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Old November 22nd, 2007, 10:07 PM   #1
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My first TIGHT budgeting camcorder/audio. Advice/Suggestions appreciated.

I'm trying to put together a good looking and sounding video. I'm making this primarily to find my flaws, so I know what I need to work on before I start my first film in class. I don't have a lot of resources (going to film school, Full Sail, in February, costing $70,000!! for my bachelors, yikes), and I'd like to save as much as possible. Initially I only wanted to spend $1000, but I thought about the potential quality difference and this is what I came up with:

Camcorder: Canon HV20 $775
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-HV20-Def...5678343&sr=1-1

Shotgun Microphone: DM-50 $138.35
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Directio.../dp/B00005LD4W

Extra Batterys x2 + minitripod 50.00
http://www.amazon.com/Pro-Power-Capa...5679310&sr=1-9

Carrying Case: Canon SC2000 $50.00 ---- Not getting. Need to find another (larger, cheaper bag). Extra funds can go to better tripod.
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-SC2000-C...5678746&sr=1-1

Wide Converter: $140.83
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-WD43-Con...5678851&sr=1-1

1GB SD Card: $16.00
http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-miniSD...5789416&sr=8-1

IEEE Firewire 11.00
http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F3N401-...sim_p_title_13

Tripod: 125.16
http://www.amazon.com/Brunton-Tubula...679390&sr=1-10

Total High Estimate: 1,260.67
Amazon and other websites advertise for slightly cheaper, and I will dig deeper for better pricing/warrenty information.

Things I am hoping to do in my film:
A. Plenty of dialog.
B. I like to direct my films without always using a tripod but I'm an extremely shaky person and don't have the funds for an expensive camcorder that I can put on my shoulder.
C. The tripod that I do use, I'd like to be able to somehow attach wheels on, and smoothly add/subtract height while recording.
D. Audio is a big deal for me, I don't want this to look/sound homemade.

What I own:
-Sony Vegas 7
-Adobe Premiere Pro (don't know very well)
-Adobe After Effects (don't know well, but have video tutorials from a friend).
-Adobe Photoshop (Know very well).
-Construction Lights
-Can Lights
-Small Lights

I've got lighting, I'm in a band and have XLR Beta58 vocal microphones but am unsure how useful they'll be. I've got microphone stands as well, trees for the lights, can lights, construction lights etc. But what I don't have is a good camcorder setup. I am just wondering: Is my setup good? The shotgun mic, the tripod, etc? I don't know anything about film yet, but have been researching quite a lot and hope to get started soon. Thanks everyone!

PS: Last questions:

A.For shooting dialog between two people with one camcorder: Is it best to record the conversation twice, each with 100% of the camera's focus on one person? I wish I had two camcorders but don't have the money.
B. The carrying case seems like it wont fit everything, with all the above listed, do they make good sized bags that can carry all of the above?

I have a good understanding for great audio/music, and would like to portray this video as professionally some of my other works from the digital gaming world.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=0yacNusJ6kU --> Crysis. Video taken from about 60 sources.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=-bjgsP6FoeE --> Armed Assault. Video created via scripts in the games editor.

Last edited by Brandon Smith; November 23rd, 2007 at 12:31 AM.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 10:27 PM   #2
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Schools

Spend that 70k on gear and rent, Filming is an art form that can t be learned in a class room (in my opinion) (and filming IS an art). I have dealt with the parallels in the audio studio world, no amount of classroom schooling will make you a good artist, they can only teach you techniques but that is all, with enough determination you can pick this stuff up on your own, heck , I think this forum will teach you more. I have seen countless of people graduate from "art" schools without enough information to do anything creative, and the ones that do make it out will admit they could have done it without the school. its like riding a bike you can talk about it for years but you'll only learn to be good by riding. you can make alot of cheesy short films for 70k and learn 100 times what you would learn from art school. just my opinion... and most of the time the degree will not get you anywhere... sorry for ranting but I have seen too many people owing big time school loans with no real knowledge or experience, and end up being stage hands or PA's anyway. and still having to learn things the hard way. spend that money on gear and just start doing it. please forgive if I have insulted anyone. this is just something I feel strongly about.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 10:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brandon Smith View Post
Carrying Case: Canon SC2000 $50.00
You don't need a $50 Canon-branded carrying case... just go to your local discount store and find a no-name one for $15. Put the unspent $35 toward a better tripod.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 10:52 PM   #4
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The big film school thread:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=11156
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 12:10 AM   #5
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The thing is: My Family (including all 6 grandparents, step mom, dad, mom, aunts and uncles) expect me to get some sort of degree, no matter what its in. They haven't stopped lecturing me on the importance of a college education since I was 5. I know its my life and I should choose to do with it what I will. Except its near impossible in my situation. Besides, the school will be a great place to start networking with fellow new filmmakers. Perhaps with this setup, and some of the school equipment we can create some small flicks with the spare time we have. Plus, this setup will kinda tell me whether or not I should invest in better equipment. I don't wanna dump 70k on school OR a film setup to find out that I have no talent.

I like the bag/tripod idea, good call.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 12:30 AM   #6
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Hi Brandon...............

My 2 cents worth? Go for the degree, it's worth every cent.

You have NO idea where you'll be in 10 years time with anything. I guess you're about 19, maybe? A smart 19 if so.

The changes in society, yourself and the entire market in that time mean just one thing - get the qualification, do the best with what you have in the interim and, most importantly, enjoy it.

If you want to become an empashioned film maker, you'll find out soon enough once you get to college, and have been able to take on board the attitudes and mindset of the staff and students there.

For all you know, in 10 years time you will have discovered a pashion for fashion, a yen for heaps of filthy lucre on the stockmarket, decided to build a boat and sail the world, or be quite content to do a 9 - 5 with a salary and 2.4 kids.

Who knows?

Certainly not I, nor anybody else on DVinfo.

So for the moment, keep it simple, get the gear you can afford (you'd be suprised - or not, at what you can do with very simple gear) and just enjoy it!

And remember, what you don't have, you can probably beg, borrow or (if absolutely neccesary) steal (temporarily) to achieve the required ends.

That 2 cents went a very long way indeed! (Can't say that of much nowadays).


CS
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 02:47 AM   #7
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Thanks for the moral booster! It went down for a bit there. I was thinking this over for a few hours and weighed the pro's can cons:

Facts:
I've had a passion for film for 11 years. (I am 19, you were correct).

Pros of the school:
-Meet new friends, who will be an important part of my future.
-Establish a hardworking outlook on the industry by focusing diligently on coursework.
-Getting a professional mindset.
-Having an actual degree
-Getting away from the stresses of home
-Being able to work with professional equipment
-Being able to talk with professors that are currently in the industry and gaining insight from them.

Cons of the school:
Leaving high-school friends behind for a minimum of two years
Cost financially, loans, etc.

Worries:
Finding a job after I graduate. But I guess that's up to me to make sure that I make the connections I'm seeking, and to work as hard as I can in order to ensure my future.

=========================

Other than that, great! Now, I'm really hoping that we can get to this camcorder purchase. Are the parts worth purchasing? Does this shotgun mic work well in dialog scenes? I know it isn't a $5000 microphone, but will it give it the sound like it isn't coming from the family camcorder?
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 02:57 AM   #8
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It's probably extremely worthwhile to PA (or do other work... extras... catering... etc.) on some sets to see if you want to get into production. You'll have a good idea of what the job is like (which you don't experience in film school) and you'll learn a lot (more than film school).
You should do this regardless of whether or not you go to school.

2- Are you paying your own tuition? If so... you'll graduate with some serious student loans and it might take you a while to pay them off. Film school by itself won't help you land any good-paying film/video jobs (except maybe non-production jobs like sales). If you graduate with $70k in loans and make $20k/yr minus living expenses... that might be unpleasant.

Your parents have the best of intentions... and it's their job to encourage you to go get a degree... but think carefully before you end up in debt. They likely don't want to see you drowning in debt.

Anyways, many of these issues are covered in the big film school thread. If there's one thing to keep mind, I would get some real world experience by PAing on some professional sets. It's not hard and you'll get informed about what you're getting into (e.g. film shoots tend to have long hours... at least 10 hours).

3- Certain credit cards will extend the warranty on your purchases, so that might help. There are conditions to that... read the fine print (you have to pay the whole purchase, not for business use, not used, you need to keep all your receipts, etc.).

4- Check out the site's sponsors
I'd definitely visit bhphotovideo.com
http://www.dvinfo.net/sponsors/

5- Tripod: Can it pan smoothly without sticktion? (Sticking when you start and stop the pan.) If you plan on adding elements that add weight (e.g. 35mm adapter, rods, etc.), can it support that weight?

If not then you might want to look at a better tripod (unfortunately they cost a lot more).
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 03:17 AM   #9
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Can you shed some light on "sticktion" and "35mm adapter, rods, etc."? I'm not sure what these are.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 03:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gerry Gallegos View Post
Spend that 70k on gear and rent, Filming is an art form that can t be learned in a class room (in my opinion) (and filming IS an art). I have dealt with the parallels in the audio studio world, no amount of classroom schooling will make you a good artist, they can only teach you techniques but that is all, with enough determination you can pick this stuff up on your own, heck , I think this forum will teach you more. I have seen countless of people graduate from "art" schools without enough information to do anything creative, and the ones that do make it out will admit they could have done it without the school. its like riding a bike you can talk about it for years but you'll only learn to be good by riding. you can make alot of cheesy short films for 70k and learn 100 times what you would learn from art school. just my opinion... and most of the time the degree will not get you anywhere... sorry for ranting but I have seen too many people owing big time school loans with no real knowledge or experience, and end up being stage hands or PA's anyway. and still having to learn things the hard way. spend that money on gear and just start doing it. please forgive if I have insulted anyone. this is just something I feel strongly about.
Im with you Gerry, i spent 3 years in college, it did very little to help, you get access to equipment and you get to meet people but thats about it. I learned what i know from making films.

Andy.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 05:01 AM   #11
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Im with you Gerry, i spent 3 years in college, it did very little to help, you get access to equipment and you get to meet people but thats about it. I learned what i know from making films.

Andy.
Higher education has nothing whatsoever to do with acquiring job skills, even in a technical area such as filmmaking. Education has to do with shaping one into a perceptive and critically thinking person who is aware of the cultural path that has led to his existance and shaped his world and who is able to contribute something to the future. Any employment benefits or career related skills that may arise from that crucible are purely coincidental.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 07:08 AM   #12
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Education has to do with shaping one into a perceptive and critically thinking person who is aware of the cultural path that has led to his existance and shaped his world and who is able to contribute something to the future.
Steve, that's an excellent assessment of an ideal, modern, liberal arts education.

In the context of being a filmmaker, I would add that a higher education (of any kind) can give you the tools to speak from a particular point of view. I have an Honours Degree in Sociology and am conscious that it informs every project I do.

Last edited by Tom Vandas; November 23rd, 2007 at 07:56 AM. Reason: spelling mistakes
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 07:13 AM   #13
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Brandon,

Full Sail is a great place to begin your journey. As you can already see, there are those who go to school, and those that don't. The fact that you have so many questions makes you a perfect candidate for school, in my opinion.

It is at school that you will learn about all of these tools that you are looking for answers about. You will spend time with like-minded individuals who share your passion. Students more so than instructors. What it will do is provide a frame-work for you to learn the tools to make films.

I agree with some who say that the "art" of filmmaking is best learned behind a lens, but Full sail will put you behind that lense with people that know the answers to your questions.

Personally, I would hold onto the cash until you get into the program. They have gear that you will utilize while you are there. You will "discover" more about what you want or need as you go along.

Over and over, new college students run out and buy books and supplies before they even meet the professor, only to find that he isn't going to use the book listed in the syllabus. I think this will be the same.

Although it is fun, and tepting to run out and purchase everything you believe you need right now. Wait until you are there. You'll have time to gather your tools. It won't be a one-time expenditure, you will be purchasing, designing, creating and improvising from here on out.

If your path is full-sail, don't be swayed by folks who think education is a waste of time. Everyone takes different paths to achieve their goals.

To work as anything that pays in this field, you need education, experience, or both. Press on.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 01:51 PM   #14
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Brandon:

1- "Sticktion" is a (silly) made-up word (and I don't think many other people use it). Don't worry about it.

Anyways the key point is whether or not the tripod can let you do smooth camera moves. If you play around with the cheesier tripods, they will kind of stick when you start and stop a pan. You don't want that.

2- Red Rock Micro has an example of a 35 adapter, matte box, rods, etc. (I should point out that you can make films without any of those toys.)

http://www.redrockmicro.com/

Granted, it may or may not make too much sense to get a tripod that supports more weight than you need. You might just want something that's good enough and light.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 03:23 PM   #15
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Those are like 5000 dollar tripods though... :(
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