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Old April 14th, 2005, 03:23 AM   #1
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I'm being realistic... help!

So I hate to involve all of you in another glorious "which camera should I buy?" forum... but I'm a bit confused at the moment.

I currently own the DVX-100A with anamorphic lens, but made the decision to sell it for an XL2 and 16x manual lens, as I have been tired of the DVX's horrible depth-of-field due to the anamorphic adapter and just because I want to start experimenting with other lenses.

So... this brings me to this point. I'm 18, young, and not expecting a huge distribution deal or anything with my films. HOWEVER, I do wish to be able to make my rounds at the film festivals for feature-length films. My question is... can I realistically do this and get noticed while shooting SD? I thought about waiting for this new Pana HD to see what it's all about, but realistically, on my barely-out-of-highschool budget, I can't afford much else. So help me out - am I fooling myself by thinking that I can get plenty of attention while shooting SD? Am I perfectly OK as long as I do it right?

I don't know, I just hear a lot about the film festivals and how they are often biased in favor of shooting film, or HD at worst. I don't want to sell myself short purely based on a piece of equipment. Your comments and insight on this matter is GREATLY appreciated. :)
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Old April 14th, 2005, 05:31 AM   #2
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starting out is hardest. why worry about the equipment you have when you have bigger worry on the opportunity you are going to be given to produce a project. you are 18 and your equipment list is as par as some of the folks here using to earn a living. most can only dream of owning one at this age ;o)

ed
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Old April 14th, 2005, 05:43 AM   #3
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Man, I remember feeling the same way at 18, and that was when I had a hi8 video camera and I wondered about the then big three chipper video cameras (xl1, vx1000) and if my work was ever going to be received without one.

So - speaking from a four year retrospective (I am now 22) Let me say that I understand your concerns and you will do just fine regardless of the camera you use.

At 18 you may or may not have walked the path long enough to have gone through a few film festival circuits - but my experience has been that feature films of all types and formats get programmed - and if your not trying to make money with your feature you don't even have to worry about all the deliverables!!!

Why not make a short, get your craft up?

FIND A GOOD SOUND DESIGNER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Plenty of other stuff I could type about my experience with festivals and DV - but mostly I am super jealous of you - 18 and affordable HD cams on the way, just think what four more years will bring.

Dean
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Old April 14th, 2005, 07:28 AM   #4
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My $0.02.... At 18 years of age the world is yours! The DVX with anamorphic lens is a terrific camera and quite an expensive piece of equipment for someone who is just starting out. Continue to explore its possibilities and don't get caught chasing the "next big thing." Personally I think people are way too hung up over the depth of field issue. Remember, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and other directors went to great length to increase depth of field!

Unless you have a paying job that justifies the purchase of an expensive new camera then I think you should just forget upgrading for a few years. By then there will be a lot of other choices.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 08:45 AM   #5
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Don't Upgrade... yet

The next two years will bring incredible new products to the prosumers. Don't rush into buying something new because if you do you might be disappointed when the better camera gets released a short time thereafter.

Secondly, SD still looks great, especially with the DVX 100A. Just take a look at the behind the scenes documentary on "The Shield: Season Three." I thought they shot the documentary with film! (The giveaway is the blown highlights at windows and lighting fixtures)

Somewhere on this board are posts describing how a bunch of kids re-made an Indiana Jones movie, shot for shot, with a dinky little hi-8 video camera. The kids shot it over a three to five year span and it turned out so good that Spielberg himself saw it and sent some sort of congratulatory letter to the kid(s) who made the film. It was even shown at a local theatre to sell out crowds. Go figure!

Don't fret. make your movie!
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Old April 14th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #6
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Things I wished someone had told me at 18:


If you want to make movies, forget about the cameras and spend your time writing. Learn how to tell a story. Image quality is second to story quality.

Take the time you spend worrying about the image quality now, and worry about performances. If your actors aren't believable, a great looking image isn't going to help you.

No one has ever walked out of a movie and thought, "that would have been great if only they had a few more lines of resolution." Instead people say things like "that was boring" and "what was the point?"

As many people here have already said, at 18 you are blessed enough to have gear equal to what some here use to make a living. You have MORE than what you need to get your story on screen. Festivals don't care nearly as much about resolution as they do about engaging content.

A friend of mine recently shot a feature on the DVX100 for virtually no money. He didn't use an anamorphic adapter.

He played Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, and a few others.
He's picked up a few awards along the way too.
He now has an agent from william morris representing him, and is talking to a few studios about his next project.

No one cared that his movie was on DV.
What they cared about was that they saw he had talent.
He delivered a movie that people cared about, with honest performances, and a solid structured script.

Don't think of your feature as the end product. People who see it in festivals aren't always looking at the movies to buy them, they are looking at the movies to see what you can do. They are interested in what you will make NEXT, not only what you made.

SD is more than good enough, and will be for a while.
The differences between a DVX and an XL2 are not nearly as big as the differences between a good movie and a bad movie.

One last thing, which somone already mentioned but I feel is important enough to repeat.

GET A GOOD SOUND PERSON.
When we see a movie, we can get used to just about any level of image quality, but sound always has to be clear and audible.

As a friend of mine always reminds me:

"The eyes adjust, but the ears don't"

Find a good story, get honest performances, get clean audio...and no one will really care what you shot it on"

Damn I wish I could send this thread back in time to myself!!

:)

Oh yeah, one last thing...in terms of image quality....
Someone said a really smart thing the other day -

"If you know how to light, it doesn't matter what format you shoot on.
And if you don't know how to light, it doesn't matter what format you shoot on"
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Old April 14th, 2005, 12:25 PM   #7
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Luis:

You've followed up two of my posts with damn good points. You make one helluva lot of sense, bro. Just when I thought I was imparting good advice to a youngster, - WHAM! - You impart good advice to me.

I want to add one codicil (And this is a generality so take it broad mindedly): If various individuals are really and truly hopped up on cameras, lighting an image quality, why not concentrate on being somebody's DP? That way he can concentrate on making beautiful pictures for somebody else who is a beautiful and gifted writer or director!

Oh, excellent lighting quote, by the way. That is my new mantra.

Also: <<Don't think of your feature as the end product. People who see it in festivals aren't always looking at the movies to buy them, they are looking at the movies to see what you can do. They are interested in what you will make NEXT, not only what you made>> Another great point.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 12:52 PM   #8
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Hugh, thanks. I've gotten so much out of these boards over the years, it's nice to know that someone feels my input was helpful to them.

I only wish DVinfo was around when I was 18.
:)

"If various individuals are really and truly hopped up on cameras, lighting an image quality, why not concentrate on being somebody's DP? That way he can concentrate on making beautiful pictures for somebody else who is a beautiful and gifted writer or director!"

That's a great point too.
I guess I jumped the gun and assumed he wanted to make movies in order to tell a story...but if in fact it's just the act of shooting that he enjoys, that's great advice.

Either way, I suppose it boils down to this:
Decide what it is that drives you to work on movies, and then concentrate on that aspect.

Back in film school everyone I knew wanted to be a director. One friend of mine decided that instead of trying to direct everything, he would concentrate on cinematography. So he volunteered to DP on every new project, he never directed anything.

Now, years later, that friend is the only one I know from film school who is making a living (and a damn good one I might add) working on feature films full time. He works in the camera department as a First AC, and has now started moving into second unit DP work on some rather major projects. Cinematography is really a craft, and a marketable one at that. Cinematographers can get hired, whereas most people are looking to directors for work.

I read a great quote from Soderbergh one time where he was remarking on the influx of indie directors who had no formal training or film school degrees... he said "Film director is probably the highest paid entry level job there is"

I suppose you're right.
Think about what it is you want to do, and concentrate on that. It's hard not to get distracted with all the other things that come along with filmmaking, but I've noticed that those who decided on a certain path early on seem to have been much more successful that those who tried to 'do it all' straight out of the gate.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 02:19 PM   #9
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Yeah guys, thanks SO much on your advice. I've definitely been focusing more on the story, acting, lighting, and (especially) sound for a while, but just wanted to make sure I wasn't digging myself into a hole. ;)

So yes, thank you all so much for the wonderful insight.
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