Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

How to shoot best high-definition video in various specific situations, regardless of camcorder model. Accessories: tripods, stabilizers, lights...
timberlineevents
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Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby timberlineevents » 07 Oct 2011 22:59

Hello. I am a race director of running races and I thought it would be fun to live stream the start and finish of my races on my web site. But I am a total neophyte when it comes to finding an appropriate camcorder. The site I will stream on is Livestream.com and they recommend a DV camera. Ideally, I'd like to purchase a decent DV camera that has good audio and I'd like to spend under $2000. Is that a reasonable price? I've looked at the various Sony camcorders, the HVR-HD1000U for example, as it is in the price range I have in mind, but I found this forum and thought I'd see what recommendations you have.

Thanks very much.
Paul
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Doughie
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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby Doughie » 08 Oct 2011 02:35

HD1000 is a really fairly large camcorder that is, more or less, an HC9 in a big-box. But nothing wrong with that, the HC9 is a competent HDV camera, shoots great images in good light. Not quite as good in low-light though.

For sound, forget on-camera sound. Attach an external microphone.
For outdoors use a shotgun mic is recommeneded. Lots of them around.

If you get a camcorder without XLR connections then a mic like Rode Videomic (around US$149) is great (i have one, excellent mic) or there is the newer videomic pro (around $220). Sennheiser make nice shotgun mics, as do Audio-Technica, and many others. Shockmount (rubber suspension) will keep handling noise transmitted to the soundtrack to a minimum. The two rode models i mentioned have built-in shockmount.



That should do for kick-off.

Others can chime in on camera choice, there is a LOT of machines available. Sony, Canon, Panasonic, all make great machines.

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby acgold7 » 08 Oct 2011 07:35

Doughie is exactly right. For streaming you need Firewire so that means you need a cam that shoots tape, so if you want HiDef you need HDV. The HD1000 is a shoulder mount cam so if that's the form you want, it's a good choice. If you want a compact Handycam form, an HC7 or HC9 (used) will do just fine. But you will need to use a tripod with these, or at least a monopod. If you are a Canon fan, the HV20, 30 or 40 are also good compact Handycam types.

Moving up to Prosumer cams, you could go up to an FX1000 which is quite brilliant and is only a bit above your price range if you are willing to go refurbished from the Sony Online Outlet. I have a thread with a link in the Prosumer Sony 3-chip forum. Quite simply the best prosumer cam I have ever owned.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=296
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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby Stephan » 08 Oct 2011 12:22

Hi, welcome!

A few more words regarding High Definition, and what expectations you might have.

I've taken a look at Livestream's Procaster certified devices, and also Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder Device Compatibility Matrix, and I understand this solution essentially supports 4 classes of devices:
  • Firewire DV Cams,
  • Capture Cards (Blackmagic Design DeckLink or Intensity Pro),
  • USB Webcams,
  • Analog-to-Firewire DV conversion devices,
with a strong emphasis on Blackmagic Design DeckLink which is heavy pro stuff, and they're not mentioning HDV anywhere.

So, all in all, when they say DV (although the Canons are HDV) I think they really mean Standard Definition DV - that is, no High-Definition HDV. The way I understand it, this solution will take the NTSC/PAL Standard Definition video from a DV camera (or an HDV camera set to DV mode) through the Firewire interface, but will not be able to stream the MPEG2 High Definition from an HDV camera in HDV mode.

So this means that:
  • The HC9, or a Canon HV40, are quite fine, provided that you set them in Standard Definition DV mode (not Hi-Def HDV). You would directly capture your live stream through the Firewire interface.
  • If you want High Definition, or if you have a non-DV, non-HDV camcorder (like the vastly popular AVCHD camcorders), then it moves to another level of complexity. You would probably need a Blackmagic Intensity Pro extension card to capture Hi-Def through HDMI.


Best way to be sure would be to borrow a friend's HDV camcorder and do a free test (Livestream have a free service), but I realize HDV cams are becoming rarer everyday. Overall, like Doughie & Adam said, the HC9 / HV40 are the simplest, safest, most affordable choices here I believe too.

Hope this helps :-)

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby acgold7 » 08 Oct 2011 19:28

Stephan, you make a good point. Livestream, in addition to having one of the worst websites around when it comes to actually finding any information, is laughably behind the times on this and does not support HDV the way Ustream and Wirecast do. But as all HDV cams can downconvert via FW this only means he can set that output if he wishes. I think it still makes sense to get the best cam you can afford so you can shoot great video with it for other uses. For the web, high def often doesn't make sense anyway as you don't know what sort of bandwidth your viewers have or what sort of device they will be viewing on -- if they are watching on a cellphone, HD probably isn't necessary.

And of course when Paul says his budget is up to $2000, we forgot to mention the most obvious choice of all -- the FX7! If he's not shooting at night, this will be the obvious cam. Best bang for the buck anywhere, no question!
Adam

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby steve » 09 Oct 2011 00:12

Paul,

I believe that it's possible to use VLC as a streaming application as well as a capture program. I have captured much HDV through it but never had the need to stream HDV. It may be worth a try.

Steve

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby timberlineevents » 09 Oct 2011 05:15

Thanks for all your input! I'm really a novice at this so I appreciate the information though I have to look up a lot of the terminology you are throwing around. I've just done some very point and shoot video with a very basic Sony Camcorder I purchased at Costco a couple of years ago.

I'm not married to Livestream.com, it's just a site I heard about. I organize long distance running relay races and thought it would be fun to live stream the start and the finish on my website, so it's really not for a channel on Livestream. But if anyone knows of a better site, I am open to that info. HD won't be necessary for the streaming as I will have bandwidth limitations.

I would put the camcorder on a tripod and just have it fixed on the start/finish. I'm intrigued about investing in a higher quality one as I could then shoot some video during the race. It is a 24-hour race so one that can shoot at night would be a plus.

Again, thanks. I'm away for 3 weeks rafting through the Grand Canyon (with my basic little Sony) so will check the forum when I return.

Paul

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby Doughie » 09 Oct 2011 18:07

I have a friend who has used Ustream.com a lot and it does seem good, so a little shout-out for them.

Also another friend has an FX1000 and says it is the best prosumer machine he has ever used. Essentially it's a development and strong update of the iconic FX1. Better codec, and a whole list of improvements. nice machine. Adam has owned just about every HDV cam made (certainly by Sony) so he is really super-qualified by personal usage/experience to comment on each Sony HDV cam's relative strengths etc.

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby acgold7 » 09 Oct 2011 20:38

As Paul now mentions night time shooting, I'm going to go back to the FX1000 as a recommendation. This miraculous device can practically see in the dark. It is just amazing and produces pictures to rival cams three times the cost. The refurbs may no longer be available by the time Paul returns from his trip so these will be well above his budget. The best small HDV handycams (HC7, HC9) will do okay at night but not great. The best performing minicams are the newer AVCHD models without FW. Some of the other streaming services, such as Wirecast or Ustream, may work with the HDMI or USB out on these models, but it is far from certain.

The undisputed champ of low light DV was always the VX2000/2100 and their pro siblings the PD150/170. These are SD DV, not HDV, but for web only perhaps these will suffice.

No other cam with Firewire out can compete with the FX1000, in my opinion. I honestly think the Z5/FX1000 may have been the pinnacle of HDV tape cams. (The Canon H1 certanly has more pro features but is the picture better? A debate for another thread, perhaps.)
Adam

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Re: Camcorder suggestion for live streaming

Postby Doughie » 09 Oct 2011 22:50

Hey Adam - one question since we're vaguely on same topic: can you comment on FX1000 vs XR520 in low-light??


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