Despite the many gigs I’ve played in my time as a VJ – including over 80 in the last year of touring – I am yet to record my output on a single live show. It sounds terrible, but I know I’m not alone in this: Both musicians and visual performers I’ve worked with tend to focus on creating the show itself, rather than documenting the output. Musicians have a plethora of hardware available for recording audio, and the visual market is starting to get some wider options.

High-end video hardware creators Blackmagic (previously on CDMo) have released the “Video Recorder” (not sure if I’m keen on that product name), a $200 USB device which will “record” analogue “video” (ok, turns out I’m fine with it) in H264 format straight to your hard drive.

The base model lets you choose from Component, S-Video or Composite, and for $100 more you can get the SDI version; for all of those production houses which inexplicably don’t have any devices which allow capturing of video to computers.

Currently only Mac software is mentioned on the Blackmagic site, but that does look quite friendly, with simple buttons to select the source and output formats, and an interface for cropping out analogue weirdness from the stream.

There are other devices which fulfill similar roles, such as the aforementioned Pinnacle Video Transfer (available now), or “multimedia” hard drive enclosures from dubiously-able manufacturers, but something which isn’t much bigger than a thumb drive and coming from a company known for their high-quality video devices could just succeed. (via Gizmodo)

  • AndrewT

    Im a shocker for this. Previous to every gig Im like 'right, gonna record this one' – then it always becomes surplus to requirements.

    Always end up with shoddy quality 2min vids recorded from my digital camera.

    This could be handy 🙂

  • ian

    personally i'm not a fan of the idea of recording on the machine you're performing with, but something like this could change my mind… i didn't realize until i had a conversation about recording VJ gigs today that there really aren't a whole lot of options for externally recording… does anyone know of a decently priced external DVD recorder that can just take various inputs as well as audio?

  • massta

    An over the shelf DVR and dvd recorder should be all you need. But if you have an extra pc lying around a cheaper alternative would be this sort of device. I like Plextor products.

  • The on-the-fly H264 conversion seems useful for podcasts or web publishing – I'd be curious to know how well it works across a range of different bitrates. DVD recorders are cheaper, though they have their own pitfalls with reliability – don't use one in an environment with a lot of vibration (concerts, clubs).

    I have an Archos pocket video player that records direct to MPEG-4 as either DivX or XviD (forget which) – lower quality, but super reliable and convenient. I'd be surprised if we don't see similar devices supporting H264 soon, which would make devices like the Blackmagic dongle unnecessary IMO.

  • VJ Scobot had this to say, but it seems that his website (scobot dot com) seems to be considered a security risk by WordPress, so any comment displaying that string of text (including my comments) won't show up on the site. Very interesting. Here's the rest of what he had to say:

    I've been using a Panasonic DVD recorder for the past 3 years to record sets (all my clips on my website,, were recorded this way) – but the thing is SO BIG to haul around. The cool thing is it can record on DVD-RAM discs (so no waiting to finalize the DVD when switching discs mid set, I usually record about 90 minutes per disc) – BUT that leads to some hassles when converting the VRO file into something that I can make into web or DVD file – kind of a LONG, tedious process, but it did work! Unfortunately, I got so burned out by the process of dealing with the VRO files that I stopped creating new content for my website (I have about 8 shows from 2007 waiting to be converted) – which kind of defeats the purpose of recording them in the first place!

    So, I recently picked up one of these on sale: the Aiptek A-HD ( At first I bought the Aiptek MPVR+CB because I didn't see myself doing much with HD at this point. I just wanted something small to record on. Well, the LATENCY on that machine was horrible!!! And really, why record if the audio and video is out of sync??! So I was intrigued by the A-HD's use of MOV files with the H264 codec. So far, it looks like it handles the audio sync issues really well – much more in sync, if not IN SYNC (though sometimes I go a little crazy trying to figure out if it's out of sync or just my lousy playing! I guess if it's that close, then it must be working pretty good) It won't record an analog signal in HD (only directly from the camera, and I've got to say I'm not too impressed with that so far) but you can record at D1 (720×480 @ 30fps) and you get 144 minutes on a 2GB SD card (holds up

     to 8GB card!) I've yet to try it out "in the field" – but "studio experiments" came out pretty good, so it looks promising 🙂

  • VJ scobot

    Thanks for posting my comments Jaymis! I thougth I was doing something wrong!

    My website a security risk????!!!! That is funny! Wow – honestly, nothing risky there but some humble VJ clips.

    Anything I can do to make nice with WordPress?


  • It's not the content of your website, just the text string "" which causes problems. I don't know enough about server security to tell you why though. It's unlikely to be specific to wordpress, either, there are server functions which run inputs through security processing so nothing nasty gets through.

    Of course, it could totally be our fault as well.

    Have you ever had problems posting to other sites?

  • … and now, of course, I can post the text "" without any problems. So I guess it's something else. ?
    <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    Aiptek A-HD ?

    All fine. Ok, so I have no idea what was going wrong then. I'll try the original comment again.

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  • As far as I know, I haven't had any problems like this. For this post I entered:

    See if that works (I'm sure everyone is fascinated to find out if this works! lol) Also, maybe it was the timing of my post – maybe they were running some security check at 3:30am (PST) and it just got caught up in that.

  • Ok.. I've figured out the bug, and I've seen this kind of thing before, but I have no idea why it's happening. When the string "" appears in a comment over a certain length, it doesn't show up. My blank post above yours has that string, followed by 10 lines of "a a a a a a" and it is still being triggered. Very curious.

  • LOL – I guess that's to keep late night rambling posts to a minimum! That's actually a pretty good bug. I will try to be more precise (and insightful) with my comments!

    Thanks for your help!!