I'd appreciate suggestions for record/playback

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by gfx, Aug 20, 2003.

  1. gfx

    gfx Guest

    Long question, but I'd appreciate any help. This is for a tiny cable TV
    station that shows mostly public events shot on camcorders (8mm, D8mm,
    MiniDV). A relative has been running the station for a while and they
    still operate on terrible consumer quality VCRs. What they do is air the
    tapes from the cameras plus air the ocassional live show and the whole
    time they are recording it onto VHS tape decks for playback later. They
    use 3 VCRs for playback and they are timed and switched with a Mini-T
    Pro. These VHS tapes are played back at least twice, and as I'm sure you
    already know, the quality sucks. I've managed to convince them that they
    really need to do better quality recordings, but would like advice on
    the way to go.

    They now have a video editing computer with an ATI AIW card and use
    Vegas Video for editing and it does have a DVD burner, but it is
    painfully slow to burn DVDs. Could this computer be used to record and
    then playback the shows and do away with the Mini-T Pro and the VCRs?

    They are considering getting a stand-alone DVD burner so that they can
    burn in real time, no authoring or rendering. Is this correct?

    I'm also thinking of suggesting TiVo, but not sure if it's what they
    need since I've never used one. Could a TiVo replace the Mini-T
    timer/switch and those VCRs and playback shows at pre-set times? Is it's
    quality a significant jump ahead of VHS?
    gfx, Aug 20, 2003
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  2. Hi, I run a P.E.G (public educational & government) channel

    We have a Leightronix (PRO 8) unit similar to the Mini T PRO We where using
    quasi SVHS vcrs for play back. Tapes had to be swapped on a daily basis.
    This became very cumbersome process as we added more and more programming to
    the channel. I really wanted a digital playback solution but had very
    little funds to purchase one. So I decided to build My own MPEG 2 playback

    I took an old PIII 800 with 256MB ram (more than adequate machine for its

    A Sigma Designs Hollywood Plus card can be had for about $30.00 or less on

    4 80 gig hard drives in 2 dual external FireWire enclosures (I used FW
    enclosures because I did not have enough room in my case to install the 4
    drives I could have just as well gone with two 160 gig but at the time 80
    gig drives were the best price per gigabyte) I store content on 2 drives
    and back up each drive to the other 2 drives nightly with another piece of
    freeware which its name I cannot remember.

    88.00 ea. for the drives
    50.00 ea for the enclosures
    15.00 for the FireWire card

    IRfanview software (freeware http://www.irfanview.com) to Playback the MPEG
    2 files through the Hollwywood Plus NTSC output. I associated all files
    with the .mpg extension with this program

    Scheduling software... can't think of the name of it right now but it is
    freeware. I tried to use the built in windows scheduling software but it
    was not that great

    Got some help writing a tiny VBS script (kinda like a souped up batch file)
    to send commands to the Leightronix. The VBS script sends a command to the
    comm port of the Leightronix I have just the commands programmed that I
    need which are
    #1 Switch the #1 input to all outputs with a 2 second delay
    #2 Switch the #7 input to all outputs this input is my community message
    board input that runs when there is no other programming.

    I use the 2 second delay in the first script to give the computer a chance
    to get the file started playing I always make sure my clips have some black
    at the beginning.

    I can still program the Leightronix to play VHS tapes if the need ever
    arises. I still use the Leightronix software for that.

    So here is my typical workflow.
    1. Edit a show on our Avid Xpress DV
    2. Export it to an MPEG 2 file ( we use cinemacraft basic for this) It gets
    saved directly to one of the 80 gig drives on the MPEG 2 player machine
    across the network.
    3. The file gets scheduled to play back. Scheduling is the only cumbersome
    part. Three events get scheduled ...
    (Lets assume its a 30 minute show that's playing at 3:00)
    1. The show file gets scheduled to play at 3:00
    2. The VBS script to switch the switcher to Input 1 gets scheduled to
    run at 3:00
    3. The VBS script to switch the switcher back to input 7 (the message
    board input) at 3:30 (assuming there is not a show immediately afterwards)

    It has worked extremely well there are a few little bugs the biggest one
    being that the scheduling software I have does not execute on the second
    only to the nearest minute. So occasionally if a program does not end at or
    near the top of a minute then we have black on the screen for a while.

    I have a file naming scheme where the last part of the file name is the
    total running time of the file which helps when trying to schedule a file to
    play back

    Irfanview holds the very last frame of the file this can be more of a help
    than a hindrance.

    In the end I have a low cost programmable easily expandable MPEG 2 play
    back system

    Just I have added another PC to my mix of computers
    This PC Serves as a DVD writing station. I can now put any content I have
    archived if the need ever arises
    as well as an MPEG 2 encoding station I have a NAVIS pro real time MPEG 2
    encoding card this allows me to easily put pre-produced programs that we
    get in various analog formats onto the MPEG 2 play back machine.

    All the machines are networked and files can easily be shared between
    them... This is key to having a smooth work flow.

    You can check out the stations web page at: http://wctv.waynesburg.edu

    If you have any questions feel free to email me or post it to the group


    ---- Original Message -----
    From: "gfx" <>
    Newsgroups: rec.video.desktop
    Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 9:02 AM
    Subject: I'd appreciate suggestions for record/playback
    Josh Starsick, Aug 21, 2003
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