The Mini & Media Art
March 29, 2006 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Mac Mini (Dual Core Intel version) & Media Art Installation: I'm working with a friend to develop a system that will allow not only for playback of audio/visual content, but also for recording it. I think a Mini is a good way to go, but would like some advice.

The space has three video projectors and a nice audio system. Playing audio content along with video through one of the projectors (we might invest in a second machine to handle additional load) seems fairly straight forward.

What's more complicated is recording a performance on the fly. Suppose a DJ and video artist collaborate: Can the mini handle capturing incoming audio and video content at decent quality? Note: we're not talking about recording the performance with a camera, but capturing the direct audio and video feeds being generated.

Hard drive space will be an issue, but the plan is to connect the machine to a big, Linux based server living in the basement. Using the Mac (perhaps through VNC) to connect to and control that server would be ideal.

I'm fairly certain this is quite doable, but might require some additional hardware (for A/V in and out, etc). Recommendations and personal experiences would be very welcome!
posted by aladfar to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Yes, you probably can, providing it's a single stereo audio signal (so your not running 8 channels in and mixing it on the fly) and a single NTSC/PAL video signal (not hi-def). You'll need a A/D converter box for the audio (look at m-audio) and probably some kind video to firewire convertor box. The real question is what do you record it in? You can record the audio in Garage Band, I'm not sure if Final Cut is out for macintel yet.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:38 PM on March 29, 2006

The audio won't be edited after the fact, so Garage Band and similar apps are a little too much. Essentially we want to take the NTSC/PAL video (we're not talking HD at all) and stereo audio and record it into an easily burned-to-DVD and replayed later format.

I was thinking about a decent M-Audio interface to handle the audio, but was unaware of firewire to video connectors. I'll have to research a bit on that front.

Any software recommendations?
posted by aladfar at 3:59 PM on March 29, 2006

This device from elGato will connect to the Firewire port on the Mini and will allow you to input S-Video or Composite Video, and two channels of Audio.

Their eyeTV software is now a Universal Binary, so it's full speed on the Intel Mini.

eyeTV will export directly to Toast Titanium.

I'm sure you could go through iDVD as well, but you'd probably have to go through some ancillary steps (and perhaps software) to convert the MPEG2 stream from eyeTV to an MPEG2 filetype that iDVD doesn't want to recompress. MPEG StreamClip might be such a program.
posted by tomierna at 7:45 PM on March 29, 2006

You want to use a single app to capture both the audio & video, otherwise you'll not be able to keep the two in sync.

I believe iMovie will do it for you, but if you want something slimmer, both Quicktime Pro for $29 or IVeZeen for $15 will let you record an stereo-audio + video stream pretty easily. They just expose the underlying functionality built into Quicktime. Quicktime Pro seems to have more knobs to twiddle.

Both assume some sort of camera device like a DV camera or iSight is providing the A/V stream. Most mid- to high-end DV cameras now days can also function as a A/V input to DV converter (i.e. yellow-red-white cables to firewire. :) so if you have a DV geek friend you may already have the equipment you need. You can also get "DV converter" boxes to do this function by itself. A quick google turns up this box for around $250. I've used one very similar that cost $350 four years ago.
posted by todbot at 8:05 PM on March 29, 2006

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