Solo Documentary and Volunteer Setup - Help Please at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Documentary Techniques

Documentary Techniques
-- Discuss issues facing documentary production.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 5th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 38
Solo Documentary and Volunteer Setup - Help Please

Hello -

I'm a solo producer with a 30 minute weekly show on public access TV. The studio provides lots of toys - FCP, camcorders to borrow for shooting, some audio setups, etc. Problem is getting it when you want/need it.

I am trying to create a "wish list" that will allow me to purchase what I need for these functions: (1) documentary shooting - little time for setup, often not possible to scout site prior to shooting, no chance for retakes, natural lighting only; (2) volunteer work with local groups - church setup, filming from 30+ feet to speaker, pulling sound from mixing board, or interviewing various people, using my own equipment; (3) general "fun" shooting - taking various classes and gathering footage as I work toward a Certificate in Documentary Studies at Duke University (highly recommended - great teachers, meets at night); (4) convert video to DVD for final delivery along with coding for iPod, .WMV and QT formats, along with dedicated audio files for ACC and MP3 coding.

I moved up to a XH-A1 from a Panasonic GV-150 (fine camera for the money) and house it in a Portabrace PD-2550 hard case. What I want to get is: (1) Litepanels on camera light (not sure if the MiniPlus or Micro is the best choice): (2) Libec Tripod - heard great things about the 38M, but I'm not sure if the XH-A1 is too light for that platform - Libec suggests a heavier camera to 11 pounds may work better, the Libec 22 supposedly uses a less fluid head, so I'm trying to get the 38; (3) Merlin Steadicam - Again, not sure if this is the right size for the camera. Seems that the Merlin site puts the upper weight limit at 5 pounds, with a light that may be pushing it, but I won't use the light all the time: (4) Sennheiser G2 Evolution wireless lav and on board receiver - again, concerned about weight with Merlin: (5) miscellaneous things -- reflectors to bounce light where needed, works without electricity, important for some of my shooting; Canon Console - seems to provide a lot of control over the camera, but not viable for OS-X on the Mac, so I have to install Windows using Boot Camp, not a major problem but HDD space is tight as it is; Potentially upgrading HDD on MacBook Pro, but Apple doesn't support this and I lose my warranty.

I also use a Rode Videomic and find it provides very good sound for my needs, I hope to pair it with the lav, getting ambient sound on the Videomic, and direct sound on the Sennheiser, problem is that the Videomic is a shotgun, and doesn't get full ambiance.

Another area is editing. I have FC Studio 6, just upgraded from FCExpress. With HDV I wanted more robust editing. I use a MacBook Pro (first Intel dual core chip) and have 256MB video ram and 2 GB system ram (that's all I can fit). Problem is that the HDD is only 100GB, too tight for me to load the full FC Suite and have room for other things. I have an external HDD, 250GB from OWC, works well but can't use it in the field without power.

My budget is limited, and I don't sell any of my work so there is no income potential to offset the costs. On the other hand, I want the right tools for the jobs I want to perform, and I feel that I need to make an investment.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance.
Len Capristo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Minnesota (USA)
Posts: 2,171
You might consider getting an Azden SGM-2X. It's an economical mic that has interchangeable barrels, and can be setup as either an omni or a supercardioid (basically two mics in one):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...dioid_Mic.html

I'm a little confused about the documentary shooting. Are you saying that for the documentary shooting you will not be able to use an on board light (even if you get one)?
Robert M Wright is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2008, 10:12 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Colombia
Posts: 153
The merlin's not gona hold unless you have strong arms.
Andrew McMillan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2008, 02:28 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 38
Thanks for the info. I can use on on camera light, but often can't setup with other lights for documentary shooting.

I was afraid that the Merlin wouldn't take the weight of the XH-A1, is there an alternative?
Len Capristo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Minnesota (USA)
Posts: 2,171
I don't know if it would make sense, dollar wise to you, but you might consider a used VX2100 for really dim lighting situations where you have no time for setup and/or on board lighting wouldn't be adequate with an A1. I've seen some VX2100s sell for close to $1K lately. Used JVC DV500Us (three 1/2" CCDs) are getting pretty cheap too (often under $2K nowadays).

Are you looking for Glidecam like performance, or simply better stability when shooting handheld? A DVMultiRig Pro can work pretty well for improving handheld stability (and reducing strain while shooting handheld).
Robert M Wright is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2008, 05:57 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Alpharetta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 758
Quote:
Originally Posted by Len Capristo View Post

Problem is that the HDD is only 100GB, too tight for me to load the full FC Suite and have room for other things. I have an external HDD, 250GB from OWC, works well but can't use it in the field without power.
May I suggest something like the Western Digital Passport series of external drives. They take power directly from the USB cable, so power in the field shouldn't be a problem.
Bill Koehler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2008, 06:23 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Minnesota (USA)
Posts: 2,171
Another option, for portable mass storage, might be to get a big and fast CF or SDHC card (or a few) and reader/writer. They are getting really cheap.
Robert M Wright is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Documentary Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:14 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network