Help me find an off the shelf video system for documenting a technical process.
May 1, 2010 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Help me find an off the shelf video system for documenting a technical process.

I'm looking for something that is conceptually similar to the system that Google uses for scanning books. The idea is that a person sits at a desk performing a technical task, assembling and disassembling different items, and there are multiple cameras that are pointed at the item they are working on. The person can trigger video recording of their task, and either all of the cameras record at the same time, or different cameras can be triggered for different points of view.

I don't even know what to call something like this, but does it exist?
posted by jackofsaxons to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
it's probably going to be easier/cheaper to just run several cameras simultaneously and edit out what you don't need later (sounds like you're trying to shoot without a cameraman) otherwise, you're just going to be fiddling around with remotes and switches and whatnot on camera...geh. you probably just need two cameras, one close-up and one wider. once you get a good rhythm going, you'll probably not need to do too much editing that way...just use the audio from one camera and switch the visuals as needed.

!!!remember to light it properly (the main point of that rig that google uses for scanning books), one light on each side and above the project, pointing down at it at a 45-degree angle is ideal for documenting on a tabletop...more even light, less shadows. more light=better shots, particularly with close-up work, as it improves your depth-of field

do you need slo-mo? i saw this camera on gizmodo...seems like a good low-budget option...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:33 PM on May 1, 2010

oh, and yes, camera triggers do exist (most come with a remote) but not very many cameras have an option other than a remote, and the rare ones that do are usually pretty expensive and/ or custom (usu. for hi-tech or manufacturing situations)'s doubtful you'll find anything like 'foot-pedal controller! works with any camera!' (you're likelier to find a still camera cable release like that, but not for video) ...with high-end pro cameras it's assumed there'll be a cameraman operating it. try giving B&H a call though,they might know of something...

i had a friend once who tried to rig up something like this with a camera remote and a guitar pedal...problem is, most cameras, when left in standby mode for more than 5 minutes, shut down automatically to save power, and usually don't have the option to turn that 'feature' off. :( but tape is cheap, just let it run...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:45 PM on May 1, 2010

I was thinking maybe some industrial Firewire cameras or something similar into a small HTPC formfactor case... but that's as far as my brain got with it...
posted by jackofsaxons at 9:10 PM on May 1, 2010

Also I'm not terribly concerned with price...
posted by jackofsaxons at 9:11 PM on May 1, 2010

I've done quasi-automated multi-camera shoots using software called Capture Magic before -- it lets you simultaneously start and stop recording several synchronized DV streams. Requires a Mac, though. It looks like the company that makes it, Big Mug Software, may be out of business, though. Not sure what the current equivalent of that software is.
posted by Alterscape at 7:22 AM on May 2, 2010

If you're performing the task on the computer, I would look fro screencast software.

Camtasia can record what's happening on your screen, what's happening on your web cam, your microphone, and your system audio.

Jing is free and will record 5 minutes of your screen and microphone.
posted by jander03 at 8:03 PM on May 2, 2010

I would do a search for security camera solutions. Many of them allow you to record from multiple cameras at the same time and they will be all turned on simultaneously. to get better picture quality, I'm sure you can just use a better cam. hope this helps.
posted by chinabound at 8:34 PM on May 2, 2010

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