Mac 3 room video setup


I have been setting up 3 rooms for video recording. These are confidential recordings so I needed a digital setup but one that couldn’t be accessed from anywhere but the 3 rooms. Two of the rooms are just strictly recording rooms while the third is for recording but also needed to be mobile so the recordings could be shown in a bigger room for review. There are a lot of cool things out there to use to do this. There was one big problem with all of the cool technology for video recording is that it is expensive. My budget for the 3 rooms was $5,000. That’s not a lot for 3 rooms with digital video.

The equipment:

– 3 Mac Mini’s
– 3 MiniDV cams
– 1TB external enclosure
– 2 17″ LCDs
– 1 22″ LCD widescreen
– 3 computer locks

The setup:

I had one Mac Mini in each room. The mobile/viewing room is also the server room. The Mac Mini in there is fully loaded with all options. That’s also where the 1 terabyte storage drive is at. That room has the 22 inch monitor so showing to a group will be easier. All the equipment is on a cart that can be unplugged from the wall and easily rolled out of the room.

The other two rooms have Mac Mini’s with all the options except super drives. Super drives are not needed in this case. These rooms are setup with the 17 inch monitors, slim keyboards and a miniDV camera.

All the computers are using our existing network. But the computers are isolated so the existing network can’t see them, VLAN. We installed a gig switch so all computers are connected at 1000MB.

For recording I picked using iMovie. It is really easy to use, especially if you were using VCRs before. Plus it allows the ability to edit, burn and convert video.

The server room (mobile/viewing) is where all recordings are stored. When the other two rooms logon they are auto logged on to the server storage drive. When they open a new iMovie they are asked to name the file and the default file location is the server. The rooms all record in DV mode. They can record over the network to the server all at the same time with perfect results.


The project was one of my first big solo projects. It works very well. The real test is this spring when the rooms are used daily. But during my tests the rooms exceeded my expectations by recording at the same time over the network to the server. I know it’s gig Ethernet but I still expected some issues with all three rooms at the same time. Below are some pictures of the room. I wish I would have had pictures from the before setup but I don’t. But the original setup was VHS, TV, and a camera.

This is recording room 2. Small room but you can see the setup on the left.

This is recording room 3. Same size as number 2. You can see the 2 way mirrors from when the rooms where used in the 60’s.

This is the 17″ monitor and mac mini in room 3.

This is the server room (room 1). It is on a mobile cart.

OWC 1TB drive. Works great I recommend it.

22″ widescreen monitor for room 1.

Shows hard drive size for the server. There are already files on there but still a bunch of space is left.

This is room 2 setup.

Well let me know if you have questions. It was really a fun project.

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