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Streaming hummingbird feeder cam recommendations
08-17-2014, 03:10 PM
Post: #1
Streaming hummingbird feeder cam recommendations
Background: Hummingbirds are the most loved and fed birds in the US. There are 330 +/- species indigenous to only North, Central and South America---the majority reside near the equator. Sixteen (16) +/- species enter the United States---the Ruby-throated visits the East Coast and 15 other hummingbird species visit west of the Mississippi. Southeastern Arizona receives the most species as migrants and/ or residents.

Our company, Hummingbird Market, is located in Tucson, Arizona where we manufacture hummingbird nectar and sell via local retailers and throughout the US. Sometimes a single pound and other times pallets. As a convenience to our customers we also sell selected hummingbird feeders.

In my backyard I have thirteen (13) different types and styles of hummingbird feeders that are often very busy with hummers. I hope to show the various species of hummers but also the feeders in action. My goal is to set up a video camera on a tripod and day-to-day reposition at different feeders. And stream live, unattended, during the day. The objective is to drive additional traffic to our website, http://hummingbirdmarket.com#hummercam.

I know there are many wildlife cams, IP cams and security cams but I am seeking the best images I can generate.

I am currently have a trial membership on UStream. When it expires I’ll upgrade to UStream Producer level. And will surely add Google+, etc. Maybe even broadcast via BrightCove or one of the many high quality streaming services.

Current equipment: Logitech C930e webcam via 10 feet of USB cable to a 2009 Mac Pro; OS x 10.9.4; Processor: 2.93 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon; Memory: 16GB; Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5770, 1024MB. The Mac Pro machine is only used for FCP6, 7 and X.

My problem with this set-up is the images are soft and when I try to extend the USB cable length deteriorates the image quality. And the camera has difficulty adjusting to changing light.

Workflow: I bring the video in via Quicktime and open UStream and identify my source and start broadcasting. Sometimes I’ll massage the camera’s PTZ and white balance, brightness and contrast. I really have no need to record the images other than to have some video playing during the ‘Off-Air’ night period. But UStream can handle recording and any transfers to YouTube. Essentially the camera just sits there in auto mode and at a fixed focus on the feeder---waiting for hummers to appear.

Audio is difficult and thus muted as there is always a buzz from the pool filter, air conditioner, fountains or wife yelling at me.

My Thoughts: Locate a decent HDMI or SDI video camera. Maybe via a BM Intensity Pro or BM UltraStudio Mini Recorder. I thought perhaps Canon DSLRs, Canon SX50, Canon Vixia G20 or G30, BlackMagic Pocket Cinema, GoPro, Axis cams, etc. Too many to choose but what is the best system? Maybe eventually feed into a dedicated MacMini exclusively for streams.

Budget: Naturally budget is important and at this stage I would rather start out ‘gently’ and evolve into more sophistication (Thirteen cams in the yard on permanent articulated arms switched by a TriCaster. Ha!!! Not really)

Curious: I notice that Safari, Chrome, IE and Firefox all render the colors differently.

Question: Can anyone offer some insight about a video streaming system recommendations that can sustain a 50’ cable run?
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