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Thread: Static stage recording on the cheap?

  1. #1

    Default Static stage recording on the cheap?

    Hi there,


    I'm a technologist attempting to help my brother out with a project of his. He owns a rock club in Seattle. Performing bands receive the raw tracks from the mixer on a DVD after the show. The recordings are typically good enough to produce and release (overdub the flubs, mix, master).

    He'd like to add video into the mix. We're looking for a budget solution that would allow bands to leave with video that is good enough to produce and release. Like the mixer, we would like the solution to require minimal effort (push record, burn files to BDR after the show). We would like it to be cheap.

    I'm looking for hardware, software, and implementation recommendations. The venue is a 15'X30' rectangular stage with a backdrop, high ceiling, and active (rock club) lighting which resembles LEDs in paint cans. Any advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated.


    Here are my thoughts so far:
    Acquire five Logitech C920 webcams (1080p, autofocus, 3MP CMOS, h246 bit streaming) for $80 each.
    Acquire a PC with three USB Roots (max of 2 cams per USB root device)
    Acquire five active-USB extension cables
    Mount one camera above each corner of the rectangular stage
    Mount one camera facing the stage
    A sixth camera would possibly be behind the band facing the audience
    Total cost would be about $1000

    Synchronously capture all five bitstreams to disk at once. Burn the raw m4v files to a data-BRD after the show. The band leaves with 5 different angles @1080p of their performance. The band can sync with the off-the-board tracks to produce a live DVD/BD using their own production software, hardware, staff, and creative vision. We simply want to provide them with something really useful.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2

    Default

    I like your idea but I'm not sure how good it would be for the band to only have fixed distance shots for their DVD. I think close ups are essential for this type of a shoot and as this would mostly be on moving objects (the musicians) it would have to be done by a camera operator. I know your looking for a good cheap solution to do this yourself but it might be a better product to get a small local videographer from your area and to do the close ups and then ad a couple of fixed camera into the mix.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blue View Post
    I like your idea but I'm not sure how good it would be for the band to only have fixed distance shots for their DVD. I think close ups are essential for this type of a shoot and as this would mostly be on moving objects (the musicians) it would have to be done by a camera operator. I know your looking for a good cheap solution to do this yourself but it might be a better product to get a small local videographer from your area and to do the close ups and then ad a couple of fixed camera into the mix.
    I hear you. My thought was that with the five fixed-distance shots. you could do some fancy 2D compositing/interpolation and achieve a fake three-dimentional free-view/motion camera of the scene. Given enough computer horsepower and the correct calibration, you could even compose a real 3D scene from the generated point data. Unfortunately, I'm a technologist, and I have no idea whether these two technologies have made it into consumer products yet.

    Even without the fancy CG, I'm somewhat confident that from the 5 angles, and copious amounts of "Ken Burns" style 2D panning/zooming, a decent DVD could be produced from the source material. If a cameraman is needed for action shots and close-ups, the band can simply recruit a friend with an iPhone. The segments from the iPhone can then be hand synchronized with the static-cam bitstreams during production in any NLE.

    Just so we're on the same page. The objective is to spend as little money as possible, have the system be as simple as possible (Push record, push stop, push burn), and deliver something that is of genuine use to the performer.

    Keep the suggestions coming. If I'm wrong about all of this, I'd love to know prior to putting work into the implementation.

  4. #4

    Default

    I wonder well the PC will handle recording 5 USB cams at 1020p at the same time? And the likely filesize after an hour of recording.

  5. #5

    Default

    I wonder well the PC will handle recording 5 USB cams at 1020p at the same time? And the likely filesize after an hour of recording.
    While you are 100% correct about every other webcam, that's the neat thing about the new c920. It has an H264 encoder on the camera, and you can bitstream from the cam, as opposed to YUV/MJPEG to the PC and then transcode to h264 on the PC. You basically attach to a file-handle and stream to disk. The only thing to watch out for is that you don't want to attach more than two or three cameras to a single USB Root Hub, else (as you said) you may run into bandwidth issues.

    Really rough arithmetic breakdown: 6Mbit/sec * 5 cameras = 30Mbit/sec to disk = approx 3Mbyte sec = 180MB/min = 1.8GB every 10 mins = 10GB per hour.

    Most cheap PCs have at least 3 root hub devices, with 2 USB ports per hub, allowing for 6 cameras. The only remaining bottleneck is the HDD, which needs to simultaneously record five 6-mbit h264 streams. This is not a problem for modern drives. I'm 100% confident that a DIY PC with 5 hub devices can have 10 cameras attached.

    The c920 is kind of a game changer for low-cost multi cam. $80, 3MP sensor, mechanical focus (with auto focus), decent optics (for $80), and h264 encoding/bitstreaming. It also has a standard tripod mount and a stereo microphones. I'm not saying it's a super great cam, but you certainly get a lot for relatively little cost. The down side is that it's made by logitech, and their developer/customer support tends to be abysmal (and I'm being polite).

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