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Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
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    stream to laptop for monitoring

    I don't know anything about camcorders.
    Never owned one, never played with one.
    Don't know anyone who's got one or uses one.

    Our school has one though (JVC everio hybrid 30GB), and for sport practise our PE instructor would like to stream the output of the camcorder to a laptop. Using VLC media player on the laptop, you can set the cache to 30000 so it provides a delay - players can do something, run over to the laptop, view their performance, and learn from their errors. We tried this with the built in webcam on the laptop, but the quality is too poor - the webcam is really intended only for close-up shots 1-2m distance.

    So I'm trying to research how to get the camera to stream. I mean, if a 15 webcam can do it, surely 300 camcorders can, right? Well, that is turning out not to be the case...

    1)
    On the web, there isn't much info about streaming or monitoring camcorder output on a monitor or laptop. Does this mean that most cameras still don't have this capability? I find this very hard to believe! Shouldn't streaming to an external capturing device really be a standard feature of all camcorders by now?

    2)
    If most newer cameras *do* have this capability (it isn't mentioned in the JVC manual), then how are you supposed to connect them to a laptop? The 'video out' on this camera is a mini-jack, intended to output to a television (cable supplied).

    It also has USB out, but I suspect that this can't be used for streaming; only copying files over to a computer for editing? (Even this, though, appears difficult because the camera is not seen by Windows as a 'removable mass storage device').

    Is it possible to get a 'mini-jack to firewire', or 'mini-jack to s-video' cable for the purpose of streaming/monitoring? Will it stream through USB if I get special drivers from somewhere?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: stream to laptop for monitoring

    These cameras aren't really designed for live feeds. If you do get the connections working the camera turns itself off after a couple of minutes which would make it unsuitable for what you want to do. The cameras with FireWire can stream through that but most computers will only capture a FireWire source not stream it. The only other option is to look at analogue converters. You can get them for both USB and firewire but again the software is supposed to capture not stream and you still have the issue of the camera turning off.

  3. #3
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    Re: stream to laptop for monitoring

    Thanks for the info.

    > These cameras aren't really designed for live feeds

    I'm amazed that a 15$ webcam can do something that a 300$ camera can't. I mean, why, when it would be so easy to implement, would the manufacturers not want their customers to be able to monitor the image on a large screen rather on the tiny little one provided on the camera? It doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever! Isn't monitoring an integral part of making film?

    Plus, if the camera's input was streamed out, it could be captured by an external device, not just monitored live. This means that a 30gb HD camera could potentially be more use than a 300gb HD camera when streaming to a device with 1TB of disk space.

    Are these camcorder manufacturers asleep, or what?

  4. #4
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: stream to laptop for monitoring

    quite simply a $300 camera is designed for mum and dad to make home movies so they really wouldn't want to be tethered to another device so why add in the cost. Broadcast cameras are a different kettle of fish, they can stream and with applications like adobe onlocation you can control the quality of the incoming streams and log directly to your hard drive in real time. Some broadcast cameras will record to tape and hard drive simultaneously whilst sending a live feed to a broadcast mixer. I don't think the manufacturers are asleep, I think they understand that it would cost a little more to put these features in a cheap camera and if you really need them then you will pay more to get the right equipment for the job. As for the $15 webcam. with a firewire port and the right software a standard video camera can be made to webcam, but only at webcam qualities and I have only had success doing it on a mac, not a pc.

  5. #5
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    Re: stream to laptop for monitoring

    > I don't think the manufacturers are asleep, I think they understand that it would cost a little
    > more to put these features in a cheap camera and if you really need them then you will
    > pay more to get the right equipment for the job.

    Streaming the cameras output would cost virtually zero to develop, since the hardware output ports are already on the camera for file transfer. Yet streaming would be an extremely useful feature for hobbyist film makers who can't afford to go up to the pro bracket.

    As I stated, I'm not into film making or video cameras, and I'm totally shocked to discover that in 2008 people can't use their camcorders as a simple web cam, or to monitor the camera's output. You're right, they can't be asleep - they're just deliberately withholding technology so that they can create a wider price-range of products. Personally I think it is totally disgusting when this kind of capitialism results in inferior products for the consumer.

    Anyway, thanks for your replies.

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