laird version here: http://www.lairdtelemedia.com/products/ultraseries.html#CAPDIV

There are others like the nNovia too: http://www.nnovia.com/

These guys basically have a hard drive in them, sizes vary, that allow you to record directly from firewire to the drives. Most of these are portable and can operate from battery packs.

In the case of the FireStore series (which I sell where I work in conjunction with the JVC GY-DV5000 cameras) it will allow you to record directly to the removable HD unit in any of several formats including AVI, DV1, DV2, Quicktime (yes) and even Avid OMFI format. What that means is once you are done recording, you pop out the little drive and hook that directly to your NLE via built in firewire connections on the drive itself and you can edit without any file conversion.

For those of us with Avid and Premiere Pro, this means no waiting for the incoming files to conform. Edit right off that drive or pull the media as files direct to your editor and go to work.

The FS units come with a 40GB drive standard but the drives are simply 5400 RPM notebook drives. You could easily drop in a 120GB drive? They do have 80GB drive options. That's a long, long record time for a single shoot.

The best news is, you can shoot on tape and the drive at the same time and use the tapes as backup to the drives.

Anyway, the technology is out there. Feel free to write if you need more info.

Sean McHenry

Alan Herr August 12th, 2004 05:54 AM

Sounds Good
Sounds good Sean. The only downside I see is that will mean bringing more stuff - extension cords, outlet strip correct...
If I just import to the Laptop direct -and its only an hours worth of footage then I only need the laptop working off its battery.

Often with wedding ceremonies I am stuck in a small place without much room and maybe far from an outlet.

Via laptop when I get home I can perform a target disk mode transfer from the laptop to my iMac of the edited footage. Hopefully. I need to test this. The problem isn't going to be the technology it is going to be the limitations of a wedding.

Maybe my goal should be to do less weddings and more other stuff.

Boyd Ostroff August 12th, 2004 08:59 AM

Alan, if you do want to look into hardware for tapeless recording, note that this forum is devoted to the topic.

Soounds like you would like to have a laptop there anyway. I agree this would be an expensive experiment if you don't already own one! There is no reason why using BTV Pro wouldn't accomplish what you want. It's very inexpensive, something like $50. It captures Quicktime files that you can drop directly into FCP which you would install on the same laptop. After capturing the footage you would just hop into FCP and edit. The advantage to using the separate application for capture is that it's a small, stable program that uses less system resources. I'd think this would make it less likely to crash, although as I said I only use it as a portable video monitor. BTW, one thing that makes it handy with the PDX-10 is the variable screen size and proportions. I created a custom screen size of 1280x720 on my PowerBook and it shows correctly proportioned 16:9 full screen.

Personally I think it wouldn't be a great idea to regularly capture an hour of video and edit using the laptop internal drive. Every now and then would be fine I imagine, but if you do this often you risk some disk fragmentation.

On another topic, I'm interested to see that you film weddings with your PDX-10. Many people have suggested that it's not well suited for that purpose due to low light issues. I think people might be interested to hear your impressions on this topic; maybe sometime you could share them in another thread?

Alan Herr August 12th, 2004 05:03 PM

Could BTV capture 2 streams of audio since I would be using a wireless mic? I would think that would be necessary before I then transfer the footage into FCP. The other thing is that BTV isn't OSX native yet. Any risks there?

Your right always importing onto the Laptops internal could be challenging. I might give it a try though depending on APple's new prices. I would love to find a laptop I could buy from someone near by to me who I could trust.

I did see a few low-light posts for the PDX and did add my view.
It has been awhile though since anyone has asked.
PDX is good for weddings for most part -except low light and since it isn't shoulder mounted your wrists die - so you need a stabilizer. Can't use a tripod the entire time during a reception.


Boyd Ostroff August 12th, 2004 07:26 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by two streams of audio? It should capture whatever is sent over firewire. Also, confused about the OSX question. I'm running version 5.4.1 which says "Carbonized for OSX". Runs fine in native OSX mode. Were you looking at BTV or BTV Pro? They are different and I'm running the Pro version. Nice little program. It also has a very useful assortment of video scopes available in realtime that can help with exposure and even focus. I think it is fully functional in free demo mode except it keeps reminding you to register.

I haven't tried, but I suspect the 12" G4 iBook might be able to handle this given enough memory and disk. Funny thing, just went to the Apple Store with my daughter to get her one and they're back ordered. Stopped by CompUSA, same thing. Finally gave up and ordered from MacMall, but out of stock until next week there too. These things are really popular! The 12" PowerBooks might be a reasonably priced option for you also.

Alan Herr August 12th, 2004 09:01 PM

2 Streams
When filming; if I had a wireless on a groom CH2 and the on-camera mic recording CH1 then FCP would be able to import the 2 channels of audio while I am filming on the PDX. Same as when I film now and then capture when I get home.

But if I am using BTV wouldn't all the audio be going into one QT File and then I wouldn't be able to separate the 2 audio sources???once I imported the QT file into FCP? Imperative for a wedding.

Not sure what carbonized meant - I thought it meant it wasn't ready for OSX yet.

Been looking at that iBook to - but everyone says get a Powerbook because I will need the G5....


Boyd Ostroff August 12th, 2004 10:44 PM

Re: 2 Streams
<<<-- Originally posted by Alan Herr : Boyd, would be able to import the 2 channels of audio while I am filming on the PDX.

Quicktime understands stereo. Take a look at an FCP file right after you capture it. It has the icon of a Quicktime file. Double-click and it opens in Quicktime (at least it does on my version). FCP movies are just Quicktime files. See the online user manual http://www.bensoftware.com/help/Manual.html

Recording in stereo uses two sound channels and therefore uses more storage space, so if you are using a mono sound source it is best to switch this setting to mono.
<<<-- Not sure what carbonized meant - I thought it meant it wasn't ready for OSX yet.

I don't know all the subtleties, but I think carbon was a toolbox they released under OS 9 to make it more compatible with OSX so that developers could build OS X applications for still provide a way to run on OS9 machines. From the BTV Pro website: "BTV Pro is available as a classic application for Mac OS 8 and 9, and also a Carbonized application that runs natively under Mac OSX".

I seem to be taking the position of a big BTV advocate here, but I have no real agenda. I just like it for my purposes, and also like to see useful products coming from a cottage industry at low prices. I don't know if it makes any sense at all for you, but I don't think either audio or OSX compatibility would be an issue.

<<<-- Been looking at that iBook to - but everyone says get a Powerbook because I will need the G5....

There are no laptops that have G5's. And don't expect them anytime soon, there are serious issues with power and heat for them to solve. The Powerbooks run a little faster than the iBooks. I haven't looked carefully at the specs on the 12" iBook, but they used to have somewhat slower internal architectures than the PowerBooks. PowerBooks have a PCI slot, but how often do you need that? I have a 15" aluminum Powerbook with 768MB that runs at 1ghz, like the new iBooks. It certainly handles FCP3 with no problem. Before that I had a Titanium PowerBook G4/667 with 512MB RAM. That also ran FCP 3 fine. Maybe newer versions of FCP are more demanding?

For what you describe I'd think you'd want to max the RAM on an iBook and opt for a larger hard drive. You can custom configure on Apple's website.

Alan Herr August 13th, 2004 07:15 AM

Thanks for all the help
Thanks Boyd. I am going to look a little more closely at BTV and see what that is all about. If it works well importing as you say then it should be exactly what I am looking for and solve one of the big issues which is importing without burps/snags.

If I can separate the BTV audio into 2 separate tracks then I am good to go for editing.

As many weddings as I do - it is going to make sense to have a laptop - I like the look of the ibook best and that is good advice to special order larger drive etc..,

thanks for all,

Sean McHenry August 13th, 2004 02:14 PM

On the power and cable issues on the HD recorder idea...the FS3 and other such units can come with battery packs or use the larger Anton Bauer or Sony "V" mount batteries.

So, all you need is the unit and a firewire cable. My point here is, you have a dedicated item specifically built to do nothing but capture and play back video from 1394 streams in a file format correct for your editing devices.

All you have to hook to them is the firewire cable. Since you don't have to worry about a laptop screwing up (or in Windows, just dying for no apparent reason) it seems like a more logical capture choice.


Alan Herr August 13th, 2004 08:14 PM

Thanks Sean
Thanks - will consider that....
I am starting to think this is doable once I figure out the main ingredients.

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