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Matt Stedeford November 26th, 2007 07:04 AM

Best Gear for Creating Music Videos ?
 
I'm trying to determine a budget for the creation of some professional music videos from a technical perspective, and would be interested in some opinions as to makes and models of gear people would recommend :)

-I'm looking for the ability to do some very slow-motion (so perhaps a 60fps camera or higher is needed?),
-Looking for 24p (I think most music videos appear to be shot in "film"-like mode? I don't tend to like the artificial pull-down in editors, it doesn't have quite the same smooth result, so would rather 24p native to the camera (is this possible?!).
-Looking for professional final results as easily as possible (i.e. so minimal colour correction ...etc. needed ideally!)
-Looking for controllable depth of field aswell as the above (anyone recommend a camera-35mm lense converter combo?)
-Looking for the ability to zoom in and select the area of the film to use during editing, without loss of crisp detail (HDV needed for this? What res?)

I'd like to get all of the above with as low-a-budget as possible. But ultimately, the production quality outweighs the cost (no point in spending £££'s on something with results that aren't good enough when you could spend a bit more and have good results!). A lot to ask I know! :) I might end up getting higher-end gear second hand if its available, as I see no point in paying the extra just for new gear when what I'm after is results, not new toys :P

I realise that most of the results are down to lighting, talent..etc. etc., what I'm looking for right now is a list of recommended make/models of camera, 35mm converter, and anything else that u think might come useful.

I know there are a lot of pros browsing these boards. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate any input. Thanks in advance :)

Tim Polster November 26th, 2007 08:12 AM

I think the first question is how low is "low budget"?

Matt Stedeford November 26th, 2007 11:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Polster (Post 781981)
I think the first question is how low is "low budget"?

I didn't say "low budget" I said as low-a-budget as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean "low budget". If the lowest budget possible for getting a good result is $1 billion, then that's the lowest possible, but it's not necessarily low-budget! Get me drift ;) ?

the production quality outweighs the cost (no point in spending £££'s on something with results that aren't good enough when you could spend more and have good results!).

:)

Glenn Chan November 26th, 2007 01:14 PM

In Canada at least (and I'd expect the States to be similar), the big majority of music videos are shot on 35mm film (I'd guestimate 90%+ easily). You have some stuff that is animation, and some stuff on crappy formats for artistic reasons (consumer handicam, 8mm, etc.). Videos with low production values are less likely to be aired.

Quote:

-Looking for professional final results as easily as possible (i.e. so minimal colour correction ...etc. needed ideally!)
All that film is run through a color correction stage when they transfer it to video... usually they do scene-by-scene correction there. (Which is not in context of the final edit.)

2- Productions rent their equipment (e.g. generator, grip & electric, 35mm camera, etc.). The low side of music budgets in Canada is $15k and $20k (VideoFACT grants). Otherwise they're something like $50k-100k. This is for music videos that are broadcast.

If you're talking about non-broadcast, then things are different. One video I know... shot for $5k, rejected by Muchmusic (broadcaster; same idea as MTV), and then it was very popular on iTunes.

3- I will just assume that your budget is $20k or lower. If you shoot it on film with a professional crew (emphasis on the latter), then your music video will likely air and you'll get work again in the future. Shooting on film will take a big chunk out of your budget (and you need to get deals on everything). And you're not making much profit at all.

Right now, it might make a lot more sense to shoot on the Red camera. Technically, it looks like one of the best digital cameras out there. And from the money you save, you can spend more on other departments (e.g. art direction, lighting, wardrobe, extras, locations, etc. etc. etc.). One might argue that film has better quality for music videos... but at a $20k budget you're likely better off spending your money elsewhere.

Though not shooting on film doesn't really change the economics of the situation too much. Most of your budget still goes into labour and other expenses, which don't change. You're still looking at at least $15k at the very bottom of the barrel.

4- One of the reasons to rent is:
A- Lower risk, keep your overhead down.
B- You can negotiate the price down on rentals for lower-budget shoots. (But often this is a relationship thing... don't abuse it.)
C- You can get a further deal by rolling your shoots together and by shooting on weekends.
D- You have flexibility in what gear you can use. You might need a Joker bug for just one shoot... it'd never make sense to own that.

On the other hand, certain kinds of gear might be worth owning... (e.g. basic grip gear)... you'd have to figure out the numbers yourself.

Benjamin Hill November 26th, 2007 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 782117)
I didn't say "low budget" I said as low-a-budget as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean "low budget". If the lowest budget possible for getting a good result is $1 billion, then that's the lowest possible, but it's not necessarily low-budget! Get me drift ;) ?

the production quality outweighs the cost (no point in spending 's on something with results that aren't good enough when you could spend more and have good results!).

:)


If production quality outweighs cost then hire a good experienced music video director or production company and let them worry about the gear so you can enjoy the creative process.

If like the rest of us, your budget IS limited, then determine what it is, and let that guide your decision-making process.

The Panasonic HVX200 is used for a lot of indie music videos these days, but it's one of several accessible, economical choices. Even if you could get a sought-after RED camera or a 35mm package, you'd want a skilled DP using it to get the best results.

Gear is gear and some tools are better than others but it sounds like what you need is some perspective, and experienced filmmakers will bring you that. Assuming what you're after is results and not just toys.

Tim Polster November 26th, 2007 04:52 PM

Matt,

However you agree or disagree with my statement, you did not answer the question.

I am trying to help but need to know your budget to advise about equipment choices.

BTW, to me, if crews are not involved it is considered low budget.

Not meaning low budget is bad, everything I do is low budget.

So are you talking about $300,000, $30,000 or $3,000?

Craig Parkes November 26th, 2007 09:19 PM

Best gear = Your crew
 
The best gear for creating a music video is 100% your crew. Forget the equipment, it can all be used to good or bad effect, worry first and foremost about securing a decent crew.

Crew will likely come with demands, especially if you are not paying them much, like "Well, I'm happy to get paid next to nothing to be DOP on this thing, as long as we are shooting with decent lenses on a pro camera and I've got x amount of lighting budget at my disposal."

They will tell you what you need for the concept.

My primary proposal is if you don't know how to achieve the look you want by yourself already then don't buy any gear. Hire gear, while using a professional who you pay, and ask them bunches of question. Do this on 5 or 6 shoots and not only will your music videos look 10 times better than if you had brought gear and done it yourself, you'll also then be in a position to know what you might like/need to buy, if that is you decide you really need to buy anything.

Normally what determines your budget more than anything is how much you are paying your crew, and how big a crew you need to get what you want, and that will be determined in discussion with your key HOD's (on a music video that's a minimum of 4 roles in addition to Director - Producer, DOP, Editor, and Production Designer. Individuals can double up roles - but those are the four areas of production that need to be handled outside of pure direction.

So, really, the most useful thing in all honesty is a good relationship with rental houses and a list of what's nearby. Unless you are shooting a music video a week plus there is very little reason to own gear specifically suited to music vids.

Matt Stedeford November 29th, 2007 05:08 AM

Thanks for all the replies and comments, it's a great help and certainly thought provoking. :)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Benjamin Hill (Post 782260)
Assuming what you're after is results and not just toys.

That's exactly right, I don't care about whether the gear is second hand or new etc. The purpose is for the best results, I'm not looking to buy a bunch of toys.

Having said this, I have looked into the RED camera, and 35mm film. I'm going to be mainly producing a bunch of studio vids to begin with, for dance music. This will mean being done in a studio with white screens / black screens..etc, fake environment. (e.g.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TWrWkiW7iE )

Will RED camera or 35mm film be needed for the above? I'm guessing that, as people have said above, it is down to lighting, direction, and cast. Could this above type of film be achieved with a HDV 24p camera with the right lighting, lenses, direction, editing, crew/cast etc?

David W. Jones November 29th, 2007 08:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 784009)
I'm not looking to buy a bunch of toys.

Having said this, I have looked into the RED camera, and 35mm film. I'm going to be mainly producing a bunch of studio vids to begin with, for dance music. This will mean being done in a studio with white screens / black screens..etc, fake environment. (e.g.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TWrWkiW7iE )

If you are going to be "Producing" music videos like the one in the link, you don't need to buy any gear!
You need to do what they do.... Hire Professionals!

Craig Parkes November 29th, 2007 02:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 784009)
Thanks for all the replies and comments, it's a great help and certainly thought provoking. :)

That's exactly right, I don't care about whether the gear is second hand or new etc. The purpose is for the best results, I'm not looking to buy a bunch of toys.

Having said this, I have looked into the RED camera, and 35mm film. I'm going to be mainly producing a bunch of studio vids to begin with, for dance music. This will mean being done in a studio with white screens / black screens..etc, fake environment. (e.g.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TWrWkiW7iE )

Will RED camera or 35mm film be needed for the above? I'm guessing that, as people have said above, it is down to lighting, direction, and cast. Could this above type of film be achieved with a HDV 24p camera with the right lighting, lenses, direction, editing, crew/cast etc?

The video you linked to was almost certainly shot on 35mm film. A HDV camera of any sort would not be able to achieve that look because it would not have a narrow enough depth of field to prevent those sets looking flat and two dimensional. It would also probably completely blow up the sensor to have that amount of backlighting (and assuming you are not using some very sophisticated glass on the front) you would have a high likelihood of chromatic aberration.

Apart from that, you would need to employ a lot of crew to set up and man the sort of lighting rig required for that video. I'd hazard to guess for a shot of that scale you'd be looking at least a gaffer and two lighting assists, on top of regular camera crew, to get it all done in a workable schedule.

Glenn Chan November 29th, 2007 02:50 PM

Matt, what are you trying to do? Are you looking at buying gear to save money, or are you looking at owning gear to use for other purposes?

If your primary goal is just to get some good music videos done, I don't think it makes sense to own gear.

Stephen Eastwood November 29th, 2007 10:32 PM

"Can it be done on HDV?"

Yes, if you have enough control of lighting, every light, and 35mm adapter, and expensive glass and contrast filters, and enough time and energy to do it very slowly, methodically, and spend a tremendous time in post. By the time you are done it will cost more in time, labor, and work than just getting it done on film.

Now as for the RED its worth it, but unlikely that you will be getting one for sometime, so maybe look into a Panavision Genesis for rent or purchase, I know a few people who are selling them used as they are transitioning to other things. Also a nice camera to take a look at is the Sony 950. Expensive but easier to do what you are looking at in that video if you have the people and know how.

Glenn Chan November 30th, 2007 01:30 PM

Hmm isn't the Genesis rental only?

The Viper is a camera you can purchase/sell. Maybe you're thinking about cameras like them?

Matt Stedeford November 30th, 2007 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stephen Eastwood (Post 784509)
"Can it be done on HDV?"

Yes, if you have enough control of lighting, every light, and 35mm adapter, and expensive glass and contrast filters, and enough time and energy to do it very slowly, methodically, and spend a tremendous time in post. By the time you are done it will cost more in time, labor, and work than just getting it done on film.

Now as for the RED its worth it, but unlikely that you will be getting one for sometime, so maybe look into a Panavision Genesis for rent or purchase, I know a few people who are selling them used as they are transitioning to other things. Also a nice camera to take a look at is the Sony 950. Expensive but easier to do what you are looking at in that video if you have the people and know how.

Thanks for the reply :)

It sounds like you think the RED would be able to produce the effect/look/feel required to make that music vid film posted above. I'm not so sure, I've looked at RED films and the colours look somehow faded in comparison to real 35mm film. Having said this, RED would be far more convenient in terms of format, but its the results I'm looking for. Any other thoughts on this?

I've searched for Sony 950 and not managed to find anything. Panavision are rent only as far as I know. I hear what some of you are saying about hiring someone to do it all for you. Recommend any good music vid producers/companies?

Thanks for the replies, its a great help :)

Stephen Eastwood November 30th, 2007 11:02 PM

http://www.expandore.com/product/son...D/HDWF900R.htm panavision also does some modifictaions to them for performance. But I think a RED is the way to go if you want your own and have the time to wait.

And how much you have for a panavision? I think its available with enough money. Not new, used but working great.

Matt Stedeford December 3rd, 2007 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stephen Eastwood (Post 785208)
But I think a RED is the way to go if you want your own and have the time to wait..

Don't you think RED's colours look pale and washed out compared to 35mm?

Carl Middleton December 3rd, 2007 08:00 AM

Aye, but it's designed for the crowd that doesn't care what it looks like off of the camera - just how well it grades.

And it seems from looking at a lot of graded stills, mainly on hdforindies.com, that it grades rather well!

C

David W. Jones December 3rd, 2007 08:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 786339)
Don't you think RED's colours look pale and washed out compared to 35mm?


I think that purchasing a Red camera setup does not make someone a good music video producer.
Just like purchasing a sound Effects library does not make someone a good Sound Designer, or purchasing a midi synth and Digital Performer does not make someone a good composer.

But all or those tools in the right hands can create magic!

Matt Stedeford December 3rd, 2007 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl Middleton (Post 786349)
Aye, but it's designed for the crowd that doesn't care what it looks like off of the camera - just how well it grades.

And it seems from looking at a lot of graded stills, mainly on hdforindies.com, that it grades rather well!

C

There is only so much grading that you can do to an image. I've seen pro film adverts such as the demos on the RED camera site, which have gone through pro grading and colour correction. However, colours still look pale (eg especially skin colour). It just looks like digital video, no where near as nice as 35mm film cameras in my opinion. Does anyone agree?

Benjamin Hill December 3rd, 2007 04:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 786435)
There is only so much grading that you can do to an image. I've seen pro film adverts such as the demos on the RED camera site, which have gone through pro grading and colour correction. However, colours still look pale (eg especially skin colour). It just looks like digital video, no where near as nice as 35mm film cameras in my opinion. Does anyone agree?

If you don't like the look of the RED imagery, don't use it. Considering their limited availability you might not have much choice anway.

Stephen Eastwood December 4th, 2007 01:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 786339)
Don't you think RED's colours look pale and washed out compared to 35mm?

NO, i think bad color grading and color management can make any camera or film look good or bad. The camera is good, if everything else is good the result will look great. If everything else was bad, d=some good filmstock was waisted and the product sill be just as bad only have waisted film to get there.

Stephen Eastwood December 4th, 2007 01:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matt Stedeford (Post 786435)
There is only so much grading that you can do to an image. I've seen pro film adverts such as the demos on the RED camera site, which have gone through pro grading and colour correction. However, colours still look pale (eg especially skin colour). It just looks like digital video, no where near as nice as 35mm film cameras in my opinion. Does anyone agree?


No, I do think most of what we see on any computer screen looks like crap, much looks much better on a real TV, and if HD a real HD TV, luckily most consumer hdtvs have so much boosting of contrast and color most anything looks not to bad, nothing like it should or was intended but hey what do they know everything else they see on that tv looks just as fine or bad. Go to a best buy and just look at the wall of screens. I really like that they sell them based on how well some look compared to others on the wall and none have ever been adjusted for anything but to mute the sound.

And I shoot and retouch skin for most major beauty companies in my still photography life, so I heard the arguments against digital and that they do not look like film, and I took some time to find the cameras that developed to the point that they did and learned to make the colors look better, and now I can't ever get a film scan or chrome to ever look near as good as I get from the digital cameras I use today. Lots have changed and its left quality control in the tweaking stage a bit behind but once you find people who know how to use whats in the cameras its more power than we ever could have had predigital.

Stephen Eastwood December 4th, 2007 01:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David W. Jones (Post 786354)
I think that purchasing a Red camera setup does not make someone a good music video producer.
Just like purchasing a sound Effects library does not make someone a good Sound Designer, or purchasing a midi synth and Digital Performer does not make someone a good composer.

But all or those tools in the right hands can create magic!


Worth rereading! :)

Yang Wen December 4th, 2007 02:11 AM

Shot this video with fairly low budget.

paid for 2 days worth of studio time
paid for 1 day rental of professional dolly system
paid for 1 professional lighting guy
paid for 2 day rental of two HVX200s
paid for 1 steadicam guy
bought a couple of USB drives from Costco to unload P2 footage on site.
bought a couple of Vizio LCD HDTVs from Costco as in studio monitors.

Shot the whole thing in 13 hours straight, effects+editing done on a MacBook.

www.bhangrachick.com

It was in regular rotation on several TV networks including Dish Network IMF and MTV India.

Total budget was by far less than $10,000. So what I'm saying is that a successful low(really LOW!) budget video is definitely doable. We basically did not have any set designer so the concept was purposely simple. If you have a marketable end-product you'll do just fine. Image quality wise, lighting is the most important factor rather than the difference between HDV and RED. Oh and if you're going to have dancers - hire professional ones! Don't rely on friend of a friend who claims she is a good dancer. We learned our lesson the hard way.

Behind the scene pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ywen/se...7600100857976/

Dave Morgan January 17th, 2008 12:57 PM

just make them. this video i did is very low budget
 
check it out,

it is what it is. i guess.

not my best work but i made it work i think.

shot the band just 2 times. 2 takes of the song.

1 mini dv tape
sony v1u
editing, fx. and




http://www.virb.com/davemorgan/videos/35659

Craig Parkes January 19th, 2008 06:47 PM

Ok, comparison time
 
Here a two music videos, both were done for what would be considered very low budget in most circles, both rented gear, used pro crews who worked very cheap or donated time. Same band, two different DOPs, same producer and director, same editors, same machine for editing and colour grade (all done on an Intel Imax 2.0ghz with FCP 5.1.4 and nattress plugins for the grade)

The first one Bitter, was the higher of the two budgets, and shot on Varicam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i33eOsQJCds

High Def version on Stage 6 here: http://www.stage6.com/Slipping-Tongue (requires DivX player)

Was a single day shoot, with a evening before hand prepping the location, with volunteered set building and art department crew etc.

The second one, My Kingdom Falls, was shot on a mix of HVX with some DVX footage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs7YS-yHFF0

High Def version on Stage 6 here: http://www.stage6.com/Slipping-Tongue (requires DivX player)

This one is a much lower budget, as the lower production value on screen can attest to, but was made up for by the fact that we managed to gain access to professional lighting and grip equipment despite an incredibly low budget (through favours mostly). All the drama footage was shot on HVX, the band footage was shot live on a mix of HVX and DVX.

The larger of the two budgets, for Bitter, was under US$4000, (shooting in New Zealand however, so crew rates and rentals and the general industry vibe may be different to where you are) the lower budget I am not really going to talk about, because a lot of favours were involved and we had access to gear that really couldn't be got for the budget we had - but a big part of the reason we had access to that gear is the contact we had got through working with professionals previously, which you really most often get when you start hiring good people and renting gear that you could not afford to buy.


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