Advice needed: video recorder in classroom setting

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by NR-teacher, May 29, 2008.

  1. NR-teacher macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2008
    I'm hoping that someone can offer advice on appropriate video camera choices. I want to record student teachers and post these videos on the web so that they can provide valuable feedback to one another.

    Here's what I believe is important (but feel free to correct me):
    Reasonable sound quality is essential; if we can't hear what the student teacher is saying, then there's just no point doing this.
    Obviously all video will be taken indoors in typical fluorescent lighting. The video quality doesn't have to be excellent, but of course I don't want it to be distractingly bad.
    I want to mount the camera on a tripod and just leave it alone -- no zooming or anything like that. I don't want to distract students by operating the camera in a conspicuous manner.
    I must be able to record for at least an hour without interruption.
    The easier and faster it is for me to upload video to the web, the better. I have absolutely no experience with video, and I'll have to do this about 30 times per semester, so time and ease are a pretty big deal.
    Big surprise, my school doesn't have the budget for anything really expensive.

    I don't know if I'm better off keeping things extremely simple (e.g., the Flip -- although I gather that this may not work well with Macs) or if it's worth investing in a video camera with a microphone terminal for the sake of better sound (e.g., the Canon FS10 or FS11). I'm very open minded and will appreciate any advice.

    Many thanks in advance for your help!
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Here is what to look for....

    1) Any small mini DV camera. Get the kind the uses Mini DV tape. This is by far the easiest to import to a mac and give the best quality. These sell for as low as about $350

    2) You really, really do NOT want to use the mic built into the camera. Maybe I need to say that more clearly: Don't use the built in mic.

    Back to #1. Make sure the camera has an input for an external mic. Almost all of them have this.

    Back to #2. The absolute best way to go would be to attach a mic and wireless transmitter to the teacher. These are not really all that expensive and don't show but do have to be clipped on. You can decide if the effort is worth in or not but you can get very good sound this way.

    Second best is to place a mic on a stand up front and run a wire or use the wireless transmitter. Third best is to use a external directional mic located near the camera and a short wire.

    Either way if you #1 and #2 above you will be fine. It is very easy to import DV to iMovie then save it for the web. Web video quality is so much poorer than DV that the quality of the camera hardly maters if you have enough light on the subject. I'm sure people will recommend their favorite cameras but as long as it is miniDV and has an audio input jack you are set.
  3. -DH macrumors 65816

    Nov 28, 2006
    Nashville Tennessee
    I agree with ChrisA; use a wireless lav mic system. For this type of project, the audio quality will probably be more important that the video quality, so an inexpensive camera with a Firewire output should suffice.

    Connect the camera via Firewire to your Mac and you can capture the live feed with FCE or FCP then export as a QT movie. Or, if you have a Windows system, you can capture directly to Windows Media Encoder (free from Microsoft) as a WMV file for web posting.

    With either method, I'd recommend rolling tape in the camera as a backup in case of capture failure.

  4. NR-teacher thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2008
    Any feelings about flash drives?

    A classroom technology guy here told me to avoid any kind of tape and go with flash memory instead. You seem to feel pretty strongly about the mini DV tape, though. Are there reasons that this is superior to flash memory?

    The contact mic sounds like a good idea. I'm not sure how well it will pick up any student questions/responses, but at worst I can switch to a regular external microphone. Many thanks for the advice!
  5. -DH macrumors 65816

    Nov 28, 2006
    Nashville Tennessee
    Video recorded to flash memory is VERY highly compressed and doesn't work well in most NLEs without first converting it. If you capture directly to your Mac in an editable format (DV for example), the video will be much better and easy to work with ... plus rolling tape in the camera insures you have a backup.

    As for the student questions, you could always use a second mic to record the students.


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