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Help deciding on filming system for club
  • A friend of mine owns a night club here in LA , and he is looking to install 3 to 4 stationary cameras to record the events of that particular night , so he can later cut the events and make highlights of each nights activity for social media .So he asked me if I knew any camera that is good in low light that would record close to HD or HD for 3 to 4 hours continuously , he brought the idea of maybe having all 3 camera's somehow connected to a pc and record it live to pc instead of internal to camera .Assuming that the camera would be powered via power adapter (always on type of deal) , are there any setups that would allow for that ? I asked about budget , he said he don't mind paying alot if he gets the right system that he asked for, so basically -HD quality _ok in low light _able to record for 3 to 4 hours , preferably stream live to pc (and what software to record this?) -Able to record 3 to 4 different cameras at once any idea's guy? thanks

  • 11 Replies sorted by
  • Hmm. Maybe a simple WiFi controlled setup (with a few system cameras or camcorders)? Because a direct stream + local recording on a PC would be quite expensive (and WAY more complex). The question is too - Is it just for a few events (and then it should go again) or is it planned as a fixed system? (As the problem with WiFi controlled system cameras or camcorders is, that you cannot switch them on and off wirelessly.)

    All in all I would check out the Panasonic V757 (V750 in the US) - It should be possible to use multiple units over WiFi (to start and stop recording - You can even change a few settings if needed - Also zooming is possible remotely). If you´re powering them over the AC power adapter - And you´re using big enough SD cards you should be able to record quite long with such an setup. And the image quality is very good at it´s low price point. About the performance in low light there are for sure better solutions out there. But the price differences are HUGE then.

    I just don´t know how stable such an setup would work (if the house is full, the WLAN is overbooked alredy heavily and so on). I also don´t know if it´s possible to use just ONE Smartphone or Tablet to control multiple devices at once (multiple V757 in this case). So I would plan to get one control device per camera - A cheap Tablet is for sure enough. That way you would also see always the live image of each camera. The huge problem is just, to power the units up and down remotely (as that´s not possible). So you would need to power them up, set them up basically and maybe also connect the tablet or smartphone again (BEFORE the event is starting - As I think you also need to enable WiFi always again after a power up). And if the cameras (at least one or two of them) are sitting remotely, that´s maybe a problem already. The huge pro is, that you could also use that system at different locations (and with different points of view) - Even outdoor if needed.

    It´s just an idea (and I am "thinking loud") - If it´s not fitting your needs, maybe someone else has a better idea (at a good price point). Though: It would be price wise quite cheap / ok for a four camera setup (4x 600$ for the V757 / V750, up to 4x 100 or 200$ for acceptable tablets PLUS a few cables, stands / mounts and bigger SD cards for the cameras). Would be something around 3000 to 3500$ - Though audio isn´t included in that price. I don´t know if it´s possible to record the final mix with the existing system or not.

    Sorry btw. for the long text ^^.

  • Maybe a simple WiFi controlled setup (with a few system cameras or camcorders)?

    In a club, lot of people, where everyone has smartphone. Yep. smart idea.

    It does not work even in sterile places.

  • "A lot" could mean a lot of things. If his budget is in the ~15k range, he could look at mounting a few Sony A7s's around with lenses focused on a specific spot and running HDMI from them back to his PC where he could capture the output using some Blackmagic Intensity Shuttles. 4xa7s = $10,000, 4 lenses might be around $200 if you can get away with just buying vintage glass and locking the focus in place (I assume that these cameras won't be moving a lot during the night) or $2500-4000 with modern lenses, 4 Intensity Shuttles would be around $1,000. HDMI cables/repeaters are likely to be <$1,000.

    Somewhat cheaper option: Go with the GH4 and manual focus glass. It's pretty decent in low light and drops the price for 4 cameras to like $6800 - add around $200 in lenses and about $1000 for the shuttles and you're looking at probably less than $9000 including cables/repeaters.

    I'd choose running HDMI vs wireless because it's likely to be a lot more reliable. You can go around 50 feet with HDMI before you're likely to need a repeater and if you do need one, they're not too terribly expensive.

  • Heck, depending on what you mean by "low light," you might even be able to get away with some older Canon Vixias now that I think about it. My HV30 was not too bad in low-ish light.

  • thanks for the input guys, yea around 8 to 10k budget is ok for him ,so ill advice him on the gh4 or a7s packages with the shuttles , now the shuttles have software to capture the stream to pc . how do they work, never used one

  • I've never used one of the Intensity recorders, but if they're anything like any other BM product I've used, they'll probably mostly just do their job and not make too big of a deal of it. You might want to check with BM to confirm that they will support 4 of them hooked up to the same PC and to get their recommendations for disk config for that sort of setup!

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev:

    Hmm. Yes. WLAN is already the problem for sure =/.
    But would have been interesting, if it´s possible.
    (At least to start and set up the recording before the masses of people are coming. ^^)


    Ok. With such a budget you can do better yes. A few thoughts:

    According the HDMI out you can use other cameras too. I would check out the Sony A6000 (which offers a clean HDMI out without overlays) - Or you can still use the Panasonic V757 (V750) - As there you also get a native 1080/50P output (without overlays). Though the A6000 uses an APS-C sensor (of the newest Sony generation) - So it´s for sure better for low light. You could use vintage glass on there too. But even with the kit lens (16-50mm power zoom) you should get decent results (and you could get the kit for around 700$). Or you could use fast primes - Samyang / Rokinon 12mm F2 for the crowd shots (which gives you a nice wide angle) and for example the Sigma DN ART 19mm or 30mm or so for the stage shots (though you need to test which focal length you really need for the final shots).

    According the length of the HDMI connection you could also use extenders / converters with ethernet cables. They are quite cheap and you can use them up to 100 feet easily. That way you can also use shorter HDMI cables. And CAT 5e or CAT 6 calbes are dirt cheap (compared to high quality HDMI ones). But in general it´s still necessary to switch the cameras on/off and control them directly (as WLAN is rella not the best solution for sure). So you cannot place the cameras where you cannot access them - Don´t forget about that.

    According the host computer: Hmm. Good question. Media Express is normaly only working with one instance (and one source). Though: There are "workarounds" for that. More of a problem is for sure, that the interfaces are maybe limiting (USB3 or Thunderbold). Or that you´re running out of ports (especially according Thunderbold) or out of calculating power (if you´re using just a notebook for example) ^^. Another way would be to use external HDMI recorders. That way you should be on the safer side (than using multiple external devices). But that´s quite pricey again (for example the standard hyperdeck studio rack-recorder is priced around 1000 bucks - each).

    The best "middle way" is maybe to build a computer (specifically designed for that purpose). For example with four internal PCI-Express Capture cards (that way you´re cancelling out the external interface problem) - And you can build it specifically for your needs. For example with four of the the DeckLink Mini Recorder cards (150 bucks each) or the Intensity Pro (internal PCIe card) at around 200 bucks each. And with enough power (and fast enough storgae) to capture four streams at once.

    Well - A lot of options. And there´s still the open question of the possible overheating of the cameras.
    (At least according the Sony bodies - The GH4 should be ok - The V757 / V750 camcorders too.)
    Though the Sony bodies are only overheating when recording internally - So it´s maybe not a problem (streaming HDMI only).

    Ok. That´s it - Sorry for the (again) quite long text ^^.

  • btw.. happy cutting and reviewing hours of footage from multiple cameras :-)

  • No need to control the cameras after they are set up. Make sure to get a model with a physical on/off switch, switch it to "on," remove the battery, and hardwire in power. Remove power when leaving for the night. Turn power back on when you're back the next day. HDMI will automatically stream to the PC. Start/stop recording from the PC.

  • @eatstoomuchjam:

    I also thought about that - BUT I don´t know if it´s a good idea to do this with modern cameras (as many have a startup and shutdown procedure which is coupled with the on/off switch - Which is btw. no hardware switch quite often - Just an "encoder" to tell the camera to start up or shut down - That´s also the point why your camera can crush and it´s still running though you´ve shut it down with the switch ^^).

    Though: If you´re really only streaming over HDMI it´s maybe possible yes. It´s for sure more critical if you´re recording internally - Or if you´re using a power zoom / native lens which needs to get retracted for example. Or if you´re using native lenses where the iris is reset to "parking" position for example - With vintage / manual glass for sure not a problem any more. ^^

  • Yeah. I know that the on/off switch isn't a "real" physical on/off switch. I mostly just meant one where you could park it in "on" mode vs an on/off button that toggles on/off state. :)