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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old March 16th, 2010, 03:57 PM   #1
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One purchase to simplify capture -- what should it be?

I'm using a Canon XH A1. I'm looking to simplify capture and logging and can make one medium-size purchase to that end. I'm figure I can spend about $1,500 to $2,000.

Here's my situation: I'm a hobbyist and shoot some documentary videos. I sometimes borrow additional cameras (so far just GL1 and GL2 cameras) and may end up with either HDV or widescreen DV. I capture to a MacBook Pro in Final Cut Pro. I sometimes have access to an SD deck at a local non-profit, but when I shoot HDV I'm on my own.

Today, to save wear on my camera, I just use it to play straight through my HDV tape, let FCP divide the clips, and then I have to go through them in FCP to determine what I really want to use.

I'm considering one of the following:
  1. Purchase a HDV deck so I can more selectively log and capture both my HD and SD footage and then batch capture. Can anyone recommend a good deck in my price range for the formats I'm using? I like that I could use this for any format I shoot, but am getting really tired of the time associated with capture.
  2. Should I purchase a Firestore instead? I like the idea of tapeless acquisition, but then I only have a solution for my main camera and would probably need to scrounge up a deck when I'm using additional cameras.
What do you all think? I'd love to hear how people dealing with a lot of video but without a professional budget deal with acquisition. I've seen some threads on this, but I'm hoping for some suggestions based on the latest and greatest in what's available and what it costs.

cheers,
tom
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Old March 16th, 2010, 05:26 PM   #2
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Hi Tom,

I think a lot (if not most) people that shoot with the XHA1 capture using an HV-20, 30 or 40. It has the added bonus of being a backup camera. It can also playback sd minidv tapes.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 07:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Joel Peregrine View Post
I think a lot (if not most) people that shoot with the XHA1 capture using an HV-20, 30 or 40. It has the added bonus of being a backup camera. It can also playback sd minidv tapes.
Thanks, Joel. So if I used an HV-20 or similar for logging and capture, what kind of life expectancy is there for that camera with all the shuttling that will go on? I've always wondered how hard shuttling through footage really is on a camera.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 08:40 PM   #4
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Tom I use a HV20 for A1 HDV capture to Vegas .. been doing it for 18months it works a treat. You'll replace the HV20 before you get anywhere near to wearing it out and I've used it as a B cam.

One thing I do in capture is use its remote control to shuttle the DV tape, saves punching the cam buttons .. and cue up 10secs before the T/C entry point. Vegas starts and stops the HV20. HTH

Cheers.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 08:53 PM   #5
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Thanks, Allan. That helps a lot.

I'm still tempted by tapeless workflow. Given the price of an HV-series camera, I was considering getting that for capturing tape when I have extra cameras and still getting something like a Firestore for my XH A1.

If I bought the less expensive FS-H200 over the Canon-specific FS-CV, can anyone tell me what problems I might encounter? Am I going to be limited to certain framerates when shooting?
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Old March 16th, 2010, 09:11 PM   #6
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Your camera will become obsolete long before you wear out the heads shuttling tape.
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Old March 17th, 2010, 10:03 AM   #7
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Hi Tom,

As stated the HV will last. One note about the firestore - nothing against the product, but I think that method of capture is a dead end. The unit won't have any resale value and its bulky and awkward. I'd get by on tape for as long as possible and look forward to a true solid state workflow in the future.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Parker View Post
Thanks, Allan. That helps a lot.

I'm still tempted by tapeless workflow. Given the price of an HV-series camera, I was considering getting that for capturing tape when I have extra cameras and still getting something like a Firestore for my XH A1.

If I bought the less expensive FS-H200 over the Canon-specific FS-CV, can anyone tell me what problems I might encounter? Am I going to be limited to certain framerates when shooting?
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Old March 18th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #8
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So what do I do with the extra money?

Thanks for all the advice. So if I don't buy a deck and use a HV-series camera instead and I hold off on the Firestore, that leaves me with an extra $800 to $1,300 from my original budget. So what should be the next upgrade to my kit? Here's my current setup:
  • An inexpensive Induro tripod and Manfrotto head, with a Fig Rig for handheld shooting. The tripod's not fancy but seems stable enough. I don't have the remote attachment for my camera which makes using the Fig Rig awkward.
  • A super-cheap set of Smith-Victor floods that I bought in a pinch and never upgraded. This seems like the worst gear I have. I'm weak at lighting anyway and seem to have little control with these things.
  • A Sennheiser Evolution wireless setup with a lav mic and a wireless adapter for a handheld mic. I don't own a shotgun and frequently have to borrow one when I need one.
As a complete amateur, I'm open to any suggestions for equipment. From my perspective, I feel like my real gaps are 1) some kind of LCD or field monitor, since I sometimes struggle with my camera's LCD, 2) an inexpensive shotgun mic, 3) some kind of basic DV lighting kit with a case, 4) maybe some kind of on-camera fill light like the Litepanels, and 5) some way to control my zoom and focus while operating the camera on the Fig Rig.

Any of those seem like an obvious thing for me to buy next? Is there another basic piece of kit that would make my life easier, like a separate digital audio recorder or something? Any specific brands you'd recommend for my situation, where I'm mostly shooting amateur documentaries and would be mainly lighting interviews?

I really appreciate your help. I'm looking forward to getting some gear that'll make my workflow a bit easier and help me improve my work.
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Old April 5th, 2010, 04:40 AM   #9
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normally, as i am inexperienced compared to many experts on this list, i would not respond to this post...but as you haven't had a recent response i'll put in my two cents. when i built my initial kit (i shot making-of footage for a feature film while i learned what i was doing, then how-tos for the web, interviews, online auditions, and a documentary, finally am doing narrative fiction which is where i initially wanted to end up, but continuing in the other areas to finance my other projects), i did a lot of research and spent money on my shotgun mic, a Rode NTG3. it is a thing of beauty, has such great sound quality that on the feature i was working behind the scenes, we ended up using my mic for the feature rather than the one they had planned on. you're already borrowing a shotgun and you'll be disappointed if you compromise on quality, good sound makes such a difference to the quality of your projects and sound with a good shotgun is first-rate. i have recently, after doing interviews at a very poorly lit event where the walls looked great and the people were dark and being very frustrated, invested in a litepanel which i am really enjoying, of course it mounts on the camera but can also be handheld or mounted just about anywhere as they are quite lightweight and battery powered, you can key with it but i am enjoying using it as fill in a variety of situations.
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Old April 5th, 2010, 06:44 AM   #10
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Cynthia they say sound is 70% of what you see and you're right on track. The guys at RODE will love your description of their .. no your NTG-3 :)

Tom that's the shotgun to invest in.

Cheers.
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