Multicam recording and editing is at the heart of an increasing number of productions. Traditionally, we record the different cameras, then sync them at the start of the edit. However, a few years ago, Robert Cohen had a different idea where syncing and adding metadata occurs at the same time as recording. From that, he founded a company called FutureVideo Products.
Recently, I came across their website – https://futurevideo.tv – and wanted to learn more. Here is our interview, conducted via email.
Larry: As video editors, we are all familiar with traditional multicam recording. But you discovered a different market: “Creative vs. Non-creative video projects. How would you describe these?
Robert: First, “non-creative” projects are usually done by those who are not video professionals nor content creators, and secondly, these users don’t have the same needs, resources, or outcome for a video project, as a content creator would.
We’ve identified non-creative video projects in applications for multi-room training, and multi-angle observation, where it’s important for monitoring and review of people or events from/at different times or multiple angles at the same time. The outcome is for review and analysis of events or behavior by a supervisor or team of superiors, perhaps evaluating performance. Annotation of the video is an important part of the outcome. The ability to easily find and manage the clips related to each project is critical. The clips may or may not be edited into a single video master. Creative projects are typically for entertainment or industrial video applications where a finished edited master would be the primary outcome.
Larry: How do the workflows differ between these two groups?
Robert: Typically, a creative project involves using a number of independent camcorders and audio recorders. Your workflow begins by shooting first, then after the shoot, transfer the recorded video and audio clips from their storage (memory card) to another system (NLE or MAMS), then review & organize (define & create structures e.g., bins to hold the clips), and sync your clips and metadata. Finally, start editing to make your sequences and render to a single finished video file. Once done, you will send out your video to the web or put on a fixed media. This is a typical “file-based” workflow.
A non-creative project would involve using a multi-channel video recording system for capturing all video and audio sources. In our approach, which we call “project-based” workflow, it begins by defining the project structures and labels (the organization of the clips and descriptive metadata to be recorded) ahead of shooting. Then start simultaneous or individual recording of all sources on a single storage device (Hard/SS drive). Subsequently, all clips and metadata are automatically allocated to the pre-defined structures (or bins). Additionally, since all recordings are on one device (in this case a PC), each clip will be time-stamped to a common clock.
At the end of the shoot you end up with all clips organized and sync’d. The next step of your workflow depends on what you wish to do with these clips and metadata. You can (1) leave them on the system for review and annotation or (2) transfer them to an NLE (having been already sync’d and organized) or (3) transfer them to FutureVideo’s PostTools PC software (Multi-view player, logger, and cuts editor) for collaboration with others. The workflow has been greatly simplified for the NL editor, since all the work of syncing, bin creation, and creating EDLs were created during the shoot. Finally, if the outcome requires a single edited master, it would be rendered and delivered the traditional way using your NLE or PostTools.
To make this all work seamlessly, V-Station HD was designed to use a SQL server to store and manage the clips and metadata using “database” technology. This provides the ability to easily browse and find clips related to certain conditions, transfer the project in its entirety using a “single click” of the mouse to other systems, or easily continue adding more clips to existing projects, knowing everything is well organized and time sync’d.
Larry: What did you invent to meet the needs of this market?
Robert: Actually V-Station HD started out as a way to help film creators simplify and automate a multi-cam scene, by keeping track of the reels, scene names and numbering, shot numbers, and takes during an in-studio test production (or pre-vis). But it never took traction in the cinema industry, and a different market found us – when we started to sell our products to those doing the “non-creative” applications I discussed earlier. So sales organizations training their staff, behavioral labs studying patients, mock trial recording, pharmaceutical companies testing consumer behavior, ASCAP for rehearsals, and even the India Space Organization (ISRO) uses it for monitoring and analyzing rocket launches (using 11 8-channel V-Station HDs).
Larry: Can V-Station be used in more traditional creative media projects, if so, how?
Robert: Definitely! In special environments where you can feed all cameras to the V-Station HD PC, and planning ahead of time what the program structure will be like (e.g., a concert, might have named reels for each venue, and each venue will have “sets” for each performance), will automatically sync and organize the clips as recording is occurring. When recordings are completed, your workflow is a simple matter to transfer (in virtually one-click of the mouse using our XML generator) the entire project into a NLE for finished editing. This avoids the laborious task for bin creation, syncing, and making sequences. V-Station HD, will automatically generate a time-sync’d sequence during the shoot (i.e., and EDL).
Larry: What are the benefits to using your system?
Robert: It requires no prior training in video production, provides a faster way to complete projects than using traditional file-based workflow. Ultimately reduces costs to the end-user.
Larry: What hardware is required?
Robert: There are 3 parts – a Windows-based PC with on-board Intel HD/UHD graphics, an NVIDIA discrete graphics card if capturing 4 channels of 2160p video, and the V-Station HD/4K video capture cards or V-Station HD Multi-channel Video USB interface. One can choose any combination of 4 HDMI and/or 4 SDI signal connections – up to 8 channels total. We support both up to 1080p60 and 2160p30, depending on the number of channels required and the performance of the host PC being used.
Currently, a maximum of two 2160p30 channels can be simultaneously recorded with four 1080p60 channels without the need of a discrete graphics card (4x2160p30 with one). The hosting PC should have a higher performance motherboard with Intel i7 (8th-12th gen) CPU @ 2.6-3.6Ghz with Intel UHD/HD graphics on-board. Most motherboards with a H/Z 370, 470, 570, 590, or 690 chipset work well with V-Station HD hardware. 16GB ram is fine, and 1 TB SSD for video storage.
Larry: Once your system has captured and synced media, how it is edited?
Robert: The mp4 files created by the V-Station HD are industry standard H.264/AAC high–profile encoded and can be edited by any NLE software. We have an XML project export that is compatible with Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, and Vegas Pro which allows a single click transfer to the NLE, containing all the bin information, synchronization, and metadata. We also have our own product called “PostTools” that is an easy to use multi-clip viewer, multi-cam editor, and logger tool. Projects are transferred using XML to it as well.
Larry: Who do you see at your primary customer – what needs do they have?
Robert: Our primary customer is the type of organization that requires the use of video for training, observation, behavior studies, debriefing, archiving, as I explained earlier about a non-creative application. They generally do not have a trained video professional and require a fast way to acquire multi-angle or multi-room video, manage it, and complete the training or study rapidly. In many cases, not even requiring the use of an NLE.
Larry: How is your product (video capture packages) sold?
Robert: We currently sell to system integrators and AV contractors who can use our products to build out custom systems for their clients, without having to do programming. With the V-Station HD’s software, the ability to design the structures and labels for a variety of applications can provide the system’s integrator a unique product that does not compete with those selling a series of components that don’t always work well together.
Larry: How expandable is the V-Station HD software?
Robert: We have several ways to expand the features of our V-Station HD system, through our “Plug-ins”. Each plug-in addresses specific types of use.
Larry: Here’s an opportunity to write a one-paragraph commercial for V-Station. What would you say?
Robert: V-Station HD is a new and uniform approach for multi-cam video projects, particularly for those who are not trained in video production. These type of projects may involve non-creative applications. Its “project-based” workflow is designed to manage the video project from pre-production, acquisition, post-production, and delivery. V-Station HD’s workflow is faster and more efficient in completing projects than traditional video production techniques. V-Station HD software and components are all contained in a single PC.
Larry adds: Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Visit FutureVideo Products website at: https://futurevideo.tv.