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Old December 8th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #1
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New Camera for Documentary

Hi everyone, so i was wondering if some of you may provide me with a little advice.

We are looking to shoot a few documentaries, They will be shot in HD and will be viewed Online and our local news station is going to air a few for a new segment they are pushing out.

I know the camera is only as good as the operator im not looking to have a camera do all the work for me, but some of the camera operators at times are going to be new to video and ill be teaching them little by little along the way.

I have been looking at getting a Canon XH A1S the size is right and the price is right, But I want the best image we can get for our budget, I'd love to be able to hand the news station something decent in the end. Yesterday my friend told me to look into the Sony HVR-V1U or better yet the Sony HVR-Z7U.

The Z7U is going to push the limits on budget a little bit - but we are willing to increase the budget per camera and cut down on a few details like driving rather then flying.

I wanted to hear what you guys think is a good cam for shooting video that will be played back for alot of out local viewers.. The news room guys told me about the panny AGHVX200A but they are not big fans of the P2 cards and say i might have some issues in Final Cut with the P2. Also looking at cost by the time we are done with the AGHVX200 and buying P2 cards for them we might be way over budget per cam.

Any info / insight will go along way.

Thanks.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 08:59 PM   #2
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GIve us more of your workflow. How many cams do you anticipate buying? Are these for multi_cam shoots, that you will be editing together in the NLE? What's your turnaround/delivery expectations? A few hours, a few days? What are your plans for audio. Do you plan on doing a LOT of handheld? Do you need shoulder mount? What about steadycam.

The camera is just one element of the production workflow. Think in terms of the whole system, from acquisition to delivery on web, or as a ??? to the stations.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:12 PM   #3
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Richard,

We are going to get as many as we can fit into budget, The more cams the better.. what i mean by that is if our budget lets us get 3 with money left over lets get a 4th just in case so we are not left with two should something bad happen. Turn around time and other equipment is not an issue. My only question is which of these current cameras you all advise is better for broadcast.

We Have lights,audio, even have a make up girl.. We have JVC PRO HD cams we can use but the size limits us for our travels. Why i was looking at the above models as a starting point. We are going to be in tight spots and traveling in really crappy methods of transportation to get to some of our destinations.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:23 PM   #4
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"Better for broadcast" - well all of them will provide a suitable image, if properly used. But they'll air old 8mm footage of a presidential assasination, because the CONTENT warrants it. WHAT are the stations you will be delivering to, ASKING for in terms of delivery format?

You say turnaround is not an issue - I don't understand what that means. You are not deliverying time sensitive materials? That you are only shooting 'evergreen' projects? You don't anticipate shooting and delivering to broadcast within hours? (Here is where a P2 workflow might come in handy) Shooting mostly at night, with ambient light? Or is this all about three point lighting and talking head setups?

Are you editing on the road? What's your NLE of preference?

Pick up the cameras, see how they feel in your hands. Do you prefer switches to menu/buttons? See how quickly you can boot up a camera and pull up a setting you like. A lot of the choice will depend on personal ergonomics.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #5
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Richard,

As you can tell i'm not going into detail about what we are shooting for a number of reasons.

These are going to air around July of 09 so turn around time is not an issue, Most of the video will be edited in Final Cut Pro.

For the sake of getting an answer lets pretend your going to run outside and film your son playing on a swing set and need to play back the footage later on that night on the news.

In your opinion which camera would you use. I don't really need advice on how to produce the docs.. What i wanted was personal opinions on what you and others would choose. I have a few cameras in mind but im having a very hard time making up my mind.

there for I was going to take the feed back from here and help myself decide.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 12:11 AM   #6
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I recently finished a 2 camera documentary shot on the EX1. If I recall there were 12 shoot days, most of them consecutive. The tapeless workflow was indeed faster than capturing tape, but it came at a cost.

After each day of shooting all of the cards would have to be dumped to a laptop with an external hard drive (RAID 1 for data security). Sometimes in order to shoot everything we needed, we would have to dump footage during our shoot.

With a tape based production, all of this could be avoided - just pop in a new tape. However, with tapeless the editing process was much faster as all of the footage was transferred.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 12:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Devin Termini View Post
The tapeless workflow was indeed faster than capturing tape, but it came at a cost.

Sometimes in order to shoot everything we needed, we would have to dump footage during our shoot.

With a tape based production, all of this could be avoided - just pop in a new tape.
Also easily avoided with SDHC cards. You could purchase 8 hours of storage for under $500. When the 32GB SDHC cards arrive, I'll have 4 hours of shooting without even removing any cards.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 09:53 PM   #8
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I don't think I communicated correctly before regarding the point I was trying to make.

Every production is different, but an average day for us netted us about nine hours of footage between the two cameras we had rolling (our capacity was 10 hours).

After our shoots we had to dump all of the footage to be ready for the next day. This turned a 12 hour work day into a 14 or 15 hour work day. All I wanted to do after shooting was have some dinner and go to sleep.

Purchasing more cards is an option, however you can never eliminate this transfer process entirely during shooting without purchasing an obscene amount of cards.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Michael Ferreira View Post
Richard,

We are going to get as many as we can fit into budget, The more cams the better.. what i mean by that is if our budget lets us get 3 with money left over lets get a 4th just in case so we are not left with two should something bad happen. Turn around time and other equipment is not an issue. My only question is which of these current cameras you all advise is better for broadcast.

We Have lights,audio, even have a make up girl.. We have JVC PRO HD cams we can use but the size limits us for our travels. Why i was looking at the above models as a starting point. We are going to be in tight spots and traveling in really crappy methods of transportation to get to some of our destinations.
JVC has a new camera coming out in the spring. It is smaller than the XH-A1 but is supposed to have the same or greater capabilities. It will record on SDHC cards.

It is supposed to shoot all the ProHD formats, plus 1080i. (I don't know about 60p).

Anyway, the point is, it's size would be even better than the XH-A1 for traveo, and it would work perfectly with the ProHD cameras you already have.

Of the cameras already suggested, for travel especially, I recommend the XH-A1s. I have one as used it this way. The tape is good for on-the-go shooting, since your not tied to a computer and raid setup to off-load the video. For price/quality/features, I don't think anything beats the XH-A1 for general shooting of all types.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 10:47 PM   #10
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Richard,

We are going to get as many as we can fit into budget, The more cams the better.. what i mean by that is if our budget lets us get 3 with money left over lets get a 4th just in case so we are not left with two should something bad happen. Turn around time and other equipment is not an issue. My only question is which of these current cameras you all advise is better for broadcast.

We Have lights,audio, even have a make up girl.. We have JVC PRO HD cams we can use but the size limits us for our travels. Why i was looking at the above models as a starting point. We are going to be in tight spots and traveling in really crappy methods of transportation to get to some of our destinations.
JVC has a new camera coming out in the spring. It is smaller than the XH-A1 but is supposed to have the same or greater capabilities. It will record on SDHC cards.

It is supposed to shoot all the ProHD formats, plus 1080i. (I don't know about 60p).

Anyway, the point is, it is even better than travel than the XH-A1, and it would work perfectly with the ProHD cameras you already have.
ss
Of the cameras already suggested, for travel especially, I recommend the XH-A1s. I have one as used it this way. The tape is good for on-the-go shooting, since you are not tied to a computer and raid setup to off-load the video. At this time, for price/quality/features, I don't think anything beats the XH-A1 for general shooting of all types.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 04:34 PM   #11
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Of the cameras already suggested, for travel especially, I recommend the XH-A1s. I have one as used it this way. The tape is good for on-the-go shooting, since your not tied to a computer and raid setup to off-load the video. For price/quality/features, I don't think anything beats the XH-A1 for general shooting of all types.
Thanks Jack, so it's down to the XH-A1 or the Sony HVR-Z7U for the crew... Still on the ball here.

anyone else want to chime in...
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Old December 11th, 2008, 06:51 PM   #12
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Thanks Jack, so it's down to the XH-A1 or the Sony HVR-Z7U for the crew...
CMOS or CCD sensor. Which is best for you? I know that you cannot divulge what you'll be shooting but you might want to factor that into the equation. The CMOS rolling shutter issue may bounce up and bite you on the bum if you are shooting fast action. There are other situations not conducive to shooting with a CMOS camera. I'm not familiar with all the details of this issue but there's been plenty written both here and elsewhere that should help you suss out the good and the bad.

I ended up going with a CCD camera because the CMOS issues, well, just scared me and I know CCDs. However, I remember someone said that whilst CMOS cams have their issues, so do CCD cams. With either sensor, we'll learn to shoot around their deficiencies.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #13
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I ended up going with a CCD camera because the CMOS issues, well, just scared me and I know CCDs. However, I remember someone said that whilst CMOS cams have their issues, so do CCD cams. With either sensor, we'll learn to shoot around their deficiencies.
I;m with you on the fear of CMOS over CCD issues, but with the sony i can change the lens and even use the sony dslr lens on the cam.. our photo guy going with us loves sony dslr dono why. so he has bags full of lens for the cams. less for me to worry about unless he falls off the cargo plane. then again less for me to worry about lol...

just did not want to be limited in lens as well as format. .. I am leaning toward the Canon it's what i know. iv shot on GL2 and XL2 for a long time... Just a hard choice. I can't make up my mind and thats why your reading this thread at the moment.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 10:42 PM   #14
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less for me to worry about unless he falls off the cargo plane.
You won't let him fly with the rest of the passengers?
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Old December 12th, 2008, 06:59 AM   #15
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You won't let him fly with the rest of the passengers?
Some of the locations we are flying to, there are not any commercial flights. We are taking cargo planes that bring in supply.

ever heard of Doctors with out borders, Think that type of deal.. The plane lands with supply and doctors . waits around for a few days , takes back a few other doctors, old gear , some stuff for research, and us.

I know you guys wan't to know more and I love this community iv been part of it for some time now. But by law I just can't say anything yet.
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