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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Wayne G. Sayles View Post
BTW, I did take Shaun's comments constructively.
Thanks Wayne. Despite the tone of my previous posts, I did MEAN them in a constructive manner. My belief is that we get the best results by doing what we do best and allowing others WHERE POSSIBLE (which is obviously the lynchpin here) to do what they do best so we get the highest standard of end result. Please understand as well that the very second TV broadcast comes up, I get very defensive of those of us that do this for a living. When the target is for YouTube et al, ya gets what ya pays for. For television, which SHOULD still be the height of the art (opinions may vary on whether this is still true or not...), I as a viewer expect more than JUST compelling stories. I'd like to hear them and see them in all their potential glory.

A word of practical advice Wayne. One of the hardest things for a new videomaker to do successfully is light a subject. Where possible, try to take advantage of natural light: a comfortable chair near a window with a bounce card on the far side of the face; or an APPROPRIATE outdoor location with good sunlight and little noise "pollution" (up here in Canada we are in -20 right now so indoors it would have to be here...). I also encourage you to use a lavaliere mic in close proximity on the interviewee if you are "going it alone".
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:54 PM   #17
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I took a stab at it. All prices are from B&H Photo/Video as it was an easy reference. You could probably do better if you shopped around. It would have been nice to choose a 3-light kit, but you could get by with 2 on a shoe-string budget. The tripod isn't anything special, but it will get the job done for what you need.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:57 PM   #18
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As I've been reading through this thread, it's been occurring to me that in this project, the sound/story should be way more important than the picture.

In fact, I would think that a pretty effective piece could be done with a still camera and a couple of nice wired lavs - or maybe something like the Zoom or Sony PCM - D50 recorder, which while not perfect should certainly capture reasonable sound from two people a few feet away. In fact, the lack of "studio perfect sound and video" might actually be a plus.

If it were me, I might even go so far as doing everything in black and white.

Maybe a combination of intro and summary voice overs by Wayne to carry continuity and make sure important points are communicated.

Anyhow, I think you could do a nice job with just about any of the small consumer camcorders and a small digital still camera as well as a recorder like the Sony, a couple of relatively cheap tripods, and a couple of pieces of foamcore to use as fill reflectors near a window.

I bet a really nice job could be done with a kit that would fit in a briefcase and cost a total of $1200 - $1500 if purchased new. Or maybe even less! Sound 60%, camera 30%, everything else, 10%

Thoughts?
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
One of the hardest things for a new videomaker to do successfully is light a subject. Where possible, try to take advantage of natural light: a comfortable chair near a window with a bounce card on the far side of the face; or an APPROPRIATE outdoor location with good sunlight and little noise "pollution" (up here in Canada we are in -20 right now so indoors it would have to be here...). I also encourage you to use a lavaliere mic in close proximity on the interviewee if you are "going it alone".
Thanks Shaun, it's practical advice like this that is very helpful. I know that I'm not going to walk into someone's living room with a cheap video camera and create a professional movie. I do believe that, given the time, I could educate myself to the point that I might produce something useful. But for now, it is urgent that I capture as much as I can in the best way that I can and I have no financial support beyond personal out of pocket funding. What I do have is the ability to travel, the cooperation of the subjects, and boundless determination. I've read some of the lighting threads on this list and found them very helpful. I think I can properly light a single subject (talking head) with a little practice here at home. I understand the dynamics of a lavaliere mike and its advantages in this scenario. I'm sort of hung up right now on camera selection. The Sony HDR-SR11 and the Canon HF10 seem to be the two best choices at a bargain price, but I've read many reviews of these two cameras and the negative comments about editing the AVCHD format are a bit intimidating. I suspect that there is an answer to every problem, but I don't want to preclude any chance of basic editing myself by making the wrong format choice. I'll try to read some of the threads here that deal with editing AVCHD on a Mac, if there are any. Am I overly concerned about this aspect? Admittedly, the data capture is the pressing issue but it's worth a little thought up front if it will save me a lot of grief later.

I do appreciate the patience of all who have commented. I know that this gets boring when a novice jumps in and asks very basic questions. I see it all the time on discussion lists within my own field of expertise. Please rest assured that I value the advice and do take it to heart. I'm on a fast and steep learning curve, but that's not an impossible hurdle.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:31 PM   #20
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Generally being a one-man band myself, I see that this could go wrong in a hurry and leave everyone disappointed. If I wasn't so far away, I'd drive over to help you shoot it. Perhaps if you lived some place warmer... (grin)

Seriously, the idea about getting a student from a local college, or even high school could help a lot. Depending upon their experience they could have insight into the black art aspects of lighting and sound which will be key for making this look and sound good. I'll admit that I'm a complete pikey when it comes to lighting and I get paid for doing this.

Wayne... you mentioned that there were others involved in this project before. Could any of them be enticed to help you out? Even if they have little or no experience, you will have someone has interest in the project and can give you feedback on what you are doing. Plus having another set of arms and legs can be invaluable. At the very least your help can sit in the chair whilst you set the lights and check the sound.

Everything tells me that you should not do this solo. Too many things can go wrong in the heat of the moment. Another person will help you in ways large and small that you cannot imagine now.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:54 PM   #21
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Mitchell;

Thank you for the great equipment list. I noted immediately that you chose a Canon HV 20 instead of one of the AVCHD cameras that are selling for the same price or less today. That feeds directly into my comments earlier to Shaun about format uncertainties in my camera choice. Was there a particular reason that you avoided the AVCHD cameras?

Jim:

I understand and agree with the aesthetic considerations that you bring up. I hadn't thought about setting up my still camera too, but that's a great idea. I'll be using a lot of BW photo stills from the collections of these subjects, but I think they would provide the necessary nostalgia and the HD video would create a distinct then and now separation. Remember that these guys don't look the same today as they did in 1944, so a contrast of BW and HD color would be very effective I think. Thanks for the encouragement vis-a-vis quality on a shoestring budget. I am beginning to sense the importance of audio that several here have correctly pointed out.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:39 PM   #22
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Wayne,

Let me give you an example of how something so right can go so wrong.

You've set up the shot, it looks pretty good. You've got the old tank commander sitting by the window with the golden evening light pouring in ... he's deep into thought, he's opening up about what it was actually like at the Battle of the Bulge... things he's never told his family, you're hanging on every word... listening carefully, (you're even wearing the headphones, so the sound is good...) But what you don't know is that he's leaned forward and to the left ever so slightly, and he's out of frame now, or the headphone cords have pulled the camera off balance a bit, and the shot is out of level... but you are not looking at the camera, because it's MUCH better to be sitting right next to the lens, giving the subject a human he can talk to.. a human he can open up his soul to, a pair of eyes that are engaged with his, urging him to open up... a soft nod, a gentle smile giving him the encouragement he needs to continue with this story....

OR you're wearing the cans, eyes glued to the screen, watching the little levels blink up and down, noticing the sound in the background that's just kicked in.. was that the heater or the fridge in the kitchen??? Maybe I should shut it off - and you miss that magic moment - the moment you should have been giving to the subject, to pursue that hesitation in his voice, and he closes down on you... thinking it best not to mention that awful moment.

I believe YOU believe in the importance of their story. I'm not sure you understand what you are risking by doing this completely alone. "Multi Tasking" is sometimes a necessity, but it's rarely a good thing. Like I said, I've done it, and I HATE it.


Anything worth doing is worth doing right. I believe you and your project will best be served if you produce it, and get someone to shoot it. You don't have time to become an expert, and from your passion for the subject, I can tell you'll be dissapointed in anything less than the best you can get.

(Here's a thought - Why not post the locations you'll be interviewing in, and look for DvInfonet members who might want to lend a hand?)
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:57 PM   #23
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I just thought that in your situation, that capturing tape into your editing system (what is your edit system?) would be a lot simpler to connect and get working if you used HDV tape. But if you want, you could substitute another camera. That's really up to you. :)
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 07:21 PM   #24
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Wayne -

Consider the idea of putting this up as a DVinfo "help wanted" - you might find yourself with a pretty good crew to choose from.

That said, the SR11 and SR12 are identical except for the HDD, 60G vs. 120G. BOTH will record for hours, and you will want to download at least for backup purposes fairly quickly. The file transfer is done via USB, and it's a straight file transfer, so it takes about 1/3 real time typically to dump the files over - very fast.

As far as editing... Mac isn't ideal, but peruse the AVCHD section of DVinfo. IMO the critical aspect is getting footage "in the can" (on the disk?) ASAP, no matter whether in HDV or AVCHD formats. EITHER format should be suitable, I personally prefer the tapeless, but it's really up to you.

The SR's do have a bigger LCD viewscreen, so may be of help while monitoring your shot - which you will need to do. I'd suggest both some form of lav mic AND a small digital audio recorder like the Zoom or Sony - redundant audio in a "one shot" situation is never a bad plan. As noted, be SURE you have a quiet place to shoot, either well lit ambiently, or with a small light kit (or learn how to use "practicals" on site)

You shouldn't need a huge or even terribly pricey kit to pull this off, but the expertise in audio/video/lighting/interviewing is a huge bit to bite off in one shot. If it can be done, the people on this forum are the one crazy bunch to help you pull off the "impossible" (which we all know really means "add more determination, and git 'er done!!!").

I know the small cameras pretty well and know the "lo-budget" dilema quite well, so feel free to PM or ask away. The nice thing is that the quality you can achieve with fairly cheap gear is nothing to be ashamed of, IF you know how to use the gear!
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Old January 4th, 2009, 02:37 AM   #25
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Well folks, I took the plunge and ordered two Canon HV-30s at the astonishingly low price of $598 post paid for the pair - new - from SonicCameras.com. That should ease the camera control issue somewhat as I can set up one camera off to my right, where I can see the display as I'm taping, and can get a 45-degree shot as well as a wider frontal "over the shoulder" shot from the second camera behind me for more options in editing. It will also give me redundancy in filming and in audio as well as an easier edit, I hope, than the output from an AVCHD camera. I can run a lavaliere mike to one camera and a directional mike to the other camera wiring the two camera outputs to left and right earphones respectively for monitoring. It really isn't necessary that I be in the shots at all. Since the cameras are identical, my learning curve will be the same as for a single camera. I'm hoping that the HV-30 remote control supports remote zooming, which would be very helpful. I'm going to be out of town for a week, but will be back home about the time the cameras arrive. I'll do some experimenting with lighting and sound and will probably have some practical questions to ask at that point. I understand the potential problems that can occur from going it alone on these interviews, and appreciate the words of caution. However, the circumstances are rather unusual. I know these people very well - like family - and I'm confident that it will go much better this way.

I want to reiterate my thanks to all for the friendly advice.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 02:49 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Wayne G. Sayles View Post
I'm hoping that the HV-30 remote control supports remote zooming, which would be very helpful.
It does, but you may well find that it unexpectedly zooms both cameras at the same time. Check out that possibility in your set up - you can always switch off the remote on one of the cameras.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #27
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Hi Wayne,

Wow, I'm surprised that you went with the HV30 route! (And two cams at that :) I think Mitchell suggested the HV20 (which is a bit less than the HV30, but have been discontinued). I actually have the HV30 (bought last Spring), but have used it sparingly (since we still shoot SD, with our Canon XL2).

There are many "nuances" (which is a nuisance to most folks :) to the HV30 that you'll find. But the good news is that you'll find plenty of advice about the cam in the HV30 forum.

Best,
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Old January 4th, 2009, 01:50 PM   #28
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Wayne,

Keep us posted about the deliver your new cameras. I am very interested to see if what they promised in terms of price and product turn out to be real. Their review on Store Ratings and Reviews by Real People - Trusted Online Shopping is terrible.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 05:06 PM   #29
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Wayne -
I think you'll find the place you bought your camera(s) is one of the infamous "New York Camera" scammers... Google for an education, or search here.

Under $600 for two cameras that generally go for around that "street" (or eBay, which is a pretty good market price indicator) is "too good to be true", and you'll no doubt find that it is, be careful.

If you're buying two, shop around REPUTABLE stores and see if they can give you a deal on a pair - far better than "online scam shops". Since you're new to this, you probably haven't heard about "New York Camera Scams", but you're about to find out... You'll end up asking yourself what sort of country allows these sorts of "operators". I myself tried to deal with a couple of these type outfits, and it's nothing but a waste of your time.

HV30 is a decent choice regardless (if you want tape based workflow), and two cams is actually a wise choice - shooting multicam is HIGHLY effective if done right. You can still do it, but in order to get cameras that are from legit vendors/sources, you may need to adjust your budget a bit.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 09:36 PM   #30
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Hi Lloyd,

After clicking on the link and reading a few of the reviews, I almost fell off my chair! Yikes!

Will be interesting what type of service Wayne got from these guys. And those pair of HV30s for under $600!?! What a "steal"...???
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