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danjeff
06-20-2003, 11:27 PM
I'm new here - just joined.

I've got $10,000 and need to get enough hardware and software to produce monthly training DVD's for my church. I've been searching the web and DV MAgs for info on camera's, decks and NLE's. I would appreciate any input regarding a good solution for my needs.

I realize the context of this post. I like what I see with VT, but I'm a novice and need to know if this is the best use of my investment capital or if I should go another direction. I'm expecting some Toaster bias here, but also some realistic direction within my budget.

By the way, we've got PC saavy folks in the church that can assemble hardware - even buy wholesale if that makes a difference. We also have professional audio engineers and professional audio gear already in house. Video is a new direction for us.

Thanks for your input.

Dan

Aegis
06-21-2003, 03:06 AM
The 'Toaster certainly seems to be the ideal system for what you're doing and it's pretty straightforward to get up and running with it - a lot of the functionality is obvious and (unlike other NewTek products I could mention) the manuals are excellent.

With techie people there I guess you could put together a basic capture and editing setup for a very reasonable cost. For more inputs (and flexibility) you might want to get the SX-8 expansion as well.

For DVD encoding I'd also recommend TMPGEnc-Plus from Pegasys and ULead's DVD Workshop.

danjeff
06-21-2003, 09:12 AM
Thanks Andrew,

Are you saying that the VT doesn't include any DVD encoding? Hmmm, I guess I thought that I'd be ready to go as soon as I installed everthing that came in the box from NewTek. Maybe I need to get some more education here.

The way I see it, I need a camera (we've got an area to use as a studio and I've got a friend that's a professional photographer that has agreed to help with the lighting) a DV deck, a computer with the toaster (according to NewTek's specs) and a DVD burner. This would give me the ability to capture audio and video, edit audio and video and output audio and video to DVD.

I know it sounds simplistic--I am a novice-- but I thought that the Toaster was a complete solution.

I'm considering the SX-8 as something to get later as we get more familiar with the process and are ready to branch out some.

What other software or hardware will I need to be functional right away?

Dan

Aegis
06-21-2003, 05:25 PM
TMPGEnc is an excellent (and cheap) MPEG encoder with plugin support for RTVs (the Toaster's uncompressed file format), DVD Workshop will help you organise your DVDs and create front-ends for them and maybe a copy of Nero 5.5 for other writing/rewriting duties. One last piece of software no Toaster user should be without is the MainConcept DV codec - excellent quality and compression make this a Toaster user's best friend when working with DV or limited storage.

I think that just about covers it - none of the above will break the bank and they all come in very handy.

danjeff
06-21-2003, 08:18 PM
Thanks Andrew.

I'm continuing my research. I appreciate your input.

Any input on Camera choices or Decks? I'm looking at the Sony 150 right now.

Dan

Lamont
06-21-2003, 10:36 PM
- I would say grab a DVD +/- R/RW burner ($250)
- A nice P4 (dual because encoding takes a LONG time) ($1300)
- At least 400gb of hard disk, and 60gb for the OS and applications disk ($450)
- Video Toaster ($2500)
- Nero ($60)
- Sony DV media converter (firewire) ($350)
- DVD autoring software ($?)

There's that new HD camera on the market that's about $3,000 bucks.

I am not sure if VT will capture from firewire... but that Sony Deck is great! I own one and it hasn't failed me yet.

sbrandt
06-22-2003, 12:20 AM
I just replaced my video gear, and my research and contacts with Canon, JVC and Panasonic provided the following information and conclusions. (briefly):

My first choice was JVC. At the outset I was told the JVC and Canon were at the same price point. It turns out the JVC GY-DV500 BODY is priced like the Canon and the Lens was an additional $1,100, the power pack was another $749 and the view finder added $1,200... plus accessories! In the end, the JVC that was the "same price" as the complete Canon XL1S, turned out to be MORE that twice the cost.

Then I looked at the Panasonic AG-DVX100.
After a visit to a Denver Video and Camera dealer to compare the Canon and Panasonic in action, I found this:

The Panasonic was like a consumer camcorder... all one piece. The picture was somewhat sharper if you looked real hard, but the color was very cool and way off to my eye. Even outside in sunlight the Canon was warmer, more life-like and had a richer more "real" look for lack of a better term.

My final choice was the Canon XL1S because I like the colorspace better than the Panasonic and it's modular. If the the lens is damaged, for instance, I can just change lenses and the entire camera isn't totaled. The fact that the Panasonic was all one piece like any cheap, consumer camcorder really put me off. And since the COMPLETE JVC was out of my price range, The XL1S was the natural choice. (If I'd had and extra 3,750 I would have taken the JVC)

After having used the XL1S for about a week I can say I'm THRILLED with the output. There's NO red smear, the manual functions can completely overide the auto controls, the stabaized image really works (unlike other cameras I've used), There are two stereo audio input ports, it has a second control set of buttons and keys on TOP of the carrying handle so you can zoom and focus and start and stop from a low handheald position, a built in ND filter, and on and on. I'm very glad I bought it.

Of course none of the three compare to a Sony DSR-300, or any cameras that are in that quality range... but I can't afford $10,000 to $15,000 for my video gear.

sbrandt
06-22-2003, 12:32 AM
I think TMPGEnc is only about $50.

And... "stabaized image" = "stabilized image"

meshmaster
06-24-2003, 06:58 AM
you may want to think about external hard drives as an option. I think 200 gigs on usb connections run around $300.00, and 80 gigs run around $200.00. I'll probably be asking for one for Christmas! :) The smaller 40 gig one that I have from Maxtor is really nice, especially since any info stored on there is safe if the Operating System crashes. I have reinstalled several operating systems, and the info on the Maxtor is still safe.

sbrandt
06-24-2003, 10:55 PM
USB for uncompressed video !?!!:eek:

pauland
06-25-2003, 02:15 AM
You should check out the Genesis postings on the forums and perhaps have a word with Lee Stranahan/Newtek.

You are exactly the market they're after.

Paul

danjeff
06-27-2003, 11:11 PM
Paul,

I don't see a Genesis forum...

I called Newtek and inquired about Genesis, and was told it's not ready for Prime Time.

I really need to get something going in the next 30 days, and I'd be open to talking to *anybody* that will help me make an informed and wise decision for the best use of our church's $$$

How do I contact Lee????

Thanks for the input.

Dan

Beamtracer
06-28-2003, 12:35 AM
It's possible that Genesis may have some unique features for church videos or live switching of video feeds. This is a niche area that Newtek wants to get into.

Otherwise, for general video and dvd production, nothing can come close to the Macintosh platform.

1. Final Cut Pro... nothing comes close at any price.
2. DVD Studio Pro... better than anything on the Windows platform
3. Audio: a list of pro applications below

Digidesign Protools.. the pro audio recording application (runs better on Mac than Windows)
Emagic Logic (only on Mac)
Steinberg Cubase
Mark of the Unicorn, Digital Performer

The advantages of going Mac for video+dvd+audio are so great that it is silly to even consider going Windows for these things. Broadcast quality video... can anyone name a better professional video editing program than Final Cut Pro at any price? DVD production.. can anyone name a better DVD authoring app than DVD Studio Pro at any price? (There is no Windows DVD app that comes close). Audio recording... the Mac has it hands down. Most ProTools users who are actively creating audio for the film & TV business do it on the Mac.

Firewire.. an Apple technology you'll need even if you go Windows. Every Mac has it inbuilt.
Quicktime... distribute movie files that are truly cross platform. The problem with using Windows Media Player (or other Windows apps that use WMV files) is that it is not a good cross-platform solution. Microsoft hasn't made most of the codecs available to other platforms... they only work on Windows. The difference with Quicktime is that all the codecs are viewable on both Windows and Mac computers. You can give people copies of your movies on CD or for download without worrying what computer they have.
Core Audio Units: A part of the Mac operating system that gives it an advantage for music MIDI sequencing.

pauland
06-28-2003, 03:25 AM
Originally posted by danjeff
Paul,

I don't see a Genesis forum...

It's not a released product yet. Here you go...

http://vbulletin.newtek.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4852&highlight=genesis

http://vbulletin.newtek.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4912&highlight=genesis


I called Newtek and inquired about Genesis, and was told it's not ready for Prime Time.
Probably true. I thought they might have taken you onboard though.


I really need to get something going in the next 30 days, and I'd be open to talking to *anybody* that will help me make an informed and wise decision for the best use of our church's $$$

How do I contact Lee????.
If you post to either of the genesis forums, lee will get a message and might get back to you.



Thanks for the input.

Dan

No problem. The genesis product has proven controversial. Some people (me included) felt it should be marketed differently and some people have interpreted that viepoint as some kind of anti-religion bias, which is not the case. I'm sure you'll find the threads an interesting read. It does show the difference in US/World markets.

Good Luck.

Paul

Aegis
06-28-2003, 06:30 AM
Have you even used a VT[2/3] Beam?

Beamtracer
06-29-2003, 03:43 PM
Hi Aegis. No, I have never used a Video Toaster, so feel free to counter my arguments. I know it can do live switching that Apple's FCP can't.

However, if I read the original post correctly, I think Dan was looking for a solution for editing+audio+dvd. This area is a stronghold of the Mac platform.

Newtek's Genesis may have specific solutions for a church environment (I don't know much about it) but it is currently not on the market.

PIZAZZ
06-29-2003, 06:09 PM
I would suggest asking any questions regarding the VideoToaster and it's capabilitites in the VideoToaster section. There are many people there that can help you.

For the church market there is nothing else that compares to a VT3 solution. We have installed many systems into churches to do exactly what you are talking about.

Macs are cool and all, but limited in the live production applications that churches desire. A VideoToaster will allow you to do your DVD production and later use the exact system for live production during the services.

All and all, feel free to ask questions but you will get more informed information about the VideoToaster in the VT forum. This General Discussion forum seems to be inhabited with more Lightwave types than Toaster types.

danjeff
06-30-2003, 06:32 AM
Andrew & BeamTracer

Thanks for your input. Actually, Beamtracer's response is exactly the kind I was looking for. I expected to get lots of Toaster Bias in this forum - as I should. But I was hoping for some other feedback as well, because I'm spending a lot of time researching our options and want to make the best decision I can.

At this point I'm still leaning toward the VT -- mostly because I've got a bunch of PC folks in my congregation. Our internal network is already set up using Microsoft products and there is a saturation of PC knowledge at my disposal. All of that being said, I haven't ruled out crossing platforms. I have no doubt that FCP is a great product. There are two things I'd need to be convinced of as far as FCP and the MAC platform is concerned:

1) I need to know that some sort of live switching in the future is not going to undermine our current investment. Here, the Toaster makes sense to me.

2) I need to know that the investment in time is worth it for all of my tech people to become re-acclamated to a "foreign" platform. No slam intended to the Apple, it's just that none of us have any experience with "the other guys"

I've heard the debates for years about Apples superiority with respect to both Audio, Video and Graphics--and I don't want to add any fuel to that fire, but for my needs, there is a comfort level with the PC (crashes and all :) ) that has a lot of value in our situation.

So, I'm still listening. I'd like somebody to "convince me" one way or the other! (I guess I'm looking for a good salesman to throw me his best pitch!)

Thanks for all of your feedback.

Dan

danjeff
06-30-2003, 06:34 AM
Thanks Jef,

I'll take a browse over to the VT Forum and read a few threads.

I see you're from TX. Where??? I just hired a Worship Pastor from Nacogdoches.

Dan

Beamtracer
07-01-2003, 07:31 PM
Dan, if you need live video switching, go with Toaster, as Final Cut Pro will never have that feature. Never.

FCP is pure editing/compositing software. It's a best-of-breed product in that arena. There's also Final Cut Express which is has most of the same features, and is limited to using DV codec (mini-DV, DVCAM, DVC-Pro). FCX is half the price of FCP.

DVD Studio Pro has the same ease of use as Apple's free iDVD software, but it also has the richest feature set of any DVD authoring software, which can be explored later for those who feel more adventurous. So you can start with drag-and-drop DVD menus, and later get into some really advanced menu creation.

At present there is no Windows DVD authoring software either as easy or advanced as DVD-SP. Adobe is apparently working on a new DVD solution for Windows, but it's not on the market yet, and probably won't be for some time.

The Mac... it plays nicely with other platforms. It is the easiest machine to network that there is. Less fumbling and less frustration than with Windows machines.

I'd recommend you explore the Mac a bit further before you make your decision.

You can also get an optional '.mac' account with Apple (there's a yearly fee for this). It's basically space on Apple's server, but there's some interesting features.

Publish calendars with iCal software. I have a friend who puts his work roster up on his '.mac' account, using iCal. He puts the calendar up weeks in advance, and it automatically displays the current week to anyone he gives the address to. People can see when upcoming events are. You can have multiple calendars for different subjects and purposes. You can click on an event on the calender to get more info. My description doesn't do this feature justice (you should see it in action), but I think it would be useful to your situation.

Streaming video... Sometimes you may have videotaped a recent church event. There would be many people who want to see it, but this event is too minor to warrant burning DVDs for everyone. There may be times when streaming video will be the answer.

Lets see how easy it is for your expert Windows friends to display some streaming video of a church event. Will it be cross-platform? Will they even be able to get it up there at all? You should ask their pool of knowledge how they'd go about this.

With Mac OS X and .mac it's simply a case of dragging your Quicktime file to a folder on your desktop with starts it uploading to the .mac streaming server. Everyone can then immediately watch the video at home, on Windows or Mac computers (or Palm handhelds even).

Documents
While you can get MS Word for Mac, and other word processors like AppleWorks can read and write Word files, a better alternative is PDF. Any OS X Mac can create a PDF out of any word processor document, without the need for extra software. There's a button on the OS. People can read the documents in a free Adobe Acrobat reader, without having to purchase MS Word.

As I said before, if a live output is what you want, then Video Toaster will be your choice, as it has all that hardware for switching and compression etc. If it's editing+DVD+music+streaming that you want, the Mac has definite advantages over Windows in these areas.

So, even though the Mac is a breeze to connect to any Windows network, it is also the ease of use with the applications themselves. Having drag-and-drop in addition to more advanced features makes the software accessible to everyone (not just the tech-heads). The product you produce will be viewable by all your congregation, not limited to only Windows users.

pauland
07-02-2003, 03:16 AM
Originally posted by danjeff

I called Newtek and inquired about Genesis, and was told it's not ready for Prime Time.


There's an irony about how Newtek have handled your enquiry, specifically since it's now a product on newteks site..

http://www.newtek.com/products/genesis/index.html

If you've not seen the link before maybe contacting some of the people who are quoted might help.

Paul

meshmaster
07-02-2003, 12:50 PM
danjeff - is that your real name or are you dan and jeff? Have to ask because I'm a Jeff, and my brother is named Dan.

danjeff
07-02-2003, 06:42 PM
meshmaster

I'm Daniel Jeffery. I've had the privilege of growing up with two first names and two last names. Seems folks regularly get them moved around.

My Dad's name is Dave - he went by Jeff most of his early years.

So what's a guy named "meshmaster" doing giving me a hard time about my name???;)

Dan

Gordon
07-02-2003, 11:22 PM
Hi DanJeff;
I guess I'll throw in a couple thoughts. First of all your decision should be based on VT3 which will be released very soon. I can't say too much about it except to visit you local dealer and see it. (We can't talk about it due to NDA agreements, but we can demo it!) The new VT3 and AuraVT have similar features to FCP and Adobe After Effects.

See: VTEdit (http://www.newtek.com/products/vt3/vt-edit.html)

Also VT3 has eliminated the need for the Main Concept DV encoder.
See:
DV Features (http://www.newtek.com/products/vt3/general-new-features.html)

FCP is a great program and like beamtracer says it is likely the best of the breed with some nice features not found in VT3 but the same is also true that VT[3] has some nice features not found anywhere else.

From the Apple web site:

When you start editing with Final Cut Pro 4, you’ll need to choose the codec that clips in your edited sequence use. For instance, if you’re editing material captured from an NTSC DV camcorder, you’ll need to select the DV-NTSC codec.

VT3 is resolution and codec agnostic. You don't need to choose any codec or even care if your clips on your timeline are uncompressed, D1, D9, MPeg2, MPeg4, DV, MJPEG, NTSC nor even PAL. Just drag and drop any combination of codecs and formats on the same timeline and instantly play them back on the timline. VT converts, in real time PAL to NTSC, or vice versa, any clips in any codec installed on the system. Furthemore, VT3 saves the projects as an AVI file so you don't even have to render your projects to be used in other programs.

Also if you decide real, real soon, you will get the full version of Lightwave along with the VT3 that gives you some very powerful tools for your video productions and church communications. Things like HDR rendering and full animation not just of fonts, (the fonts stuff looks great in FCP), but also of any type of character. Last year at Breakforth my wife showed people in the communications ministry, (in a one hour session), how to use Lightwave to bring to life the incredible imagery found in Revelation 1:12-16, (Jesus amidst the seven golden lampstands, etc.). This included modeling the lampstands, fire, map with the seven churches marked, Jesus figure, (imported from Poser), ground and sky!! The with the time she had left over she showed how to use Mimic to have the Jesus figure speak the verses of Rev 1:17-18 in perfect lip sync! Lightwave as a tool for church ministry is not to be ignored - it can be very powerful.

Streaming video of Live productions is so easy with VT. All I needed was the address to push the stream to Instawatch and post the link on my web site. This could be important for future if you want to do any live streaming of church activities.

The same is also true of creating streaming media. With VT you can just pick any streaming format to save the VTEdit project in, save and then upload to the churches web site. I don't know what BeamTracer was going on about - it really is very simple on Windows. The exception would be Quicktime format as Apple doesn't release this format in a window compatible codec. Purchasing Quicktime Pro was a waste of my money and very disappointing because the apple quicktime codecs didn't install as a windows codec. Instead you HAVE to use their application to convert files from one format to another. (An unnecessary step for all the other codecs).

Another thing to consider is using VT3 as a high powered PowerPoint or MediaShout replacement. I have personally done this a few times at our church when PowerPoint just wouldn't cut it. (Live keying, lower thirds, image magnification and moving background images under worship song lyrics).

DVD production on a Mac is still ahead in value for the dollar for DVD editing and production if you are going to produce a music video or other high end DVD. VT3 with integrated support for TMPEnc gives VT users great quality and with apps like DVD workshop, it is more than enough for the DVDs of church services.

Fully configureable and skinable interface for VT allow this application to become what you need it too be. Genesis (http://www.newtek.com/products/genesis/index.html) is just one such example. There will be more designed especially for church ministries.

Looking to the future, live production is probably the next logical step for most churches and with VT3 you will already be there without a whole new learning curve.

Beamtracer
07-06-2003, 05:36 PM
I won't disagree that VT is a great tool for live production.
Originally posted by Gordon
VT converts, in real time PAL to NTSC, or vice versa, any clips in any codec installed on the system. Any codec? Real time? I'm skeptical. Maybe a handful of compressed codecs, but not "any codec installed on the system".

All editing systems are dependent on their respective video cards for realtime playback, and the particular codecs that those cards support. FCP (like other Quicktime based editing systems) has a choice of video cards from various manufacturers (AJA / Kona, Digital Voodoo, Aurora Igniter, Pinnacle etc) depending on what level of quality is desired.
Originally posted by Gordon
Things like HDR rendering and full animation not just of fonts, (the fonts stuff looks great in FCP), but also of any type of character. I don't know if High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) rendering would be important in a Church situation (most broadcast television doesn't go that far) but now we bring up the subject, FCP4 is the only editing system I know of that has a HDR renderer.
Originally posted by Gordon
With VT you can just pick any streaming format to save the VTEdit project in, save and then upload to the churches web site. I don't know what BeamTracer was going on about - it really is very simple on Windows. I was referring to Apple's drag-and-drop method. Everyone knows how to drag-and-drop a file to a folder on the desktop. You don't need to know how to use a separate FTP program to upload streaming video in the way I described earlier.
Originally posted by Gordon
The exception would be Quicktime format as Apple doesn't release this format in a window compatible codec. What specific codec were you refering to ? Translated from what to what?

See, here you're getting into cross platform issues, largely because Microsoft is anti-standards, and anti-cross-platform. Microsoft wants to make sure you must use Windows to view its content.

QTpro can translate from some obscure codecs into more commonly used codecs. It usually takes a couple of minutes to translate something.

The video codecs that the Quicktime already has for immediate playback (without translation) are the same for the Mac and Windows version of the QT player. Although there is a Windows Media Player for Mac, most codecs are unreadable, unplayable, and untranslatable.

I think it's worth checking that your output will not just be limited to those folk who have purchased Microsoft Windows. Content should be viewable on any device... Windows, Mac, Palm Pilots, Cell phones. Make sure you don't lock out part of your audience just because they haven't purchased Windows.

Gordon
07-06-2003, 08:56 PM
Any codec? Yes any installed codec that shows up in the list of installed codecs, (for a list of installed codecs see: Sounds and Multimedia Properties - Hardware - Video Codecs - Properties - Properties). Admittedly, some codecs do work better than others. Divx, (or any MPeg4), with 10 second intervals between keyframes is not a good choice for editing. However, even MPeg4 can be dropped on the timeline and work, but it sure helps if the keyframes are set to 30 frames instead of 300 frames.

Real time? I'm skeptical. Maybe a handful of compressed codecs, but not "any codec installed on the system".
Depending on your system of course. When used on the timeline they are real time, when exported it has been reported that rendering is actually almost twice as fast as real time!

All editing systems are dependent on their respective video cards for realtime playback,
Not VT! That is the real beauty of VT. The more processor you have driving it the more it is able to do and not tied to the capabilities of a graphics card. Therefore upgrades for VT are a cheaper as you don't have to replace a graphics card, to gain improved performance. The P-IV 1.5 Ghz that I sold 18 months ago can upgrade to a 2.6Ghz with a corresponding 73%, across the board, increase in capabilities for only about $275 USD. Furthermore, I installed an updated NVidia graphics driver and DirectX9.0a on one system yesterday and got an immediate 16% performance boost in VT-Edit's real time capabilities - FREE!


FCP4 is the only editing system I know of that has a HDR renderer.
This may not be all that it seems. There is some question on this very HDR renderer in the FCP forums now. Here is one post: http://www.creativecow.net/forum/read_post.php?postid=105042384757649&forumid=8

Not only does Newtek Include the full version of Lightwave 7.5 if you upgrade to VT3 now but you must have missed the Newtek VT + Digital Fusion promotion. :) Both packages offer true HDR rendering engines.

What specific codec were you refering to ? Translated from what to what?
From anything to anything. When I purchased and installed QT4 then went into look at the 'installed codecs' - NOTHING - not one codec was installed for use by any other program.

largely because Microsoft is anti-standards, and anti-cross-platform. Microsoft wants to make sure you must use Windows to view its content.
True. The opposite is true also. Apple wants you to use just their program, (QT Pro), to do the encoding and decoding/playback that is why there are no codecs installed. If they would have installed codecs then I could have dropped an Apple Sorenson coded clip unto a VT-Edit timeline and edited away to my hearts content.
Don't get me wrong about FCP, it looks like it has some great features that would be nice to have in VT. It's just that VT also has some nice features not found in FCP.