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Television Data Storage Hardware Hacking Media

Cheap Tapeless DV Capture? 259

K'thardin asks: "Recently I've been chafing under the limitations of mini-DV tapes, as I attend various conventions throughout the year and record certain events and information panels. These limitations include dropped frames, gummed up tape heads (especially prevalent when you spend more than fifteen minutes at a time on pause), and most importantly, time constraints as the largest mini-DV tapes can only hold 83 minutes on SP (a little over 2 hours on EP, with a loss in quality and larger possibility of dropped frames). Several events I attend can run for 4 hours or more, so the time constraint is one of the worst, as it requires me to change tapes several times, thus loosing vital footage." Are there video acquisition devices out there that can record to high density media as well as (or instead of) DV Tapes? If not, how difficult would it be to build a portable one?
"There are several tapeless acquisition systems out there, such as the Firestore FS-4, the QuickStream, and the ADS Pyro drive. The advantages to these solutions are generally longer recording time, elimination of dropped frames, and the ability to record natively in several video formats, removing the need for time-consuming tape capture. The problem with most of these is that they are prohibitively expensive for the larger capacities, require user-built portable power solutions for long duration recording times, are not upgradeable, and have been reported to be buggy by several users.

Considering these devices are little more than specialized computers, I've been considering what sort of devices would be a cheap and more reliable alternative to commercial offerings. An article on DVInfoNet details the creation of a relatively cheap and upgradeable tapeless acquisition system that uses a tablet PC. The problem with this is power and space constraints. There are several existing and upcoming Linux-based devices out there (as well as those that can be made to be Linux devices) that can be made to do what I wish with the capacities I need. The problem there is that none of the ones I've found come with a Firewire port, which is vital for tapeless acquisition on current DV based cameras. Also is the problem that many of these acquisition systems do not have the capability of being upgraded, or simply lack the ability for one to swap out hard drives should it become necessary (such as recording two 4-hour events back to back ... I've done this). The only possible solution I've seen containing a needed Firewire port is the Apple iPod, and it doesn't seem to have the ability to process the information coming in from a camcorder fast enough to prevent jittery video; nor is it upgradeable.

Does anyone else have this complaint? Are there any devices I've overlooked that fit the criteria of small, relatively powerful, cheap, power-efficient, Firewire-enabled devices with upgradeable/swappable hard drives that are able to run Linux?"
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Cheap Tapeless DV Capture?

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  • gummed up tape heads (especially prevalent when you spend more than fifteen minutes at a time on pause),

    Let's see: what kind of movie would you pause for 15 minutes? not a football match (you usually re-run an action over and over, not pause), not a regular movie (same thing)... Obviously a movie that you want to freeze a certain scene to marvel at it at length... hmmm, I wonder...
    • Re:Dare I guess (Score:3, Informative)

      hehe, he means porn, hehe.
  • by Forthan Red ( 820542 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:35PM (#13260008)
    You just need to remember to change tapes after George Takei talkes, and before the costume contest starts.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:37PM (#13260018) Homepage
    My best suggestion would be a Mac (or you should be able to get a PC to do this). You would take a small Mac with you (a mini or a 12" PB) and hook it up to your recording device (either a camcorder via FireWire or an iSight) and record that way. You could plug in a better microphone if you needed one. Shouldn't be too hard to rig up, uses standard power outlets so you can recharge when available (and you could rig up a secondary battery). That would do it. You might be able to get a ultra-portable notebook to do the same thing on the PC side. It's too bad all those portable media players out now can't take video in. But if they did, they'd probably have battery life issues.

    How about... analog? Is digital a requirement? A good quality VHS camcorder (like an old professional model) shoudl be able to tape for quite a long time and give you a great picture. Maybe even beta or VHS-C or 8mm or something. If you go out of the digital realm, you may have better luck. And there must be special VCR type things that can take those tapes and have FireWire to take the video off for you easily.

    My other suggestion is more decidedly low tech: 2+ camcorders. Switch one on when the other is about to run out of tape.

    • OK, I just saw your HD requirement. That would make it tough. The Mac solution would still work, obviously the analog would be out. You may have to get yourself a professional camera (used, a few years old) might be able to do it. And now that this is "the year of HD" (ha), more camcorders will be comming out, so look around and keep your eye out, you may just have to wait if you can't afford something more professional and have to go prosumer.
      • Unless he has some software to do the transcode on the fly. A firewire dump of cam will be at exactly dvcam speeds *25mb/s if I recall* which could be quite hefty.

        I think he was looking for something a little more portable in mind.

        Also, I have to wonder about his gummed up tape heads as it really sounds like he is alternating some tape stock. (different brands and variants use different lubricants... which is why I always try to keep the same deck type with a certain tape stock)
        • While I'm not sure that carrying a Mac Mini around is exactly the solution this guy is going to be looking for, it would be possible.

          The data rate of Firewire is indeed 25 megabits per second, which turns out to be around 3.6 MB/s, well within the capability of the Mini. And he never said anything about wanting to transcode on the fly...and given that to people doing professional video, DV's quality is considered pretty minimal anyway, I'm not sure it's safe to assume that anything less would be acceptable.
    • "My other suggestion is more decidedly low tech: 2+ camcorders. Switch one on when the other is about to run out of tape."

      One videographer I know uses this solution. Every event she tapes, she takes along about 6 cameras. This way she can get 2 or more shots continuously.

      If you're wondering where you can get a cheap second DV cam...try looking about for a Sharp Viewcam Z. They have a manufacturing defect that requires you to take out the little watch battery (the one that saves the time stamp and f
    • A good quality VHS camcorder (like an old professional model)
      Since when is VHS professional?
      shoudl be able to tape for quite a long time and give you a great picture.
      In SP (the 'greatest' picture that VHS can produce), VHS still creates a lousy picture, and the largest preloaded tapes [for NTSC] are 180 minutes.
      Maybe even beta or VHS-C or 8mm or something.
      I hope you mean Betacam, not Betamax, although it is better than all the other options you have stated. Oh, and still not 2 hours of continuous.
  • by vladj ( 716394 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:38PM (#13260025)
    JVC recently announced a new HDD-based digital camcorder, with storage of 20 or 30GB that is good for over 10 hours of video.

    http://www.jvc.com/press/index.jsp?item=461&pageID =1 [jvc.com]
    http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/JVC-Introduce s-Four-Hard-Drive-Based-Everio-Camcorders.htm [camcorderinfo.com]
    • DV is 13 gigs per hour [wikipedia.org], and that's already compressed 5:1. I'd go for quality over storage space every time.


    • by Markmarkmark ( 512275 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @05:31PM (#13260302) Homepage
      DV Rack (http://www.dvrack.com/ [dvrack.com] by Serious Magic runs on a laptop and was made to do exactly this plus it has automatic quality monitoring that watches video and audio levels in real-time alerting you when thresholds are exceeded. It also turns your laptop screen into a field monitor that lets you compare live camera to recorded clips in split screen (good for checking continuity/framing).

      There's an express version that lists for $149.

      Disclaimer: Yes, I work at the company but hey someone finally asked a question on Slashdot that requests exactly what a product that I worked on does.
      • Yup, I was thinking of exactly your product :)

        I just wish you guys made a Mac version as well, because I got a free powerbook 15" from work :)

        BTW: I didn't know that Serious Magic was formed by the Play folk... I would've hung around the booth at NAB to shoot the bull more :P

      • by dubiousmike ( 558126 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @07:40PM (#13261038) Homepage Journal
        DV Rack is definitely cool and works well as a field recorder. I have recorded the program out from toaster shoot using up to 8 cameras and I have yet to run into a problem. I use a dv camera that can do analog to digital pass through to get my live feed into my PC laptop. You can even pick an AVI for Premiere, or Quicktime for FCP and not have to do rendering once you bring it into your timeline.

        We also have an FS-2, an FS-1, and an FS-4 and dv rack is great if you don't have the funds for dedicated equiptment. It can help if your laptop has more than one dv port (get an expansion via your PCMCIA if need be) so you can transfer your 2 gig files from your laptop if you have to do long form stuff. I did a 3 day, 30 hour telethon with my laptop, a Lacie drive and DV Rack without problems. We used the recording to quickly encode to MPEG2 for our videoserver to playout over Comcast and to grab clips for promos for the next year.

        One thing, make sure you use it is bit as I found DV Rack's protection scheme caused some grey hairs when it kept asking for activation when I was on site and ready to go live without an internet connection and Serious Magic wasn't open on the weekend...

    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @05:50PM (#13260421) Homepage Journal
      "JVC recently announced a new HDD-based digital camcorder, with storage of 20 or 30GB that is good for over 10 hours of video."

      This has already been brought up, but I thought I'd go into a little more detail: The video is too compressed. For somebody capturing a home movie, it's fine. But for actually producing something that'll need to be edited and post processed, it's not a great option. The reason for that is that the footage will be degraded when it comes in. When they go to the process of putting it back to a DV tape, or to DVD etc, they'll need to compress it again. Unfortunately, that'll make the video look crummy. Worse, they would basically lose the ability to do any form of green/blue screen compositing because the compression scheme will jaggedize the edges of the matte. As it is, it's barely possible to get a decent bluescreen shot with DV. Compressing it further will basically destroy this capability.

      What would be nice is if they made an HDD camera like you described, only it holds 80 or so gigs. Then make it easy to swap out the drives. If they can get enough throughput on the drives, they could capture at higher quality and bring a bunch of hot-swappable drives along. If they need longevity, they could lower the quality and get longer recording times. Flexibility is key.

      We're just on the brink of some really cool advances in this arena. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if in the next five years a hard-drive equipped camera was the norm. I'm not exactly a visionary for predicting that, though. At this point, it's a no-brainer.
      • One thing to note is that Final Cut Pro can do native HDV editing. It does so by only re-compressing when it absolutely has to, if the frame has been changed. Otherwise it uses the same MPEG-2 source that was captured off the camera. You still have a generational loss in any parts with changed frames, but it does help significantly. There's a PDF available on Final Cut Pro's HDV editing [apple.com] available at Apple's website.
      • Get instead a camera that is ONLY a camera. Go to linuxdevices.org and search for "camera" and you will find various models that come with lens mounts and a tcpip port. They're only about a thousand dollars and you can connect one to any PC you want. If a pair of 500GB drives in a RAID cannot meet your time needs, build two 1TB PCs and let software do the "swapping" in real time.
    • JVCs are junk. At least this is my experience. I have a JVC DVL-505u, and it has given me nothing but troule -- I should have spent the extra $200 and got a canon. Granted, this was a while ago.

      I'm into digital video. I used to work with ancient Macintosh computers, back in the days of MJPEG analog capture cards, about the time Premiere 2 came out. Ad nauseum, I'm into portable video, especially as gagetty as I am.

      I'm looking for a digital camcorder which does 720x480, or x486 -- I think the extra 6
  • ...method available. According to my math, a single miniDV tape can record nearly 12GB, so obviously affordable solid-state video capture and storage is out for a good while yet.

    The actual demand for portable tapeless recording of any kind is still pretty low. The demand is low enough that only the people that absolutely must have it have to pay a lot because it requires a specialized device that would hook to the Firewire or other port on the camera.
    • I'm pretty sure they can hold more than that, I transferred just under an hour of DV footage to disk the other day and the resulting DV-AVI was 15.0 GB.
  • I have a Mini DV camera with a broken tape drive that I bought on eBay to use as a webcam. It captures video to the hard drive in my laptop over the 1394 port with any of your favorite Windows video editing tools in the same way you would copy the contents of a tape to the hard drive. That way you can use any laptop computer as a high capacity video recording device. I use Windows movie maker just because it's what came with my laptop. The controls leave a little to be desired though.
    • tried this yesterday (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lthown ( 737539 )
      I actually have a similar issue as the root poster and found this solution myself. I hook my laptop up to my DV camers, turn it on and it stays on becuase the firewire is hooked up. Normally it turns off after 15 minutes but I tested it on Friday and captured 3 1/2 hours before the camcorder batter strted running down. This is perfect for long events. On a side note My laptop's HD is 60GB of which 40 are free (I cleared it out for this test) Just for fun, I setup Vegas' capture to use my 40GB USB drive (it'
  • Why pause? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by log0n ( 18224 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:41PM (#13260043)
    Why not stop recording?

    FWIW, I do video / film production for a living.. this just doesn't make sense. Consumer DV camcorders switch off automatically after a few minutes for a reason - not to save battery life *tho that's a benefit* but because of the exact 'gumming' thing mentioned. The drum spins and creates a magnetic effect which pulls tiny metallic particles off of the tape. Too much of this and your drum/heads/tape gets messed up.

    It seems like the person posting the topic doesn't really understand what they are doing - or rather, they don't have a good foundation on which to improve their problems. So instead they are looking for a product (that's not prohibitively expensive) that caters to the way they think things 'should be done'.

    Learn to work how the gear is designed to work. Then start experimenting.
    • Yeah, I wondered about that. If you've got time to pause for 15 minutes, you've got time to stop and swap tapes. Keep each segment on a separate tape, they're cheap.

      And *always always always* record 5 minutes of black at the top of a new tape. That way all the unstable tension and stuff is out of the way once you start actually using it.

      • You make a good point about leaving 'roll on' room on the tape at the beginning, but the explanation is one I've never heard.

        The reason I leave space is actually for postproduction: some VTR decks need several seconds of space before the marked cut in point where you want to begin transferring data. You mark the in point, and the deck then automatically backs up, starts playing, and begins transferring at the exact point marked. If you've ever tried to get video off the very beginning of a tape and into FCP
    • Re:Why pause? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @05:58PM (#13260467) Homepage
      It seems like the person posting the topic doesn't really understand what they are doing - or rather, they don't have a good foundation on which to improve their problems. So instead they are looking for a product (that's not prohibitively expensive) that caters to the way they think things 'should be done'.

      Welcome to Ask Slashdot.

      "Hi, I'd like to do $THING. I know that $SOLUTION_A and $SOLUTION_B will do it very easily and for a very reasonable price, but I don't want to use $SOLUTION_A or $SOLUTION_B because $VAGUE_REASON and $CONTRADICTORY_REASON. Instead, I'd like your under-informed ideas on how to achieve my $POORLY_CONCEIVED_AMBITIONS using Linux, duct tape, an iPod, and hours and hours of my precious time."

      With apologies to the inquirer.
      • Wow! The parent should be modded up to 5 on this one. You have captured it perfectly. In this case, the inquirer is missing it completely. First off, if you are recording important 4 hour sessions, I hope you already have a secord camera that you used as a back up. What a professional would do is have two cameras and overlap them. Then you can combine it in post as the grandparent noted. If you are looking for some magical cheap solution, and you haven't been able to come up with one, odds are that y
    • Re:Why pause? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by giMlids ( 897648 )
      No way. I'm currently post-producing a documentary. We have 45 miniDV tapes. Would have been so great to have 320x240 mpeg-4 written straight to a drive while we were recording onto MiniDV as well. Then we would have immediately had random access to all of our footage, and I wouldn't have had to spend 45 hours capturing all the tapes by hand.
      • "Would have been so great to have 320x240 mpeg-4 written straight to a drive while we were recording onto MiniDV as well."

        I spend a lot of time walking around videoing stuff, and a portable battery powered drive which simply connects to my XL2 via a firewire cable would be an immense time saver!

        As it is, I have to record the video from the MiniDV tape into the G5 real-time before I can start doing anything at all.
    • You make a good point, that maybe he's not too familiar with his equipment and that's keeping him from doing better work, but the only way we get better tech is by consumers bitching.
    • I agree with the parent, you need to use the equipment properly. But, you also need to use the right equipment.

      Although consumer grade mini-DV equipment is pretty good, if you're trying to do anything real, you need real equipment. A DVCAM or DVCPRO camaera not only produces a higher quality recording, it also uses better, longer, tapes. If consumer grade equipment doesn't work, it's better to use better equipment than hack the junk to make it work.
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:42PM (#13260047) Journal
    I'd hate to have to sit thru your home movie collection.
  • by johnpaul191 ( 240105 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:43PM (#13260053) Homepage
    might not be quite what you want, but some notebook can be set so they do not sleep when the lids are closed. i only know Mac notebook, and that is a feature of the powerbooks (but not ibooks).

    you can carry the notebook in a shoulder bag and hook a DV cam to record straight to the internal drive (bypassing the tape). you would have to offload it later if you want to keep the files at full quality, but that may do it? i do know people do this. it has that 80's camcorder thing going but it may be the cheapest solution.... in the sense that the notebook is not dedicated to this project and you can use any handheld video camera with firewire output (even an apple isight).

    Apple powerbooks have had this feature for a few years, and i really doubt they are the only ones. i am not saying they were first either, i just do not follow other notebooks. the only thing to ponder is that it is a software setting that tells the machine if it should sleep or not when the lid is closed. if the notebook was designed to run OS X or Windows, there may not be an easy way to control that from a Linux install.

    i would assume there is some other all-in-one option, but it might be prohibitively expensive?
    • there may not be an easy way to control that from a Linux install.

      Linux has better support for ACPI (the standard that lets you control what the lid button does, among other things) than Windows does. What I mean by better, is that you can specify whatever functionality you want. Windows just gives you a choice of Suspend, Hibernate and Nothing for the lid, and no choice for the power button, but on Linux you could for example power down the soundcard, wifi, display and video chip, leaving the CPU, firewi

      • >> What I mean by better, is that you can specify whatever functionality you want.

        Yeah right. I can select whatever i want, and get a kernal panic or simply nothing when actually trying to resatart... But yeah, i can enter 35 options into a config file, thats rulez.
  • by andyring ( 100627 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:43PM (#13260054) Homepage
    I am hit by this limitation sometimes too, as I frequently record services, special functions, etc., at my church, and many of them run longer than an hour or hour and a half. Lately I've just been bringing my laptop with me (PowerBook G4 12", 80G drive) and recording directly to the hard drive via iMovie. Yeah it's not Linux, but you can get an iBook with 100G hard drive for $1199 from Apple. That will hold a TON of video.
    • That will hold a TON of video

      But with a Beowulf cluster of Linux, I bet you could hold at least a megaton of video.

      Personally though, I wont be satisfied until I can haul a teraton of video around.
    • The only thing is the hard disk in most Powerbooks and iBooks are 5400 RPM. That is too slow for capture. I capture to a tape and then edit things down. On my powerbook, I capture to a external USB drive. I am due to get another one as my existing drive is getting kind of full.

      The funny thing is, in most 4 hour events, you rarely have more then 1 hour that is watchable. It's no fun watching the kids setup the stage for the next act at a school function. I only record when the kids are DOING something
  • Not exactly what you're asking for, but my Sony DSCP10 does about ~4.5 hours of recording (640 x 480/16 frames per second) a 512MB stick.
    And it's main purpose is as digital camera! USB 2 connectivity and long battery life. Good microphone too.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000 08O35W/102-3682626-8940135?v=glance [amazon.com]
  • SP vs LP myth (Score:5, Informative)

    by djdj ( 814336 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:45PM (#13260067)
    Slight correction to a common misconeption about MiniDV tape and the DV format:

    There is no loss in quality going to LP recording mode compared to SP mode. It is still 25 Mb/sec.

    Switching to LP you give up reliable insert editing, recording/playback compatibility with other cameras, and audio dubbing. And you are more likely to have dropouts. But aside from these things, SP and LP produce identical quality video.

    And Digital-8 has the same quality as well. Same 25 MB/sec recording rate. The reason Digital 8 is perceived as an inferior format is because it appears on relatively lower quality cameras. You can dub DV digitally to a Digital 8 deck and you will end up with a perfect copy.
  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @04:50PM (#13260097) Journal
    Step 1: You need a DV camera that has video pass-through. This feature is only found on some camcorders, though many affordable consumer cams do have it. (I know that my Panasonic PV-GS 120 has it, and it wasn't too expensive.) This feature encodes incoming video from a video input or from the lens and constantly encodes and outputs the signal on the IEE1394 link.

    Step 2: Get a laptop with IEEE1394 and install the biggest hard disk that you can. (External hard disks could also be used here.) Use a program like DVIO [carr-engineering.com] to capture the incoming DV frames and dump them to a file on your hard disk.

    Presto! DV video capture limited only to the size of your disk partition.

    • If you can afford it, DV Rack is a great software solution for direct-to-disk capture. It has some neato tools to make sure you are getting the best picture you can. It also has this cool feature that constantly buffers video, so when you hit the record button on your camera, it actually records several seconds of video prior to pressing the button. Perfect for those times when something happens real fast and it takes you a second to react.

      Every DV camera I have ever used outputs video to the firewire po
    • There are also dedicated firewire/av boxes. The canopus box works well from what I've heard.

      Do not even think about using a dazzle hollywood. Unless they've fixed it, it likes to do things like switch randomly to PAL and in many cases won't capture properly, without something like a switcher upstream.
  • How about getting a Mac notebook, and capture all your video from firewire direct into Final Cut?


    • Why does it have to be a mac? My Dell Inspiron 6000 has onboard firewire, and I can capture IEEE1394 video with linux.
      • I know my old Powerbook 667 Mhz is perfectly capabile of capturing video with no dropped frames. But one of the reasons I bought a powerbook was that I was fed up with trying to make PC's behave as stabily.

        Perhaps direct firewire dumps will owrk pretty well on the PC... but then of course there's the issue of noing being able to use Final Cut (or even iMovie) on the video when you are done which would be pretty useful. A Mini while not the ideal box for video would work well enough for someone on a budge
  • Depending on how pricey the cameras you're using are, I doubt you'll find a tapeless system that will give you cheaper and more flexible results than simply buying a second camera and mounting it next to the first one. You can switch tapes indefinitely without missing a beat, and if you're at the back of the room the shift in angle should be imperceptible. What's more, you'll always have a backup camera in case of hardware problems - that could save your hiney.

    A tapeless system using a hard drive or whate
  • Just hire an autistic person with the super memory "can't forget anything" function. Then have him or her describe the events later to you. Ultra reliable, lifetime guarunteed. No dropped frames. Quality might suffer a bit though.
  • The MCE QuickStream DV [mcetech.com] comes with its own Lithium Ion battery. The 360 minute device is about $900.
  • ...gummed up tape heads (especially prevalent when you spend more than fifteen minutes at a time on pause)...

    You should leave it on slow motion play or you could repeatedly hit the frame advance button with your non-occupied hand. ;-)
  • they have FireWire built-in, and if you run OS X you can download Apple's FireWire SDK, which has a pretty functional DVHS application, which might accept DV (it accepts MPEG2-TS with no problem).

    I use an ancient blue-and-white G3 to record HD video off my cable box -- it's more than equal to that task, so an older iBook such as you might find on eBay should be sufficient.
  • The article mentions events, but doesn't say what they are.

    If they are some sort of audio-visual event are they not professionally recorded?

    If it is just some talking head, wouldn't a few stills and a transcript be better?

    I know, it wasn't the question, but who really wants to watch a 4 hour video of most "events"?

    • I think you can read between the lines and assume that the events are either Star Trek conventions, monthly meetings of the SCA, or circle jerks (this should provide the answer to your second question about talking heads).

      In regards to your last question, the answer could either be no one, or the Department of Homeland Security.
  • 1. LP does NOT decrease quality. Period. Look it up. There are reports that it DOES increase the possibilities of dropped frames but it does NOT decrease recording quality. The original poster is wrong.

    2. a) There are already ways of doing real-time storage... some not so easy. I just did it myself this July for a church conference, with a camcorder connected via firewire to a laptop, connected via firewire to an external drive. Not the best of solutions, and it pretty much eliminated mobility, but it gav
  • miniDV EP is the same quality as SP. The only difference is the tape speed. The data packets are the same.

    Dropouts? I've been using miniDV for years in an industrial environment and I never have dropouts. Your camera is gummed up as you've already explained.

    Always use fresh tapes for important events and record them, completely, with the lens cap on then rewind to retension and create a proper timecode on the entire tape. Don't reuse tapes, keep your camcorder clean and stick to one tape manufacturer.

    Pause for 15 minutes while recording? Huh?!?! Most camcorders shut themselves off. There's no good reason to be on pause for 15 minutes. Turn it off then back on.

    You don't need a HD. What you need is attention to detail and, it seems, a second camcorder and tripod. Record overlapping segments and do post-editing.
    • Always use fresh tapes for important events and record them, completely, with the lens cap on then rewind to retension and create a proper timecode on the entire tape.

      You came to expose one myth and reinforce another, it seems. That "proper timecode" idea is based on the incorrect assumption that the bits you layed down during the "blank record" will hit the record head in exactly the same spot when you later do your "real" record. Ain't gonna happen. Tapes sag and stretch, and only a minute amount of sam

  • The firm I work for does video traffic recordings for counts and analysis. For years, we used Sony Real-Time VCRs, which are capable of a super LP mode of 3x EP. After investigating industrial digital video recorders for over a year, my boss found that they are almost always encrypted because they are intended to be tamper-proof for security monitoring, etc, which doesn't help if you want to make a copy of what you recorded, and is a stupid idea regardless, because you have to put an entire recorder in an
  • For portability, get an isight camera and a 12" powerbook, upgraded to a 100 (or 120 if you can find it) GB hard drive. Run iMove to capture your video.

    Be prepared to go grab lunch and wait while the video "finishes" recording after the presentation - that cleanup it does when you hit Stop will take quite awhile for a four hour recording. (probably 30 minutes or more?)

    Then do any editing you need to via iMovie (cutting out breaks, inserting text overlays at the start/end, transitions, etc) then export to w
    • Are you seriously suggesting using an iSight instead of a REAL camera? An iSight is DEFINITELY not designed for anything more than video conferencing. This is absolutely positively no subsitute for even the most low-end prosumer camera. No control, no zoom, no nothing. I'm pretty sure the guy who asked this Slashdot question is in need for more than just a pseudo-spycam set-up.
      • I realize the iSight is classified as a "web cam", but have you actually taken a look at video shot with an iSight, or are you just passing judgement based on it being a "web cam"? It's also auto white balance, auto contrast, auto focus. About the only thing it won't do compared to a high end camcorder is anti-jitter.

        Actually, more surprising than the video quality is the audio quality. The mic in that camera is incredibly good. I'm used to using the built-in mic in my powerbook and the iSight's mic qua
        • The guy who posed the question is talking about videoing conventions. Hardly the proper field of use for an iSight. No decent zoom and I'm guessing that the CCD's aren't up to snuff for the lighting situations in convention centers and hotel meeting rooms. And "auto white balance" is not a selling point, IMO. I much prefer my warm cards. "Auto" in general won't help you out when you need to play with shutter speeds, exposure settings, etc. Tv and Av are my friends. And the lack of "anti-jitter" is al
    • If you want really long-term semi-mobile power for your laptop and camera, you can get an inverter (used to be StatPower, but they've now been sold to another name) .. Ah. xantrex. The XPower Xantrex 175 can provide 140 watts continuous (175 for 5 minutes). That's enough for most P4s and a camcorder. You can then run that off of a 12 volt jell cell battery that'll beat your average laptop battery to a whispy pulp (both figuratively and physically).

      I used a similar setup 10 years ago to allow long-term

  • The product you want is called the firestore http://www.videoguys.com/FireStore.html [videoguys.com] Its a portable Hard drive product that is made just for your needs.
  • I do a lot of Public Access TV and we use older 80GB FireStores to capture the FireWire output from our Canon GL2 cameras. It works pretty well - it only takes a couple of minutes to set up and 80GB holds 5 hours and 45 minutes (enough for even the longest Town Meeting marathons). They come with a little nylon carrying case that allow you to sling it from your shoulder or attach it to your belt - a real plus for mobile shoots.

    Since the FireStore uses a FAT filesystem, the individual segments are 1.99GB ea
  • I suppose this solution is a little bigger/more cumbersome than the solutions you mentioned but...
    I've built a mini-itx system (fanless) with firewire and a 250gig hdd.
    I then had my roomate build me a little device to connect a button and a set of LEDs to the internal rs232 port. I can control the LEDs and read the button presses from a python script running on the system.

    With this setup I have a small/quiet machine (hold in one hand) that is very easy to use.
    There's a power button and a record button, the
  • I just had to solve this exact problem. I had to record a potentially 3-hour commencement and did not want to rely on 1-hour DV tapes. I researched what it would take to get my laptop to be the video capture device. I wrote up my result in my Backpack [backpackit.com].

    Direct to Disk Video Recording [backpackit.com]

    I hope you can find it useful.
  • by snStarter ( 212765 ) on Saturday August 06, 2005 @07:18PM (#13260902)
    When contemplating using an HD instead of DV tape I'd suggest that you ponder what you're losing: a field master.

    I'm a Final Cut Pro user and when I bring tape into my system the first thing I do is LOG it. Then I can select what I want to capture. The tape gets write protected, of course, properly labelled, and now I can simply save my project files. At the end of a project I can discard the captured video. It's merely a matter of popping in a few tapes should I need to recapture the project.

    This saves a TON of disk space that otherwise you're going to have to hold onto - or you'll lose the footage you chose not to keep (but which might be very useful). I've had no problem over five years in retrieving old footage. Yes - you might need to keep a lot of tapes but they are small.

    your milage, of course, may vary -- but I recommend you have your camera cleaned and aligned and maybe treat it a little better - respect the tools you want to giv eyou good results is always a good idea.
  • You should be able to find an 80GB firestore pro for about $1000. While it is a bit pricey, the cost is well worth the time saved capturing footage. If this is a problem you regularly run into, a 1000 dollar investment is not so bad. Others have mentioned using a laptop. While this is certainly an option, the cost will be comparable but your portability is limited. The firestore can fit on a beltclip for mobile shots and will fit in a camera bag. A laptop will probably require another ~6lb bag to carry. Ano
  • This is a profession that takes too much 1) time, 2) money, and 3) patience. You will spend every moment of your weekend and evenings editing video. You will burn GDPs worth of cash in order to store your video and build a computer that can cut and render it. And yet you'll still "botch" somebody's wedding or seminar, because your customer is the next Stanley Kubrick and you're just a bitchass with a camera and a swinging dick.

    Save yourself this grief now. Get out.
  • Sony have XDCAM [sony.com] that records onto 23GB Optical media, Professional Disc for Data.
    The discs are about $30 a pop, you can get a PDD drive for your computer, or use the camera via FireWire either as a VTR style device, or in file access mode, where you see the files on the disc. It's non-linear and very rugged. You can pause for as long as you like with no wear and tear. There's no need to then capture the footage to your computer, as it's already there, on the disc, ready to use in your editing software. Dis
  • Sorry, I didn't read every word of your post--it was pretty long. Hopefully the brevity of my answer will make up for my inattention. If you hook up a DV camera to an Apple laptop, you might be able to use iMovie, QuickTime Broadcaster, Final Cut or something else to capture directly from the camera to disk. At 9.5 minutes for 2 GB of DV (maybe higher in Final Cut) you would need 50 GB of disk space for 4 hours, so a 60 or 80 GB PowerBook should do the trick.
  • For the past 2 years anyone that has been serious in video have known about the Firewire hard drive recording decks that are available, and recording to your laptop is always do-able. Personally I only see DV tape problems with misused equipment and low end gear. and changing a tape at the 60 minute mark is not a hassle. (Note if you are recording a segment longer than 20 minutes, you are going to bore the hell out of people.)

    I suggest starting with good gear, taking care of it, and picking a good tape and

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