I currently have a situation where I need to record live presentations in a dimly lit building. Currently an old SVHS camcorder is being used connected via composite (single yellow) cable to a DVD recorder. The audio is coming in from a mixer board (Red/White composite) to the DVD recorder as well. The camcorder is just used to transmit the image to the DVD recorder and not to actually record to VHS/SVHS.
The camera is starting to act up and it's always had somewhat of a grainy picture anyways due to the low light. I have wanted to replace it but had the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality. I will be looking to purchase a used/refurbished Sony PD170 camera as I've heard it's great in low light situations and we are not upgrading to HD since all we do is write to DVD. If there's a cheaper "recorderless" camera that could be used I'd be interested in hearing about that. One more requirement is it needs a pretty good zoom as it's at the back of an auditorium about 130' away from the presenter!
The DVD recorder does not have a hard drive, it just burns straight to DVD based on the video it's being fed at the moment. This is an issue if we get a bad disc or some other malfunction. My first request is * What DVD recorder with HDD do you recommend?* We don't need a ton of HDD space. Just enough to store maybe 4 hours until we know we got a good DVD.
Now here's where I really want to improve things. Currently an operator has to sit there and pan back and forth between the projected image/presentation and the presenter. I would like to instead feed 2 side by side images to the DVD recorder. One would be a clean feed of the powerpoint presentation laid over the video, and the other would be the speaker. Once option would be to have 2 cameras..one fixed on the presentation and another on the speaker...and that will probably be the most feasible option...but curious if there's some other slick A/V equipment that would send the signal from the laptop approx. 150' to where the camera and other equipment sits.
The final product would be a widescreen SD dvd with 2 side by side images of the presentation and presenter. The camera on the presenter could still move around and if the speaker didn't have a presentation we would just fade away the presentation layer and re-center the camera on the speaker.
So to recap:
1) Is there some sort of recorderless video camera that makes great SD video in low light and has a good optical zoom to get a tight full body shot of someone 130' away?
2) What is a good DVD recorder with HDD?
3) Is there an inexpensive solution to "beam" video from a laptop to a video input device 150' away?
4) What sort of hardware would I need to feed in 2 video streams, lay one over the other so it looks like a side by side with the ability to fade the presentation away.
Thanks as always for your help!
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A partial answer -- To do what you want you need a production switcher. Newtek Tricaster has some popular relatively low-priced models. ideally you would be able to take the PPT feed directly from the computer.
There are just two options in the USA for DVD recorders with a hard drive at the moment, the US model Magnavox recorders and the international model Panasonic recorders. Each line has a couple of models with different hard drive sizes. The Magnavox MDR533H/F7 HDD/DVD Recorder from Amazon, Walmart's website, and a few other sellers is one option. The Panasonic DMR-EH59 Multi-Zone 250GB HDD/DVD Recorder from B&H Photo and Video or 220-electronics.com is the other. The Magnavox recorder has a digital TV tuner that works in N. America and is less expensive. The Panasonic DMR-EH59GA-K only has a PAL TV tuner which will not be useful in N. America, and is more expensive, but it probably has a better picture overall, and has a flexible recording setting.
thanks for your answers..and yes I was expecting partial answers as I know there are a lot of variables at play and the odds of someone seeing this post who has worked with the exact same setup is pretty low.
AFA DVDRs, the Magnavox will record anamorphic(wide screen) but will not set the WS bit. What this means is you need to have your WS TV set to WIDE or STRETCH to get a true widescreen picture. Also if playing such a DVD on a old 4:3 TV without a aspect ratio control(as almost all were) without the bit the entire 16:9 frame will be squished inside the 4:3 frame(people/things will look tall and skinny). The Panasonic usually quiet spoke of is one of the few DVDRs that has such a user selectable option. Several Toshibas did also but all modern ones lack a HDD.
It's been rumored a newer Magnavox HDD model may have such a setting but this is not for certain and I don't believe anybody knows for sure if it will even come out.
Standalone DVDRs are an all but dead product in N. America and not much better in the rest of the world, outside Japan.
Thanks for your help. So far I've only purchased the Magnavox MDR533H/F7. Recording to HDD is simple (press HDD then Record), but it takes about 20 steps to get the video to DVD if you want to use high speed dubbing and then finalize. Then the DVD always has a "blank space" chapter which is kind of weird. If anyone uses it and has any shortcuts I would love to hear it. The manual says if you play the video from HDD and hit dubbing while it's playing it will automatically dub in high speed but I didn't find that to be the case..Maybe I first needed to choose High and then it saves after that...
It would be ideal if there was a way to quickly high speed dub and then auto-finalize when it's finished but the auto-finalize options are for 2 scenarios I would never find myself in (timer record or disc full).
Not sure if your aware but the following link is kind of the bible for the Philips/Magnavox HDD DVDRs. It should have all your questions answered. I've read there is a way to get rid of the stupid "empty title" scenario and maybe you'll find a tip to get rid of some of the steps your going through. Note the first post on my link is very large and may take a bit of time to load for you, depending on your internet speed.