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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Streaming DV via Wifi at home


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JWN

 
Member Since: Nov 23, 2009
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I'm hoping someone can give me some good advice on this as of the three people I asked today at the Regent Street (London) Mac Store, none were in agreement and it left me confused as to what best to do.

What I want to be able to do is to digitise all of my home video (approx 100 hours) and store it all on a hard-drive linked to my wifi router so that I can stream the video wirelessly (playing them in real time) from one or other of the MacBooks we have in the house, all of which are on wifi. The idea is that while I'll never get round to editing the videos, it might be nice to be able to dip in and out of them from time to time.

So my questions are as follow:

- What hard drive should I buy?
- What kind out wifi router is necessary?
- Can I digitise at full resolution or must it be compressed?
- What software do I use to digitise?
- What software do I use to stream?

The difference of opinion at the Mac Store made me realise that what I want to do has no obvious answer so I'm determined to find the right answer before I go and spend a lot of money on the hardware.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer advice.
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Nethfel

 
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Hi!

Welcome to the forums!

The answer to your questions will vary from person to person - each individual has their own preference for how to handle what you're looking to do. For example, storing the video at native dv will result in fairly large files depending on length, many people would prefer to convert it to a container supporting a higher amount of compression like a .mov H.264, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN View Post

- What hard drive should I buy?
This is personal preference. Most wifi routers that actually support having a hard drive hooked to it that is not internal will look for a usb hard drive, so any external USB hard drive would be ok (as long as it's not a unit that requires 2 USB ports, one for power and one for data as not all wifi routers that support an attached hard drive can supply enough power for one). Another option would be if the router has ethernet ports on it (aside from its uplink/internet/wan port) is to get a NAS of some sort. A third option would be a hard drive in a chassis that has built in wifi, so it would act as a wifi client on the network (ie: it would look like a computer to the wifi router).

Basically you can get just about anything you want, it will all depend on the wifi router you are using.

In terms of size, my personal feeling is to get as much storage as you can afford, if you can get a device that supports multiple drives that will create a raid array (either mirroring or raid 5, etc.) that will help protect the data should a drive fail which is convenient 'cause it would suck to have to replace all that data should you use a single hard drive and it fail.

Fast hard drive,
lots of storage
raid if possible for redundancy and data protection should a single drive fail.
NAS/wifi/usb drive/shared from other system on your network is personal preference.

Quote:
- What kind out wifi router is necessary?
Honestly, any wifi router will work depending on how you handle storage (preferably a N router, but a G could work if you compress the footage down and don't plan on having too many simultaneous streams, but honestly, if you're going to do this, N will give you a greater potential for higher bandwidth. You may need to make sure your laptops (unless really new) have an N wifi adapter to take advantage of N speeds). For example - if you get a wireless hard drive then it should be able to act as a client to any Wifi router/AP. If you get a wired NAS device, you will need a router that has ethernet ports on the lan side. If you want to get a USB external hard drive/chassis, then you need a wifi router that has USB ports on it for hooking in a hard drive (several manufacturers have models that can do this). There's also another option is that if you have a computer on all the time, you can just share folders containing the files from there.

Quote:
- Can I digitise at full resolution or must it be compressed?
I think you've got a little bit confused here - whether you change the container and compression won't necessarily change its resolution. The resolution of a video is it's X x Y dimensions, where as the compression can affect quality. You can use native resolution at max DV quality, but the files will be fairly large, and really you can use a codec that will compress it down pretty far in terms of file size yet not greatly reduce image quality (especially when viewing on a TV). Of course finding the "just right" settings for the compression may take a little practice until you determine what you like the most.

Quote:
- What software do I use to digitise?
iMovie will digitize footage. It should digitize into a .mov container, from there you can either probably use the file as is, or use a tool like Mpegstreamclip to convert the file into a different container/compression format and reduce the overall size of the file.

Quote:
- What software do I use to stream?
This is easy - you really don't need special software to "stream" within your house, the shared folder, once mounted/mapped on a given mac will show the files - then the person watching can just double click on the file and begin to watch them.

If you have a system hooked up to your TV, you may need to link to the shared folder within Front Row or Plex (I personally use Plex) to navigate through your files to then play them.

This doesn't need to cost a lot of money.

I'll give you an idea of my setup; this setup may not be ideal for you, but it works for my network needs.

ok:

Computers:

Mac Pro 10.6.2
Mac Mini running Plex on 10.6.1
Vista 64 Ultimate desktop
Macbook Unibody 10.6.2
Vista 64 Premium laptop

Network:

(for purposes of simplicity, I'm going to leave out discussing switches, additional routers or other gear I use)

Mac Pro, Vista Desktop on wired network to central router (I have a separate router from my wifi, it's a long story, but it's partially due to the type of net connection I have).
DLink Draft N wifi w/ limited bridging capability connected to central router
Droboshare NAS hooked into central router

The droboshare is a 1.5 TB share (allocated so I can dynamically add storage to it up to 8TB) that holds all of my video and much of our audio files.

The Dlink acts as my primary wifi AP, and as a bridge to my tv room which is where the mac mini is.

The droboshare has a single shared folder on it called "drobo" (clever, eh?). Each computer that will want to view video, or listen to audio maps that share.

On my Mac Pro, and my laptop, it appears as a HD on my desktop, I just open it and find the video I want to play and play it.

On my Mac mini running plex, plex has an entry to the video folder in the share, I can navigate that video folder, select the appropriate file, and play it.

On the vista machines, they map to a drive letter the drobo share and play the video thru media player, media center or other video/audio app.

I frequently view 720p video stored on my drobo on the mac mini running plex - this is across the wifi - to watch it on my big screen tv.

I have an older drobo and its performance isn't the greatest, but I can still usually watch 2-4 simultaneous videos out of it before it gets too sluggish (depending on the video file, etc.)

Hopefully some of this has helped, I'm sure some is confusing, but it may at least give you a starting point.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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JWN

 
Member Since: Nov 23, 2009
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Thank you so much for taking the time to post such a comprehensive reply. It is extremely generous and helpful of you. I now need to digest all the information...
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JWN

 
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Hi Nethfal

I have two further questions if you can spare a moment. I'm thinking about the hard drive that will be connected to my router and wondering about the amount of time that hard drive will be powered up and therefore wondering about power consumption. Were I to use a USB powered hard drive, would that reduce power consumption -- ie. does a USB powered drive only power up when access is required, or is it powered up the entire time it's connected. Given that I won't be accessing the hard drive all the time, is there a smart and energy efficient solution to this? Plus, if I'm going for an array/raid drive, am I right in assuming that they're always going to be powered from the mains rather than USB?

Thanks in advance.
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xstep

 
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WOW! Nethfel covered a lot. So much so, that I just want to add to two questions. This isn't just a hardware issue, but a work flow issue based on your needs. Once you find a formula you like, things should run rather smootly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN View Post
- Can I digitise at full resolution or must it be compressed?
As Nethfel mentioned, resolution and compression are two different things, so yes, you can keep the full resolution.

Most codecs use compression. They vary to how much they compress and how good they are. For an hour of video, miniDV, which is compressed, uses up to 13GB of space. Converting that to a H.264 codec and controlling the data rate will reduce the space required substantially while keeping the quality high.

Today I was playing back miniDV footage over my wireless connection. OK, that isn't really true, because the frames stopped playing very quickly due to the limited bandwidth of my wireless G connection. You see, the miniDV footage has a data rate of 57.47mbits/sec. The wireless G standard only claims 54Mb/sec, but has much lower actual capability. In fact after trying some other lower data rate movies, I found I could only play back files with 4Mb/sec data rate. I tried a 5Mb/sec file and it stuttered.

The point is that to supply video over wireless, you are going to have to compress the files to something friendly with your environment. I suggest you do some testing before converting all 100 hours of material.

The other concern is importing all of that content. You didn't specify what form it is currently in, but I doubt you would be successful importing it directly to a wireless destination because of performance issues. To avoid performance issues you would import to your local computer first and then transfer the file. This is where a wired device would save you a lot of time because you can write (and read) to the the device very quickly due to the higher bandwidth available on the wire. You would use the wire when importing or editing content.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN View Post
- What software do I use to digitise?
The first part is importing the footage. From a miniDV camera that should be plug & play with iMovie and Final Cut. If you are converting from analog sources, then there are several hardware options often with their own software, and they may not convert directly to something iMovie can use.

The second part is converting the imported material to a codec and data rate friendly to your wireless environment. Some of those analog tools can do that. At other times it may be best to convert the file so you can use iMovie. You might also be able to use some conversion tool to convert directly to your desired file format.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Hiyas xstep, yeah, I was in kind of a typing/thinking mood that day when I wrote that out .

Jwn: make sure you consider what xstep has mentioned, it can/does/will directly affect you; not only in setup, but also in time and software workflow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN View Post
I have two further questions if you can spare a moment. I'm thinking about the hard drive that will be connected to my router and wondering about the amount of time that hard drive will be powered up and therefore wondering about power consumption. Were I to use a USB powered hard drive, would that reduce power consumption -- ie. does a USB powered drive only power up when access is required, or is it powered up the entire time it's connected. Given that I won't be accessing the hard drive all the time, is there a smart and energy efficient solution to this?
Several things to consider -

1) Mains vs USB powered drives is really an irrelevant issue. Both systems are going to draw power even if the hard drive is asleep. Both systems hard drives will sleep - the amount and timing of the sleep cycle of the hard drive will heavily depend on the manufacturer of the hard drive. For example, a Western Digital Green drive will put itself to sleep as often as possible where as a Western Digital Black drive will sleep less to improve overall performance because there would be less time spent waking the drive up (also the black drives are whats recommended for certain raid arrays for performance and data integrity)

2) How much power will the router put out on the USB port - it may not supply enough power to run a usb powered external hard drive.

3) Many external enclosures that are USB powered run with a specially designed cable splitter, it has a single USB interface on the hard drive side, and a dual connector on the computer (or router) side, basically requiring 2 usb ports to run the hard drive - some routers may not have 2 ports.



Quote:
Plus, if I'm going for an array/raid drive, am I right in assuming that they're always going to be powered from the mains rather than USB?

Thanks in advance.
Yes, they would be powered from the mains, but that doesn't mean they would be drawing a considerable amount of power. Even raid arrays go to sleep if they are not used for an extended period of time, they just take a few seconds longer then a single drive before they can be accessed from sleep while all drives in the array are spun up. In my Drobo case, it spends a great deal of time asleep (especially during the day), the only real power being drawn by the device is to run the indicator LED's, some for its onboard OS and some for the droboshare that allows me to access it over the network - but overall, the draw is minimal.

Let's make this a little visual - yes, math is involved, but bare with me, and i'm using a single drive external chassis as my sample here as my drobo is currently in an inconvenient spot to get the numbers off of it.

Let's say you bought a 1 TB Fantom Green Drive (I happen to own one and it's sitting on my desk which is why I can grab these numbers so quick)

It's ac adapter input is rated at 12v 2a. This device will not be drawing that much, but for sake of argument, we are going to say that it draws the max current it can (we are going to ignore any loss from inefficiencies from the ac adapter because we are assuming max power usage, which would not happen most if any of the time).

First - the electric company bills upon Kilowatt hours, otherwise the amount of watts used / hr. A 100W lightbulb will use a single kilowatt hour in 10 hours (10hx100W = 1KWh). Just wanted to make sure we are on the same page here.

With that, at max current draw, it would use 24W / hr (W= watts)
at that rate, in a 24 hour day it would consume 576W/h
Taking that out to a 30 day month 17,280W/h or 17.28KWh

at the highest cost of electricity that I could imagine, that would be about $3.11 / mo, at the lowest I could imagine (about $0.07 / KWh) it would be about $1.21 / mo)

That's assuming ABSOLUTELY no sleep for the drive. once sleep is factored in, the cost would drop significantly (well, significantly depending on use, ie: in my house it may drop less then in yours).

I'd worry less about power draw and more about what fits your needs. If you're concerned that a raid array will draw too much power over the course of its life rather then a single external hard drive, but you still want to play it safe with your data, get 2 external hard drives, one to hook into your network or router, and the second to make a copy of all of your video files then disconnect it and put it away somewhere. Even though a hard drive can fail at any time, a hard drive in constant use has a higher chance of failure then one sitting in a drawer or closet somewhere.

Hope this helps.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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JWN

 
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Another question, if you still have the patience...

I went into the shop this morning to see what they had in stock and was told by one of the staff that if I wanted to connect a hard drive to a router I would need a specific type of hard drive -- a network hard drive. This advice seems different to your advice Nethfel. Or am I misunderstanding something here.

Thanks
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xstep

 
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The advice is different because the person isn't aware of a router that supports an external drive directly. What the shop person was talking about was a NAS device, as Nethfel has mentioned above.

Frankly, I didn't recall any routers that supported hard drives either. I did a search and found this story, among others.

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Nethfel

 
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Yeah, only reason I had known about routers that offered attached hard drives was because I came across it in my travels while searching for something for someone else .

And of course - there is the apple device:

Apple - AirPort Extreme - Simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi base station

This would be a simple solution as it would act as your Wifi router, point for hard drive tie in for file sharing, internet access gateway (assuming you have a dsl or cable modem), etc.

I will definitely concede that it's a feature not found on most wifi routers, only a few (I think just linksys and the apple one) have support for such a feature (also the models it's on isn't sold by many stores I don't think - at least not necessarily as an instore item) which is also probably why the sales person didn't know about it.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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xstep

 
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I forgot about the Airport Extreme.

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JWN

 
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Another question if you don't mind...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
(assuming you have a dsl or cable modem), etc.
Does this mean that the Airport Extreme is not a modem itself? In which case how would I connect my existing modem (which presumably is another name for my wifi router?) to the Airport? With USB? Ethernet? Or must I have a particular type of modem? Should that modem be a wifi modem, and is it better to have an "N" or "G" version or is that an irrelevant question if speed is determined by the Airport in the new setup?

Sorry if the question's a bit confused; I'm trying my best!

Thank you in advance.
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