Camera to Archive Performances/Monitor

SteveMcQueen

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Aug 15, 2012
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Syracuse, NY
Hello everyone

Not sure if there goes here. I'm a freelance sound designer and am working with a few different companies. All of the companies I work for film a performance or 2 for their own archival purposes. I don't like how they film it though for my purposes. I'm looking to start a website, and put select numbers on the site. I'm looking for the best camera to do this. I'm looking for great audio quality, as I have separate recorders for that. But should be good with the changing light levels of a production (not sure what the technical camera term is for that)

I'm on a small budget. I've been looking at GoPros. The entry level ones only seem to have 2 hours of battery. Can I plug in and record at the same time. I've also found this new Movi camera, (Link). I'm not sure if I need all the editing things though.

Also a few of the theatre I work don't have any video monitoring system. I was thinking I could use this camera, and a few actors computer screens, and stream the video to backstage.

Any insight would be great. There are just so many options, but there may be things I'm not considering.

Thanks

Steve
 

FMEng

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A few quick thoughts about this. You cannot put recordings on a web site because you do not have legal rights to do that. Show copyrights are enforced.

A GoPro is not the camera for this because the lens is insanely wide angle. With a wide lens, the camera would have to be right at the stage, or the actors will look like tiny specks. Marshall makes tiny cameras with interchangeable, fixed focal length lenses.

Whatever camera you choose will need to output a signal format that can go the distance and that you can split with a distribution amp. You cannot easily distribute HDMI beyond about 50 feet. I would use a camera with native SDI output, and use an SDI to HDMI converter at each display. A converter could also be used for an HDMI output on the camera, but every conversion adds latency and cost. NTSC is cheap and easy, but conversion from digital tends to be really ugly looking, low resolution. This can be done, but not a small budget.
 

KBToys82

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What I'm going to do with this years musical is either use Google Hangouts or Wirecast and take sound coming from the board with a Canon camcorder plugged into a Blackmagic capture device, stream it to the classroom we use for a dressing room and plug that into a speaker system and smart board so that our stage hands don't have to run up and down the long corridor from the auditorium to the room. The downside for using Wirecast will be it draws more processing power from the computer and I will already be running Qlab for the sound effects from the computer.
 

SteveMcQueen

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Syracuse, NY
Thanks for the reply. On a different topic, I'm not sure how to capture examples of the work I have done. Is it acceptable to send them to potential employers?

Tieing it into the monitor thing, I know also of camera have wifi capabilities. I'm looking to be able to send the signal over my own wifi network to computers and iPad that might be back stage or in the both. I know that's not the most reliable solution, but that was my thought path. I want a camera, so I should get a wifi one like GoPro and left the cast and crew see the feed, if only for monitoring purposes.
 

chausman

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The GoPro wireless doesn't really work like that. It creates its own (limited range) wifi network that you connect to and use the app to view the very low resolution at a sometimes substantial delay. And by the time you get power ran to a location to keep the GoPro running for the length of a show while streaming, you might as well have just gone with a wired solution (at least to a computer broadcasting the stream) anyway. I also wouldn't be surprised to see a GoPro overheat relatively quickly in that case.

I suppose there is the possibility of a Periscope stream, but you still have battery, Internet, and overheating issues to try and combat.
 

FMEng

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What I'm going to do with this years musical is either use Google Hangouts or Wirecast and take sound coming from the board with a Canon camcorder plugged into a Blackmagic capture device, stream it to the classroom we use for a dressing room and plug that into a speaker system and smart board so that our stage hands don't have to run up and down the long corridor from the auditorium to the room. The downside for using Wirecast will be it draws more processing power from the computer and I will already be running Qlab for the sound effects from the computer.
You said it yourself. You really need to use a separate computer for this. This is a recipe for a mid show crash.
 

garyvp

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Help me out here....we have always operated under the assumption that we cannot record our shows as they are under license and would be a copyright violation. Is this not so?
 

SteveMcQueen

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Syracuse, NY
Every theatre I have ever worked at records the show. Mostly for archival purposes, but some theaters sell blurays to parents. That company seems to be on the up and up. I assume they get special permission. The price they sell the Blurays for is astronomical. I assume that's to offset the rights to record the show?
 

Skervald

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Almost every contract I've ever read specifically states one cannot record for distribution. In fact, at least one company requires a statement to that effect be printed in the program. I believe it's understood that archival or portfolio use is allowed. Permissible or not, it seems to be very common practice. Perhaps special (and very expensive) arrangements can be made if requested?

The one exception I've run across are Disney licensed shows. (i.e. Beauty and the Beast, High School Musical, etc.) It's shocking but they offer it right in the contract. You pay a surprisingly reasonable fee and that's it. If I remember correctly you are forbidden to make a profit but cast, parents, or other interested parties can get a copy without fear of legal action. Of all rights holders, Disney is the last one I would expect to do this but I've seen it several times.
 

KBToys82

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Most companies do allow video for archival purposes only, but selling is a huge no-no.
 

chausman

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Depending on the show, MTI also sells the rights to make DVDs of the performance for cast/crew families.
 

MNicolai

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I've seen a lot of people try to record video in auditoriums with standard consumer cameras, often to disappointing results. Most all-purpose type cameras with permanent lenses aren't suitable for the dark environment of a theater, particularly when zoomed in. In order to zoom, the aperture closes down. If you zoom and your lens drops down from a 2.8 aperture even to just a 3.6, you've reduced the light intensity making it through the lens to the image sensor by 39.5%.

Theaters are dark enough as-is, but when you throw away image brightness like that, you end up with an image that's full of noise and unrecognizable from what's actually taking place on stage.

T'were it me, for Step 1 I'd get a purpose-built camera that allows for interchangeable lenses. Not a DSLR***. Something like what Marshall offers in several different formats. They don't have any bells and whistles, but then again -- you're not paying for bells and whistles you don't need. These are cameras built for the sole purpose of taking a live image and spitting it out into a video signal to be sent somewhere else.

Step 2, I'd get the most appropriate lens for where I'm shooting from. If it's at the back row of the theater, 100' back from the stage, and the stage is 60' wide, I can determine I need a lens with a ~33° horizontal angle of view. So using one of the Marshall cameras as an option, this is what you can get for lenses:

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My preference for my example would be the 34°, the 44°, or if I absolutely needed zoom, the 50°~5.5°. The reason for avoiding the zooms would be that the more you zoom, the more the aperture of the lens closes down. You get the most image brightness at the wide end of the lens, so going with with the 34 or 44 would give a higher quality image than going with the 50/5.5 zoomed into 33°. The saving grace that the 50/5.5 has is that it has auto-iris, which may be very necessary if your production has very dark scenes intermingled with very brightly lit scenes. The camera can compensate by closing the iris somewhat on the bright scenes, and opening it back up on the dark scenes.

Step 3,

Capture/distribution. You can get the cameras in any of the usual flavors. HD-SDI, HDMI, composite video. It's really hard to give you a solution that's one-size fits all, but if I had to point you in a direction, I'd recommend going HDMI Camera -> HDMI DA, and then splitting the HDMI signal so one output feeds an HDMI recording unit for capture, and the other HDMI output feeds a HDMI streaming encoder that can get your video onto a network that anyone on that network can hit by typing in the IP address.

Of course, that whole method falls apart when you don't have a venue with network infrastructure you can tap into at all of the backstage areas. Likewise, an HD-SDI or composite video solution falls apart if you can a room that doesn't have the infrastructure, and doesn't have suitable cable pathways to get distribution set up backstage on a temporary basis.

***DSLR cameras are generally not designed for recording hour-long videos, and the ones the could technically do it have firmware lockdowns that prevent recording over 30min (a lock instituted because movie cameras are taxed at a higher rate in the European Union, therefore DSLR's top out at 29:59 for recording times so they are taxed at the lower rate applied to photography cameras).
 
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NickVon

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I've been demo'ing a Canon Vixia GF20 that works great for low light recording (about 800$) The next to steps up are the Canon XA20 (which has better firmware and image adjustment/light correction and pro audio inputs (xlr) built in to the handle), and the Canon XA25, whose only difference to the XA20 is the inclusion of SDI output as well) There are significant price jumps from the GF to the XA series, and moderate jump between the 20 and 25. (The newest Revision of the XA series are the 30 and 35 which are approriatly slightly more expensive in their repsective categories but not by much. 100-200 dollars each over there 20/25 cousins.

So far I've been pleased with the GF20, I already have XLR input box on hand, so that wasn't problem for me. I've also been looking at the Atomos Ninja For HDMI recording to Solid State Hard drives over the internal and swap-able SD cards for the camera.
 

JimOC_1

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The dpreview site has a digital video talk forum with threads about HDMI output and separately about recording stage performances. I don’t recall anything that covers all of your points on a single thread, but maybe.
 

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