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Discussion Starter #1
What do you guys suggest for taking Motion Pictures of layouts?

Disk? No Disk? Direct Download?

What about Editing? What about Frame Capture?

What are you using?
 

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I bought it as a still camera, but my $100 FugiFilm Finepix J12 takes nice videos. I've always been a still photographer, so I need to learn to hold the camera more still. I think you can see my heartbeat in the video. I set it in a gondola and sent it around the track resulting in a 2 minute 164MB avi file. Not sure what to do with it now.
 

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I use the family Flip Video we got from Costco for $100. It takes decent videos you can edit on your PC without installing any software (it resides in the Flip), plus you can put the Flip on a flatcar to film the train in motion from a scale person's perspective - cool!
 
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I use a MiniDV camcorder, Sony TRV33. It is a good camera but it is getting long of tooth. However miniDV tapes are cheap and rugged.

I have had it with hard drives in portable electronics, they work most of the time but cannot put up with the shocks that they receive in real life. The failure rate is too high.

The DVD camcorders are not effective either, the media is too expensive

It looks like Flash storage is the way to go. Pick a camera with anti-shake, good macro focusing and ESPECIALLY A GOOD OPTICAL ZOOM. Don't bother with digital zoom.

Pay special attention to the still imaging. Make sure that antishake works there as well. Still images will not have the resolution of a good still camera, but will be good enough for web publishing.

I use iMovie to download and edit the video. This is good on my older Macs that still have FireWire, but it looks like the FireWire interface that virtually all of the MiniDV camera's use is going away. The HDD and Flash versions work on a file based download over USB so that they don't need the real time streaming that FireWire provides.
 

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I have a Panasonic Mini-DV tape video camera that can take photos too (stored on an SD chip), but the resolution of both was not very good and the tapes are bulky (but not nearly so bulking as VHS, etc.), expensive and the plastic dust cases break too easily and the tapes are not playable in anything else I have and ... well just not something that I found convenient. The still photos were just not good enough and took a long time (5 to 20 seconds) to store on the SD chip in the camera.

I used to use a Pentax K-1000 for still photos and I really like using film for photos, but the better film processing/developing places have all gone away and I don't like mailing the film off for processing nor do I like the results of the automated machines in the stores (youngsters that run them don't really know what they are doing).

So I bought a new still camera, kind of on a whim. An Optimus 6-megapixel (thats a Radio Shack brand). I bought a 4 Gig SD chip to put in it as it will only hold 2 or 3 photos in the internal memory without it. I then found that it would take movies also and they are better than the Mini-DV camera can do. So it has become my "everything" camera and I am pleased with it. I do wish it had a better lense system and maybe better resolution and was a bit faster in storing photos and, well, I am sure I could add to that list of "I wishes", but for the price and my abilities it works okay.

The SD chip is great and 4-gig holds thousands of photos. I don't have any idea how much video it can hold, but right now it has several 30 second videos as well as over 100 photos with lots of room for more.

As to processing the videos. It is very easy to transfer them to my PC, either by a USB cable or by removing the SD chip and plugging it into a USB chip reader device...either way the chip just becomes another mass storage device on the PC and I can transfer files between it and the PC Harddrive as easily and as quickly as copying files around on the Harddrive itself.


Like still photo processing software, there are several programs available to process movies and dozens of formats to save them in. Also like photo processing programs I have yet to find a movie processor that does everything I want and does it intuitively and without hassle. Each has some strength and each has some failing.

I have:

Panasonic Movie Messenger System: My oldest program (came with the Mini-DV camera) and so it has the fewest output formats. Operation is somewhat confusing and cumbersom. Difficult to select exactly where to split a video so sections can be deleted. Also if I am not careful it can get the sound and video out of sync and I have yet to figure out what it is that I did that screwed it up.

Microsoft's Windows Movie Maker: Has probably the best human interface, but is still confusing and cumbersom. Also has the most output formats, but if you don't know exactly what each was designed for and why to use each it is just so much more confusion.

MAGIX Movie Edit Pro 14: Similar to Windows Movie Maker, but fewer output formats and some are a bit confusing as to how to get to them. It wants to use a proprietary format for all output, but if you pick "Export" instead of "Save Movie" you can get the other formats.

I have used many others and tossed them as being all hype and no substance or ability.

All of them are big on screwing up the video... blur it, fuzz it, distort it, false color it, etc., big on artsy fancy smancy transitions from one cut to another, etc., but none of them can take a poor movie and do anything but make it worse. None have a decent single frame at a time mode for selecting where to make transitions or edits. None can do an overall brighten or contrast adjustment in a decent manner. They all also want to work in "Projects" and I just don't think that way. They want to build a list of bits and pieces of many videos and transitions and photos and then combine them into one video. If you then delete, move or modify one of those parts the "Project" won't load right. I just want to take one video, clean it up (brighten/contrast etc. and sound cleaning) and remove the junk (those parts where I forgot to actualy stop the recording and I have 5 minutes of my feet as I wander around looking for the next thing to record) and output it again for pleasant viewing.

All claim to be the BEST, but none is worth the price, even the ones I got for free.

The people that write these programs get all caught up in "Look at all these WILD things we can do to jazz it up and obscure any ability to actually SEE what the video is showing" and spend no time at perfecting any of the abilities or how to accomplish the task of making a movie.

One more puzzling thing about all of them... I have yet to be able to take a raw movie from one of my cameras, read it in to a program and then write out a new movie that is the same size picture with the same resolution, the same clarity, and get the same size output file. The file often doubles in size and yet the image is smaller, fuzzyer and distorted and the sound "hollow and echo-ey". Just trmming the ends off of a video will result in a bigger file. Makes no sense.

If I could keep only one of the editors I have, it would be either the Windows Movie Maker or the MAGIX Movie Edit, but I am NOT recommending either one.

When you buy the camera, you might get a video editor with it and it will be a starting place. I think Windows Movie Maker comes with Microsoft Office, so you might have it (or some crippled cousin of it). Either one will let you do some edits if you can make sense of the way to do it and can find an output format that fits your needs.

It is unfortunate that they are so expensive that I cannot buy a copy of all the different ones and keep just the one that does what fits my abilities and undestanding. I'd like to "test drive" them for more than the time limit that some give for "Trial periods" (not near enough time to LEARN the program)... some of the ones I have tossed may have been great and might have all the capabilities I want but I didn't have time to learn the new vocabulary that they created to explain their processes.

Others will have different opinions and your mileage may vary.
 

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I had a MiniDV camera, but the tape transport mechanism crapped out (as tape transport mechanisms are wont to do). I bought a Samsung DX103 which uses both Mini DVDs or an SD card. For the most part I've been real happy with it using DVDs for recording. It produces very high quality videos in either 4:3 or 16:9 format (not HD as far as I know). Video recorded to the SD card is much lower quality as more compression seems to be used.

I did have one DVD of stuff I'd taken at Mark's recent Holiday steamup refuse to finalize - God knows why. Other DVDs in the past have finalized okay. Since this DVD wouldn't finalize, I had a hard time getting the videos off. The USB and/or Firewire doesn't seem to give access to stuff recorded on the DVD and only allows downloading of stuff stored on the SD card. Ultimately I was able to use the audio/video out cable that came with the camera feeding the inputs of my home DVD recorder and get the clips off that way. The downside here was that the movies were recorded in 16:9 and the home DVD recorder is only 4:3. The movies therefore came out squished horizontally. Additionally, the playback info from the camera playback screen also showed up on the home recorder as it was sent to the output feed as well by the camera.

That's the only problem I've had in several recording sessions. The DVD media is somewhat expensive, but the video quality using it is excellent.

I use Windows Movie Maker to edit, process and compress videos for posting.
 

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I use the JVC mini dv model gr-d770u. I think it does a great job and not expensive. I use Windows Movie Maker. Pinnacle Studio. Both are good and editable.
Most of my postings are at Steamin at Steve's.
 
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