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Old June 27th, 2005, 10:47 PM   #1
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Whole Enchilada. Getting started. (Newbie alert)

First off this site is wonderful. Very helpful and professional. A goldmine.

Second, I hope I am posting this in the right place. In not, let it be my first apology.

A friend and I are looking to get started in video production. Some commercial, but with the ultimate goal of shooting shorts and documentaries. My specialty is in writing and he is the "scene setup specialist"

We want to jump in head first, but not get a concussion. We are novices, neither one having extensive time behind the lens. Our budget is around $2500-$3000 for computer, software and camera.

Here is what we know so far:
1. We like what we see in the Vegas software. For us, it is priced reasonably and will fill all of our amateur needs.
2. We want to spend no more than $1200 for the camera. This is where my head spins. I have logged more hours on these boards the past week than any other site on the web. So many choices! I had in narrowed down to the Canon Optura Xi and the Panasonic GS400. Then I see others mentioned. We do not have an opportunity for hands-on with the cameras since there are no retailer offering them in our area. Opinions are highly welcome. Something with a little longevity, a professional-looking potential in the final product (I know the majority of that is skill), knowing that we are getting started. (3ccd pref)
3. The computer we are still configuring the computer, but any suggestions of good deals are welcome.

Again, the info available here is mind-numbing! Any info will be helpful. I'm sure you will hear much more from me in the near future. Thanks
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Old June 28th, 2005, 02:50 AM   #2
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Try a used camera from a rental house, you should be able to pick up one for $1200.... might have to be patient but you will see GL1s and VX1000s going for that sometimes, IMHO both those cameras are much better than the ones you are mentioning...

As far as computer, it doesnt matter much, you just need firewire. Vegas uses processor power so get the fastest you can afford. Check eBay for people selling Dell refurbs, I just got a new personal computer that would have cost $4000 on Dells site for $1700. Dell refurbs are excellent and in many cases, they are computers built for a customer but never sent out (order delayed or cancelled).



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Old June 28th, 2005, 05:05 AM   #3
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The editing program and computer can be almost anything...but the biggest acquisition will be your camera.

I find it very difficult to have a budget of only $3000 for commercial production, much less documentary production. That, to me, would be the minimum budget for a camera alone. Getting a three CCD camera should be your goal...AVOID every single chip camera...they just don't have the image quality. And if you want to get any sort of client, image quality is VERY important.

But, you can get a 3-ccd camera for under $1000. Panasonic makes one. Get that.

As for the computer and editing software, you have many to choose from. Just make sure that with the purchase of the computer, you also get an external or secondary internal drive to capture your footage to. no matter what NLE (Non-Linear Editing system) you get, it won't like to capture to the same drive as the Operating system.

And you needs lots of RAM. 1GB minimum.
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Old June 28th, 2005, 07:52 AM   #4
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Some notes:
1- Vegas only needs 512MB of RAM. Later on, you can increase the size of the RAM preview and add more RAM (or use up the existing RAM).

I am running 512MB fine.

2- Dell refurbs are definitely a good way to get good value on a computer. Another option is a hot deal on a Dimension 4600 or better. Try hot deals sites like
gotapex.com
fatwallet.com
etc.

Typically the upgrades are overpriced so just install your own upgrades. RAM is the easiest... just buy the right stuff (crucial.com has a helpful website).
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Old June 28th, 2005, 08:33 AM   #5
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A single chip Optura (30 and above) has an RGB filter and the quality is basically 3ccd (for color, not lowlight). But yeah - other than an Optura - don't consider any other single ccd camera.

FWIW, I do commercial work with Opturas and they work perfectly*. I'm also using an Optura for a feature I'm DoP for going into production in 3 weeks. I'll also be using an Optura on the DVcallenge (tho they both start the exact same weekend... hrm). They are perfectly suitable for just about any task you throw at them.

And they're cheap (which is why I chose them - if I break it or problems arise, I can go get a new one for $600).

*I also outfit them with custom matteboxs+filters, shades, mics and soon 35mm (building for the july production) adapters. The raw camera is great, but with anything where image is key you need all of those extras - regardless of the camera being used. $.02
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Old June 28th, 2005, 08:45 AM   #6
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If you've got $3,000, I'd break it down like this

1/3 for computer

1/3 for camera (Optura or a 3ccd Panasonic - personally I'd avoid used; too unpredictable, no idea what you'll get; takes the control out of your hands and puts it into the previous owner.. salesman.. etc - learn the 'cheaper' camera inside and out, work around limitations, etc (ultimately makes you a better user))

1/3 for the rest: tapes, extra batteries (go to eBay and buy 2x as you think you need - the price difference significant enough), quality tripod, mic + shockmount (or DIY), lenses (get a wide angle at least)/filters, extra ram (get 1gb - nothing more annoying than knowing the computer is perfectly capable but it's swapping to disk), software - start with the Vegas Movie Studio ($99 at BestBuy) - perfect to get you started until you've got $$ coming in from your work), and if you have the cash a Spiderbrace2 (http://www.spiderbrace.com/).

Plenty of wiggle room, plenty of cash, more than enough to get you started and grow with you.
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Old June 28th, 2005, 09:19 AM   #7
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I agree with Patrick that SOny Movie Studio might be better, considering your budget. You need to leave money for mics, cables, batteries, tripod, filters, lights, reflectors, books, boom poles, headphones, gaff tape, extension cords, tape, DVD's, extra disk drive (as big as you can get), business cards, marketing, more mics (I own 5 and I am pretty new to this) , camera case, and lots of other stuff. This is not a cheap thing to do, and IMHO $3k is just not enough if you expect to make money. Plan on reinvesting your first $10k or so.
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Old June 28th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #8
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Thanks so much for the info! Everyone is right about the budget, it simply is too low for what we want to accomplish. Actually, the lightbulb went off in my head to do all of this after reading about the Sony FX1 and its capabilities. I was impressed that you could do so much with a $3000 camera! When I came off cloud nine and reentered reality, I realized such a purchase, along with computer, accesories and software, was simply too much for my current budget.

Still, the dream won't go away. I'll just have to search a little harder and possibly hold off a few months until I've covered every base and scenario involving hardware and money issues.

In the mean time, this web site will be my guide. Thank you again for all the help!
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Old June 28th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #9
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ultra cheap kit

Alternately, you might consider going with an ultra cheap set up, to start. You can geta 1ccd cam for around $250.00-350.00. Get one with an external mic jack (personally I would suggest a pannasonic, imho, they own the lower end). As far as software goes, well I don't want to upset anyone with my mac talk, but imovie is a good place to start and it will run just fine on a mac g3 (think original imac, although they also came in towers) which you can get pretty cheap from ebay or some other used source. Buy some home depot lights and a mic of some sort and get started.
speaking from experiance, I would suggest this method over many others. Your investment is low, so if you find that videography isn't for you, you're not out too much cash. Furthermore, if you decide it is for you, playing around with low end gear will give you a much, much better idea of what you want from the high end stuff.
Also once you have a kit, you can upgrade 1 piece at a time without having to wait to shoot, because you have everything already.

opinions?
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Old June 28th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #10
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I know everyone says don't get a one-chip, but here is another take. WHen I got involved in video I bought a medium-quality one-chip camera for about $600. That left me money for software, tripods, monopod, glidecam, filters, lots of books, mics, tripod, lights, tapes, DVD burner, DVDs, good headphones, on-camera light, and marketing. After a year of learning how to do everything (and only taking a few select paying projects), I ponied up for a DVX100a and now use my one-chip for capture, parties, and other stuff where I don't want to lug the DVX around or expose it. Most everything transfers to the new cam (needed a couple of XLR mic cables and batteries to match my camera). If this had been the plan at the beginning, I would have bought an even cheaper one-chip (manual focus, manual iris, manual white balance are the only critical things you need IMHO). (edit: add mic in and headphone out jacks to this).

You can consider this to get started within your budget. Biggest diff with 3CCD is you will get slightly better color and better low-light performace. But a decent 1CCD with a good operator is still a pretty great picture assuming you have adequate light. If you go this route, don't scrimp on other stuff, I bought cheaper audio gear and ended up replacing it at a loss. SO you could take your $2000 and buy a $300 camera, $700 in audio, $500 tripod, $500 in other stuff (worklights, gels, lots of tape, depends on what you are going to shoot, etc) , leaving $1000 for a computer & Movie STudio, and have a pretty good get-started package (IMHO).

Learn your craft, do some free projects, put together a demo reel, make contacts, and when you sign your first big job use the money to buy a nice DVX100a. :)
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Old June 28th, 2005, 07:39 PM   #11
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I might look at reading a few books first to see what you need to buy. On top of that, it would really help you out when you are getting started. Having talent/know-how is more important than the quality of the gear you have.

Sound: Great Sound for Digital Video, by Jay Rose CAS. see dplay.com for info on how to get it for $30. May go into more detail than you need to know.
Lighting: Lighting for Digital Video and Television, by John Jackman. Informative and practical for low budget.

The lighting forum has a sticky for low budget lighting ideas.

With the books above, it kind of helps to have a basic set of gear to play around with. WIth audio it might be a little hard unless you rent.
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Old June 28th, 2005, 10:08 PM   #12
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The support keeps coming. You guys are awesome!!

We know FOR SURE we want the Sony Vegas Movie Studio ($99). In order to save on the cost, I suggested we try editing on my laptop with a few mods. Here are the specs:
AMD Athlon 64 3200 (2 ghz)
512 MB DDR SDRAM (Want to upgrade to 1 gig)
64MB Radeon Mobility 9600
80 GB hard drive (MUST UPGRADE to at least external 160GB 7200)
DVDRW
Firewire and 4 USB 2.0

From the specs, I see this being enough for running Vegas. I would get the bigger hard drive, more memory, and possibly an external sound card since the installed one isn't so great. I have a 19 monitor as well. Am I correct that this should work?

Last edited by John Unger; June 28th, 2005 at 10:09 PM. Reason: typo
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Old June 28th, 2005, 10:48 PM   #13
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That is almost exactly what I use, and I seem to have plenty of horsepower with 512MB RAM. Renders might take some time if you use lots of SFX or 24p/60i mix, but otherwise adequate. Second disk drive is critical though, and do not run any other programs when capturing or burning DVDs. Otherwise, I can edit when running a ton of other programs, including some pretty intense ones.
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Old June 29th, 2005, 12:26 AM   #14
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Good to know Bob! I thought it could pull it off, but reassurance is good.

Now, if I can just make the big decision as to a camera....
FINAL LIST OF NARROWED-DOWN OPTIONS (beta)
1) Optura Xi (Only 1ccd, but hear good things. Affordable. Easy to manipulate)
2) Pan GS250 (Likewise affordable, 3CCD, No "true" 16:9 :()
3) Optura 60 (Why does it cost less than Xi when it is so similar? Beats me)
4)Pan GS400 (The max I'm willing to spend. What can it do that the Optura can't?)

My friend and I both like the Optura (Xi or 60), but want to make sure there is nothing crucial we woulr be missing out with one of the Panasonics.
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Old June 29th, 2005, 04:11 AM   #15
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The Optura 60 has many improvements that make it much more user friendly than the Xi. Most notably, the widescreen LCD function, on-board LED light, and the ability to load tapes from the top of the camcorder.

The Optura Xi has a larger/faster lens, which is probably why it's more expensive, but, the lens may give the Xi a very slight edge in the low light department.

Aside from that, they are the exact same camcorder in different bodies.

If I was buying today, I would choose the 60 over the Xi.
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