Thursday, December 17, 2009

Video Hard Drive recording

We often look for ways to streamline our video production workflow.  There are some very time consuming parts to digital video production, mainly around getting your source video into the computer.  This usually involves using a VTR connected via FireWire to your computer and "ingesting" the video.  The problem is that if you have 4 hours of video, it takes at least 4 hours to ingest it.

One way to reduce this time, is to record directly to some other media that makes it easy to get your material on the computer.  Newer camcorders now record to SD cards in H.264 (Mpeg 4) files.  You can literally drag and drop those files into your editing program.

A few years ago we started using a device called the nNovia QuickCapture A2D.

This device works just like a VTR with controls to play, record, rewind and fast-forward.  You can connect a camera directly via FireWire, or using the analog "dongle" that provides Composite/S-Video inputs/outputs and audio.  This unit has the added benefit that it transcodes from FireWire to Analog and the other way too.  We would use a Sony Anycast and connect the FireWire output to the QuickCapture to record.

Once you have your material recorded, you can put the unit into FireWire Hard Drive mode, and connect it to your computer.  It can record either Quicktime MOV files or Windows compatible AVI files.  You can simply drag and drop these files onto your computer and start editing.  We love them.

Recently nNovia was purchased by DataVideo and a few new models were introduced, including a removable HD model that allows you to pop out the HD module and connect it directly to your computer via a USB cable.  We plan on using a 1U version of this in our new Video system.  You can also purchase additional "sleds" to put HD's into giving you a great amount of storage.

There are other versions of this type of product, such as the Firestore made by Focus, but after using a few products, the ease of use, reliability and the ability to monitor your recording using standard analog monitors is fantastic.