Hi All,

I need help from the pro on how to go about recording a live session. So far I've been using a video camera filming the screen, but the result, unsurprisingly, is pretty awful. I've tried looking for another solution but I'm not even sure where to look or what to look for, and the prices I've seen so far are rather sobering.

What I need is a device that will take video input from my Mac (but of course without preventing output to a projector) and audio input from another source (I have a small Zoom HD recorder, it's probably not the best technically but I think it could do for a start) and record this so that I can review it later, and make videos for posting to social networks, or for posterity maybe...

I forgot to say, by live session I mean a session where I'm painting live on my Mac using Studio Artist, and a musician (or musicians) is/are playing live too.

I hope this is clear enough? This is a whole new field for me and I'm not even sure where to look, as I said. What are you guys using, what is it called, where can I find one, how much does it cost...?



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A lot depends on what kind of signal or stream you want to send to whatever recording device you have available, and on the kind of input that device can accommodate.

For years, I have been using an Edirol V-4 (V-4ex now) which can accommodate four streams in, and pipe out 2,one to the projector, the other to my recording device via a Canopus ADVC 100 (there’s a newer version out there, the ADVC 110) which enables me to convert one of the analog out signal from the Edirol and send it to a Mac (as a Firewire 400 signal), recording my performance on a hard drive via QuickTime.

All this is fairly ancient, all analog and DV, and SD only, I’d love to upgrade to newer hardware (Thunderbolt and HD), but so much has to be replaced, it’s going to be very expensive.

I could tell you a lot more about all this but would need to know which Mac(s) you are using (I often use 2 or 3 Macs and 2 or 1 DVD players, for a maximum of 4 streams in, and one more Mac on which I record the final output). The sound is always recorded either with a digital camera or a stand-alone audio recorder, sometimes both (having a camera also recording both video and audio can help with the final mixing of the performance video because if one is using also a better quality sound recording device, one can sync the images and audio better that way as one has a reference from the camera which shows the proper synchronization).

More on all that if interested, once I know more about which Mac(s) you are using.

Hi Jean,

Oh OK, so I need two devices then, one for recording and one for sending the video signal to the projector and the recorder.
I only have one Mac, but it's an old one (2009 or 2010 MacBook Pro) and I've been thinking of getting a new one. In that case I could use the new one with SA and the old one as a recording device.

Options with newer Macs vary, but if you need to send the signal to two different devices (projector + recording device), you likely need something that can do so, I doubt a Mac laptop can deal “as is” with more than one extra display (whether that be a projector or other device).

That’s when the Edirol V-4 is so precious for the kind of work I do, it can accept 4 incoming streams and mix them in a variety of ways, sending the results out to a projector and to the ADVC box which digitizes the signal so that it can be seen by yet another Mac on which I capture the images just as they are sent to the projector and seen by the audience.

I have also used a DV camcorder to record the performance, as a recording device connected to the Edirol, not as a video camera.

Here’s a gizmo I am very much interested in, it may be just the right thing to connect a variety of devices to a Mac equipped with Thunderbolt and take advantage of the huge signal speed boost, enabling one to work with HD material.

Here are two pictures that will give you some idea of my usual set-up for live performances:

Thank you for the info! At least now I have a better idea what I need to look for, although it's still not easy. I've been searching the net a lot today and came up with the following:

- Roland V-1HD Portable 4 x HDMI Input Switcher: it's limited to HDMI input (and RCA for the audio) but I don't necessarily need more. It seems to be reasonably priced and light-weight. It also has a waiting list as it's new and apparently very successful, but I can wait.
- Atomos Ninja Blade recorder might be a good solution to do the recording.
- I know it's time I replaced my MacBook Pro, but I can't bring myself to buy a laptop without a hard drive to speak of. No, I don't consider 512 Gb a hard drive, it's good for installing the system and apps, but where do I put my data? And if I pay 600 euros more, I can get 1 Tb, which is just barely enough to fit in my existing data. I'm not sure I can do this, not as long as my current laptop is still going strong (I added a 300 Gb SSD drive and replaced the CD-ROM drive with a 1 Tb hard drive).


Unless you plan on using more than one source of images (like a Mac + other Macs and/or DVD players or whatever), you may be able to do away with the V-1HD. All you would need is that gorgeous Thunderbolt 2 Dock from OWC (thunderbolt out from the Mac to it, and out from the dock to the projector, and another out from the dock to your recording device, either another Mac or whatever). And the dock also gives you access to all the hard drive space you could ever desire, from single large drives to RAIDs and more (I have in excess of 60 TB of external storage here). The advantage of an internal SSD is the speed gain, you can direct all the data you need and can generate to external drives, FW 800 is good (the dock supports that), USB 3 is good too (dock supports it), and Thunderbolt rocks (all supported by the Thunderbolt dock). I’ve been working on huge files for years (100 GB movie file is normal here) and find that to have the OS and applications on one drive, almost always internal, the source material on another, often but not always external, and a very large and fast disk as scratch (RAID arrays in my case), works best (I call that my “rule of three”;-).

As for the audio, a quality portable audio recorder with a decent microphone (stereo is very useful) would do a good job (lots to choose from).

So much depends on what you are imagining you’ll be doing, but if you plan on multiple image sources, you will likely need a video mixer that would do more than the V-1HD can.

In 2008, I did a gig in Denmark where I had the use of an Edirol V-440HD, and that was a joy to use. I am sure the newer model is even better, but I dont have the time today to go look at the options (sorry, really busy right now).

Here are pictures taken during that Denmark gig, starting with a close up shot of that Edirol V-440HD: http://www.vudici.net/movies/Esbjerg/esbjerg_5.html (you can navigate to the other photos from that link, worth the tvisit as you’ll see some fairly clear shots of a pretty spiffy set-up)

Here’s the picture:

Wow, that's an impressive setup! I'm aiming for something smaller and more portable though, the gallery where we'll have our next performance in April is tiny. The OWC thingy does look impressive, but if I understand the description correctly, it cannot send video to two HDMI devices, only one HDMI and one thunderbolt, or two thunderbolts.

Much depends on how you want to work.

I seldom use a single Mac in live gigs, I enjoy having a number of sources to “get lost” in.

Also, I often work with several musicians at once, so I can for example associate each musician to his/her own video stream, and mix those streams via both a hardware video mixer (Edirol) and more and more now, the GL Mixer, an application developped for me by a friend. That application enables me to mix as many videos (QT movies) as I want, as many QT movies mixed at once (as opposed to only 4 with the Edirol) as my system (both the bandwidth and drives) speed can accommodate (that’s where Thunderbolt can greatly help).

As for the number of external displays you could have access to, Thunderbolt is a bit like the MiniDisplay Port, you are not condemned to use the HDMI ports of that Dock only, you can also have adapters that can take the Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort out signal and convert it to VGA or other. (More info on Thunderbolt here, this was written a while ago but I find it very informative).

As I said earlier, I am only glancing at this as I am very busy right now, and totally broke, so I can only wish for making the transition from SD to HD (in real time work that is, all my fixed media work is now HD 1080p), from a mix of analog and DV to newer standards.

However, be it SD or HD, real time work is exhilarating, and I’ll continue to do it as often as I get the chance. I’ve even implemented in my studio work processes I developed for real-time concerts and incorporated them in my workflow.

Good luck.

Thank you! Yes, it is exciting, I love it. We had a work session last Sunday with the two musicians I will be working with in April, and it was great.

With the way I work, one laptop is quite enough. I just paint on screen the way I've been doing for my videos. Maybe with time other processes will develop, but so far I'm doing very simple things.

As it turns out, the dual HDMI question was a non-issue, all I needed was a HDMI splitter, and in fact technically I don't even need that, since the Ninja 2 recorder has an out HDMI jack, so I can connect the computer to the Ninja, and then the Ninja to the projector. I tested it this afternoon, only with my TV instead of the projector. Of course I'll have to do more tests but it seems to work, including the sound from the Zoom HD being added to the resulting movie (that took a bit of trial and errors).

I think I'm all set. Thank you for your help!

Well, I just ordered an Atomos Ninja 2 recorder (older and cheaper than the Blade and I think it should cover my needs just fine). I'll have it this afternoon, but I also need an HDMI splitter before I can test it. I'll have that on Friday.

Well, the Ninja 2 turns out to be a disaster. I suppose I got a faulty model, or else it's just not designed to work in this kind of setup. It keeps asking me to reinstall the firmware. I'm trying to contact support but even if I can manage to get a replacement in time for the performance, I'm not sure I will take the risk to use it and mess up the performance itself. I guess I'll have to continue using my video camera for now, and look for a better solution later.


Matrox Monarch HD a pro solution...Sure, not the same price.

Thank you very much! Looks like exactly what I need, but as you say, for a price... I need to think about this, whether I can afford to buy it now or not. It's very tempting I must say.


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