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Need a mid-scale video recording setup

KlundtasaurKlundtasaur Registered User
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey all, though i've been lurking for quite a while here, this is my first post. I don't know if this is the right place, but here goes. I work for a college center that is trying to install a new video surveillance system. We've got about 30 offices needing to be outfitted. It's used to record interviews (both the interviewer and the interviewee) for later review.

Ideally, we'd like them to have two cameras in each office (usu. a 15'x15' space), recording to the same video file (so we could watch the different angles at the same time on each feed, splitscreen style). It wouldn't be a constantly running system, recording about 50 minute intervals for 5-6 hours a day. Preferably a central storage solution, but having a tower in each room wouldn't be awful.

My only idea right now is building a mini-tower and throwing on a couple webcams--so anything even slightly more professional than that would be great.

Also, any suggestions on software that can do that (multiple angles in one feed) would be great, too.

Deadline is not for a couple of weeks, so i've got some time (and a small budget) to do some research.

Thanks!

Klundtasaur on
Ilinana wrote: »
I find it highly offensive that the topic of this thread is "Getting Offended: The New National Pastime."

Posts

  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    What's your exact budget per room?

    3072973561_de17a80845_o.jpg
  • KlundtasaurKlundtasaur Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Between $1,000 and $1,500. Up to $2k if it's deemed worth the extra cost.

    Ilinana wrote: »
    I find it highly offensive that the topic of this thread is "Getting Offended: The New National Pastime."
  • KlundtasaurKlundtasaur Registered User
    edited August 2009
    Yeah, reading over that...that might be a bit vague. Budget wise, we're just trying to underbid our in-house IT department who said they'd need well over $100k for the setup. We think that's absolutely ridiculous, and we'd like to go to our department head with a solution well under what he's already been quoted, in hopes that:

    A) He likes us better (and is more willing to greenlight our projects in the future)
    and
    B) Show him just how retarded our IT department is (their incompetence is legendary).
    and, maybe, just maybe
    C) get some of the extra funds (depending on how much we can save) to upgrade our own systems...

    Hopefully that explains the "uh, somewhere between $1-2k" window.

    Ilinana wrote: »
    I find it highly offensive that the topic of this thread is "Getting Offended: The New National Pastime."
  • ThomamelasThomamelas Bro!Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hey all, though i've been lurking for quite a while here, this is my first post. I don't know if this is the right place, but here goes. I work for a college center that is trying to install a new video surveillance system. We've got about 30 offices needing to be outfitted. It's used to record interviews (both the interviewer and the interviewee) for later review.

    Ideally, we'd like them to have two cameras in each office (usu. a 15'x15' space), recording to the same video file (so we could watch the different angles at the same time on each feed, splitscreen style). It wouldn't be a constantly running system, recording about 50 minute intervals for 5-6 hours a day. Preferably a central storage solution, but having a tower in each room wouldn't be awful.

    My only idea right now is building a mini-tower and throwing on a couple webcams--so anything even slightly more professional than that would be great.

    Also, any suggestions on software that can do that (multiple angles in one feed) would be great, too.

    Deadline is not for a couple of weeks, so i've got some time (and a small budget) to do some research.

    Thanks!

    This isn't a video surveillance issue. It's a video interview system. I'm not splitting hairs, both things work with video but make very different assumptions about how to work with such video. Attempting to adapt a video surveillance system into doing interview recordings leads to nothing but lots of pain and agony. Video Interview stuff tends to be something I won't touch, but I know of at least one company that does do such things. http://www.mediasolvcorp.com/VIS.html

    One of the problems with these systems is that the vast majority of the buyers are police stations. So the cost is going to be fairly high, and they usually cap out at 6 or so rooms. So you may need more then one.

  • KlundtasaurKlundtasaur Registered User
    edited August 2009
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    Attempting to adapt a video surveillance system into doing interview recordings leads to nothing but lots of pain and agony.

    Could you maybe explain why?

    And i don't know if it's helpful, but both participants are aware they're being taped--it's not anything that needs to be hidden from them (right now, we just have webcams sitting on the table pointing at them).

    Anyone know any software based ideas for this? Or an easy way to compile two videos into one video with side-by-side playback?

    Ilinana wrote: »
    I find it highly offensive that the topic of this thread is "Getting Offended: The New National Pastime."
  • ThomamelasThomamelas Bro!Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    Attempting to adapt a video surveillance system into doing interview recordings leads to nothing but lots of pain and agony.

    Could you maybe explain why?

    And i don't know if it's helpful, but both participants are aware they're being taped--it's not anything that needs to be hidden from them (right now, we just have webcams sitting on the table pointing at them).

    Anyone know any software based ideas for this? Or an easy way to compile two videos into one video with side-by-side playback?

    A few things really. Storage is the first one. NVR/DVR applications generally store the video with a timestamp as a file name. Assuming they don't do something stupid like storing the video in a database. Or using an amazingly fucked up file format. You're going to say it's not a big deal. And for the first 10 or so interviews it won't be. But then there is going to be a phone call about why a certain professor can't be bothered to rename the file or export it or any other of a billion things. And while most applications will export, the general medium is CD, not DVD.

    The second is the audio sync. I've sat down with my counterparts with our competitors and we've discussed audio sync. And to be blunt we don't give a flying fuck about it. It's something such a small segment of the users need that it's not worth spending development time on. On the NVR side it will often depend on the camera. Axis does an okay job of it. Not great, and it will get annoying. Vivotek on the other hand will make you wonder when Godzilla is getting there. Assuming you have a miracle of a department that hasn't lit you up for the first one, they damn well will over this.

    I checked my notes on this, I've worked on 53 projects like this. Of them, 53 have ended in people wanting to return the system. From discussions with my counterparts, they have a similar success rate. And I understand the geek urge to say "well I can get some stuff and build that cheaper with liberal uses of duct tape". I have the same urges. But there comes a point in which getting a proper system that's designed to do what you're trying to do ends up being the cheaper solution. Here's a hypothetical example:

    You get a CS student to put together a program that grabs the frames from camera and the audio stream and stuff it in a container. Which is fairly simple or not depending on the camera. But how are you going to start and stop the recordings? Do you want a switch in the room? Do you want it via a software interface? Do you want it in the rooms? Do you want it outside the rooms? Lets say that you guys decide you want a light switch inside the room to start it. Which means you're going to need an interface for that. Depending on the cameras you've selected you may be able to wire them into camera. You may not. If you can then you need to add another layer into the application. If not, well you could use X10's stuff to wire it in.

    And then someone is going to say "Well I need that on a DVD so I can view it at my leisure". So now you need to transcode the video to MPEG-2 or hope to god that the professor's home DVD player is somewhat smart. Which adds another layer of complication. But it's not too bad yet. You need to figure out how you're going to store the video. Long term storage on a NAS or local raid. Is this video critical to the department? Have you pissed off the IT department enough that they will set up a back up method for you, or are you going to have to do it yourself? Pray it's not the later.

    This is all still a somewhat simple program. Not a lot of bells and whistles. But how long are you going to need this program? If it's going to be longer then five years then you'll most likely end up needing to replace the cameras. All of the APIs will have changed for the cameras, so step one is going to need to be redone. By a different student or students. Which will be a nightmare unto itself. And best of all, when something goes wrong the person who gets the blame...is you.

    Or you can go to a company like Media Solv, spend a little bit more and get something that works.

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Why do you need something so complex just for interviews. Buy a digital camera, set it up on a tripod to the side. Put a new tape in and hit record when you start your interview. Store the tapes. Burn copies when needed.

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