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I'm setting up an educational lab which is going to have a number of cameras positioned around the room. Ideally, there would be one button somewhere which we could press to automatically start all the cameras, and when we pressed the stop button, all the cameras would send their video to a computer in the room. What would be the best setup for this? I don't want to have to walk around and press record on five cameras, then walk around and press stop, then attach 5 USB cables, then remove 5 USB cables, etc.

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Are you expecting all the cameras to be in sync too? If so what sort of gen-lock like system did you have in mind? – filzilla May 15 '12 at 21:24
Well, that would be cool, but not necessary. They just need to start at approximately the same time. – ian93 May 16 '12 at 12:46
Do you already own the cameras or are you going to buy new ones? I can help suggest solutions based on this answer. If you already have them, post the make/model, and if not, what's your budget? – Jarmer Nov 13 '15 at 3:46

Most newer camcorders can be controlled via wifi from a mobile phone or tablet. So the easiest solution would be to have 5 mobiles phones in front of you. Press record on all of them and you are done.

Using the same technique you can also obtain their video.

Alternatively, you could connect the cameras to 5 laptops and then have a screen sharing program where you see all 5 laptops on a single computer.

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a lot of cameras come with remote controls too. – stib Sep 14 '15 at 5:00

If your cameras have a LANC port, you can build yourself a LANC controller using arduinos:

Or alternatively get a cheap lanc controller.

Depending on the camera you are going to use, like the other replies mentioned, there might be options to control your cameras as well through a regular remote control or control over USB.

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