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Old November 7th, 2008, 12:52 PM   #1
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Location: Canton, NC
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Freelance Equipment

I was just contacted by a company that produces a news magazine show about a shoot in my area this month. They need a freelance camera operator (with sound equipment) for an interview shoot. I'm going to have to tell them I can't do it because I don't think I have the necessary equipment to do it. I've mainly been doing weddings and commercials and things like that. I recently produced a 2-hour historical documentary for a local community group as well. I have the necessary equipment to do things like that, but I probably do things in a way that is not 100% the "professional" way. For example, when taping interviews for the historical documentary, I often recorded audio separately on a MiniDisc recorder and synched it up to the footage later, which is obviously something I would not have the luxury of doing on a one-day interview shoot for a news magazine show. I also never used a monitor or anything like that while taping, which I notice is something that this show requires.

What equipment would I need to have in order to be able to take jobs like this? Right now I have the following:

Canon XH-A1 HDV camera
Bogen/Manfrotto Tripod
Arri 4-head lighting kit with softbox
Shotgun microphone (which I'm looking to upgrade soon)
2 wired lavalier mics (no wireless system yet, I'm afraid)
2 dynamic handheld mics (I use these mainly for voiceover recording)
2 Sony MiniDisc recorders
1 Zoom H2 SD card audio recorder
1 42-inch circular reflector

I know I need to invest in a wireless lavalier mic system and a good field monitor. Anything else that would be necessary to have a good basic freelance camera kit?

Doug Chambers
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Old November 7th, 2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Hi Doug,

Why not take the job if the pay is decent? It doesn't cost *that* much to rent a field monitor--roughly $50/day for an SD monitor and $175/HD here in New York. For the future, if you can't afford a field monitor but you have a pretty powerful laptop you can get a program like Scopebox, Canon's CONSOLE or Adobe On Location (part of the Production Premium bundle). You'll have full monitoring functions and even DVR functionality depending on which program you use.

As for other gear, I'd add a boompole, field mixer and cables as needed. You can use the aux audio out of the mixer to keep feeding your MD or Zoom recorders. There's plenty of good gear advice on the audio sub-forum, but feel free to PM me also.


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Old November 7th, 2008, 05:56 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: North Conway, NH
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Doug... you don't give any specifics about what they expect. This makes it hard to know whether you should take it or not.

- Do they expect you to be a one-man band?
- Interior or exterior?
- Moving or stationary?

If it's a stationary shoot, what's wrong with a wired lav direct to the camera?

Remember, it's the shooter, not the gear (within reason). With your kit and some talent I don't see any reason you should back away from this.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:14 PM   #4
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you definately have the gear to get the job done. but like stated before, whats the expectation of the client? is it just a sit down? or is it sit down and b-roll?

if they need a sound guy, you wont need a boom pole or mixer, just hire a sound guy. I would rent the monitor as well.

but if they dont, just sit em down, wire them up, light it and start shooting! good luck!


I dont understand recording sound seperately, so for this shoot I would recomend getting it straight to the tape.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 02:54 AM   #5
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These days news type programmes usually use one person crews, but for a magazine programme they may want a sound recordist, although I suspect they may not. Sound is almost always recorded single system for broadcast work unless shooting high end productions like drama. If you require two mics, split the tracks, so that on a two way interview each person's mic is on a different track. Sound recordists often supply their own gear.

On news you don't usually carry a monitor, but since it's a magazine type programme ask if they need one and if they do, hire one in.

Ask about the format they wish to shoot on, no point shooting Mini DV or HDV if they require one of the digital Betacam (or even Beta SP) formats.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 03:34 AM   #6
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Keep in mind there are many freelancers who don't own any of the gear they use on their jobs. . .they're paid to rent it, or the client owns it. See if they'll pay you the fee you want for your labor as well as covering the costs of whatever gear you'd need to rent.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 10:08 AM   #7
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brian makes a good point about checking on the format. although I suspect if they called you, they already went over that with you right?

he also makes a great point about splitting the audio tracks.

typically I have my wireless on channel 1 and shotgun on 2, and like he said, if you have a two person interview, just unhook the shotgun, and plug the second mic into that.

and yeah, a lot of companies will pay you the fees to rent gear they need. just be upfront about it, and dont try to sneak the cost in later.
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