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Need advice on video cameras and equipment for workshop recordings Answered

I’m renovating my basement and getting a new craft workspace.  I dabble primarily in costumes/cosplay and terrariums.  I’d like to install a few permanent video cameras to do overhead recording of my primary workbench and my sewing bench to capture time-lapse and real-time recordings of my work. I need some recommendations for:

  -  Cameras I can permanently affix to the ceiling and plug directly into power and run a feed right to my Mac Mini. 

  -  Something that will produce a nice quality video appropriate for instructional videos – I don’t have an abundance of natural light in my workshop, though I plan to install plenty of supplemental lighting.  Looking for something under $200 (under $100 would be even better so I can get 2!)

  -  Advice for setting up those cameras to record directly onto a Mac Mini and being able to have a feed show on my monitor. 

  -  Can I get cameras/software that can do both time-lapse and real-time recordings?  If I’m working on a project that takes 20 hours to build, I don’t need 20 hours of real-time recording - I’m assuming time-lapse would be much more manageable from a file–size standpoint.

Any help or advice is welcome!  Thanks in advance!


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4 years ago

I don't have a Mac but I guess the same that works on other computers should apply to you too.
For multiple cameras you would need to decide if you actually need them all active together.
This would mean using a dedicated capure card with multiple inputs.
For a single cam it is often enough to use a USB dongle (that supports Mac drivers in your case).
Next question would be the resolution.
Standard video resolution is no problem and really dirt cheap, both for the cams and the hardware on the computer side.
Going HD means that the price can go up quite badly.
Take a look at home security systems for a start as these days you get quite cheap cam systems here that only need a video cable and power supply.
Some here offer relatively cheap multi cam systems that record either continously or on demand if motion is detected.
Most allow for a control and download over Wifi these days, so you could mis-use them to record what you need and then download the files to your Mac.
Despite the common thinking that HD is everything a good quality standard cam with an adjustable zoom and focus will allow you to get close to what you are doing.
In most cases this quality will be still good enough to document things.
As alternative for high quality close up consider using a modern mobile phone, many offer UHD recordings now...

For the lights all I can say is that it is never enough ;)
When I do projects for the local schools or similar I prefer to do some overkill here.
If possible I use multiple light sources so there is no visible shadow anywhere.
Tricky parts is placement so there are no reflections into the cam(s).
In some cases I revert back to good old flood lights for worksite use and place a white sheet in front of them.
For close ups I prefer LED light strips or clip on lights as used on your desk ;)

Recording things...
I think tryng to record directly is never the best option.
Whenever possible I of course try to limit the recording time to what is required but the actual work is done during editing and cutting.
As said not too familiar with the rotten fruits but am sure there is suitable software out there to all the editing and adding text and such things.
For time lapse or high speed recordings you have two options.
a) using a smartphone that offers these modes by default.
b) using a recording software that allows you to do this.
c) if hard drive space is no problem using editing software to reduce or increase the frame rate accordingly. Many programs here allow you to set a specifiy number of frames that is used while the rest is discarded. For example only every 25 images are used would mean the resulting video has one frame per minute of original footage.


Reply 4 years ago

Thanks for saying security cameras. I've been avoiding them because I assumed they wouldn't give good enough quality, but maybe I shouldn't dismiss them out of hand. Looks like they come in 720p and 1080p. I figured I should go for the 1080p if I'm concerned about quality. But I'm still mystified by connection needs. This IT/hardware stuff is just outside my wheelhouse. I found the camera below on Newegg. It says it's powered by Ethernet. What kind of set up do I need to get this to go to my computer? What would it take to get more than one going? I don't even know what to look for, you know?



Reply 4 years ago

For multiple ethernet cams a hub would be the best option together with individual IP addresses for the cams of course.
For most of these you can find info on the web address of the actual video stream.
So you only need a video capture software capable of recording web streams.
But if you want to record multiple cams at the same time you are still best off to use the supplied software for the recording and do the actual editing and cutting through other software.

In any case you want a camera with adjustable focus and focal length, like from standard to medium zoom.
Try to fill as much of the video size with what you actually want to show ;)