View Full Version : 2 Cams + 1 Windows Program Capture - Need Help !

10-25-2004, 09:30 PM

I will appreciate each and every feedback from everybody in this forum who can suggest a solution or approach to this project requirement.

We currently have project that will require us to capture live DV cam feeds from 2 Cameras and also the screen output of a Windows XP program that will display speed information fed by hardware hooked up to the same computer.

The 2 video inputs and the XP program has to be in-sync and capture to a stanard video file. We have experimented with using screen capture software such as Camtasia but encountered some issues: 1) the updates on XP program is delayed (probably due to the multiple events all being procesed by the same CPU). 2) the quality of the captured screen file is of poor quality.

We are very open to any hardware software solution. Our only requirement is that we need to have:
1) consolidate in one screen a syncronized output of the 3 inputs (2 dv cams + 1 XP Program that measures speed information)
2) simple capture and write operation. We want a solution that does not require intensive customization or editing everytime we have to create the video file.
3) be able to write the captured inputs and written to DVD, DVDr and other formats.

We are also looking for a person or company that can assist us implement the solution.

All your feedback will be very much appreciated


10-26-2004, 02:13 AM
Looks to me like you in the need of a video switcher. Perhaps the video toaster is what your looking for. You can do this with two computers. One will have a graphics card with video out, this will allow you to do screen grabs in real time and at full resolution. The second computer will have the video toaster in it. This is where you can you multiple inputs and merge them together. Others on this board who have the video toaster could tell you if it is possible to combine everything into one computer. However, I think it would be wise to use two, to keep your resources low.
I think the switcher for the video toaster is a seperate purchase. There should be some literature on this web site.
Other options are to use dedicated switchers from companies like Sony, Panasonic, JVC, etc. Other video editing software you can get from Adobe, Pinnicle, etc.
Good Luck

10-26-2004, 08:04 AM
Thanks for the input. Knowing that my requirements will be to be able to write the combined screen output of 2 cams + a Windows program to both analog (VHS) and digital, I am not quite clear as where the screen consolidation should occur. If I use DV cams then the all the input will be digital and perhaps the only coversion to analog will happen towards the end of the process (recoding to VHS). In this scenario, what components (hardware and software) will I need.

The other scenarion will be to use analog cams and convert the computer screen output (windows program) into analog and use multi-window video mixer. From the video mixer, I am hoping to capture the multi-screen to either analog or digital depending on the requirements.

I am fairly new at this and I am knee deep in research and simply inundated by info about video cards, compression, decoders, video mixers, etc. I will appreciate any input that will point me to a viable solution.


10-26-2004, 11:27 AM
I am sure your dv cameras have an analog out.

Trying to keep all this 'digital' and within one box is going to make it very difficult without a lot of extra hardware.

I would take analog out of each camera into the quad split,
take the video out of any video card that has a video out, this will display what is on your computer monitor, and put that into the quad split, hook the quad split to a TV.

Presto you are looking at a 3 window screen of your 2 cameras and the real time output of your computer. By using the analog out of your cameras this leaves the DV feed free to input into what ever you need.

Just a thought


10-26-2004, 09:45 PM
Perhaps you should think about what the video should look like when recorded. Do you want the camera video to be overlayed onto the computer video. Or would you want a split screen so that each video is in its own square on the screen.
The easiest solution is analog. This is going to depend on the software your running to create the computer video. If it can export a digital video such as avi, mov, mpeg, dv, etc. then you can use a firewire to export the video to a digital camcorder or into a switcher that supports firewire. If it has no way of exporting video, then your either going to have to install a video card with composite video out for analog video, or you will need a screen grab utility to capture the video and save that as digital video.
I do not know if you can find a switcher that supports dvi connector or vga connector, the dvi connector is on newer video cards and will output a digital video stream which is meant for digital monitors. I beleive you can either get a splitter to split the video for the switcher and a monitor or the switcher may have a monitor output.
Most dv camcorders will output a composite video for analog use. However if you can do everything in digital, you will have a much cleaner video to work with. Especially if you plan on burning to DVD.

10-27-2004, 09:41 PM
Greetings Silk,

Thanks. Lots of good input. I like VT but I am not sure if it simply an overkill for our requirements. VT seems to be to feature rich given that we do not have video editing requirements. I have done a little but more research and I think we may be able to get our requirements met with a video windowing hardware like RGB Spectrum's Quad XL. We can use analog cams and feeding into the Quad. I should be able use a video card with an analog video out and also feed it to the Quad. The Quad will allow me to size and move my windows.

To get the analog (vhs output), I can use a scan coverter to convert the Quad's RGB output to NTSC/PAL and record to tape. If if feed this NTSC/PAL, to a DVD recorder that takes analog input (I believe Phillips has a stand alone recorder), then I can get the DVD product. Perhaps, I can also feed the NTSC/PAL to an mpeg video card and get mpeg/avi files for input to other software.

Assuming all of these technicaly works, I am not sure what video quality I can get at the end of the process. I am sure I will be losing quality everytime we undergo any conversion process.

I would really appreciate your input. Have you come across any hardware like an alteranative to the RGB Spectrum Quad XL that will support direct output to NTSC/PAL and/or mpeg? By the way, the Quad XL has RGB and DVI output. I am not quite familiar with DVI but would there be any advantage to using this output format to produce the digital files/DVD/VCD products we need?

Given the approach described above, is VT3/VT4 still the better alternative if we do not have editing requirements?

Thanks in advance for your input


10-27-2004, 09:53 PM
Greetings Jim:

Thanks for the suggestion. It made us go back and re-evaluate an approach we kicked around early in the brainstorming process. At first our gut feel is go digital and do the consolidation and all the covernsions there but the more we learn about this stuff the more it becomes difficult to implement the solution at the digital level. It seems we either sacrifice video quality or we have to invest a lot of money on hardware. Given that we need to replicate the solution probably for multiple cubicles, it can be very very expensive. I like the flexibility of the all digital solution and have not given up on it. We may be missing something but your solution seems to be the most attractive at this point.

By the way, in my reply to Silk, I mentioned the RGB spectrum Quad XL solution. Can you recommend any other Windowing or Quad view that will give is more ouptput options?

Thanks in Advance.


10-27-2004, 10:29 PM
I use the earlier version of the TV One Quad Split you can get from Markertek.

It has a main out and an ou tfor a monitor so in essence it has 2 composite outs. I notice the one in Markertek only says 1 composite out but I wonder if it still has a separate out for a monitor.

But it has great color, resoultion, and real time work.

As for all digital/analog, my opinion, is in this case you will not see much difference especially by the time you are done compressing to mpeg2 for dvd.

A good clean composite out of a camera, into the quad split then into any DV capture device is going to look great. Make sure to use good quality bnc cables.

Sometimes, imo, the 'keep it all digital' theory can be a little overblown and cause a lot of grief and extra equipment purchases.

In my experiences analog loss occurs the most when recorded to an analog tape then played back. Not neccessarily an analog run down a cable.

This sounds like a fun project, keep all posted on your progress.


10-27-2004, 11:57 PM
One place you may want to check is a security store. They sell quad splitters for their monitors, as well as video tape decks that may have the splitter built in, I can't remember on the tape decks, but I think they do anyways. :rolleyes:
Analog video degration occurs every time you make a copy from a copy. The longer the cable or use of poor cables will also degrade the video quality.
Most stand alone DVD recorders can record analog video, I am sure there are exceptions, especially if I say it is one way, somebody will prove me wrong. :p
With digital the video is the same no matter how many copies you copy from. Sometimes a long cable may introduce errors in the video, which is why companies usually will determine a correct lenth for digital cables.
Don't forget you can get a cheap video capture card or external usb box that will capture analog video, this would allow you to create your mpeg, avi, and mov files. With two computers you could put an anolog video out on it and put a video capture card on the other and capture your video screens. With a switcher you could put all video into a computer and do as you will with it. After all DVD burners and a video capture card usually are cheaper than a standalone DVD recorder. I guess that would depend on what country your in as well.