I'm looking for information on any part of this project that has been
assigned to me. We have a conference room that is used 2 times a
month with over 60 people that attend. What I want to do is record
the entire meeting (approx. 90 minutes) and burn it to cd for those
who missed the meeting. I was thinking of using two cameras that
pick up sound, record it digitally and be able to replay it with
a split-screen or PIP. One of the cameras will face the audience
and the other on the speaker. I’d like to get input on the hardware
and software that the industry has to offer.
I was thinking of converting to MPEG-1 but some people may not
like the quality when you compare it to MPEG-4.
Ok, well if it's for business use then i will assume that money isnt priority #1.
I've just read the article on Toms hardware of the guy that built his own system - very cool & kick ass, but you wont need anything so complicated for your job.
In fact just about any PC with a P3 or Athlon at 500Mhz will be sufficient for the task, providing this is just a one-off. If you're going to be repeating this again and again though, get a new P4 or Athlon (i'm not prejudiced!) system. I can give you more specifics if you require on the hardware front.
As for software - the only one i can recommend is Adobe Premiere (for PC anyway). I use version 6.0 but 6.5 is now released. In a way it is overkill, but i absolutely know that it can do what you have asked, and in (my opinion) a very intuitive way. You can opt for Picture In Picture or alternate the shots back and forth. Run this on Windows 2000.
As for encoding, i was about to suggest MPEG1 for a number of reasons - its quicker to encode, its a more standard format than MPEG4 (which seems to go on and on in terms of new codecs coming out), and for that reason also will be easier to play back (and requires lower computer hardware requirements) than MPEG4 on your attendees PCs.
HOWEVER i wont recommend it for you. The reason is that, for a reasonable quality (which i define as 320 x 288, 25 fps - VideoCD quality), 60 minutes of footage is about 600 MB. A 90 minute meeting therefore requires approx 900 MB - more than a CD can hold (normally). And just so you know, MPEG2 (DVD quality) is even worse in terms of storage size. Render your footage in MPEG4 and it should look fine, but i'd experiment with a 10-second file first at different resolutions and bit-rates to get an acceptable picture before you try it with the 90 minute file. Re-rendering a whole file just to correct a single mistake is a real ball-ache!
So there you go.
I'm happy as always to help out further.