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Old January 30th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #16
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And I'll add my "Amen!" to Marco's statements. If you are shooting for your own pleasure or artistic satisfaction, knock your socks off doing it however you feel like. But if you expect to be called on by a TV station to do audio with one of their stringers after his regular soundie got sick, hired by a corporation to make a public relations film on the latest advances in widget manufacturing or develop a series of training programs for the folks on the widget line, hired to do second unit sound on a feature or episodic shooting in town, or any other gig where you're going to a: get paid for doing the work; and b: charge a daily kit rental to the client for the equipment you bring to the job, you really have to bring a kit to the table that fully meets professional standards in all respects. As a sign I once saw in an up-scale clothing store window reads: "To get where you want to be, you must look like you're already there."
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Old January 30th, 2009, 11:36 AM   #17
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Get yourself a Gitzo G556.
It's a good starter fishpole for under $100.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole McDonald View Post
The cost of these poles, even the cheap ones is more than I spend on any individual production currently... I've done this:
...http://yafiunderground.com/Images/blimp/mike2.jpg
Cole, that metal boompole used under the powerlines looks a bit like something out of a Health and Safety training video - I hope you are well insured!
:-)
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Old January 30th, 2009, 01:41 PM   #19
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Hi guys:

I think one other factor that is overlooked is called amortization. Chances are your painters pole, light bulb changing pole or broomstick is not going to be useful to you for a long period of time. Do I still have all of the production "junk" that I bought when I was in my late 20s? No, none of it, it was crappy gear that I sold off at a high loss usually. The point I am trying to make is that you should look at your gear, at least the support part of it, as an investment. Not cameras, not computers, they are terrible investments, but support gear like tripods, boompoles, grip and lighting, etc. are investments because they will last you a very long time with proper care.

I bought a Gitzo carbon boompole for $250.00 in 1991. It is 2009 and I am still using it. It is a quality piece of gear, not the best, not state of the art, but it is quality. If I look at the economic viability of that purchase, that boompole has cost me $14.71 per year to own and use since 1991. Maintenance and repairs have been $0.00. If you break it down further, a decent boompole has cost me $1.23 per month over the past 17 years. Hmm...not sure if non-pros can afford that? Even in a recession, which will not last forever, I think that anyone who can get together thousands for a camera could afford that, you have just made short sighted decisions about how you spent your gear budget. Most people new to production do this.

If you buy gear, always buy the best that you can afford. There is nothing wrong with engineering your own gear, where appropriate, but I agree with Marco, audio almost always gets short shrift in the value equation of video shooters and it is, ironically much more important to the quality of your finished web films or home movies or whatever than the stupid, disposable camera is. Way too many people in our business who are shooting with $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 cameras SHOULD be shooting with $1,500.00 camcorders. That other $3,500.00 to $8,500.00 that would have essentially been wasted on a "better" camera should be spent on quality grip, lighting, audio and camera support. It's no different than building a race car and dropping 90% of your budget on the engine, ignoring the chassis, suspension and tires. The camcorder manufacturers have done a very good job of brainwashing neophytes and a lot of pros as well.

There are new camcorders at around U.S. $1,400.00 that are as good or better than most HDV and many other small format cameras that cost $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 just a few months ago. These new small AVCHD camcorders don't look pro, they don't have the reputation or ALL of the features of the more "professional" camcorders, yet they are totally capable of amazing results if you have the talent. One of these small, cheap camcorders, paired with a quality and complete camera support, grip and lighting gear and sound package will result in a MUCH more superior product technically than shooting with a mid-range camcorder and a surfeit of quality support gear.

This phenomena will continue to happen because the camera manufacturers want to sell sexy, semi-pro, cool looking camcorders, they don't want advanced amateurs and low end pros buying their consumer AVCHD camcorders, they WANT you to buy their $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 "pro" camcorders. But most, not all, advanced amateurs, hobbyists, and many low end pros would be much better off if they would buy a "production package" rather than a camcorder and bunch of cheap afterthoughts as far as sound, grip and lighting and camera support. The end product would be better, the users would be capable of producing work at a higher level of technical quality.

Even if you are not a pro, you will be better off, in most cases, buying the right gear to do the job than trying to invent it yourself. A good example are video lights. Yes, real video lights are better than Home Depot work lights. But at least if you look at the big picture, cheap or homemade lights generate an end product, light. Light is light, correct? I built my own Kino Flo Divas for 1/5th of the price of their equivalent "real" Divas. The light they cast is identical to the light that real Kinos cast, I am using the same bulbs and actually a better ballast than the real Kinos use. That is a situation where homemade makes total sense.

But I must agree with the other audio pros, homemade audio gear doesn't make sense in general. Can you use a painter pole or broomstick? Sure, Can you make your own zeppelin out of dryer lint and metal screening? Sure. Are using these homemade items an intelligent choice? Not really, your audio will be worse in general with a painters pole or homemade zeppelin. The poles will either be too heavy, will creak, will look amateur or will break. The homemade zeppelin will lose more highs than a real zeppelin. Will your audience notice or care? Perhaps not consciously, but your product will end up not sounding professional. In all but the highest levels of production, you only get one chance to record quality sound. To compromise that sound with anything but competent gear is shortsighted.

I am extremely cheap and love a bargain, I made my own lights from scratch. Much of my gear rides to and from shoots in $20.00 plastic Home Depot Contico tool totes. I bought an iPod Touch and am messing with free VOIP because I don't want to pay AT&T for an iPhone and their ripoff service. I am selling my digital still cameras and going back to shooting film on a $69.00 old school camera because digital still cameras are a scam and ripoff IMHO. But my vote is to only use homemade gear when the end product will be indistinguishable from the pro stuff. With lighting and skill, yes, homemade light will be indistinguishable from pro lights. But with sound, will your homemade mixer, boom pole or zeppelin sound indistinguishable from using pro gear? Probably not, it will probably sound worse. So to me, it makes no sense.

Dan

Last edited by Dan Brockett; January 30th, 2009 at 01:46 PM. Reason: typo
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Old January 31st, 2009, 12:59 AM   #20
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Here are some analogies that may explain why I'm willing to "throw away" 30 bucks on a homemade boompole but not make the reasonable $250 investment for a pole.

I'm not a professional filmmaker. I am, however, a professional writer.

My first words were written with a $1 box of crayons.

And I would never insist that a five year old be given a $1000 computer to learn how to write.

See what I'm getting at here?
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Old January 31st, 2009, 01:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Boyko View Post
Here are some analogies that may explain why I'm willing to "throw away" 30 bucks on a homemade boompole but not make the reasonable $250 investment for a pole.

I'm not a professional filmmaker. I am, however, a professional writer.

My first words were written with a $1 box of crayons.

And I would never insist that a five year old be given a $1000 computer to learn how to write.

See what I'm getting at here?
Hear, here! And I love your sig!
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Old January 31st, 2009, 02:14 AM   #22
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I have been on both sides of this equation. Yeah I have a painter's pole boom AND a Gitzo. I find myself using the Gitzo 99% of the time... was the painter's pole wasted money? no. Do I better appeciate the Gitzo now? yes.

Your position is well founded, but I would re-read Dan's. He rather eloquently expressed the long term, should this pan out for you, and his view is sound, and in a way more limited sense experience wise, I echo it.

That is not to say run out and buy a carbon fiber boom pole....rather, understand the limitations of your "sound acquisition" equipment should you decide to do this past the hobbyist stage.... and know that your "minimal" investment is likely worthless in the bigger scheme of things. Be warned: Once you have tasted the champage of good equipment, and in some cases the dramatic improvement it offers, it is tough to go back. But I agree, that $30 will seem like peanuts - the real Q being what did you miss in the meanwhile.

Chris

ps. My shop lights I started with still work great - as shop lights. I still on occasion have resorted the my painter's pole as a 2nd boom or for a long reach. You won't go to hell for using a painter's boompole. Nor will you for buying an Indian blimp.... but that is another story.
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Old January 31st, 2009, 06:40 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Boyko View Post
I'm not a professional filmmaker. I am, however, a professional writer. My first words were written with a $1 box of crayons. See what I'm getting at here?
And if I could shoot an HD doc for Discovery Channel with a box of crayons I would. See what I'm getting at here? The right tool for the job.

Imagine how impressed your clients are when you show up with a mic duct taped to a painters pole. If nothing else as a businessmen you need to consider your image. Do you show up to a Fortune 500 corporate shoot in flip flops and old jeans? No. It shows respect for self, for your profession and colleagues and most importantly for the client to show up with appropriate attire, a professional attitude and the right gear.

Or to quote a sage and wise veteran of the video world "If you can't afford it get out of the business."
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Old January 31st, 2009, 12:32 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
And if I could shoot an HD doc for Discovery Channel with a box of crayons I would. See what I'm getting at here? The right tool for the job.

Imagine how impressed your clients are when you show up with a mic duct taped to a painters pole. If nothing else as a businessmen you need to consider your image. Do you show up to a Fortune 500 corporate shoot in flip flops and old jeans? No. It shows respect for self, for your profession and colleagues and most importantly for the client to show up with appropriate attire, a professional attitude and the right gear.

Or to quote a sage and wise veteran of the video world "If you can't afford it get out of the business."
Dude! I don't have clients!

I'm not actively looking for clients!

If Discovery Channel wanted me to do a shoot for them, I'd rent the best goddamn equipment GEAR had to offer, I'd charge them for the cost of it, then after I got paid on delivery, I'd buy the stuff outright.

Maybe I need to change my sig back, but the last "pro" job is merely that I'm splitting internet advertisement revenue with a guy who runs a blog. I don't expect to make enough from it in order to afford the boompole.

If I was in the movie making business, I wouldn't even be buying a boompole, I'd be hiring a soundguy with his own equipment. But I'm not. And for right now it doesn't make sense to try to "make it" in the business because I'm probably getting paid more now than someone working in the movie industry with the same amount of experience and qualifications I have as a writer.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 11:48 AM   #25
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When it comes to making videos the most important thing is to get the video made. If you can't afford a carbon fibre boom pole, then make your own. Basta!

I would have a look at fishing poles. Yup, you can buy blanks (ie with no rings or anything) for a few bucks/euros/pounds and some of them are even carbon fibre!

Much better than a broompole.

Lovely example with the crayon BTW.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 02:31 PM   #26
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We traveled very incognito to India a number of years ago on a doc that made national television. What did we attach a Sennheiser ME66 to? A stick. Wrapped in duct tape. Did it work? Kinda. Did it suck? Yup. Did the piece go to air? Yep. Was I proud of it? The pictures were sure pretty...
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 05:56 PM   #27
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Sometimes you just gotta do what you can with what you got.

I shot a magazine story with a point-and-shoot camera. That's what I had. I wasn't about to buy a DSLR just for that, and the editor said the photos were just fine. Of course I cleared it before the assignment with some samples. But the point is that if it looks good (or sounds good) and the client is happy, then why not?

There is the valid suggestion, however, of looking further ahead and determining if you ever need better gear in a year or two. If the answer is "yes" then it might be worth investing in the right equipment. It can be sold later for a decent price.

But in my case I didn't have an SLR; And I didn't need one either then nor in the near future, even though I worked with one at my side almost every day for more than 25 years.

I'd much rather spend that money on a carbon fiber boom pole.... :-)
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Old February 4th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #28
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You know, the longer this debate goes on, I have to wonder if the aversion to buying a real pole has something to do with the fact that as a piece of gear, it's not very sexy. It's not like it's something that most people would ever brag about, is it? I think a lot of times people forget that when it comes to sound, booming is by far the most important element. To make the job any harder with odd, makeshift gear, especially since the task is often fobbed off on people who aren't very experienced at it, is folly, as far as I'm concerned. But hey, whatever floats yer boat. I think getting good sound can be easy, but it seems having the will to do it is hard for some people.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #29
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I went to Home Depot and bought a telescoping painters pole for about $15. Did it work? Yeah, better than nothing when the airline "misplaced" the cameraman's tripod case which contained my boom pole. Unfortunately the cam-op did not have this option. Lukily we only had to endure this hardship for one afternoon.
In a pinch, use whatever works.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #30
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Bryan, if your broom handle idea works I'd appreciate an update on how you did it.
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