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Old April 23rd, 2007, 03:19 PM   #1
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The $10k purchase

Before I pose my question, I'd like to thank everyone here in advance for such a great forum. I rarely post but have been reading for years!

I recently started a small media production company and would like to break into HDV production. We've been doing print and web projects for some time and finally have some upcoming video projects. We considered renting but decided to get some equipment to call our own. I've got about a $10,000 budget (+/- a couple thousand) and wanted to run this list by you guys to make sure I'm not missing any essentials!

Canon XH-A1 - ($3500)
Camera Accessories - (~$2000) - tripod, case, filters, etc.
Lowell Lights - ($1300) - DvCreator kit 44
Shotgun Mic - ($600) - Sennheiser ME66 + wireless transmitter
Computer for Editing - ($3000) - Maxed out Dell XPS to handle HD editing
Adobe CS3 Production Suite - ($1700) - Switching from FCP to AP...i'm a bit nervous...but we need all the other software and integration seems even easier between the programs.

We'll be using the included CS3 HD rack (formerly Serious Magic) to capture directly to a portable harddrive, using a laptop for monitoring purposes.

Altogether about $12k...I'd love to hear any comments on my decisions and what you think about the setup. Thanks in advance!
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 06:51 PM   #2
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Suggest you consider budgeting for a second XH-A1, or at least get an HV20 to use as a "B" camera. Relying on just one camera limits your shooting options and leaves you hanging if it stops running during a shoot.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 02:55 AM   #3
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Personally I'd avoid incandescent lights. CFLs, HMI or LEDs are more practical although more expensive upfront. Over the years the savings in lamps, burnt fingers and heat recovers your upfront costs.
Many of the Lowell lights can now be fitted with CFLs and their Caselights are very good.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #4
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10 k setup

Also consider / Cineform products / Aspect HD / Prospect HD.
and a timeline preview on monitor of choice for HDV.
The Matrox APVe series graphic card gives acceptable results.



Herman.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 03:53 AM   #5
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I would replace ME66 with Rode NTG-1 (or NTG-2 if you think it will be used without phantom). Cheaper, better.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 05:20 AM   #6
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The camera choice is a difficult one so I will not comment on that. Get the best tripod you can afford. Please bear in mind that in the end you need a lot of other accessories

- lensfilters for protection,
- cables,
- spare batteries
- couple of neat software plugins
- an on camera light
- FilmGear makes very nice 650 fresnel spots
- Redhead makes very affordable open faced lights
- get a bunch of colored gel filters, especially ctb's, some orange, frost, straw etc.
- get a Sennheiser ME46 reporter microphone
- a dozen stands


Regards,
Erwin
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Old April 24th, 2007, 08:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Van Deventer View Post
Also consider / Cineform products / Aspect HD / Prospect HD
I'm not too familiar with Cineform, but can software really make a difference in the HDV quality and real-time processing? I would think the latter would result from a better graphics card....
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Old April 24th, 2007, 01:10 PM   #8
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Mike,

The Cineform site will answer all your questions. The render engine that
plugs into premiere with their encoding tech. as an intermediate codec,
simply rocks !

I've been using Prospect HD for a couple of months now / It has enhanched my post workflow to a highly satifactory experience.

Although bancrupt after the purchase / I consider it money well spent.

Mike, I'm not pushing the product. Try the 15 day free trial on your
machine and evaluate self.

Greetings / Herman
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Old April 24th, 2007, 05:23 PM   #9
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Thanks Herman, once I get some footage I'll use the trial run to test it out...sounds like it would definately help speed up the workflow.

I purchased the A1 today! Would've bought a lot more goodies but the camera store I went to was so inflated over BH prices (always at least 1.5 times, sometimes double) I just couldn't do it...I love to support the local guys but GEEZ....

They did have some interesting Florescent lights, but I was hesitant to buy. There were the "spiral" bulbs similar to the Alzo lights...they just seemed cheap and weak. I'm going to go browse and maybe post in the light section. Are cool lights able to compete price wise with the Lowel dv kits? I have yet to find a good setup for under 2g's.

Thanks everyone for your input!
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Old May 20th, 2007, 08:50 PM   #10
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Congrats on the A1, a very nice camera, especially for the money.

As for lighting - for the price and power, no - you will not be able to compete with the Lowell stuff with any other technology. LED's are VERY expensive right now, and not terribly powerful as anything beyond on-camera lights. Plus, they are usually daylight(ish) balanced, which is not particularly useful considering they do not have enough power to reasonably compete with daylight coming through windows, not to mention outdoors. HMI's are VERY expensive and great lights, if you need daylight...but they are VERY expensive. 1 small light would eat half your budget. If you're trying to build a complete production from the ground-up on a budget, you can't go wrong with the Lowell stuff. Whether you have 4 or 40 lights in your kit, the Lowell stuff always comes in handy somewhere.

Oh, and CFL's? There are lamps that are still considered CFL's which are practical, and many manufacturers make budget versions of the fixtures. Kino and Osram make true tungsten or daylight balanced lamps in the 2G11 base (bitube, 4-pin), which create a tremendous amount of soft light for their size/wattage... Great for soft light. BUT, if you need hard light at all, CFL's, and fluorescents for that matter are very poor choices. By their nature, they are not hard sources, can't be cut with barndoors, etc... Simply screwing a CFL spiral into a reflector does not make a spotlight, and no, a 100 watt equivalent spiral will not put out anywhere close to the amount of spot light as a 100 watt incandescent. There's a lot of pro/con about different light techs on this board, it's worth a quick search. Needless to say, the Lowell stuff should last you a lot longer than your camera, and certainly longer than a cheap CFL spiral system (which also tend to take up 6x the space). Lowell's not the world's finest gear, but the bang for buck can't be beat.

As for sound kit - Petri's suggestion of the Rode NTG-2 mic is a good one. The me66 is not sennheiser's finest shotgun, and I agree that the Rode is a better mic overall, as well as cheaper. No flexible capsules, but I have listened to the other k6 compatible capsules...you can find purpose-built mics for those uses far cheaper and better than the capsules. Also, if you don't absolutely need a wireless shotgun, save your cash and get a nice quality XLR cable. No hits, dropouts or worries of RFI. LOTS cheaper. Oh, and whatever shotgun you get, buy a boompole and NICE windmuff if you think you'll ever use it outside. On-camera shotguns work sometimes when there's no other choice. But, you can make HUGE gains in production quality by simply taking the mic off the camera and having someone boom it properly.

Erwin makes a good point too - don't neglect batteries!!! You certainly don't need Canon brand batteries either. LiIon's are good for 200 cycles, best case scenario. They all basically use the same cells, canon or off brand, so why spend more money for the same thing? They WILL all die between 150 and 200 cycles, so save the cash and get cheapy batteries.

And good luck and congrats on gearing up!
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Old May 20th, 2007, 10:49 PM   #11
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Necessary filters, Polarizer (probably circular if you intend to ever use auto focus)...and Neutral Density filters in varying strengths. I was stuck on a shoot with a cheaper pro kit. My built in ND on camera was too strong for the lights I had, but the lights were too hot to leave my iris open for DoF control.

You'll want gels for the lights too, 1/4 and 1/2 CTB and CTO (possibly some +/- green gels as well for working in flourescent environments where you have little control over the ambient lighting...gels are cheap.

Batteries! www.ebatts.com , I've had a high capacity (5 hour straight or all day with camera judiciously on and off) battery for 2 years, still works like a champ...<$50.

bounce cards/reflectors/C-Stands for holding said same.
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Old May 21st, 2007, 03:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Computer for Editing - ($3000) - Maxed out Dell XPS to handle HD editing
Adobe CS3 Production Suite - ($1700) - Switching from FCP to AP...i'm a bit nervous...but we need all the other software and integration seems even easier between the programs.
I would personally stick with FCP/FCS myself, unless you have a really compelling reason to go to the adobe suite (i.e. you use a ridiculous amount of AE). Considering you already have a mac + FCP, it shouldn't be expensive to upgrade to FCS2 and save money compared to switching to the adobe suite. The editing software generally does the same thing in the end.

Having used a lot of Final Cut and Vegas... they more or less do the same thing. They have small differences in how long things take (which is why I generally prefer Vegas) but in the end it's usually not a huge difference.

2- Where I'd particularly pay attention to is audio. If you don't capture it right, your end product will really suffer or you will waste ridiculous amounts of time fixing it (and even then it won't sound that great). Depending on what you're shooting, you may need other types of mics in your kit. You'll likely need accessories like a windscreen, boom, shockmount, etc.

3- Some great resources for lighting:
www.efplighting.com
The sticky thread for low budget lighting in the light forum. It will list all the little helpful accessories that you will likely want in your kit. Lighting "kits" don't come with everything you need... like stringers / power extension cords.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #13
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You need to triple your audio budget. Good mics are essential, and you need different ones for different situations.

Just a note on the NTG-2 vs. an ME66: I have both.

The Rode NTG-2 sounds really good on normally-modulated voices. It completely falls apart in high-noise environments, though (despite the sound pressure specs). It would be a good choice for recording scripted dialog.

The Sennheiser ME66 emphasizes the midrange and really picks voices out of the clutter. It is far superior for run-n-gun ENG style shooting. It also works in much louder environments than the Rode. I would pick the ME66 for news, wedding and event work.

Also, you might consider the Lowel DV Core kits -- a few hundred bucks cheaper, and I find the v-light more useful as a broad light than an omni.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Petri Kaipiainen View Post
I would replace ME66 with Rode NTG-1 (or NTG-2 if you think it will be used without phantom). Cheaper, better.
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Old May 27th, 2007, 02:26 AM   #14
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In my opinion, the ME-66 is not that great of a microphone. Its off-axis response is not very good... so if you are off with your aim, things sound different. All shotguns have this problem, though the more expensive mics (e.g. Sennheiser 416) have noticeably better off-axis performance. The AT4073 is noticeably better and you might as well pay the extra $100 (the NTG or AT897 may be cheaper alternatives, though I don't have experience with them).

Indoors, reverb sounds weird on shotguns. I've found I got better audio off the on-board camera mic on a DVX than using the ME66 mounted to it. It's probably the off-axis response making reverb sound weird. But the bottom line is, the ME-66 just sounds weird indoors while the better mics exhibit this less. Indoors, yes the ME-66 is very directional but it hurts sound quality so there's not much point to the added rejection. This is the reason why I don't like the ME-66.

The off-axis/aim thing is much less of an issue, though it comes into play if you have to get sound for groups of people. Granted, shotguns can be useful outdoors (and on soundstages). But you can get away with using a hypercardioid outdoors and don't have to be as careful with aim.

2- Though a lot of what audio equipment you should get depends on what you will be doing. Get the appropriate mics + gear for the task.

Depending on what camera you go with, a wide-angle adapter/lens can help your audio. Get the mic right up into the subjects face (though respect their personal space). (*I'm not familiar with how wide the lens on the A1 is.)
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Old May 27th, 2007, 04:13 AM   #15
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I second the AT4073. I got to play with one (actually AT4073a, don't know the difference) on a shoot and it did not sound at all like I expected from a shotgun. It had practically none of the off-axis low end reflections that I anticipated. It was easily the best mic that I have experienced and it's only a couple hundred dollars more than the mediocre mics.
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