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Really great onboard Digital Recorder for our rigs


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#1 PeterAbraham

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 01:17 PM

The Archos AV-320. I am at work, this guy has this incredible device. It is a digital video recorder. Small, light. Lithium Rechargable power.

It can record 45 hours of video. Plays back a nice clean image. I have never seen such a perfect item for onboard Steadicam recording. You can input RCA video, or SVideo. You output component.... it's just amazing.

I would provide a link, but I can't freakin' open more than one Explorer window right now.

Go. Look. Buy. God, I want one for my Mini.

Peter Abraham, E.M.T.
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#2 PeterAbraham

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 01:18 PM

Here's a link for the item.

http://www.archos.co...prw_500542.html
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#3 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 06:07 PM

I beleive Larry commented about this unit. It records in MP4 format which may not give as sharp an image on playback for focus check. And it is a little long with analog input adapter.
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#4 Ruben Sluijter

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 02:27 AM

The length is not that bad and if you consider the price it's perfect (20 gb version is about 599 euros).
Has a remote, light and relatively small footprint.
It is true that you lose some resolution through compression (how else would you get 45 hours on 20 gig) but it works really well.
One touch recording (instant) and it has a really nice, big screen.

It's a nice alternative to using a camera or one of those, rather expensive, DV recorders (which are a lot bigger).
Just one more choice for us to play with.
I suggest you ask for a demo and check it out yourself, however do make sure that the video recorder unit is included in the package you buy(it's actually an optional accesory, typical!)

Peace, Ruben "Unhealthy love for gadgets and things with blinking lights" Sluijter
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#5 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 02:58 AM

It is true that you lose some resolution through compression (how else would you get 45 hours on 20 gig)

I have looked into this unit and it leaves a LOT to be desired recording wise. It looks like those bad connivence store surveillance recordings you see on reality cop shows. Damn near impossible to see focus or other detail on it.



Eric
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#6 PeterAbraham

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 08:10 AM

I wonder if they've changed recently. What I held in my hands last night was wired into the Jimmy Jib they were using at work. The image was not surveillance camera quality, either in pure monitor mode or after it had recorded the image. The set I shoot on has a lot of angles, metal points and other focus frames of reference. It didn't look like Cops, or anything else that is fairly low res, grainy home video. It also didn't look like high-def. If you want High-Def, then buy the JVC High Def Mini-DV that truly records in High Def, and use that as a record/playback deck. It only weighs about 3 lbs. :)

More to the point, when playing back on a larger monitor, this unit was obviously digitized but also was obviously clear enough that one could discern everything else about the shot besides critical focus. As I've mentioned elsewhere, until we all start operating a rig where every single component is matched for perfect resolution and crispness, the playback image can't be used for focus check's anyway. The only person operating such a rig right now is Larry McConkey- which of course is why he's been the most vigilant in his pursuit of a recorder that looks as good as the rest of his system.

Nobody else can claim such a system and so focus checks to me are a bit of a smokescreen. You're wearing an 18, shooting wide open and hopin', and you expect any recording device to overcome the inherent image compromises introduced by the combination of a ground glass and a video tap? You expect to see critical focus with moderate and wider lenses?

My polite opinion is that you can not. Now, I don't mean to sound highly defensive- I posted this thread because as a lightweight recording device whose delicate small tape heads can never jam ( no tape heads... ), is not power hungry and has a few other nifty options, it seemed a good choice.

Just remember- no matter how much money you spend, you can't bring into critical focus an image delivered off of your Steadicam that is already slightly grainy and maladjusted. It's kind of a basic rule, right? You can degrade down the line, but you can never UNdegrade.

Peter
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#7 Andrew Jansen

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 09:00 AM

I've been using the Archos for a few months now and love it...Yes when you playback on anything but it's own 4" monitor it looks like hell, but it's great for reference and I've had no complaints from directors...I always transmit to video village too so they can have it both ways...
As for focus I've got one of the best AC's on the east coast who nails it EVERYTIME without the need for monitors or playback...

The Arhos is also great for those flights to the Virgin Islands or train ride to DC....Got a few movies and concerts loaded which look great !!

Cheers,

Andrew
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#8 Ruben Sluijter

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 11:58 AM

Yeah, I've got a couple of movies on it as well (it's also a pretty good MP3 player so I have a few albums on there as well for long travels).
As far as playback quality on a monitor is concerned, I admit it's not broadcast quality (as said, 320x240 max) but I find it's acceptable for frame reference.
Only real downside is that with the recorder unit on it, it does become pretty long so it may be difficult to mount in a strategic place

Peace, Ruben "That porn movie I was playing somehow upset the stewardess" Sluijter
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#9 DaleWoodrow

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 09:13 PM

Hi folks,

Here is a link to a US based supplier/retailer of the Archos recorders, their prices are cheap and they offer free shipping worldwide. There are models offering 20G/40G and 80gigabyte hard disc storage all with the same features and functions, just larger storage : ie Archos AV320 (20 gigabytes). AV340 (40G) and AV380 (80gigabytes).

http://www.buy.com/r...oc=15876&sptk=1

Mpeg 4 compression is generally not designed for full screen high image quality, it is a compressed image of each interlaced field(or non-interlaced field depending on the media) where information (being many pixels of the same color and/or sharp edges as the compression codec sees as being unnessesary information) and some of the audio frequencies are removed from the data to reduce file size per frame. Mpeg4 is generally used for small windows on various media players for PC/Mac playback and average playback size being 320 x 240, the larger you go the less information there is to fill the pixels per line for clarity.

Compared to VHS quality, SVHS or DVD which is Mpeg 2 (less compression meaning less information is removed from the image & audio) it would be difficult to take any Mpeg 4 image, even as a still, and want to be able to see focus changes, depth of focus clearly distinguishable. However as a protable recorder, being substantially lighter and taking up less room than a conventional Sony/JVC/Panasonic portable DV or Digital 8 recorder which offer less compression and almost DVD image quality, these Mpeg4 hard disc recorders offer a choice that is suitable and convenient for what we need when played back on their 3.8"screen, not ideal to transmit this Mpeg 4 highly compressed image to a larger monitor (ie the director) for accurate reference as clarity and sharpness is not going to be as good as transmitting from your video tap or portable tape recorder.

A fellow operator has been using his AV320 for a year now and he loves it. I guess it comes down to deciding between the conventional portable DV tape recorder having the ability to record quality video reference but you having to carry the weight and the space it takes up on your sled, plus changing/storing your tapes and the extra battery. Where as compared to the slim line Digital compressed video with a poorer quality image but with up to 80 hours of video (and audio if you want) a tenth of the weight and no tape changes may work for some.

I think that when the technology is able to provide a lower compression in a similar sized housing offering better image quality than what is available in the Mpeg4 Archos units, say Mpeg2 compression and their codecs which is far superior in image quality than Mpeg4 yet requires more hardrive space per field. You would have little, if any, unnoticed visual discrepancies and the Director etc being very happy with your transmitted image for in the field playback if a Video assist is not available, just like in those low budget jobs..

I would like to believe that companies like Archos would take their AV380 80gigabyte storage Video recorder and have the option to use Mpeg2 compression which uses more drive space than Mpeg4 but offers far better image quality, just like the options that are available on current Digital still cameras where you have the choice of 4 picture resolutions from highest to lowest resolution and amount of storage required per image, when that happens I think we will be almost completely satisfied and so will our crew when viewing our transmitted or playback video.


Fly Safe,

Dale Woodrow
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#10 chupap

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 02:37 AM

I find that most of the reasons that I prefer a high-quality image for playback have little to do with focus, but more often trying to determine the nature of potential camera or boom shadows, or if one has photographed a no-no such as a light or a flag. Given that the taps do not deliver the highest quality image imaginable, I prefer to at least capture that resolution than continue to degrade it to help with the squint-and-interpret process ("is it a Pepper or a practical or a kick?"). I was ecstatic to move from 8mm to DV because of the improved picture quality, as well as the clean still-frame and easier cueing. I would be delighted to go to a hard drive system, but not at the expense of dropping back the picture quality. The technology is all there, it's just a matter of the right package (c'mon, video iPod! Well, maybe not soon enough. And while we're on the topic of Apple rumors, check this display out: sweet!)
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#11 Larry McConkey

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 07:57 PM

When I tested the Archos with the analog video adapter attached, it was larger and heavier than my PC5. I just bought another PC5 on eBay for $400 so the prices now are pretty close. The only thing I could see that the Archos had going for it was the ability to go instantly to any shot in memory. I often rewind my DV tape to a previous shot to match size when doing a reverse, but sometimes don't have the time to fast forward to shoot the new shot and end up taping over previously recorded material. I like archiving the tapes when I am on a movie also, because occasionally I want to refer to something and getting the tape from whoever is doing playback is sometimes difficult (when there is somebody recording). Factoring in the low quality it doesn't seem like the Archos has enough going for it to replace Mini-DV, but I am very curious about the next generation, assuming there will be one...

the E-Clipmaker (http://www.eagle.co....roduct_2090.htm) may offer the right performance, but at a much greater price (couple of thousand dollars). Maybe something will arrive in the middle soon?

Larry
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#12 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 03:32 AM

Hi folks!,
Just got a Archos AV320 jukebox for an Onboard recorder. Been spending a few hours loading the Demo, Behind the scenes pictures, about 100 songs so far. and still have plenty of space for high quality MP4 tap recording, and video output recording from the video out's on the Vid cameras. Gotta love technology!, I had seen it for 600, today it was $499! at Comp USA. Internal batteries!, does anyone have one? and have you made a short power cable? with a split to feed the video and the power off the recorder plug on the sled?

Ozzie
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#13 RobVanGelder

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 07:21 AM

Hi Ozzie,
How is the quality of that MPEG4 and do you think it is possible to use that in a showreel or for editing?
And also on a normal screen, of course. It always looks good on a postage stamp.
Earlier, someone did question that.

I´m not sure if there is any program that can edit mpeg4, I think it is already a problem with mpeg2.

I would love to check it out myself, but the one I saw in Singapore last month did almost $900, and I thought that was just too much.

For the cable, that cannot be a big problem, as long as the polarity is right. I´m not sure about the amps it takes, but I think it will be fine.

Rob van Gelder, Bangkok, Thailand
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#14 Andrew Jansen

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 10:17 AM

I use the Archos 320 on my rig...It's great but only good for reference....play it back on anything larger than it's own screen and it looks pretty bad....But i love it on the train or plane....got a few movies loaded...I take the feed out of my TB6 for now until i get fred to make me a custom cable...

Andrew

www.steadicamguy.com
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#15 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 09:48 AM

Hey there,
I connected the output to my bigger TV, 38" RCA HDTV ( tube) and at the bitrate I recorded it (1500) it looked a bit pixilated, but not bad at all. I then played the video that comes with it which must have been recorded at the highest bitrate (2000) and it looked great! even on that big TV.
The way I would output it to use in a Demo would be to digitize it from the unit directly into the AVID, by running the output to my PD150 or any digital camera with a composite input, and taking the DV out of it into the computer, whether it be AVID, or Final Cut, should work. I'll let everyone know when I do it on the 30th with the Latin Billboards footage. SO far this little unit seems to work great!, and cheaper than an onboard recorder, with no tapes to loose.
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