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Help me optimize my Picture-in-picture video recording setup



In the video game company I work at I've been given the job of running our focus group sessions. During the focus tests we want to capture video and audio of our testers playing the game mixed in with the game footage. I've inherited the set up that the last guy put together before he moved to a different company. It works, but barely. Its got a lot of problems and I know there has to be a more effective method. Unfortunately I have pretty much no knowledge of AV stuff. I would like the recommendation of someone who actually knows what they're doing.

Please excuse me if this is the wrong sub-forum to post this in.

The basic requirements:

-Record footage of the game being played.
-Simultaneously record the focus tester playing the game.
-Record audio of the tester’s comments.
-Gameplay audio should be audible in the final video, but not overpowering the tester’ comments. It should be at full volume on the tester’s end while playing the game.
-The recordings of the tester should not be visible/audible to the tester while playing the game.
-The final video should be in a video file for out network.

The current setup:

Equipment used:
Xbox 360 w/VGA out
Aiptek Pocket DV4500 Digital Camcorder
AverMedia TVbox9
KWorld PCTV Adaptor KW-PCTV 1600
Tapco Mix 60
Microphone w/stand
Toshiba D-R400 DVD Recorder
PC with DVD ripping software

The signal from the Xbox 360 is sent through a VGA cable, which is split between the TV and the TVbox9. The TVbox9 is used to mix the signal from the camera recording the focus tester and the gameplay footage from the console into one picture-in-picture signal. That signal is then sent to the PCTV adaptor. It is used to convert the VGA out signal from the TVBox9 into a component signal for the DVD recorder. Meanwhile, a microphone is set up to record the comments of the focus tester. The microphone audio, along with the audio out from the TV mix in a Tapco Mix 60 into a single output for the DVD recorder. The audio from the mixer and the video signal from the PCTV both go into the DVD recorder. A DVD is recorded of the gameplay mixed with the microphone audio and camera video. The DVD is then ripped on a computer to the final video file.


-The setup gets the job done.
-The camcorder is unobtrusive and small enough to put on the desk with the TV.
-The mixer allows me to adjust the volume of the different sources for the final video while the tester can experience the game at full sound through the TV speakers.


-The PCTV doesn’t like the console running in 1080p so I have to reduce the resolution to 480p. This effects both the final video and the tester's experience.
-The video quality is further reduced by the time it makes it to the final video. I’m not sure which piece of equipment is responsible for this.
-The video from the camcorder is poor quality.
-The camcorder runs off batteries and eats through them very fast.
-The camcorder auto-shuts off if it is not recording to its flash drive. This requires that the flash drive be routinely emptied.
-Burning the video to DVD then ripping the DVD to the PC is a lengthy extra step.


Top priorities are 1) find a solution to record the video to the PC, bypassing the need for the DVD burner. A separate employee handles the DVD ripping because he has the PC with the software, so if I could take that off his work load it would be a big plus. 2) Replace the camcorder with something more reliable. Having something that would record while receiving AC power would help. 3) Get rid of equipment that requires the game to play in 480p. Any other suggestions on how to optimize would be welcome. Nothing too expensive, please. The current set up, though flawed, does work so it would be hard to go to my boss and request costly new equipment to replace what already works.

Thanks in advance.


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