HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station tutorial

I have been capturing HDMI from my consumer camcorders now for a while and as I get asked quite a bit about how I do it I thought I would make a short tutorial as to how I go about it.
Hope this helps.

HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station tutorial from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.

17 Responses to “HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station tutorial”

  1. Hi, I really enjoy your talk on the HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station.

    It is very interesting what you talk about. If i understand correct, we can choose another format to save our footage other than AVHCD. Can we only do that when we are shooting live, or if i have the HFS10, can I bring back to my desktop computer and transfer later.
    2 questions.
    1 Is it possible you could write up something like a tuturial so I can print it out and try to figure some things out.

    Last question, I want to figure out if it is possible to do this with my desktop computer.
    Thank you very much for your time

  2. Hey Jeff.
    You do need to capture live.Capturing off the HDD or memory of the camcorder is of no benefit.The point is to bypass compression.
    Writing up a tutorial may take up time that I don’t have I am afraid and I am such a bad writer.I type so slowly.You sure can do this with a desktop computer but you won’t be very mobile.This is mainly for those people who need a highly portable high quality digital cinema recorder.

  3. Hello Henry,

    Really great info you are supplying here.
    Thankyou so much.
    A question; I intend to build this (second) system shown here for live field capture and load into my desktop quad core afterwards to edit. Will I need cineform on both computers or just my desk top?

  4. Hello Henry,

    Another question for you; I found an external battery, maxpower slim 60, looks good but has 16v and 19 v….you state that yours is 12v and 19v….is 16 v cool do you think ? best , CW

  5. Hi Colin,
    To edit the files you only need the decoder which can be downloaded for free from Cineform. You will obviously not be able to encode to the codec on export in your NLE but you will be able to edit just fine.So up to you really but in your case it seems like you will only need the codec on your laptop.19v for a few laptops out there but 16v is no real use unless that is what your laptop uses.
    The 12v is for the card’s power.You can power the card using any alternative 12v power supply though so up to you really.

  6. check this: http://www.convergent-design.com/CD_Products_nanoFlash.htm

    is a very good product, little, records in CF ful raster HD.

  7. Hi Gerardo,
    I have had my eye on the nanoflash for a while and have considered it as well to the point of pre-ordering but……it’s a bit pricey for me at the moment.The two things I love about Cineform are the high bitrate – up to 200mbps and also the fact that Cineform has a colour correction tool called first light.It is amazing with first generation captured Cineform files.The laptop gives an LCD for cricitcal focus as well.Nanoflash may well end up in my toolkit when I make enough money but that is a long way off.Best wishes.

  8. Hi Henry,
    Great video, very informative, thanks!
    Been turning this problem over for ages now, and there seemed to be no affordable option in sight.
    Couldn’t see the prices well enough though, so still not sure how much these 2 options cost.
    Can cineform do pro res? For affordability I was thinking of getting a cheapish laptop just for capture, then bringing the files home to edit on my mac desktop system. Do you think the cross-platform method would be an issue? Any idea if an external storage device would also then be necessary for that codec?

  9. Might one of these products do the trick?


    Thanks very much.

  10. Hey Parker had a look that should work and it is also very neat.


  11. Hi Lynne,

    Cineform works on the mac. Pro res is a different codec to cineform but is in the same ball park. In final cut pro you may be able to capture to pro res. Not sure I’m on a PC.

    You can capture on a PC and edit on a mac, cineform is cross platform.

    As long as your hard drive can write at more than 30MB/sec you should be fine. No need for an external HDD.

    NB: one minute of cineform can be as high as 800MB so get a big hard disc.

    Also apple have dropped the expresscard slot on some models so going PC may be an option.


  12. Greetings Henry,

    First allow me to thank you for creating and sharing this great tutorial. After watching it several times and reading the comments on your web page, a few nagging questions remain:

    We’ll soon be trying to use the Canon HV40 to capture uncompressed HDMI in true 24fps 1080p. Have you ever used the HV40 with your portable setup?

    In your portable solution, with previous HVx series camcorders, we presume you have been using CineForm to pulldown the extra frames in PF24, and then encode the uncompressed HDMI to some form of CineForm compression. We wonder, have you considered just passing the pulled down PF24 to an uncompressed format? That would probably require a raid0 configuration, which might be problematic in a laptop.

    Ideally, we would like to be able to record uncompressed, yet maintain portability. To reduce hard drive throughput, and eliminate the raid0 requirement, we are considering some freeware, lossless compressor, such as HuffYuv, UT Video Codec Suite, Lagarith, etc. Have you considered using any such compressor? Not having to use CineForm would knock down the portable-solution price quite a bit!

    Hope we haven’t asked too many questions. We will be posting a similar thread on the forum at HV40.com.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    Bob Hamilton

  13. Hi Bob,
    Nice to hear that it was helpful.I have updated the info so there are options that were not available at the time of making the video.Hope you have noticed them.
    Yes I have been using Cineform tools to do pulldown in real-time.It could be possible to get uncompressed to a RAID drive in a laptop if one had an e-sata port perhaps but my laptop does not.Anyway the beauty of Cineform is that it allows one to avoid the need for uncompressed – except in the most demanding of circumstances(never – in my case).Backup and editing of uncompressed data has to be the biggest issue as well.
    Cineform is very good to my eyes ( i cannot tell the difference when viewing the live feed compared to the compressed on all but waves on a choppy sea – (With the SR11 recording interlaced – it is unnoticeable; the extra tools which may not be available in other compressors make it worth while.

  14. Great Video!!!! You are truly a creative/inventive person!!!

    I have a Panasonic AG-HMC150 camera which has hdmi/component outputs. However, I have no hardware/software to make use of this amazing camera. 🙁

    After breaking the bank to get the camera, I’m looking to build a video editing computer on as small a budget as possible. If Cineform is too expensive at this time, do you have any other suggestions?

    Also, is there any open source/inexpensive video editing software that could allow me to make great use of this camera?

    I already have a Q6600 quad running 2.4ghz. And i plan to purchase the Intensity Pro. I’m just not sure where to go from here on limited funds.

    Thanks so much! :~)

  15. Hi Steve,
    Not sure of whether you are talking about simply editing or capture.For capture – if you are on a limited budget,I would say just go ahead and stick to the motion jpeg codec that the intensity can record to.To make HDMI capture portbale is expensive – whichever way you go – but if you are professional – it pays for istelf.Anyway – total cost is just the cost of the intensity – about £130 here in the UK.Stick it in your desktop and you can capture and edit using it.
    Not sure of cheap software to use but I use Vegas.Perhaps do a Google for open source Video NLEs .I have no idea.The movie studio editions are cheap and useful but not sure of support for your cameras codec – http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegassoftware .By the way it is a very good professional camera and probably needs a professional NLE software package.If you are capturing live to the intensity it should not be so difficult as Vegas studio should read the codec.
    I am using a really cheap laptop to edit my vids on the go and as long as you haev a fast CPU and perhaps 2 GB of memory you are good to go.Nowadays you can get a 2 GHZ core2duo for close to £300.Otherwise if money is really tight then just use the desktop you own – if you own one of course.Hope this helps.
    Hope this helps.

  16. Henry, Great info – Ive seen quite a few people doing stuff like this. My questions to you or anyone who has bought the PE3 adapter.;-
    Q. The PE3 is only $25 bucks, the Catalyst is quoting $275. Does the PE3 work as well or does it not have the 12v power supply required for sustained work?

  17. Hi Nick – never tried the PE3 adaptor – Someone else on a froum mentioned it and I added it to the tutorial.I would imagine that it should be fine but the only issues would be cooling fo rthe PCI – express card.
    As for power – the card can take an external adaptor according to the website.In my opinion – looks like a bargain.What you would need is to get an extension cable so the card is not so vulnerable to a knock.I am sure they provide that as well – in which case for 25 bucks – it’s a steal.

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