Camera Recommendations for High School film program at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > High Definition Video Acquisition > General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition

General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
Topics about HD production.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 11th, 2008, 11:27 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Starkville, MS
Posts: 96
Camera Recommendations for High School film program

The teacher at the local high school contacted me this morning, asking for help in setting up a video system to teach film-style production. The editing system will be Final Cut Pro.

But what camera should I recommend to him? My personal opinion is to allow the kids to work in HD right from the start, especially since HDV cameras cost about the same as SD cameras. I also prefer DV tape recording media because it is so cheap, and it would allow the kids to keep their own raw footage.

I'm undecided about whether the camera even needs to offer any sort of 24p capabilities. Remember, these kids are beginners, and having them produce work that is 1080i will be a big enough challenge. Should we even offer them 24p capabilities? I'd be interested to hear opinions.

I'm fairly familiar with Sony's line of cameras, but am unfamiliar with Canon's line. So, what camera do you recommend? Price is important. The cheaper the better, but I don't want to drop all the way down to a completely automatic camera. I want manual focus, and manual exposure capabilities.

Recommendations?
Tim Allison is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #2
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 4,449
I don't think it's significant for them to work in HD. That will just introduce more rendering time in editing; but that's just my opinion.

Probably the cheapest option would be the Sony A1U, which has a 16:9 chip, does HDV or SD, and has XLR audio inputs. The only problem is I understand lots of things are of the touch-screen menu variety. Still, it does give you manual control possibilities. There's also the Sony VX2100, probably about the same price. It doesn't have 16:9 chips but has an electronic 16:9 mode, which is fine for your purposes. It does not have XLR audio inputs but has a mini input. I think it's critical that if you're going to teach filmmaking, pay some attention to audio and totally ban them from using the in-camera mic except for grabbing ambient sounds.

About the same price as the A1U and VX2100 is the Canon GL2, strictly SD.

The Panasonic DVX100b is pretty good, but it doesn't have 16:9. Although you can do electronic 16:9 on it, the viewfinder and screen only show you a squished image, and that probably would be a problem when trying to teach composition to high school students. All the SD cameras other than this one show you what you get in the viewfinder. The Sony PD170 is in the same price range.

It really depends on what you can spend. The VX2100 is over $2K and is about the cheapest thing available at the moment. There is a new Sony single chip shoulder mount HDV camera coming out soon which I believe will sell for under $2K, and it might be the best deal for you if you can wait till it's on the market.

If you want to stick with Canon, the XH A1 is the cheapest 1/3" chip HD/SD camera available. The nice thing about it is it has a regular aperture ring on the lens rather than the little thumbwheel. Also, you can see your distance readouts in the viewfinder and screen. However, I personally would not trust one to high school students. I'd go with something more basic and rugged, like the PD170. Although...I know of a PD170 that's already been destroyed by a college film student....
Bill Pryor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
I'm not sure I understand the phrase "asking for help in setting up a video system to teach film-style production"

Film style production techniques are different from video techniqes. Is this just a slip of the tongue? Setting aside whether or not there is value in teaching kids a 'dying art form' (For the record, I'm all for it) teaching the kids film style techniques would involve FILM... and all it's workflow issues. (Magazine loading and changing, film lattitude and lighting, telecine, transfer etc. etc.) In terms of sheer workflow, one of the 'card' cameras would be more like the workflow for film. Shoot untill the card/magazine is used up, swap out for a new one, have the Assistant download the card/reload the magazine etc. etc.

I still think it's worth teaching kids with Super 8 cameras, but I'm an old fart.

But I doubt that this is what the teacher meant when they used the phrase 'film style production'.

I think what the teacher wants the kids to learn is the DISCIPLINE of filmmaking. (And with the cost of film, and smaller 'loads' - it requires more 'discipline' to plan your shoot and shoot your plan). Any decent camera will work for this. I don't think you need to get hung up on HDV at this point, as it will increase the overall budget of equipment acquisition. (You mention budget as being important, so you have to factor in HD monitors)

In a teaching environment, I'd rather see four teams of kids working with SD cameras, than two teams waiting for their chance to work with HDV. BTU's are the primary concern here (Butt Time Units) - How many hours can they spend with the gear in their hands?
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 02:13 PM   #4
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Makati, Metro Manila
Posts: 2,706
Images: 32
The Canon GL2, Sony PDX10, and Sony A1U have decent manual controls and can shoot in 16x9 for a relatively low price. The A1U is also HDV and has the XLR box included.
__________________
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
Michael Wisniewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 02:48 PM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 1,521
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allison View Post
The teacher at the local high school contacted me this morning, asking for help in setting up a video system to teach film-style production. The editing system will be Final Cut Pro.

But what camera should I recommend to him? My personal opinion is to allow the kids to work in HD right from the start, especially since HDV cameras cost about the same as SD cameras. I also prefer DV tape recording media because it is so cheap, and it would allow the kids to keep their own raw footage.

I'm undecided about whether the camera even needs to offer any sort of 24p capabilities. Remember, these kids are beginners, and having them produce work that is 1080i will be a big enough challenge. Should we even offer them 24p capabilities? I'd be interested to hear opinions.

I'm fairly familiar with Sony's line of cameras, but am unfamiliar with Canon's line. So, what camera do you recommend? Price is important. The cheaper the better, but I don't want to drop all the way down to a completely automatic camera. I want manual focus, and manual exposure capabilities.

Recommendations?
The Canon HV 20 or (HV 30 when available) might fit the bill. It has reasonable manual control and does HD and SD. I don't have one, but I'm considering getting one as a 2nd camera for backup to my XH-A1. Perhaps some folks who have one could comment on how easy they are to operate manually.

I run a video training facility in a school, and I would say establishing proper practices and standards is far more important than having the latest or most complicated gear. They'll need to teach preproduction planning, camera position, framing, lighting, audio as well as basic editing and post and may well want to leave the manual override until the basic stuff is OK. There's a good few award winning videos shot by kids on simple DV cameras on auto settings.

Even after kids should know what they are doing, there will be accidents. I've had to operate on cameras to remove DV tapes inserted upside down or backwards. I've seen cameras knocked over and thumped on light stands - I could go on but whatever you get needs to be robust. Light as possible would be good too.

BTW I would certainly go for tape acquisition. We keep all original footage and never reuse tape (its so cheap anyway) and that covers some legal points too - watertight policies are a must have in a school. They don't want to run up big bills for disk space for footage uploaded from cards or camera HDs (don't even THINK about asking to use space on the school server!)

Last edited by Colin McDonald; February 11th, 2008 at 02:59 PM. Reason: Added a bit on
Colin McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
I have helped a couple of schools setup programs. There are a lot of things to consider.

I suggest going to this website and making contact:
http://www.studenttelevision.com/

This is an organization made of school programs.You can reach people through here who can give you the best help.

Many of the cameras suggested are used in schoolks. The important thing is to go through the entire work flow and how it will exist in the school environment.

HDV is probably going to require computers, software, etc. that are beyond the budget of the initial program.

DV can be edited on most current computers. It is also easy for students to work on at home, etc. There are all-in-one programs such as Studio Ultimate that are very attractive.

The PD170 is a very popular camera in school settings. The low-light capability allows shooting anywhere. It uses pro mics. It has a proven history of ruggedness. It comes with the wide-angle adapter. I can be bought with a nice Sony hard case that holds everything.

Beyond that, any small consumer DV camera can be used. If you have a nicer camera like the PD170 for planned and supervised project use, you can supplement with DV shot by any consumer DV camera.

If a single teacher is just starting out and there is not an administrative push behind starting a program, I don't think the camera is the number one concern. In fact, I would start with an inexpensive consumer DV camera and get a production flow setup. If the program takes off, there will be support and money to raise the standards.

Another scenario might be there is a lump sum of money and it has to be spent now... so let's start a video program. In this case, it's best to get in contact with someone who can tell you everything you need and how to get it within your budget.
Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 03:07 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Starkville, MS
Posts: 96
No, this is not a slip of the tongue

Remember, these are kids with ZERO background and knowledge. Getting them to use a tri-pod is an accomplishment.

I know there are a lot of differences in film production and video production. But there are a lot of similarities too. I would love for the students to learn "true" film production, with all of the film-specific skills. But for high school kids, teaching scripting and story-boarding, shot-composition, and basic lighting is very important. Getting students to think ahead and plan so that one shot will cut together with the next one in the edit room is a major accomplishment. Remember, we're talking about a knowledge level where shooting a script out of sequence is a novel concept.

No matter whether you are shooting film or video, there is a lot to learn just in your short little line of, "plan your shoot, and shoot your plan."
Tim Allison is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2008, 03:42 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
Here's another link, with tons of videos/films in all categories done by school students:
http://www.schooltube.com/page1144557.aspx

Use the menu at lift. I have linked "Films" section. Below that are the film categories.

Connecting with people already doing this can be invaluable.

My opinion remains that camera selection has to wait until the program is clearly and plainly designed. The camera is likely to be one of the least expensive pieces of the total package from the description you give.
Jack Walker 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 > High Definition Video Acquisition > General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:27 AM.


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