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What would be the steps in capturing live multimedia streams with digital camera?

Posted on 2006-05-15
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi Everyone:

       I have a friend who will be getting a digital camera this weekend.  This camera will not only do still frames, but, it will also be able to capture audio/video streams or mini movies.  While I am a little familiar with capturing still frames, I do not have any experience to pull from when it comes to capturing live audio/video data.  With that point in mind, I am interested in any beginner tips for using a digital camera to capture multimedia streams.  

      By the way, the camera will interface with the pc via USB 2.0.

      Thanks in advance for any attention given to this question.

      George
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Question by:GMartin
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LVL 10

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by:ISoul
ISoul earned 200 total points
ID: 16688043
I don't know how much there really is to say...

First of all, ONLY record video with the camera level... do NOT rotate it to get more up and down area, EVER. I learned that just a few days ago. =P

Asides from that, obviously the higher the resolution and framerate, the better the quality should be, but the less amount of time you'll be able to record.
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by:maduropa
maduropa earned 400 total points
ID: 16688387
That camera is able to capture movies, and write them to its own memory, and you can afterward transfer that movie to your PC, simply with copying.

If you want to edit movies, you will require a ( digital ) Video Camera, not a photo-camera.
A webcam can also be used as a cheap solution.

Some high-price digital camera's however can be controlled via the PC, but this is not the majority.
To capture video with your PC you will need a capture-card, there are many to choose from, some PCI, some USB or Firewire, and a "video-feeding" device.
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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 400 total points
ID: 16689915
A digital still camera will use up memory rapidly in video mode, so if you plan on capturing more than a few minutes' worth, use a videocam.  Using a camera as a videocam entails more care - pans and camera movement must be done slowly, or the viewer will get motion sickness after a while.  Usually, these perform poorly in low light, so use it in a well lit area or provide your own illumination.  For every minute of usable video, you will probably need to take 10 minutes of footage and do a lot of editing.  Pinnacle Studio is good software for this, though Adobe Premiere is the choice of those who want really slick productions.  Once you capture the video stream to your computer and edit it, you are ready to produce a multimedia stream or DVD, and Pinnacle Studio will do it for you.
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by:tmj883
tmj883 earned 200 total points
ID: 16689924
1. Takes large amt. of memory for few seconds of recording.
2. Drains batteries very quickly, use external power source when uploading to pc.
3. Low frame rates and limited resolutions.
4. Many cameras require the purchase of proprietary software to process recordings.
Get a digital camcorder for any serious pursuit.
T
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by:GinEric
ID: 16690218
Trying to defeat the purpose of streaming are we?

You realise that streaming is written precisely so that you can't make copies of the content, right?

Read the purpose of Media Streaming on Windows Server 2003.

It's purpose is to "prevent capture and copying."

If you've got a digital camera, it should not be "media streaming," it should be capturing and storing.  Usually, you just pop the camera onto the top of the machine [there's sometimes a dock for it there] and transfer from camera to computer.  If your camera is simply streaming, it's a cheap camera with no memory.  Most good ones come with at least a 4 gigabyte card.  These you can also pop into a Memory 7 slot and transfer.

Sounds like we need better advice on buying the camera.
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by:Titanium_Sniper
ID: 16690225
Download the free Windows Media Encoder software from Microsoft's website and it does tons of things like that for free (you need a LEGAL copy of a MICROSOFT OS).  It has a nice wizard so all you have to do is just start a new session and capture from a device its really self explanitory. To use any software you have to have the camera installed on your computer with appropriate drivers from the manufacturers web site too.

Using this program you can record in pretty much any format you want from a fame every few seconds for security cameras to real time video and in almost any resolution you can think of. You can even stream the video like a webcam.
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Gary Case earned 600 total points
ID: 16692346
George,

First, the "steps in capturing ..." are to simply use the camera in video mode and it will capture the video.   The video then transfers to the PC via your USB 2.0 port in exactly the same way as the still pictures.

Just as the quality of a picture depends not only on the camera, but also on the framing of the shot, the lighting, the composition, etc. (photographers will argue that these are much more important than the camera -- and they're probably right); the quality of the video you capture will depend on these same elements.   ... and those aren't "technical" things that a simple comment here can help with.   A few key things (some were mentioned above):  pay attention to the lighting;  don't "jerk" the camera while shooting a video;  don't use the zoom feature too much (some cameras don't even allow zooming in video mode); and don't make these little video clips too long.

Once you've transferred the videos to the PC, the editing process simply requires any video editor that supports the format the camera captures in (I believe you've indicated this is MPEG-4 in another question).   The camera may have come with some software to accomplish this -- if not, any of the popular video editing packages will be fine.
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by:GMartin
ID: 16753947
Hi Everyone:

        The pc to be used for this operation has a Celeron 400MHz chip along with 256 MB of SDRAM, thus, being an older system.  Will this be at least sufficient for transferring mpeg4 movies into the computer?

         Thanks

         George
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by:GinEric
GinEric earned 200 total points
ID: 16755182
It should be sufficient; it's the video card that's going to count first, with 256 meg is should do fine. Not to be confused with the 256 meg SDRAM though, which is a little shy, and 512 meg or 1 gig would be better.   After that, the architecture and speed of connection.  That is, a 64-bit system [fully 64-bit, motherboard, slots, all parallel, PATA, PCI-X, ATI/AGP/PCI-X for video card, but USB will be okay, I guess, for the camera connection] with a 64-bit motherboard and Operating System will perform much better.  And you'll need the bandwidth for the connection, probably at least 3.0/768

Since you're going into the computer, or uploading to it, the first number applies, 3.0 mbps.

It's probably going to be a little slow as it stands because of the motherboard, microprocessor, and small memory.
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by:maduropa
maduropa earned 400 total points
ID: 16755293
It depends on what type of capturing you'll do with the MPEG4.
Is it recording in AVI with lots of GB per hour, or directly to MPEG4, compressing it big time?

That last one would be too hard for your celeron 400.
However, if you would use a special capture-card that has its own encoding hardware the card would do all the work.

If no encoding would be done, you'd need a fast hard-drive to write down the data.

I used an AMD K6III-400 with a TV-in/out card from Asus to record VCD-quality movies. After capturing, it took some time to convert the captured AVI's (pretty large) back to MPEG1.
Next step was a Firewire Card with pinnacle software and a DV-CAM to read edit and convert movies.
It all worked because of three 20GB drives combined to a RAID-0 drive delivered the speed. All the calculating stuff like encoding and converting took much time.

before you invest money in special capture-cards and RAID-solutions, it's better to look at the price of a new fresh and not too expensive system.



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LVL 70

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by:Gary Case
Gary Case earned 600 total points
ID: 16764511
George,

Let's define "capturing" ==> in the context you're talking about here what you're really doing isn't "capturing" video -- you're transferring an MPEG-4 stream to your hard drive from the camera.

So Yes, the system won't have any problem doing that -- the key element in that process is a fast enough USB connection (which you'll have once you install the USB 2 card), and a fast enough hard disk -- and even an old UDMA-2 drive is fast enough to write the data for this.   (Just for grins, look at the Advanced Properties tab of the Primary IDE channel in Device Manager (under IDE/ATA/ATAPI drive) and see what the transfer rate is for the hard drive)

Another issue here is whether or not the system has enough "horsepower" to PLAY the captured video.   This is very questionable -- my best guess is it does NOT.   But it's close -- so the only way to confirm one way or the other is to capture one of the videos and try it.

That doesn't mean you can't use the system to transfer the videos to it, organize the photos and videos, and perhaps burn DVD's to archive them.   And it will do fine at viewing, organizing, etc. the photographs.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 16825141
Hi Everyone:

        The USB 2.0 card has already arrived.  As soon as my friend comes back into town tomorrow, I will install it.  My only concerns at this point is the processor speed of 400MHz along with the small amount of the slower memory, 256MB of SDRAM.  As suggested, we may need to get a special capture card to hand the encoding and compression routines as a workaround for the processor limitation.  According to my understanding here, I believe the capture cards handles many of the demands for processing video which are normally taken care of by the processor, thereby, freeing up the cpu cycles considerably.  If this interpretation is not entirely correct, please feel free to correct me on this one.  After all, my purpose here is twofold.  First, to gain newer insights into technical concerns with pc.  And, secondly, to correct any misconceptions I may have as well.

         Thanks again everyone for the followups to this post.  If any technical concerns should I arrise, I will post accordingly.

          George

       
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by:Gary Case
ID: 16825176
The camera almost certainly captures the video in compressed form -- so you will not be using the CPU to compress the video.   But to PLAY it, you need to decompress it -- that's done with a video CODEC for the type of compression you're using (probably MPEG-4 for a digital camera).    My "best guess" is that a 400MHz Celeron is NOT enough "horsepower" to do this real-time => you need to try it to confirm that.   If you use an application that decompresses the video first, and then displays it, then it will work fine (but will not be nearly as convenient).
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