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Old May 5th, 2009, 09:58 AM   #1
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A little help with equipment

Hi all,

Firstly I suppose I should point out that I am from the UK so not only am I working in pounds sterling but also in PAL ;)

Actually, that is my first question. Does PAL/NTSC matter if I will be shooting in HD? If so, how?

I am really after some help choosing equiptment though. I have a limited budget for the project that I am filming in November (for the sake of argument, lets say 4,000). I would like to get the Canon XH A1s. I want to shoot in HD and would like it to be as close to broadcast quality as possible. Obviously though, it's an incredibly restricted budget.

Are there any other cameras in that price-range that I should be thinking about instead of the Canon? If so, which ones and why? Is the tape/tapeless debate really something I should be thinking about?

As for the rest of the equipment, I am left with around 1000 for lights and sound. Now, I realise that this is a horribly small amount but I need to make the most of that. The project is a filmed drama. What would you all suggest I go for?

I did look at the Rode NTG-2 for use as a boom mic and will obviously need a mount, boom pole etc. I could also do with at least one Lav I suppose, preferably wireless. Two would, of course, be preferable.

As for mixing. Is it worth splashing out on a mixer or better to use the camera's own 2 channels?

As for lights, I would love people's opinions on what I should be using.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:05 AM   #2
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Is anyone able to give advice at all? Anyone? I could really do with some help here guys.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #3
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give them time, they'll help - but in the meantime the search option really is your best friend - plenty of people have asked almost identical questions and there is a wealth of information here that will give you exactly what you want - sure you'll have to do a bit of work and plenty of reading but all the answers are already here - I've got to go but I'll start you off with some searches when I get back

try these for a start:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/dvd-autho...tsc-oh-my.html

or the answers to the question you asked last month - I just found that!
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/avchd-for...sc-vs-pal.html

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/photon-ma...nterviews.html

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/open-dv-d...uy-thread.html

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/general-h...-breaking.html

that aught to get you started
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Last edited by Paul Mailath; May 6th, 2009 at 04:40 AM.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:52 AM   #4
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Sounds like a big challenge at least. I understand why you would like to invest most of your money in a camera, but I think you should reconsider. For a drama production sound is key as well. It would be an option to use a simple camera with a good picture (e.g. Sony SR11) and a seperate audio recorder (Tascam HD-p2 which syncs to video). This gives great results.

Lighting is the least of your problems. You can use cheap daylight spiral lamps that you cant put into cheap reflectors (p.e. Falcon Eyes). You can mix this light with existing light if needed. Use some cheap foamboards as reflexion panels.

For sound a Sennheiser K6 system with ME66 is an affordable option (don't forget a decent boom). The G2 (or now G3) wireless ENG set is very good all in one solution to go wireless. But a wired solution is cheaper and always better (if you are able use a cable). A Sanken Cos 11 is a good lavalier, albeit not cheap.

Wether to go tapeless depends on your NLE path. I assume you already own that. I like tapeless a lot.

This advice might be worthless because I do not now all the factors in your production (how many crew do you have, if any, what equipment is available etc.) You may even consider renting equipment.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
but in the meantime the search option really is your best friend - plenty of people have asked almost identical questions and there is a wealth of information here that will give you exactly what you want
Hi Paul, thanks for the message. I have been doing searches and learning a little more each time. This is such a big issue, however, that I am becoming quite overwhelmed by it. Things are so different since I bought my first DV camera ten years ago.

Thanks for your help, I shall check out your links and see where I am at the end of that. :)

Quote:
It would be an option to use a simple camera with a good picture (e.g. Sony SR11) and a seperate audio recorder
Sorry for being a bit thick but what advantage would this offer me over using a field mixer and taking the line directly in to the camera? Also, would the FOSTEX FR-2LE be a slightly cheaper option?

Quote:
Wether to go tapeless depends on your NLE path. I assume you already own that. I like tapeless a lot.
I will be using Premiere CS4 on a 2.4gb quad core system with 8gb of memory (vista 64), if that helps at all.

To be honest, I am still not convinced that I want to push such a large amount in to audio. I understand how important audio is in production (actually I used to work in radio) but I have had some amazing (broadcastable) results with much cheaper equiptment.

As good as the Sennheisers are, they are probably too expensive for this particular production. That's why I was thinking about the Rode NTG-2.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:28 AM   #6
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Something has, actually, jumped out at me straight away; the Panasonic AGHMC151 looks like a good camera, is tapeless, seams to have the same functionality and is at the same price point. I decided not to limit myself to the tape/tapeless debate actually, I will go with what is best for me, regardless of format so I would like to have some feedback along those lines.

Having thought about it, I still think my best bet would be to go for camera first, then audio and then lighting.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 06:59 AM   #7
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I suggested separate audio recording when using a fairly simple camera like the SR11 (or equivalent) because you cannot manually control the input. Using a mixer would not help. The recording volume control is automatic. Thinking back my suggestion makes it a bit more complicated than you might want.

The HMC151 is an excellent camera (no need for external audio recording) but you would spend a fair amount of your budget just for the camera alone. If you just go with wired mic's (cheaper) you could manage to stay within budget. The Rode is a fair mic that will get you good results, but it all depends on what situation you are filming. No single mic does the trick for all circumstances. You need different mic's. (Second hand might be an option). A good field mixer is really something you would want and they are expensive relatively.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:53 AM   #8
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Given that I don't need to spend as much on lighting as I thought I would,

Something I should mention is I don't need any lighting stands. I am an amateur photographer and have a set of 300w flash heads with stands. I could quite easily use those stands. That does mean that I also have a honeycombe and two soft boxes to hand as well. Barn doors I might have to get, thinking about it, and possibly a snoot.

Lighting is obviously, somewhat, important to me but I am fairly convinced that a much smaller budget (say 150) would do for a set up that would last the length of the shoot (coupled with some post lighting effects such as day for night).

That would leave 850 for audio equiptment. Does that sound a good figure?

I've not thought about tripods and bags yet, that is coming from a separate budget though.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:13 AM   #9
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I think it can work as a start. Think two Rode NTG-2 mic's (about 300 pounds) an ENG44 (400 pounds) Two cheap lavaliers (200 pounds) some cables (50 pounds) and your a houndred over budget. You may get the HMC151 (if that would be your choice) for a little less than 3000. You than have a fairly good start off. No boom pole, tripod, bags etc.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #10
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I can get the camera delivered for 2,800 from a local camera shop (who are actually very good). That would leave me with 100 as a bit of a contingency. Why the two NTG-2s? Are you thinking about camera mounting one of them, or for stereo perhaps?
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Old May 6th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #11
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It really all depends on how you are working. Are you a one man band or do you have a soundman? If you do it all alone, you have to place mic's on a stand and you need more than one to cover the set. If you work with a soundman you let him operate a boomed mic.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #12
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I think you need to give more information about the project if you want good advice.

If it's a drama you are going to have to work with other people so maybe you could find a friendly sound person with their own kit who is looking to get more experience.

If it's something else eg like wildlife or a documentary, the requirements will be different.

Bear in mind that you are going to get lots of opinion rather than advice, particularly when asking which camera you should get or whether tapeless is better than tape. There isn't really a shortcut. You need to research your options and then decide yourself.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #13
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Thanks Richard. Here's a little more information about the project.

It is a 45 minute drama which has a small crew (including more than one sound operator since no one is getting paid and we all have jobs) mostly made up of friends of mine. I know that sounds rather unprofessional but most of my friends are in the performance industry in one way or the other and do know what they are meant to be doing.

It is going to be shot all on location, both inside and outside. Some of the scenes are at night but we are able to shoot day for night so I am planning to experiment to see what will get the best results for the equipment we eventually get.

In terms of camera I am pretty set on the HMC151 at the moment but I am quite willing to listen to people's opinions as to better options. The HMC151 does seam to do everything I want though and would be a little more future proof than the A1s seams to be.

We are not filming until November but I would like to get the equipment within the next few months so I can get some practice with it over the summer.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 04:13 AM   #14
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If I was buying now, I would be seriously considering the little JVC HM-100. It ticks almost all the boxes, has dual XLR etc., 35Mb/s recording on SDHC cards and is 100 less than the HMC151 at Mitcorp. It's also a dinky little camera that can be used more coverty if required, and it seems to have a ruddy good picture.

A bloke called Bloom has a review online: Philip Bloom Blog Archive Review of JVC GY HM 100.

It does all depend on requirements though - as Richard says, this is opinion rather than advice!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:40 AM   #15
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Thanks for that Mike. I have just taken a look at the JVC. Actually size is an issue, mostly because I like shooting with slightly larger cameras. The JVC is tiny, in fact I am sure it's not much larger than the GZ-HD7 that I have, which has actually produced some great results:

YouTube - Seasick Monster

Having said that, the GZ-HD7 feels too small to me, and I'm sure I would feel the same with the HM-100. Covert recording won't be an issue with this project and I don't plan on it being in the future either since I don't make documentaries or 'hidden camera' things.
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