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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Live Event Recording and CD DVD Duplication
If there is one hot topic in the CD DVD duplication industry it's the Live Event Recording topic. As of late, the church market is exploding with live event recording requests, "how to's," and product inquiries. Most notably, these requests come from people trying to capture spoken word and put it to CD, but now a transition is occurring to not only record the audio, but the video as well. This article should get you going in the right direction.

Video becomes much more difficult than simple audio for live event recording applications. With audio, it's fairly simple to record dual channel (stereo) to a system HHD or 1x recorder and burn on the fly. Inserting the track IDs with the click of a button is about the extent of "editing" the audio. All other aspects of the recorded audio are controlled through the console which is accepting the live feed, aspects such as equalization, balance, fade etc. Once the audio master is done, it's inserted into a duplicator for small runs of production (there are systems which have it all such as the MF Digital 5906LIVE), however video is a little more involved.

With live event recording to video you have many factors at play. First, you must capture the video, then you must render the video (if transitions or effects are inserted), menus and chapters must be created and finally the raw video must be compressed to MPEG4 or VCD, all of which is not a quick process. After all the video editing and output is complete then it's off to the duplicator for production. So how does one do this? Well, there are many options to accomplish this, but in general terms there are two main directions, plus a third with a BIG astric.

First Solution: Create your own editing station (PC) to produce the master, then duplicate. This method means you must build a PC designed for video editing and has 4 basic components: (1) Within this system you will have a video capturing device, generally a video card which puts the raw video onto the hard drive. (2) Next some editing software which allows you to insert a standard intro clip (popular), make cuts to clip out unwanted video, effects such as transitions from one scene to another and, for more advanced users, special effects such as fade-in text, multiple views of video on the same time-line etc. (3) Next, one will need authoring software which gives you the tools to create menus, buttons, and chapters to easily navigate the DVD and encode the raw video into MPEG4 or VCD so it will all fit onto a DVDR or Video CDR. (4) Finally, burning software to take all of the above work and ACTUALLY burn it to media. Many times the burning engine will also be included with the encoding software.

Second Solution: Purchase an editing station which is specifically designed for live event recording applications. There are not many out there, but currently the most notable is the Pioneer PRV-LX1. This equipment is feature rich and provides all the tools for the job, the capturing card, the editing software, the encoding software and burning engine to put it all on disc. The engineering team at Pioneer designed the PRV-LX1 with both the novice and professional user in mind. The system is sophisticated enough to create great effects, but also simple enough to directly record video and insert chapters as they happen. The unit can also record the video directly to disc, live, but this feature eliminates all editing functions (for obvious reasons). The PRV-LX1 comes in a rack mount enclosure for portable mobile studios or video editors on the go. As a bonus feature for the PRV-LX1, Pioneer has teamed up with third party vendors such as MF Digital to allow the authoring unit to talk directly with the duplicator so a DVD master is not even created. Just off-load the project to the DVD duplicator and begin production.

Third Solution: Buy a standalone hardware encoder product such as the Plextor PX-TV402 which will convert the raw video to MPEG4 on the fly. ***WARNING: The problem with this system (when burning a DVD live) is limited control over the compression quality, no editing capability and no menu or chapter capability. So this means a DVD will be created that simply plays when inserted into a DVD set-top-box or player and from our experience this is to raw or bare-bones for a solution. This product is more ideal for archiving the family videos or recording TV shows where the viewer doesn't care about presentation, but rather wants just the core content on DVD R.

The first option mentioned above is generally a money saving route and would be good for those on a tight budget. But as with anything, you get what you pay for. In many cases the learning curve is much higher and the initial process to create that first DVD takes a very long time and a lot of training will be required if made a departmental responsibility. However, the second option is geared more towards non-editing types and will provide a smoother and quicker transition into the editing world of video. The price is higher, but who can put a price tag on time?