Multi-Camera Video Mixing for Quick, Broadcast-quality Video Podcasting

Any individual, academic institution or department interested in improving workflow and production quality for video podcasts should consider purchasing a video mixer. Similar in principle to an audio mixing board, a video mixer allows the integration and manipulation of multiple video inputs at the same time. “Mixing” the feeds from multiple video cameras in real time means less organizing and editing of videos in post-production (e.g. after the shoot, in a video editing application like iMovie, Final Cut or Primiere).

CEREV recently hosted a round table on “Palestinian Canadian Life Stories” here at the exhibition lab. Directed by Dr. Sharon Gubbay Helfer, one of CEREV’s first batch of Curatorial Fellows, this research project chronicles the lives and identities of five Palestinian Canadians. A description of the research project, Co-creating a safe space for being present to difficult knowledge: exhibiting material from the Palestinian Canadian life stories project, can be found here.

The project included the development of an online digital environment (in WordPress) that documents each individual’s story. Dr. Gubbay Helfer wanted to video the participants’ impressions and reflections on the website itself. The group met at the CEREV Lab, where I had set up a broadcast quality mobile studio with our Roland VR-5 video mixer. The set up included three video cameras, a shotgun condenser mic, a live feed from the laptop/video projector that displayed the website, and a mobile cart that housed a 42inch LCD, and Mac-Mini that was recording the event. I was able to mix the feeds of the discussion from three video cameras (set up on tripods) while integrating a live video of the various areas of the website as they were discussed. In essence, we are able to mimick the process used in most live broadcasts we see on TV, whether a concert, the news, or a talk show. A video mixer allows for multiple cameras or video inputs to be selected live, “on the fly”. In this case, as opposed to a live broadcast, I was recording all my “mixing” onto the Mac mini that I had set up on the mobile AV cart.

What are the advantages of using video mixers for podcasts? First, they speed up the production process. As mentioned, video mixers save time that otherwise would be necessary to organize and edit videos in post-production. Second, they result in for podcasts that are pretty much ready to be published at the end of the shoot. For round-tables, lectures, seminars, and the like, a mobile video mixer studio set up can save a lot time and provide professional, broadcast quality podcasts quickly.

Here a list of the equipment and the set up we used for this shoot:

1.  AV cart with 42in LCD.

2.  Rode NTG-2 condenser directional “shot-gun” mic. (This was for recording the group discussion. It is a very sensitive, powered directional mic that was connected to the video mixer – it picks up sound very clearly).

3.  Three video cameras – 2 canon Vixia HF20 with wide angle lenses and 1 Canon XF- 105 (These were all connected to the video mixer via an RCA connector and AV video out on each camera)

4.  One Mac-Mini for recording playback. (A laptop could be easily be substituted for the AV cart and Mac-Mini).

5.  The Roland VR-5 video mixer.

I recommend this kind of video mixer set up for individuals or institutions interested in building a library of high quality podcasts. Here is a useful link describing the Roland VR-5 that we use here at CEREV.

Roland VR-5: production, Recording and Streaming, uncomplicated

Note: consumer video mixers are becoming more affordable, and there are many new products available, but many of them (such as the Roland VR-5) only provide Standard Definition output and not HD. Make sure to assess what your needs are for your studio productions and research the best product for your specific needs.

Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence