Tips needed for a Tanzania/Rwanda/Uganda video doc project... at

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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bloomington, IN
Posts: 2
Tips needed for a Tanzania/Rwanda/Uganda video doc project...

Hello, all!

In three weeks (I fly out June 17th) I'm going to head to East Africa do a doc project on the AIDS pandemic and hospice care for several non-profit organizations. I need some serious advice about equipment, as the donor who originally stated he would provide gear (a Sony HD camera, tripod setup, etc - pretty much the works) may not be able to do so because the equipment needs to be repaired, and I'm now facing potentially purchasing equipment -- something I've avoided for a while as I'm a college student and have not yet had the budget to buy what I really want. Though Iíd like to wait around to see if the donor reappears in time, I really canít leave anything up to chance simply because tickets have already been purchased for me and my partner in this project, homestays set up, etc.

Considering the landscapes Iíll pay privy to and the nature of the project, Iíd prefer to shoot on HD but am working with a pretty limited budget, within $3,000 if possible Ė even less would be better (this is money Iíve been saving for grad school), but at this point Iíll do whatever I need to do.

Iím going to be traveling in really rural areas, and Iíll need to be able to carry all of my equipment on me at all times. (Anything lightweight would be a plus!) And because Iíll be in a lot of impoverished areas, bringing along a computer doesnít seem like a very smart idea Ė but of course, storage of footage is another problem. If I shoot on Mini DV Iíll have to probably ship it out of the country at intervals, or at least ship it back to Dar es Salaam (where Iíll be based Ė they will be able to protect it for me).

I also need to purchase some sort of adapter for the countryís power supply, though because I wonít always be able to access electricity, it makes sense for me to buy a solar charger. Any advice in regards to brands/models, etc?

As far as the camera goes, I would prefer something smaller, something lightweight, but naturally, considering this is my hard-earned money weíre talking about, I really want this investment to be something I can use over and over again and wonít regret later when I am involved in projects back in the USA.

People have suggested some of the smaller, new HD cams Ė for instance, the Canon HV-20 HDV camcorder, or the Canon vixia HV-30. My concern, considering the lack of control Iíll have in regards to lighting in many of these locations (mud huts, etc), is that without real control over image (which the smaller HDV camcorders donít seem to offer) Iíll be up a proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle. Frankly, I donít feel like I need to lug a Canon XL2 around the fifth poorest country in the world ---but that image control is something I appreciate.

I also want a good looking image Ė something that replicates film as closely as possible and results in a really professional-looking product in the end. Iím worried about the expense of lenses.

So basically, I need:

1) A good, lightweight, adaptable HD camera with a lens/lenses that allow for (hopefully) wide angle, high and low light, etc.

2) A good, lightweight, easily-transportable tripod that gives me lots of control/fluidity.

3) Some good, transportable power source.

4) Some good rain shield.

5) A good case/camera bag or means of carrying the whole lot relatively inconspicuously.

And then of course thereís the concern of sand, dust, dirt, humidity, and heat -- I will, after all, be on the equator.

Whew, so Ė thatís about it. What do you think about these smaller HDV cams compared to, say, something bulkier that allows for more control? Iíve not worked with the smaller HDV cameras beforeÖ and I really want high quality footage, considering people are investing in me and this project, and considering I simply care a great deal about the project, both because of the advocacy it could allow for, and because this will inevitably be something to include in my portfolio and may help me save on grad school costsÖ

Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice you all might have.

Rachel Weaver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 28th, 2008, 07:38 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 5,368
If you have plenty of light, the HV20/HV30 cameras can produce a great image. But, will you be recording indoors?

A friend of mine filmed in Ethiopia. While there was enough light coming through the windows and doors, all of this light was blocked by curious people. Be sure to have a good on-camera light, or other lighting, if you will be shooting indoors.

But much more important than cameras, if you want your project to be successful, would be the ability to get good audio.

People will put up with fair images, but will walk out if the audio is bad.

Will the sound, such as music and narration, be added in post?

Or will you want to record on location. If so, the internal micrphones and audio capabilities of the HV series will be a serious problem.

Please let us know how you plan on handling audio.
Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
Dan Keaton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 29th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #3
Major Player
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 267
Hi Rachel,
this is not the perfect list, but that would my choice if having to deal with matching your goals within a $3000 budget.
Canon HV20 or HV30 ($900)
Canon Wide Angle ($140)
Rode Videomic ($150) shotgun and quite good for interview if within 5 feets)
Senn G2 Evolution ($600) very good wireless lav system,
filters UV and Polarizer ($75)
Lite Panels Micro ($300)
tripod: Bogen-Manfrotto-190XV-Lightweight-701RC2 ($250)
bag: DR-467 Digital Rucksack, KT DR-467 ($80)
Tapes: Sony Premium ($3-each)
and off course extra batteries, cleaning kit . And a collapside reflector.

hope that help.
Measure twice, cut once!
Robert Morane is offline   Reply

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