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As I’ve covered in previous posts, BoinxTV can free you from the tedium of video post production by enabling simple live-to-disk or live-to-streaming video production.  Live production turns your Mac into a sort of TV studio in a box, allowing you to switch between cameras and other video sources, create overlays, and mix audio sources on the fly.  I’ve been recording live successfully for about 2 months, so I thought I’d share this diagram of my setup for recording live events for the Mercatus Center.

There are three main video feeds coming into my Mac.  One is from a Sony HVRZ1U, a pro-level camcorder that captures beautiful video.  This is a great camera for any range of applications, but is a much higher quality tool than is needed for this kind of web video production.

The overkill of the Sony is demonstrated by my second video source, an iSight camera from an old Mac desktop.  This is a great secondary camera as it’s light, easy to setup thanks to a tripod adapter I got from Steve Vigneau (a really cool guy who will sell you one for $20), and its FireWire connection works seamlessly with BoinxTV.

Finally, the third source of video is the Epiphan VGA2USB, an ingenious little box that turns a VGA signal into a USB webcam signal.  I use this to capture PowerPoint/Keynote presentations, web pages, or whatever else a presenter might be showing to an audience.  This is a real time saver as it eliminates the need to import graphics or slides into BoinxTV before a presentation.  It also eliminates the possibility of your slide order ever being different from the presenter’s, as you’re synced up completely to their machine.

The VGA2USB can also be used to grab the video output for your MacBook Pro (you’ll need a DVI to VGA converter or Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter) and allow it to be captured by a second computer.  That second computer can then stream this “webcam” input to services like UStream, LiveStream, or Stickam.  Though I’ve shown how one computer can both capture and stream video using CamTwist, using the VGA2USB with a second computer can be a much better solution, especially when you’re capturing/streaming very high resolution video, which may overwhelm a single machine.

If you’re planning to use two FireWire video sources, you’ll need to add a second FireWire bus to your Mac.  MacBook Pros only ship with one FireWire bus—the hardware device that controls the devices plugged in to any FireWire port—and streaming FireWire video sources require a dedicated bus.  Thankfully you can add a second bus easily using the ExpressCard slot.  I’m using a $70 card made by Sonnet and it’s proven to be a solid little piece of hardware.  There are many other FireWire ExpressCards on the market, but the price difference is rather trivial and not worth the sacrifice in hardware quality.

You’ll also notice the FireWire to Cat5e converter boxes that allow me to placed my secondary camera up to 60 meters away from my MacBook Pro—the maximum transmission distance for a FireWire connection is only around 15 feet.  These nifty little gadgets are produced by Newnex can be picked up for around $300 from NTC Distributing.  Placing cameras far apart is key for creating professional-looking two-camera setups that allow you to readjust one camera while another camera remains stationary and captures the event.

Including the educational license for BoinTV at $249, this entire package can still easily total over $1000—and that’s excluding cameras and sound equipment.  However, when you look at the alternatives like NewTek’s TriCaster, a minimum investment of just under $4000 dollars, it’s clear that BoinxTV is a great deal.