Posted on : 03-24-2014 | By : Andy | In : tech
Tags: church video, imag, lossless recording, recording, sdi recording
(Note: this is the fifth post of a series on how to do iMag without a megachurch budget.)
Our initial plan for recording was to use the H.264 encoder built into the ATEM TVS. If you connect the switcher to a PC or Mac, using the free control software allows you to record already-compressed video to your hard drive. If you want to use Livestream, you can also use their software to stream directly from that same feed. It’s pretty slick. (See more on the streaming post)
All that aside, we had one occasion where the H.264 stream failed to start recording when we were also live streaming the H.264 feed at the same time. Granted, it’s possible that I just didn’t give it enough time, because since then we’ve noticed that it will frequently take a few seconds to get rolling (we’ve temporarily suspended live streaming). For my purposes, however, I certainly didn’t feel comfortable relying on a feature that had threatened to fail on us before. It also made me leery to trust such a high-importance item to a PC that may or may not crash at any moment. Our sermon video needs to get recorded right the first time!
The other problem with relying on the H.264 feed was quality. The compressor does a pretty good job, but the fact remains that H.264 is lossy compression, which means that you’re losing quality right off the bat. I want the option to be able to go back and edit the video in post-production, and I’d rather begin that process with pristine video.
Finally, we also wanted the ability to directly distribute our sermon videos in the highest-quality format with a minimum of work.
Enter the Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle 2. ($327) This compact device records uncompressed video to Solid State Drives. It accepts either HDMI or SDI input, and also supports loop through output. In other words, you can dump your live video into this device directly from one of the three program outputs on your TVS (It has 2 SDI and 1 HDMI program outputs), and even daisy-chain 2 or more of them together. After our service, we can pop the SSD out of the shuttle and plug it into an eSata dock. Given the speed of eSata and the SSD, we can edit the footage directly on the SSD and export either back to that same SSD or elsewhere. Very handy.
A new venue that wants our video can simply purchase their own dock and attach it to their video system/projector/TV via HDMI. All we need to do is dump the completed video onto an SSD and send it their way—no need for trying to master, burn, and verify Blu-Ray discs, no need to rely on network-based streaming, which is dodgy in some rural areas.
For recording, we use a 240GB Intel 520 Solid-State Drive, which gives us enough space for two 40-45 minute sermon recordings (we record both Sunday morning services), plus a little room to spare. For distribution of finished videos, we’d just go with a 120GB drive. The most important part is sustained read and write speeds, as uncompressed video is very high bandwidth. BMD keeps a list of compatible drives to guide you.
One of the biggest pluses here for me though is redundancy. Now we record directly to a solid state drive with the HyperDeck, and simultaneously make a backup recording with the TVS’s H.264 to PC feature. If either fails, we’re still golden!
You might ask why we don’t just take the digital recording from our fancy-schmancy new cameras and work from there? Well, precisely because the feed that comes out of our TVS unit already has graphics and overlays embedded in it, while the camera’s recording does. (We don’t want to have to manually add them in post-production) Which leads us to….
Next up: Graphics and Lower Thirds