|This is me doing a very bad spin. I just had a few minutes at the end of the session to convince someone to take a short test video. The misty look is not due to the camera, it was very foggy on the ice. And what sounds on the video like "the crowd goes wild" is unfortunately just the jackhammer being used to dig a large pit just outside the Zamboni door. (Strange days at the rink.)|
Note: The native format of avi files created by this camera is MJPEG. You'll probably need DirectX on your Windows PC to view them with Windows Media Player or Real Player. This comes automatically on Windows XP, other versions will need to download
DirectX. To view with Quicktime, download Indeo Codecs for either Windows or Mac. I haven't yet figured out how to save it in other formats without making the files a lot larger.
This really seems like a fun little camera! It's tiny, so you can carry it in your skate bag, and fairly cheap, around $89 at Target, BestBuy, etc. (There's also a new DV3 version out, selling for about $130.) It takes still pictures, video with audio, and also records audio only. It camera has a small LCD screen for reviewing your photos or videos. It also is packaged with a USB cable for connecting it to your computer, an S-video cable for connecting it to your TV or VCR, a tiny tripod, and a CD with some relevant software. (See the Aiptek Site for full details.)
I'd strongly recommend that you get a Compact Flash card with it, though that'll add another $30 to $179 to the price, depending on the memory size you choose. It doesn't have a lot of storage without one, and if the batteries die you lose your data. You can record about 2 minutes of video (with audio) with the native memory, and 30 to 50 minutes with a 128MB card. You'll want rechargeable batteries for it too (2 AA size), since they seem to get used up pretty quickly.
The camera records video at 9fps, which I thought might be too slow for skating, but seems like it might work ok. (I don't skate very fast anyhow.) If you want to carry a tiny laptop computer to the rink, you can capture direct from the camera at 30fps, but that will add about $900 to the price!
You can use the S-Video cable to play the video straight to your TV or VCR for copying, but I haven't found a way to stop the minute counter from showing when you do this. You can copy files straight off the CF card onto your hard drive using Explorer and the USB cable. There is some video editing software included with the camera, but it looks like the free VirtualDub might work better. If you need a MJPEG codec for saving edited video, one source is the Morgan Multimedia MJPEG Codec. As well as editing, Virtual Dub will allow you to go slow motion through the video for examining positions. You can also copy frames to the clipboard, to save as jpeg or other graphics types.
I'd welcome hearing from anyone using one of these cameras to compare tips and tricks. I'm trying right now to figure out how best to save files from VirtualDub for optimizing quality and size. Choosing "Video/Direct Stream Copy" makes it in the same format as the original, and seems to give the smallest result file for some reason.