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What equipment is required to run cSwing?

The purpose of the equipment section is to help you get good quality equipment that fits your budget.   We concentrate on providing great software and so we do not sell hardware nor do we receive any affiliate fees for recommending hardware or vendors.   All prices in this guide are in US dollars and are based on information available on the Internet at the time of writing.

If you prefer to buy a complete system with hardware, in the U.S. you can contact our OEM SportsMotion, or in Europe our distributor ProShot Solutions.  Both are able to provide equipment, installation and training services.  For help in Japan, contact cSwing Japan.

This guide covers:

 

Video Cameras and Equipment:

General Camera Recommendations

cSwing is primarily designed to be used with a miniDV camcorder connected over FireWire. The best model for you depends on whether you will be using the camera exclusively indoors, exclusively outdoors or sometimes indoors/sometimes outdoors. Please see below for our current list of recommended miniDV models.

cSwing supports the high-speed Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1 and the EX-FH20. These cameras are supported for import of pre-recorded video only, not for real-time capture, and High-speed Movie Mode video recording using these cameras can only be played back in slow motion in cSwing at present. We recommend the EX-F1 over the EX-FH20 due to the superior frame rates and resolutions the EX-F1 offers. Please see below for additional information on these cameras.

Finally, cSwing supports pre-recorded iPhone and BlackBerry video for import. Support is likely universal, but we have not tested every model. If you have one of these devices, we recommend trying our free trial prior to purchasing cSwing to be certain your model is supported.

Most SD/SDHC card, flash drive, hard disk drive and DVD camcorders are not designed to stream video over the USB port, so they can’t be used for real-time capture and they record in file formats unsupported for capture anyway. You can usually import pre-recorded video from these devices, but depending on the model, this may require several steps, especially for cameras that record and/or store video in file formats unsupported for import. If you already have a camera of this type, we would suggest trying it with our free trial to see whether it works and whether the inconvenience factor is too great, but we would not recommend purchasing this type of camera if you will mainly be using it with cSwing.

Webcams generally do not provide control through Microsoft DirectX over shutter speed. (cSwing uses Microsoft DirectX as its underlying capture technology.) Also, most will not provide 640x480 at 30 frames/second.  However, if you are on a budget you can try a webcam with our trial.

Security, CCT, analog and Hi8 cameras can work with cSwing but they don't provide the same video quality as miniDV. Most don't have FireWire output and even some of those that do are not recognized as a camera by Microsoft DirectX.  These devices work best with a DV FireWire bridge such as a Canopus ADVC 55 or 100.

We do not recommend Network (IP) cameras because they don't provide adequate frame rates and don't integrate well with Microsoft DirectX.

Recommended miniDV Camcorders

Here are our current miniDV camcorder recommendations. Some of the models listed are no longer being produced, but are still available through B&H Photo (bhphoto.com), Amazon, eBay and elsewhere online.

Please note:

1.      For outdoor use, you can substitute any Canon ZR for the ZR960 mentioned below. WARNING: For indoor or indoor/outdoor use, do NOT substitute another Canon ZR unless you have at least 20 to 30 feet of indoor space to work. Other ZRs lack the lens threading required to accommodate a wide angle adapter.

2.      If you need an inexpensive camera for indoor/outdoor use and cannot find a Canon ZR960, you can substitute a Sony DCR-HC52 or DCR-HC96. Note, though, that with these Sonys, you sacrifice manual shutter speed control which means you will have to pay more attention to making sure there is sufficient available light, otherwise you will end up with a blurred picture.

3.      You can substitute a Canon HV10, HV20, HV30 or HV40 or a Sony HDR-HC7 for the Sony HDR-HC9 mentioned. However, the Sony HDR-HC7 and HC9 have a maximum shutter speed of 1/10,000 and also have a super slow-mo setting. The Canon HVs have a maximum shutter speed of 1/2,000 and no super slow-mo setting. Although you would rarely need to use a shutter speed of 1/4,000 for golf, it is nice to have the option, just in case, and the super slow-mo setting can be useful as well, so we recommend the Sony HCs over the Canon HVs.

4.      You can substitute a Panasonic PV-GS83 or PV-GS85 for the PV-GS80 mentioned. WARNING: Do NOT substitute a PV-GS90. The PV-GS90 appears to lack the lens threading required to accommodate a wide angle adapter, and you will need a wide angle adapter for indoor use unless you have at least 20 to 30 feet of space to work with.

5.      The models listed are NTSC (North American and Japanese video standard) models. If you are located in a PAL (European video standard) market, a local camera shop should be able to help you find PAL equivalents to the NTSC models listed. PAL models often vary in their technical specifications from country to country.

6.      While all NTSC Panasonics have the problem that the battery pack blocks the FireWire port, this may not be true of all PAL Panasonics. You will need to look at the pictures in the manual or, better, at an actual camera to be sure whether a model you are considering has this problem or not.

cSwing is primarily designed to be used with a miniDV camcorder, ideally one with manual shutter speed control as this helps avoid blurring when available light is low. Our specific recommendations depend on whether you will be using the camera outdoors at all.

If you will be working exclusively indoors, we recommend a Panasonic PV-GS80 or PV-GS320, a Canon ZR960 or a Sony HDR-HC9. The Panasonic PV-GS80 is an inexpensive model that will work well. It has manual shutter speed control and its list price is only $249.95. If you want 3CCD imaging (for better color) and a better lens, you can step up to the PV-GS320, list price $499.95. Please read on for more information about the Canon ZR960 and the Sony HDR-HC9.

***Please note: when working indoors, you will need to have enough space to put at least 10 feet between the camera and the golfer, even if using a wide angle adapter. In addition, if you use a wide angle adapter, do not go stronger than .5 as this will give you too much fisheye effect. When looking at wide angle adapters, think "less is more" to remember the relationship between number and strength. A .45 adapter is stronger (gives more wide angle) than a .5 adapter, which in turn is stronger than a .6 adapter. To work without a wide angle adapter, you will need at least 20 to 30 feet, depending on the focal length of the camera.***

***Also: when working indoors, you typically need 2000 watts of light per camera angle. If you are setting up an indoor studio, we strongly recommend having a lighting specialist come and do an installation for you as bulbs of the required strength draw a lot of power and can overwhelm your electrical system.***

You cannot use Panasonics to capture in real time outdoors unless you can run an extension cord to a wall outlet as recent-year models have been engineered in such a way that the FireWire (DV) port is not accessible when the camera is running on battery (the battery pack blocks the port). This is why we recommend them for indoor applications only.

If you will be working exclusively outdoors, or sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors, we recommend a Canon ZR960 if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive camera, otherwise a Sony HDR-HC9. Both have manual shutter speed control and the battery pack does not block the FireWire port on either. List price for the ZR960 is $249.99.

The HDR-HC9 is a high definition (HD) camcorder. However, Microsoft DirectX, which cSwing uses as its underlying capture technology, does not support capture in HD format at this time. You must use this camera in standard definition (SD) mode when using it with cSwing. Even in SD mode, though, it will give you a very nice picture.

IN SUMMARY:

Indoor Only:

- Good: Panasonic PV-GS80 or Canon ZR960

- Better: Panasonic PV-GS320 or Sony HDR-HC9

Outdoor Only or Indoor/Outdoor:

- Good: Canon ZR960

- Better: Sony HDR-HC9

 

Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1 and EX-FH20

 cSwing supports the Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1. The EX-F1 has a Full HD Movie Mode which records at 30 frames per second interlaced* like a miniDV camcorder, as well as a High-speed Movie Mode which allows you record at 300, 600 and 1200 frames per second:

               http://www.exilim.com/intl/ex_f1/

*Interlaced means that the camera records two images per frame, 1/60th of a second apart. cSwing renders 30 frame per second interlaced video as 60 frame per second video.

You cannot capture from an EX-F1 to cSwing in real time, but you can record video onto an SD card, then place the card in a USB card reader and import the video into cSwing using cSwing’s Import Swings tool. cSwing can read the card reader as a drive, so the process is straightforward.  

You need at least 10 MB/s for the EX-F1, so class 6 cards will not work. The recommended card is the 20 MB/s SanDisk Extreme III 4 GB SDHC card. This card comes with a reader:

               http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820171259

You need an SDHC reader for the high-capacity SD cards which means some older readers will not work. Here is card reader we recommend if you already have an SDHC card but don’t have a reader:

               http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134548 

Please note that you will need a high-end PC (Intel Core2 Duo or newer) and graphics card to get good playback results for video shot in Full HD Movie Mode. The Full HD Movie Mode video produced by this camera is the only HD format cSwing supports for import and playback at this time.

High-speed Movie Mode video can only be played back in slow motion in cSwing at present although we are looking into supporting normal speed playback in the future.

Finally, you will need to install Apple’s QuickTime Player on your computer if it is not already installed as QuickTime provides the support to cSwing for the MOV files created by this camera. QuickTime Player is available for download here:

               http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/

You just need the free player, not QuickTime Pro.

Casio also makes a less expensive Exilim model called the EX-FH20 which is supported as well:

               http://www.exilim.com/intl/ex_fh20/

We recommend the EX-F1, however, because it offers much better resolutions and frame rates:

               EX-F1 Hi-Speed Movies (HS): 512 x 384 (300 fps), 432 x 192 (600 fps), 336 x 96 (1200 fps)

               EX-FH20 Hi-Speed Movies (HS): 480 x 360 (210 fps), 224 x 168 (420 fps), 224 x 56 (1000 fps)

Also, you are limited to 30 frames per second in HD mode with the EX-FH20 as opposed to 60 with the EX-F1.

You do not need QuickTime Player to play files created using the EX-FH20.

 

Special Requirements For Multiple Camera Capture (Multiple Camera Version Only)

The multiple camera capture tool (Advanced Capture) supports miniDV camcorders connected over FireWire.  You can also use S-Video and composite (RCA) cameras plugged into a Canopus ADVC 110 hardware bridge to FireWire, but a miniDV to FireWire setup will yield a superior picture and is the recommended setup.

In order to capture using two or more cameras, you must have a separate FireWire card for each camera.  Some FireWire cards have more than one port, but since the FireWire bus is set to 100 Mbps by the camcorders and each camcorder requires more than 50 Mbps of bandwidth, you cannot plug into multiple ports on a single FireWire card.  The camcorders do this even though the default speed of most FireWire buses is 400 Mbps or 800 Mbps. This is a hardware limitation, confirmed with Microsoft, not a problem specific to the cSwing software.

The multiple camera capture tool can be used for real-time capture only. Capture and import of pre-recorded video is not supported.

A Unidirectional (cardioid) mic is recommended for the Hit Detector for use in Live mode.  You can pick up a moderately priced mic at your local RadioShack for about $30.  You will also need a 1/4" to mini-jack adapter unless your sound card has a 1/4" plug.  You only really need the microphone if you are filming yourself.  It is easier to just hit the spacebar on the keyboard at impact if you are filming someone else in Live mode or loading video from tape.

 

FireWire:

The best way to get video into your computer is the long established FireWire standard.  FireWire is a digital data transfer standard.  It is also known as IEEE 1394 and i.Link.  Although some camcorders come with a USB cable, the video quality obtained using USB is poor or in the MPEG-2 video standard and is not suitable for video analysis.  FireWire's higher transfer rate allows full quality digital video to be transferred from your miniDV camcorder to your computer.

There are two types of FireWire connections: 4-pin and 6-pin.  The FireWire interface on miniDV and Digital8 camcorders is a 4-pin connection.  Most laptops have a 4-pin connection and most desktops have a 6- pin connection.  Be sure to check your set up to see what type of cable you need (4-pin/4-pin or 4-pin/6-pin).  Some add-on cards include a cable, but most camcorders and computers do not.  Your local electronics or computer store may have a cable, but they may charge $35 or $40 for one vs. about $10 online.

If you want to use multiple cameras, due to a limitation of the way miniDV camcorders work with FireWire, you will need one FireWire card per camcorder.  This is a hardware limitation, not a problem with Windows or cSwing.

Here are some sources for FireWire cards and cables:

http://newegg.com  (type 1394 pci or 1394 cardbus or firewire cable into their Search box)

http://amazon.com (type 1394 pci or 1394 cardbus or firewire cable into their Search box)

If you need a really long cable for live capture (over 25 feet) here are two online stores that carry them (most local stores won't have these):

http://cablesdirect.com ( (type 25 ft firewire into their Search box)

http://avsupply.com  (type firewire cable into their Search box)

http://markertek.com  (type extended firewire into their Search box)

We have used cables from these vendors and they work well.  The reason they can extend the normal maximum limit of a FireWire cable (15 ft) is that miniDV devices are designed to work only at S100 speed rather than S400 or S800.

 

Computers:

If you already have a PC, most PCs from the last four years will run cSwing.  We recommend using our Free Trial to make sure the software runs well on your computer.  Some PCs do not come with built-in FireWire ports so you may need to purchase an add-on card.

Recommended Computer Specifications:

For outdoor use, hoods such as those offered by CompuShade and Hoodman can help with visibility.

 

Recording to CDs, VCRs or DVDs:

You may want to record your video onto a CD, VHS tape or DVD for later playback or to send to your student or coach.  cSwing comes with a built-in feature to record to CDs.  This works best with Windows XP which has built-in support for CD burning and Windows Vista and up which support CD and DVD burning.  For recording voice overs and screen capture, cSwing works with the free Windows Media Encoder application (included on our CD or downloadable from Microsoft).  It creates screen captures with voice recording from your sound card that play back in Windows Media Player.  For more advanced screen capture options, we recommend Camtasia from TechSmith.  We recommend that you set your display to 1024x768 at 32-bit or 16-bit color resolution to do screen captures.  Larger display sizes will greatly increase the size of the video file.

Combination DVD/CD and DVD writers are not universally supported by Windows XP.  If you have a combination DVD/CD or DVD writer, we recommend testing the Burn to CD feature using our free trial with your hardware prior to purchase.  A workaround for problem drives is to create the CD image in a folder using cSwing and then use the software that came with your drive or computer to burn that folder to the CD or DVD.

CD:  This is the easiest way to create a file that will play on another computer.  You can create a CD of captured videos directly in cSwing or with Windows Media Encoder you can create a screen capture video that you send to the CD burner from your My Videos folder.  The files can be played back in cSwing or using Windows Media Player.

VCR / DVD:  Although not as cutting edge as DVD technology, VHS is more universal.   There are several competing DVD recordable standards and not all DVD players are capable of playing the different formats.  The DVD-R format is the most commonly supported by newer home players and computers.  In either case, we recommend an external VHS or component DVD recorder.  Using an internal DVD recorder is more time consuming and error prone.  To use an external component recorder, your computer must have a video out port which you can set up to mirror your desktop display using Windows Start -> Control Panel -> Display -> Settings -> Advanced -> Displays command.  For audio, we recommend purchasing an external audio mixer into which you plug in your microphone.   You can get a basic mixer from RadioShack for around $70.  The output from the mixer goes directly into the VCR or DVD recorder audio inputs bypassing the PC (which can cause configuration problems).  We have found this is the best solution based on feedback from our customers.

 

Where to purchase:

A major advantage to purchasing locally is that you can generally return equipment easily.  We recommend checking out prices at your local warehouse club, RadioShack, computer and electronics stores.

Generally, if you purchase equipment online you can save money.  The downside is that it is harder to return equipment if a problem arises. Be careful to check out an online seller's reputation before purchasing.  Here is a case in point: http://www.resellerratings.com/seller1995.html has rock-bottom prices but gets less than 2 out of 10 on this rating site.

Regardless of where you purchase your equipment be sure to read the store's return policy before purchasing.  Some stores will only accept unopened merchandise and some will add restocking fees. 

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