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Old August 13th, 2005, 11:13 PM   #1
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Starting from scratch

Hey guys, newbie here looking for a few suggestions. I am looking into starting some freelance work with a few clients for some hunting and fishing programs. This would be straight to DVD and/or local access TV programs. I could also possibly pick up some editing work for a show that airs on The Outdoor Channel. It's been several years since I've done any videography other than family stuff with a Digital 8 handycam. My last paying job was about 5 years ago as 2nd camera for a duck hunt in Mexico useing a XL1. I'm a little behind the times with the newer cameras and editing software. I've been doing quite a bit of research and frankly my head is spinning with all the options.

I'm looking at around a $10,000 budget for camera, audio, all other equiptment, editing PC and software. I could go a bit over that amount if I need to. The camera would need good low light capibilites, relatively easy to use and could handle being outdoors all the time. I'd be useing shotgun and/or wireless mics. I would not be useing a tripod much, but still need to get one. I have no idea about the editing software, but it would need to be something that I could use for a national TV program if I can get some jobs from that client.

I've been talking to some local guys who do this kind of work and getting ideas from them, but I'd like some input from you as well. All suggestions are appreicated.

Thanks

Kyle
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Old August 14th, 2005, 01:53 AM   #2
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Editing:

Figure out if you want your system to do one of:
A- Be capable of making broadcast masters. You need a betaSP or digibeta deck (expensive, but you can rent), a RAID array (just the cost of two drives, and use software RAID which is free), and a capture card (i.e. black magic, about $1k) and some way to get deck control to make insert edits at a specific timecode on the tape.
B- Do the online/offline thing. Cut on your system (offline edit), and then transfer your edit to a higher-end system (typically Avid and to a lesser degree Final Cut; online edit).
C- maybe the broadcaster will accept something other than betaSP or digibeta.

Some options:
Final Cut: This is a cheap way to setup a system that can make broadcast masters. Or, you can edit on Final Cut and online/finish off the project on another system (rent an edit suite).

To save money, look at buying a refurb G5 and installing upgrades yourself.

Avid Xpress Pro:
I don't know that much about Avid, but I believe it'll be pretty comparable to Final Cut in price and quality (or a little worse than FCP, if you want to get into the Avid vs. FCP debate).

Even cheaper:
If you can build your own computer, you could get a Dell Dimension 9100 (dell.com --> small business --> outrageous deals; there may be better deals) and install your own upgrades. It should be about $1400 or less for the computer (depends highly on what you want inside it). If you already have a relatively new computer (last 2 years), you may be able to run Sony Vegas on it fine.

Vegas is a very strong editing program. It's especially good if you have to do everything yourself (i.e. audio and color correction) because all the tools are there (although it may not be obvious how you should use them).

I think Vegas can handle making broadcast masters using the Blackmagic Decklink capture card and their utilities. Try reading the Sony Vegas forums at the official Sony Vegas website.

You also have Premiere Pro. It's kind of like the PC version of Final Cut Pro (interface is very similar).
In my opinion, Macs are easier to use than PC and have less configuration issues. In a similar vein, PPro is not quite as easy as Final Cut and you may run into more configuration issues (mainly if you want to get a hardware acceleration card to work).

In my opinion, it boils down to Final Cut Pro or Vegas.
Final Cut: easy to use (along with OS X, which I find easier than Windows), definited suitable for making broadcast masters, better interface for straight cuts and dissolves, more expensive
Vegas: very different interface, really good audio + color correction tools, you have to figure out how to make broadcast masters (i.e. by default, Vegas puts black levels too low for broadcast; you can set it not to do this).

At the end of the day though, both programs more or less can do the same thing. I don't think it'd be a mistake to go with any of those four programs listed above.

2- If you can't handle both the editing and the shooting, then it'd make sense to hire a cameraperson or editor. They may have their own equipment. In that case, it may not make sense for you to get camera or editing gear?
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Old August 14th, 2005, 09:07 AM   #3
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For hunting shows, you may want the longer telephoto zoom available with the Canon cameras (XL1s or XL2). OTOH, lots of places are moving to HD...

For audio, figure on a shotgun, 2 wireless lavs (or more?).

Good headphones.

Camera needs to be outside all the time? (do you need waterprrof housing for hunting in the rain/snow)?

If you really think you will get work from broadcaster, ask them what equipment and compatibility requirements are. They MAY want to be able to tweak your edits later or give you half-done show to finish, so compatible software/hardware might be required.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 03:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMillin
I am looking into starting some freelance work with a few clients for some hunting and fishing programs. This would be straight to DVD and/or local access TV programs. I could also possibly pick up some editing work for a show that airs on The Outdoor Channel.
those two things could lead you in very different directions... the former should not require any kind of broadcast mastering format, but the latter could create all kinds of thorny issues.

all of the main pc-based editing software choices have downloadable demos that you can experiment with, so you can get a high-powered pc with a single cpu for minimal $$(no raid), and make a decision about which editing software to use.

i recently sent off some dv footage to be used as b-roll for a monster garage segment... in talking with the editor, i found that he was going to have to make up a seperate hd version, because he couldn't up-rez the dv footage i sent him... ideally, he didn't even want hdv b-roll, because it wasn't allowable within the network specs, although i think that he might have been willing to try and sneak it by 'em as a last resort, lol.

the point is that things start getting really complicated when you have to babysit your editing for network tv... so i'd say try to be realistic about where you are, and what really has priority when it comes to spending your hard-earned $$ on video gear.
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Old August 15th, 2005, 05:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replys guys. I think I'm going to hold off pursueing the editing for the broadcast program until I get more experience under my belt. I'll stick with the DVDs and local access cable programs for now. I like what I've seen so far with Sony Vegas, but still looking at other software.

I'm still unsure about a camera. I've kinda narrowed it down to an XL2 or a PD 170. I've done a lot of searches on this site and others. Anyone have a recomendation of one over the other in natural outdoor settings - Low light conditions, no tripod, etc? I really need to get my hands on these cameras so it looks like I'll be heading to Houston. There's no place within 2 hours of here that has them.
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Old August 16th, 2005, 03:24 AM   #6
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Hi Kyle
If you want low light the Sony PD170 is about the best. If you want to try out an editing package try Avid Free DV it's a pre curser to Avid Express and best of all it's free. I think it gives you 2 video tracks 1 graphic track and 4 audio tracks. Its only basic but probably good for what you want to do to start with.
Phil
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Old August 16th, 2005, 12:29 PM   #7
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the 20x lens on the xl2 would probably be the better choice for long-range hunting shots, but the smaller pd170 would fit better on a boat.
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