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Old October 9th, 2011, 01:49 PM   #1
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Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

I'm an Audio guy (have worked in studios, have played music and done mixing etc) and am very familiar with Audio. I'm a Camera guy. I shoot pictures regularly as a hobby and to support my business.

But I'm not a video guy.

So, it's now time to connect the two together I believe but how do I do it? Here's my interpretation of my missing links:

1. Good DV camera
2. Good editing software

3. a little homework on how to put the pieces together.

I have plenty of audio production software so I can easily create the background tracks. I can easily do voice overs.

To keep the thread short, here's what I'm wanting to do. I'd like to give an overview of my shop (build guitars) and some footage of the instruments being made, with some audio of them being played in the background and maybe some actual dialog. Curious what I'm getting into. Again, I'm not a video guy but I do have a decent background in Audio and in Photography.

Any advice would be appreciated. I think I can do this but I want to find out what I'm up against before I start.

thanks in advance!
Nick
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Old October 9th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #2
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

Welcome to DVinfo!

Well you're already half way there as any video Pro will tell you that half the battle is getting decent audio :-) Having a Photographers eye gets you another 25% along too!

My suggestion would be to get yourself a modest (not necessarily high end) Consumer/Prosumer HD camcorder in the $500-$1000 range, probably AVCHD solid state - tape based DV and HDV is effectively a dying format (but I'm sure you'll get suggestions as to what cameras to shortlist). Something that has at least some possibility of Manual control is idea. Learn to use it's controls by experimenting with different settings so you REALLY understand what works best and not so well. The best way to do this is to do little film projects that stretch your abilities in easily managable bite sized chunks/force you to learn by your mistakes/use the camera in challenging light conditions etc. etc. As your understanding and confidence grows you'll see rapid and rewarding improvements in each successive little film you create - hopefully!

You'll have a (photographers) tripod of sorts "that'll probably do for now" - it won't be ideal, for sure, but it's a start. If the budget allows get a video tripod pretty quickly as decent support is half the battle. For sure you'll have lots of decent mics and audio gear. You may or may not need a simple lighting kit depending on exactly what you've got in mind/the available light in the shop/workshop.

Start with a relatively simple NLE like Adobe Premier Elements (or maybe iMove if you're on a Mac platform) and get to know the basics of the video editing workflow from start to finish.

Learn from on-line tutorials, watching films on-line by others that have a style you like, books, people you know who a camera nuts, join a local film club (if there is one) and gradually build up your skills. Don't be afraid to ask questions (there are lots of poeple on here who'll try and help) and most of all enjoy it!
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Old October 9th, 2011, 03:15 PM   #3
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

Thanks! I appreciate that. And I'm glad that my audio and photo experience will help. I think it takes a creative person to get good video, audio, or photography so hopefully the little bit of God given talent in that way will carry over.

Budget wise I don't have a big budget for my business. What I've done in every other area of my life that's worked well is to purchase used quality stuff where I can. I do this with tools, lighting equipment, even my cars. I drove a Diesel Mercedes for several years. It was built like a tank, worked VERY well and was easy to fix when it did need repair.

I'd like to do similarly with video hardware (assuming I decide to take the plunge which I think I'd like to do sooner than later).

What is something bare bones but good (maybe 10 years old but still good quality)? I'm ok with maintenance btw.

For reference, in Audio, I have a ProTools Digi001 rig. It is not fancy and it's not the best in todays recording hardware/software world. But it's more than sufficient and any limitations in an inspiring end result are my fault not the gear's problem. BUT notice I didn't say I'm recording music on a boombox with a Karaoke microphone:)

I'd like to do similarly in my budgeted quality mindset with video.

AND... I am on a PC platform (just as an extra detail).
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Old October 10th, 2011, 12:56 AM   #4
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

Hi Nick -

Fellow guitar builder, funny how the businesses seem to inter-relate!

"10 years" is a lifetime when it comes to video tech, at least at this juncture - I've got a sub $200 (used, but current model year) point and shoot that rivals far more expensive cameras from 5 years ago when it comes to usable HD video... See the thread on the Sony DSC-HX9...

If you're PC based, you may need to update/upgrade your computer to properly edit the AVCHD format that is pretty standard for tapeless capture. On the plus side, the newer the computer, the more likely the overall hardware configuration will handle HD editing. I'm experimenting with a small portable computer with relatively modest specs, but it's about a year old, meaning everything is "up to date" - so far it's looking like it may well be edit capable - no where near as fast as a spankin' new quad core, but usable. every little bottleneck seems to count when dealing with video - fast HDD, fast RAM (and lots of it), fast video... you get the idea.

FWIW, Sony makes a consumer version of Vegas for around $100 - I'd recommend starting there, as it's a good training program for Vegas Pro if you end up going there, and it is usually pretty good on overall compatibility - PLUS they seem to be fine tuning it to handle AVCHD more efficiently. Pro v.10 is current, v.11 is right around the corner (the consumer version probably is already out?).

Camera wise, it's the best of times or the worst of times - many, many choices, it's enough to drive you crazy. Point and Shoot cameras and DSLR's (SLT's in Sony's case), video cameras at all price points and feature sets... you could spend quite a bit of time reading about all the possibilities here on DVi!

Frankly, you can get a lot of bang for the buck depending on how deeply you want to dive into the "video biz" - and the cameras available at consumer price points can do quite a lot, IF you know how to use them - lighting and sound combined with a decent camera and support gear, and you can get some good results!

You don't say what your final target (web, DVD, BlueRay?) is - and whether you want it for marketing/advertising or a potential revenue stream of some sort. That makes some difference in whether you're "dabbling" or should consider sinking more into the technology. Dabbling can be done on a low budget basis, but beware, it's easy to get sucked into spending a lot more if you get into video! I will suggest you consider carefully whether buying older gear is a wise investment - IMO it isn't, when there's a lot of good stuff available at pretty cheap price points nowadays!
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Old October 10th, 2011, 07:14 AM   #5
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

I can get a dz-hs500a by hitachi locally used for $200. Is that a good thing? I have my doubts in a consumer camera like that.

I could probably get a Canon GL2 for a close price if I watch long enough.

Last edited by Nick Sorenson; October 10th, 2011 at 10:15 AM.
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Old October 10th, 2011, 12:44 PM   #6
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

OK, here's a good example of saving a bit to lose a LOT - that Htachi is SD (Standard Definition) - I saw a older semi pro Sony (PD100a) go for barely over $200 on eBay - at least that's a "real" camera. SD cameras are bringing peanuts, even early HD tape cameras are going fairly cheap.

IMO, there's NO reason to buy an SD camera - it's an HD world, and even any of the cheap point and shoot still cameras from ANY of the manufacturers will give you a better (and HD) image...

Put the wallet away and avoid temptation until you know enough about cameras to spend wisely - you still may buy and sell a bit before you get the setup you want, but blowing $200 on an obsolete camera that IMO might be worth half that... not a good starting point.

You can buy pretty impressive imagers in consumer grade gear for very reasonable prices - you won't have a lot of control, but you'll get solid "auto" imaging to start to play with and learn. If you want somewhat usable manual control, you'll have to bump the budget for a camera, probably to around the $1k level, perhaps more.

You mention you have a good photography background, but don't say if you have an investment in a SLR system - one possible consideration would be if you could buy a video capable DSLR and leverage your existing lenses... almost every DSLR made will shoot video nowadays.
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Old October 10th, 2011, 12:55 PM   #7
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

That's what I was thinking I figured that it wouldn't be worth investing in something like that.

Not going to invest in anything I don't know about.


In the camera world I have a DSLR (Nikon D40). It's the best bang for buck DSLR I could find. I have read that DSLR video isn't usually super great quality. I watched a video taken on a Canon 5D mkii and it was decent but not what I'd consider wow quality. The images however are some of the best I've seen.

Video gear... I don't know much about what's out there. The Canon GL2 footage I've seen looks good to my eye but as you mentioned it's not HD.
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Old October 10th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #8
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

Hey Nick--

Welcome to the forums. I'm just going to jump in here and say, listen to Dave. He's one of the most knowledgeable guys here, except when I disagree with him. But in this case he's dead on the money.

10 years in audio is nothing. Audio gear from 10 years ago, as was pointed out in a few very good threads in the audio subforums, looks and performs pretty much the same as audio gear today. But in the video world that's three or four major generations. Just over ten years ago this forum didn't exist (A Decade of DVi). Digital video was in its infancy and DV tape cams were in their earliest versions. Now they don't even really make new ones anymore, not even HD versions.

Buying a 10-year old camcorder would be like buying audio gear that recorded to cassette tape... or maybe 8-track. In Mono.

Both Dave and I have some experience with the better consumer level Sony handycams in the $1000 range. For what you say you want to do, you should be looking at something in the Sony cx 5xx line (currently it's the cx560v). You will want the superior low-light performance that the large chip brings for shooting inside your shop. Cheaper cams will have a small chip and will not perform as well in limited light.

Or you could look for a Nikon DSLR body to go with your lenses that will shoot nice video as well, as Dave suggests, but this will bring its own challenges. But I promise you, you will not be happy with anything you can get for $200.
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Old October 11th, 2011, 11:14 AM   #9
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Re: Wanting to capture decent quality edited footage. Where do I start?

Thanks Adam <blush>, the scary thing right now is these little Point and Shoot monsters from Sony - surprisingly, the 16.2 MPixel sensor that makes for pretty decent pictures in a small package ALSO seems to have made a leap in VIDEO quality. Yes, the CMOS sensor is smallish, the lenses as well (these do mostly fit in a pocket after all!), and they certainly don't have the optimizations of say a CX5xx series for low light...

BUT, the low light is now within 1-2 stops of the dedicated video cameras, and adequate for "shop lighting" levels, some of them shoot 60p at full 1920x1080 resolution (I see some macroblocking in certain high movement conditions, but overall the image quality is pretty darn good). Clips are limited to 30 minutes (29 actually...), but you can restart immediately. Audio is not the greatest, but a simple dual mode record technique will "fix" this by providing second source audio and mixing in post (typical "shop" conditions probably dictate a "voiceover" approach anyway - a screaming bandsaw or router is not going to be something you want to or should try to record at "full" volume levels).

FWIW, I shot a CX550 (actually had one of the kids shooting it most of the time), a CX700, and one of my kids was using a DSC-TX100V at an airshow over the weekend. The TX100 was limited by only having 4x zoom, but sujectively, the footage looked quite good, and holds up against the "dedicated" video cameras. Pretty much zero manual controls of course, but Sony "auto" nailed it most of the time. I've got a HX100 coming in that I'm interested to see how well it performs, as its got plenty of zoom range - there are multiple postings of HX9 video here and elsewhere that look pretty good... I guess what I'm saying is that the current year Sony P&S line crosses the line into the video realm quite agressively and successfully.

Keep in mind that Sony's 2011 P&S line STARTS at $220 retail and tops out at under $500! Smart shopping can get you significant savings, as they are finally starting to show up in the "used" channels (they were nearly impossible to get initially because of the Japan disasters). Another option is the NEX5n, just hitting the market, but lots of performance for the $$. What's available in the sub $1K range now (including some good deals on say 1-2 year old cameras that aren't bad, but NOT 10 year old stuff!) offers lots of viable options for the casual shooter who needs good clips..


IMO the primary limitations of the "still" cameras are clip length limits, but Sony seems to try to keep that at 29 minutes (disregarding heating considerations with some of the APS-C sensor cameras). you give up a bit of low light performance, but you shouldn't be shooting black cats in dark rooms at midnight anyway - which is why I mentioned LIGHTING, which is as much a factor in video as the audio, and the one area I feel I have yet to master....fortunately the newer the camera model, the better the dynamic range/lattitude and the auto intelligent adjustments!


Nick, you should also remember that the additional gear (you'll be glad you've got audio covered already, believe me!) like tripods and some basic lighting (practicals or dedicated) need to be in the mix - fortunately the "grip" stuff CAN be 10 years old and still be workable... but don't try to save too much on the camera - the tech is just moving TOO fast and getting cheaper at the new retail end every year!

Ask yourself if you'd buy a 10 year old computer... prolly not, right? Nope, you'd buy something fairly current, knowing it'll probably be obsolete before you get it home... Cameras are driven by processing horsepower TOO, so same principles apply.
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