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Old November 14th, 2003, 07:14 PM   #1
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all around help

ok i asked about a camera then about sound and i got good replies though now i am more confused. so now i decided to write this question.

i have a $3500 budget. i have no equipment (actually i have a mic but i think it sucks, it is a shotgun mic <DAK industries- model UEM-83R> i got it off ebay, i know i know im stupid)

anyway what you advise me to spend the money on?

i wish to make short movies, i want them to look somewhat like film but im not expecting a miracle, and i want them to sound desent enough not to be regarded as a joke, oh yeah i also need lights i assume.
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Old November 14th, 2003, 09:30 PM   #2
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It would depend on what you plan on doing with the movies. I know some people who produce some really great stuff using the old vhs cameras. Like I said what is it you plan to do with the movies?
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Old November 14th, 2003, 10:05 PM   #3
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Considering I don't know what your out put shall be the best that I could recommend is either a GL2 or XL1s. They’re good and small and have good track records as well. Looking at your budget it’s the only reason behind this call.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 12:04 AM   #4
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The XL1s is a very versatile camera, but if you don't know how to use it, it may not be worth the money to you. I think this is a pretty miserable time to be buying a camcorder personally. Next year could mark a tremendous improvement over what's out there now, depending on what Canon and Sony have up their sleeves. Or maybe not. Anybody who knows ain't saying. Like I said, it's an awkward time. You just don't know what's around the corner. I suppose if I had to buy something right now, it would probably be a PDX-10, and that's coming from someone who hates Sony. It's a very forward thinking camera.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 12:13 AM   #5
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Thats one reason to get ready to purchase one, looking to next spring I see there will be a major drop in cameras as there are several newer cameras coming out.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 12:49 AM   #6
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Sorry if my other response was more of a rant, I'll try to be more helpful.

I would suggest a dvc-80. Great picture and also as good of sound quality as you can get for your budget without using an external mixer (and/or recorder). It costs $2300 there are tons of things I like about the camera, but the most important for your budget is that it includes balanced xlr inputs that sound fairly good. This means you can use balanced cables, which will let your run longer mic runs without picking up noise. To do this on an xl1 or gl2 you will need to purchase an adapter/mixer. The pdx10 has equally good sound, but doesn't have as big of chips, and is so small it can be difficult to manipulate. Go ahead and get a uv filter to protect your lens, an extra battery and a case. Call it $2500.

Tripod, depends how much you want to pan and tilt. If you need smooveness $570 gets you into a libec system. If not, the $180 bescors are pretty sturdy. Call it $180 for now.

There are several smith victor 3-light kits for under $500. I know the lighting forum has had talk recently of JTL kits. I would look at:

it gives you a couple of soft lights and a back light. Not total control, but a good start. $225

audio: $60 will get you a 5ft mic stand with a boom arm. (or you could make a boom, and get a friend to run it, give her the headphones!) 20ft xlr cable runs about $20. Headphones, sony mdr-7506s run about $100

Mics: hmm $415 left. You can almost afford a me66. With good reason wiser men than I have recommended this mic over and over. I hesitate to recommend a shotgun (under $1500) for use indoors. The extreme coloration of off-axis sounds, makes it difficult to use with walls anywhere nearby. And without wind protection it's not going to do much good outside. Recent threads in the sound forum have discussed the oktava 012 with the hypercardioid capsule($200). General thought is that it can be a great mic, but buy it from a reputable dealer and test it out before your return policy expires. If you did that, it would leave you enough money to pick up a sony ecm-44 lavelier microphone($180).

Well there you have it, $35 left for tapes, or shipping.

But please don't trust me, ask around. I should qualify this list by saying I have used all the gear listed here EXCEPT the oktava. I personally own an akg C 391 I boom with indoors and an Azden I use outdoors. (I don't really recommend either, but am happy with them for the prices I paid on Ebay.) I have also boomed with a Neumann km184, an audiotechnica 835, and the sennheiser me66. In relatively quiet space the Neumann sounds incredible. The beauty of the me66 is that it's real hot, which is great for overcoming the noise inherent in mediocre camera preamps.

Good luck and feel free to shoot me an email, if I haven't gone on long enough. And don't forget to turn off the A/C before you start rolling.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 04:45 PM   #7
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For that budget you might want to look at the PDX10 ($2175 at B&H) because it has XLR inputs and has a very nice 16:9 mode (uses the full width of the chip with no deterioration in quality, from what I've read), and will record DVCAM as well as DV if that's of interest to you. The downside is that with more pixels crammed into smaller space, it's not as good in low light as its predecessor and there's more of a tendency toward vertical smearing (which you get with any low budget camera, but some moreso than others...usually not a big deal except under some conditions). The Canon GL2 is another good camera in this same category and price range. I'm not sure if it has XLR audio inputs or not.

For lights, Lowel sells a 3-light set of Omnis with stands, barn doors, cords and case for under $1000. Used to be around $800, but I haven't looked in awhile. These are not the world's greatest lights, but they use up to 600 watt lamps, are lightweight, have a good focus and spot range, and you can get a 200 watt DC bulb and plug one into a car cigarette lighter if you need to light a person in a car. I've used Omnis before for outdoor night lighting, running them off car batteries. You have to diffuse them with gels for direct lighting or bounce off something. Lowel has lots of different kinds of lights and all sorts of attachments. The Omnis are not their best product, but very good and professional for the money, and they're easy to hang from ceilings. And having a nice set in a case with stands and everything is very handy. There's room in the lid to store gels, etc.

So now you would be up to probably about 3,000-3200 bucks. Maybe you can find a useable tripod for about 500 and then a mic for 300. You probably will need some other goodies as you go, but you might be able to get started for the money you have now. You could always rent lights when you need them if you live in an area that has equipment rental houses.

That Smith Victor set might be a better thing to consider because it would be cheaper than the Lowels. Everybody seems to knock SV, but they're not all that bad--I've used them in the past. You work with what you can afford at the time...builds character. And, if you know what you're doing, or learn it, you can usually figure out ways to get great shots with whatever is available. People will tell you that you need fresnels, and you will eventually. I use fresnels, softlights, open face lights, HMIs and fluorescents. But I made a living for several years owning nothing but a 4 light set of Lowel DPs, and rented when I needed other things.
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Old November 16th, 2003, 10:36 PM   #8
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THANKS alot for the replys they were really helpful. im actually going to print this out and go check out all the suggestions. i am a newbie to all this, i mean i've been writting scripts for a while (7 years) but i have only made three of them (under ten minutes each), because the equipment i have doesnt do me justice and i have yet to use professional lighting or good mics. im learning now though through this board what things are, and how they are used. i love the way the xl1s looks it makes me feel like if i had it i would get the look i want (the look i want being a film look). but i guess i probably dont need to spend that much money if i can get the same look with something cheaper and spend the rest on lighting and audio.
i also just got a G5 and final cut pro 4 and im well in the learning phase. honestly the only thing i cant do yet has to do with sound. i dont know how to make the dialouge sound more crisp and clean, right now it sounds like a home movie (then again i used the onboard mic on my single ccd jvc minidv camera) anyways thanks guys.
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Old November 17th, 2003, 07:46 AM   #9
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It's not the mic you use, it's where you put it. Your sound will always be crappy if you shoot from across the room with the mic on the camera. A shotgun mic should be no more than 2 or 3 feet from the speaker, pointed right at his chest, usually from overhead. You might want to consider a cheap wireless too. Good mics are nice, but it's better to have a cheap mic in the right place than a good mic in the wrong place.
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