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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => Pro AV Forum => Topic started by: Lee Douglas on November 06, 2021, 07:45:51 PM

Title: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Lee Douglas on November 06, 2021, 07:45:51 PM
I have a couple of friends who produce jazz shows through grants and crowd sourcing.  Funds are always tight and I provide back line on occasion.  The have live stream events and record them viewing later.  They have a hodge podge of HDMI cameras that are fed into an HDMI video production switcher.  The video typically looks good, apart from some white balance issues. But they're missing a decent camera with a smooth zoom and a fluid pan, along with an operator that know who should be featured at any given time.  You know like a sound guy that knows who is soloing.  That's where I think I could help.  So I'm looking for a camera and tri-pod set up that would do the job.  I'm not concerned about audio or storage, although I suspect anything suggested would do both rather well.  Used is perfectly acceptable.  A robust HDMI output and user selectable output resolution would probably be important.  I'm an idiot when it comes to video, so school me and make a few suggestions! 
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on November 07, 2021, 02:20:16 AM
Not cheap, but look into PTZ Optics cameras.
They can be controlled via ethernet with multiple presets for position, and focus.
Hit a button and it goes to the spot.
Switch to wide camera, hit preset, and go to the PTZ when it gets there.
No at camera operator needed.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Erik Jerde on November 07, 2021, 09:05:18 AM
I have a couple of friends who produce jazz shows through grants and crowd sourcing.  Funds are always tight and I provide back line on occasion.  The have live stream events and record them viewing later.  They have a hodge podge of HDMI cameras that are fed into an HDMI video production switcher.  The video typically looks good, apart from some white balance issues. But they're missing a decent camera with a smooth zoom and a fluid pan, along with an operator that know who should be featured at any given time.  You know like a sound guy that knows who is soloing.  That's where I think I could help.  So I'm looking for a camera and tri-pod set up that would do the job.  I'm not concerned about audio or storage, although I suspect anything suggested would do both rather well.  Used is perfectly acceptable.  A robust HDMI output and user selectable output resolution would probably be important.  I'm an idiot when it comes to video, so school me and make a few suggestions!

The ability to smoothly pan/tilt and zoom is going to be related to the quality of the tripod youíre using.  Better tripods are sold as a separate set of legs (sticks) and head.  For what youíre doing youíll probably be fine finding them in combination though.  You want a true fluid head not some cheap friction one.  Heads are speced for a weight range and you want to keep your camera setup - everything going on the tripod head - inside that weight range.  You will need to use controls on the head as well as camera position to balance the head.  The idea is that a balanced head allows the operator to tilt the camera up or down then let go and it stays put.  There will be drag controls for pan and tilt which allow the operator to control how much force is needed to move the head.  Itís operator preference but when properly setup it will allow the operator to smoothly pan and tilt the camera around.

Smooth zoom and focus is a function of having a remote control on the pan arm so that the operator doesnít have to ever touch the actual camera.  For the level camera youíre looking at itís usually a green 1/8Ē trs (or trrs - I canít remember exactly) port on the camera.  I canít remember the protocol name but itís not proprietary.  Good ones can often acceptably approach the focus/zoom performance that true broadcast cameras give for the type of work youíre doing.

Youíll probably also need an operator display since the on-camera displays usually are tiny and poorly positioned for working from a tripod.  Many of these will just pass through the signal unmolested.  They will often offer additional display features to help the operator like zebra, focus peaking, framing overlays etc.

If itís in your budget consider a camera that supports HD-SDI.  Itís a much more reliable transport method.  Throw a decimator MD-HX on the end of it and you can convert to HDMI with available up/down/cross conversion if needed.

Donít underestimate the work it takes to be a good camera op.  Iíve seen very talented audio folks poo-poo the job right till they try to do it.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Mike Caldwell on November 07, 2021, 10:54:27 AM
Everything Eric just said!

A fluid head tripod that has some weight to it is a must.
Actually a camera that has weight to it is easier and smoother to use.
If shooting handheld I always liked a camera with some weight to it.

As far as cameras go when you start getting into cameras that include XLR
inputs that is the first step into a pro'ish camera, the next step gets into
cameras that have the mentioned SDI outputs. From then on the sky's the limit
on what you want to spend.

For longer HDMI runs the fiber optic HDMI cables work well, SDI uses RG6 coax.
Black Magic makes some good SDI to HDMI converters.

Maybe think about a person who directs the camera shots so the operators can be ready
for the shot they need to get.
Then you'll need an intercom system.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 07, 2021, 11:27:44 AM
The ability to smoothly pan/tilt and zoom is going to be related to the quality of the tripod youíre using.  Better tripods are sold as a separate set of legs (sticks) and head.  For what youíre doing youíll probably be fine finding them in combination though.  You want a true fluid head not some cheap friction one.  Heads are speced for a weight range and you want to keep your camera setup - everything going on the tripod head - inside that weight range.  You will need to use controls on the head as well as camera position to balance the head.  The idea is that a balanced head allows the operator to tilt the camera up or down then let go and it stays put.  There will be drag controls for pan and tilt which allow the operator to control how much force is needed to move the head.  Itís operator preference but when properly setup it will allow the operator to smoothly pan and tilt the camera around.

Smooth zoom and focus is a function of having a remote control on the pan arm so that the operator doesnít have to ever touch the actual camera.  For the level camera youíre looking at itís usually a green 1/8Ē trs (or trrs - I canít remember exactly) port on the camera.  I canít remember the protocol name but itís not proprietary.  Good ones can often acceptably approach the focus/zoom performance that true broadcast cameras give for the type of work youíre doing.

Youíll probably also need an operator display since the on-camera displays usually are tiny and poorly positioned for working from a tripod.  Many of these will just pass through the signal unmolested.  They will often offer additional display features to help the operator like zebra, focus peaking, framing overlays etc.

If itís in your budget consider a camera that supports HD-SDI.  Itís a much more reliable transport method.  Throw a decimator MD-HX on the end of it and you can convert to HDMI with available up/down/cross conversion if needed.

Donít underestimate the work it takes to be a good camera op.  Iíve seen very talented audio folks poo-poo the job right till they try to do it.

All the above.  And for the LX folks - camera operation is a lot more than "reverse follow spot".

Like with audio the right answer to Lee's question is "it depends..."  You might get away with a Canon Vixia R-8x camcorder (has a clean HDMI output) or you might need something more like a DSLR or "studio" camera to have lens choices.  Then you might want a camera cage, rail system if you're using long lenses or teleprompter/eye contact device, etc.

Having a PGM return feed is useful if the director is calling a 2 up, so you can see your camera framing in context...

Plus everything Mike Caldwell mentions above. :)
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Lee Douglas on November 08, 2021, 11:59:15 AM
Thanks for the advice so far.  I hadn't thought about the PGM return feed.  Especially since there isn't likely to be an intercom at these shows.  I do know that there is an art to it, much like there more to sound than just moving the faders.  I especially like the reverse follow spot analogy.  Any suggestions of brands and models I should be considering?
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Erik Jerde on November 08, 2021, 12:04:24 PM
Thanks for the advice so far.  I hadn't thought about the PGM return feed.  Especially since there isn't likely to be an intercom at these shows.  I do know that there is an art to it, much like there more to sound than just moving the faders.  I especially like the reverse follow spot analogy.  Any suggestions of brands and models I should be considering?

Whatís your budget?
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Lee Douglas on November 08, 2021, 12:36:36 PM
I don't have one yet.  I don't have any idea of what's out there.  I've looked at Red cameras, which are way too much for this endeavor.  The DJi RONIN 4D looks cool, but has more bells and whistles than I would ever need for this project and still more than I want to spend. I'm trying improve their product at the most reasonable cost to myself. 
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on November 08, 2021, 01:41:32 PM
I don't have one yet.  I don't have any idea of what's out there.  I've looked at Red cameras, which are way too much for this endeavor.  The DJi RONIN 4D looks cool, but has more bells and whistles than I would ever need for this project and still more than I want to spend. I'm trying improve their product at the most reasonable cost to myself.
The new BlackMagic Studio Camera Pros have communication, and with another dodad can run EVERYTHING through an ethernet cable.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Mike Caldwell on November 08, 2021, 07:36:56 PM
You need to get a budget number and the actual goal that they want to achieve then see if the goal and budget are in the same place.

For a pro'ish basics figure $2000 for a camera and $300 for tripod.
You can add a zero to each of those prices real fast!



Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Lee Douglas on November 08, 2021, 10:18:40 PM
You need to get a budget number and the actual goal that they want to achieve then see if the goal and budget are in the same place.

For a pro'ish basics figure $2000 for a camera and $300 for tripod.
You can add a zero to each of those prices real fast!

This is just me wanting to help them improve what they are already doing and giving myself an excuse to play with some new toys.  My goal is to provide them with another shot that can be a little more dynamic than switching between static cams.  Let's start with your basics package at $2500
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Erik Jerde on November 08, 2021, 10:27:44 PM
The new BlackMagic Studio Camera Pros have communication, and with another dodad can run EVERYTHING through an ethernet cable.

That new studio camera is pretty sharp.  Iím always nervous about blackmagic stuff because it works great (if it actually works for your need) right up till the moment it breaks.  In my experience thatís usually right at or before show time.  That said, if it does work for your need you often canít find something similar without at least doubling the price.  Or adding a zero.  Itís a question of how much you want to pay for reliability - or how much potential reliability you want to put on the line to meet a budget point.  Kinda like the x32!

For 3.2K + lens and cable youíve got a pretty good system there though.  Iíd look to spend closer to 1K for a quality fluid head tripod.  If Mike has a source for one at $300 Iíd love to see it.  That price point is news to me but if itís for real thatís great news for the budget conscious.  It is too bad the studio converter doesnít have HDMI out so you may still need a converter there.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Mike Caldwell on November 09, 2021, 06:43:01 AM
$300 did get me an ok (for a small camera) tripod fluid head combo. Would it hold up shooting ENG...no way. Worked perfect for a small church live stream.

Would it compare to the Sachtler carbon fiber tripod I used back 20 years ago shooting TV commercials.....only in your dreams.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on November 09, 2021, 08:33:45 PM
That new studio camera is pretty sharp.  Iím always nervous about blackmagic stuff because it works great (if it actually works for your need) right up till the moment it breaks.  In my experience thatís usually right at or before show time. 
Have you had a BMD failure?  I haven't.  What failed?
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Erik Jerde on November 09, 2021, 09:04:24 PM
Have you had a BMD failure?  I haven't.  What failed?

Multiple mini-converters.  Both power supplies and the actual units themselves.  If the PSU dies itís usually just a no video situation.  If the converter dies itís video noise.  Iíve had a router freeze up and go unresponsive to control but still pass video.  These are just my personal experiences.  Iíve worked with integrators who have told tales of far more issues.  Given the choice I will never use blackmagic in mission critical locations like routing and switching.  I fight for budget to put in bulletproof solutions like Ross stuff there.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Stephen Beatty on November 10, 2021, 03:11:28 PM
 A good tripod is essential. You need a nice steady mount regardless of the camera you put on it. Make sure it will handle the weight of the camera and is the height you need.
 As far as cameras, you can go with something like the BMD, a mirrorless DLSR that can record long sessions or a straight camcorder. Each has its pluses and minuses. Want different lens options? DLSR or BMD. Want to record on the unit? Etc, etc.
 So maybe rent something to try it out? Maybe B&H used for a good deal?
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Patrick Tracy on November 10, 2021, 03:22:47 PM
Have you had a BMD failure?  I haven't.  What failed?

My Intensity Shuttle USB was buggy and inconsistent when I got it. It would only stream at 720. Sometimes it wasn't recognized by the computer when plugged in. Driver updates resolved a lot of the issues. A recent OBS update rendered the audio inputs of a bunch of hardware unusable (in OBS), and when the update came out to fix it, my Intensity Shuttle still wouldn't pass audio. It started working a week later even though I hadn't done any further updates.

At my day job I use BMD SDI-HDMI converters and they seem to be reliable.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Caleb Dueck on November 11, 2021, 12:33:15 AM
Have you had a BMD failure?  I haven't.  What failed?

Multiple integrators I've known or worked with have had plenty of issues.  Had one cheap job with a good bit of BMD products - around a 25% failure rate.  That's higher than average but still insane.  They are the Behringer of video - good for learning on before moving up to real gear. 

For converters that last - Decimator Design.   
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Tim Hite on November 11, 2021, 04:19:27 PM

For converters that last - Decimator Design.

I've had multiple folks tell me the same thing. Decimator is a big step up in reliability for the small step in price.

I think AJA is the next tier up from there.
Title: Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
Post by: Erik Jerde on November 11, 2021, 05:06:21 PM
I've had multiple folks tell me the same thing. Decimator is a big step up in reliability for the small step in price.

I think AJA is the next tier up from there.

I wouldn't put AJA over Decimator for similar products.  AJA does have a larger portfolio of products though.  I prefer the power plug on the MD-HX/MD-Cross and similar design products.  The MD-LX is great to slap on the back of TVs for conversion from SDI because it's tiny so a little velcro gets the job done and it can be powered off of a USB port which every TV has these days so you don't need a separate power brick.