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Old May 9th, 2012, 04:01 AM   #1
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How should I spend $30,000 ?

Guys, I need to put together a plan to spend about $AUS 30,000 and I'm looking for your comments.

Cerebral Palsy League is a charity that provides various services to disabled people, to improve their quality of life. Nearly all of the clients are intellectually disabled and have significant mobility issues. Most of the clients are in wheelchairs.

Most of the activities at the centre take place under fluorescent lights, and we can’t really change that, although we can add other lights. The place is quite noisy, and copyrighted music is frequently played at the centre. Occasionally we will film in a wheelchair-accessible bus, or at sea on a sailboat. We have shot video at a protest rally in Brisbane on Victoria Bridge, and we might shoot footage at various other locations as well. There are two trained videographers, who work a combined roster of 12 hours/week.

Because the talent is disabled, getting good footage is our primary problem. We need to rely on editing, compositing and graphics to make this interesting. Most footage will end up on the proverbial cutting room floor. Most of the audio that is recorded will be discarded and replaced with music. Every production will be subtitled and use voiceovers to link the footage. We have no on-site studio. Because of the talent’s disabilities, live, live-to-tape, and vision-mixed content are not possible.

We are applying for a grant that could give us about $27,000 AUS to spend on capital purchases, and the money won’t come for another 4 months. My boss will also spend a couple of grand if I ask nicely. Because CPL is a charity, we should make every dollar count and make sure that every item purchased measurably improves the quality of life of the clients.

I would prefer to do editing at home, so that I don’t have distractions. I have a 13” Snow Leopard MacBook Pro and a Windows 7 desktop at home. The Windows PC is significantly more powerful.

We need to produce a number of videos:

• 6 x 25 minute episodes of a community television show, broadcast in 576i
• A documentary with audio to be projected in an art gallery
• Silent videos to be played at the art gallery on LCD screens
• A video to recruit new clients, probably to be played on an LCD screen
• A film parody of Sherlock Holmes, shot with “proper” film techniques

The current inventory is:

1. Sony PMW-EX1R video camera, 32 gig SxS-1 card
2. BP-U30 battery, BC-U1 charger
3. Pelican 1610 camera case, with foam cutout
4. Miller Solo DV Alloy DSIO tripod, DS-10 tripod head, pan handle and clamp
5. Miller MD Pro dolly

6. Rode shotgun NTG-1 mic with 2 different windshields, XLR cable
7. Rode boom with mic holder
8. Sony wireless lapel mic (UTX-B2 transmitter, URX-P2 receiver)
9. Sony Handycam DCR-DVD705 with battery and charger and plenty of spare discs

10. Apple iMac11,1 with 1 terabyte hard disk and Snow Leopard 10.6.8
(This computer is not connected to the Internet and never will be)
11. Western Digital 1 terabyte 3.5 inch external hard disk
12. Final Cut Pro X
13. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9
14. Adobe Premiere Elements 9

This is what I think we need, in order:

1. 1 non-profit license of Adobe Creative Suite @ $950 from Design Software Australia
1 Calibrated XD decoder @ $155 from Calibrated

Gives us access to Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. We really need compositing software to make our video production workflow complete.

Since the license allows installation on two computers simultaneously, it could be installed on the iMac and also on Richard’s own Windows PC at the same time. The latter installation is completely transferable if Richard leaves the organization.

OR

1. 1 license of Motion @ $60 from Apple Store

This is the standard compositing software for a Final Cut Pro X based workflow. It can be installed on the work iMac with once-off Internet access. Given our reliance on compositing, it may prove inadequate.

2. 3 Sandbags @ $46 each from VideoPro

SAFETY: To weigh down the tripod and prevent it from being knocked over by wheelchairs, and to secure video cameras when attaching them to wheelchairs.

3. 2 rolls of gaffer tape @ $24 each from VideoPro

SAFETY: To secure items (eg attaching video camera to a wheelchair).

4. 1 Sony XLR to 3.5mm phono connector @ $146 from VideoPro

Without this, we cannot use our wireless lapel microphone.

5. 1 Sony wireless mic shoe mount adapter suitable for URX-P2 @ xxx from VideoPro

Without this, we cannot professionally mount the wireless mic to our EX1R camera.

6. 2 pairs of gloves @ $25 each from Bunnings

Will allow disabled people to get much better grip on the equipment and could prevent injury while still allowing fine motor movement, operation of controls, etc.

7. 5 embroidered film crew caps @ $35 each from Ipswich Embroidery

Would allow us to be identifiable when filming outside the centre, and would be fun for the clients.

8. 1 UWP-V2 Sony wireless mic system @ $704 from VideoPro

Would give us more omnidirectional audio pickup. Lack of cable means that we would no longer have a cable in shot and the cable will not be tripped on or caught in a wheelchair.

9. 1 Sony BPU60 battery @ $323 from VideoPro
1 Sony BCU1 battery charger @ $264 from VideoPro
1 Sony SXS-1 64-gig media card @ $1,116 from VideoPro

Would increase our camera battery and recording capacity from 2 hours to 6 hours, and allow for continuous swapping of media and battery.

10. 1 GoPro Hero 2 Outdoor edition @ $388 from VideoPro
1 32 gig SDHC card for the GoPro @ $147 from VideoPro
1 LCD screen attachment for GoPro @ $137 from VideoPro
1 Chest strap harness mount for GoPro @ $65 from VideoPro
1 Skeleton housing for GoPro @ $55 from VideoPro
1 Bicycle seat post & handlebar mount @ $35 from VideoPro
1 Roll bar mount @ $45 from VideoPro
1 Tripod adapter mount @ $12 from VideoPro
1 Suction cup mount @ $45 from VideoPro
1 Grab bag of mounts @ $35 from VideoPro

Would allow us to mount a small video camera on a client’s wheelchair, helmet or wrist, allowing us to record from the client’s point of view.

The Sony Handycam produces very poor quality images and must be handheld (which some clients cannot manage), and the EX1R is way too complicated and heavy for a client to operate.

11. 1 Arri lighting kit @ $4,018 from VideoPro

This has 4 lights including a softbox. Proper lighting would vastly improve the quality of images, and allow us to create short films.

12. 1 iStoragePro RAID (16 terabytes) @ $3,354 from VideoPro

Would give us enough storage space to last for years. Our footage takes up about 20 gigabytes/hour. At the moment we are adding footage to our hard disk at the rate of about 80 gigabytes/week.

13. External Samsung SE-506AB/TBSD optical drive @ $177.88 from megabuy.com.au

Allows us to read the discs from the Handycam, and read and burn Blu-Ray discs.

14. 3 Sandisk 32 gig USB sticks @ $32 each from MSY

For transferring large video files.

15. Bose QC acoustic noise cancelling headphones @ $449 from VideoPro

We have non-noise cancelling headphones at the moment, which are annoying to wear. We have therefore had audio problems for lack of effective monitoring.

16. Miller Compass 15 two-stage tripod (#1827) @ $2,977 from VideoPro
Miller Pan Handle (#679) @ $137 from VideoPro

A much more robust tripod, that can be more easily sandbagged, with a smoother head.

17. 1 Miller Fixed Length Pan Handle and clamp (#680) for DS-10 @ $132 from VideoPro

We already have one on our DS-10 tripod head. Another on the other side would more easily allow the camera to be operated by disabled people and left-handed people.

18. 1 x RAM kit (16 gig) @ $158 from macram.com.au

Would significantly improve our iMac’s ability to do compositing and editing (although at this stage editing and compositing will be done on Richard’s computer).

19. 1 Miller Shoulder strap (#1520) for Solo DV Tripod @ xxx from VideoPro

20. 7 more Sandbags @ $46 each from VideoPro

21. 1 Miller Solo DV dolly (#394) for Solo DV Tripod @ xxx from VideoPro

The dolly that we have is actually not the right one for our tripod.

Now, I'm looking for your comments. We still have $10,000+ to spend. I'm thinking we could buy a cheaper second camera, that the clients could use and which produces a broadcast quality image. We could also save up for a better camera with interchangeable lenses or slow-mo capability, or waterproofing/robustness. We could also use a steadicam, or a second lighting kit, or a track-type dolly... what do you think, guys? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Richard
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Old May 9th, 2012, 06:45 AM   #2
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Hi Richard.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
1. 1 non-profit license of Adobe Creative Suite @ $950 from Design Software Australia
CS6 Creative Cloud might also be a cost effective solution.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
8. 1 UWP-V2 Sony wireless mic system @ $704 from VideoPro
My local pro dealer recently advised me not to purchase the Sony systems, as they wouldn't be usable at the end of the year when ACMA change the usable frequencies. You would get a Sennheiser G3 kit for around this price/less
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
10. 1 GoPro Hero 2 Outdoor edition @ $388 from VideoPro
1 32 gig SDHC card for the GoPro @ $147 from VideoPro
1 LCD screen attachment for GoPro @ $137 from VideoPro
1 Chest strap harness mount for GoPro @ $65 from VideoPro
1 Skeleton housing for GoPro @ $55 from VideoPro
1 Bicycle seat post & handlebar mount @ $35 from VideoPro
1 Roll bar mount @ $45 from VideoPro
1 Tripod adapter mount @ $12 from VideoPro
1 Suction cup mount @ $45 from VideoPro
1 Grab bag of mounts @ $35 from VideoPro
Considering how much this adds up to, worth looking into some of the cameras from RaceRecall, On-Board Sports & Helmet Video Cameras. Some of their cameras might be more expensive, but they will include LCD screens, mounts, etc. Look into the Radcams.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
15. Bose QC acoustic noise cancelling headphones @ $449 from VideoPro
Expensive way of doing this. I use Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones, and find the closed, passive noise isolation better for sound monitoring than active noise cancelling. You get a better quality sound at less than half the price.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
Now, I'm looking for your comments. We still have $10,000+ to spend. I'm thinking we could buy a cheaper second camera, that the clients could use and which produces a broadcast quality image. We could also save up for a better camera with interchangeable lenses or slow-mo capability, or waterproofing/robustness. We could also use a steadicam, or a second lighting kit, or a track-type dolly... what do you think, guys? I'd love to hear your suggestions.
Perhaps a Sony NX70 might be a good fit, as a B camera with waterproofing and robustness as you've mentioned? Might be a bit better option for clients to use too?

Of course given some of your other requirements the interchangable lens camera might assist with producing the TV content and Sherlock Holmes spoof.

Also some of those prices seem excessive to me, maybe you should shop around a bit?

I guess it depends on how much of this gear is going to be used by clients, and whether teaching them how to use it/letting them use it should be taken into account here?
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Old May 9th, 2012, 03:25 PM   #3
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Ryan,

The prices are a bit excessive, but the league already has a relationship with this vendor. We're going to buy ex-GST too, so that shaves off 10% automatically.

I definitely want the clients to be able to shoot their own footage. Some of them are very intellectually disabled, so training them isn't really the solution - we just need to buy a camera that's truly point-and-shoot. Even the NX70 might be a bit too much for them.

Richard
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Old May 9th, 2012, 08:52 PM   #4
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cavell View Post
This is what I think we need, in order:

1. 1 non-profit license of Adobe Creative Suite @ $950 from Design Software Australia
1 Calibrated XD decoder @ $155 from Calibrated

Gives us access to Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. We really need compositing software to make our video production workflow complete.

Since the license allows installation on two computers simultaneously, it could be installed on the iMac and also on Richard’s own Windows PC at the same time. The latter installation is completely transferable if Richard leaves the organization.
Typically Adobe is sold either/or as in you purchase it for Apple OSX or PC/Windows. So while you can use it on two computers, you can't mix 1 Apple with 1 Windows. Unless things have changed or are different with a non-profit or overseas, though I doubt it.
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Old May 9th, 2012, 11:40 PM   #5
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
Typically Adobe is sold either/or as in you purchase it for Apple OSX or PC/Windows. So while you can use it on two computers, you can't mix 1 Apple with 1 Windows. Unless things have changed or are different with a non-profit or overseas, though I doubt it.
Things HAVE changed. The Creative Cloud license allows you to download and use the Win version on one computer and the Mac version on the other.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 03:28 AM   #6
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

A GoPro mounted on a wheel chair should be an easy addition.

And yes, the prices are a tad excessive at VideoPro. I bought my camera, HDV deck and other things there, but I now tend to source from a store in Melbourne depending on what I am buying. Granted, the service from VideoPro is good.

Andrew
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Old May 10th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #7
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

For this project, I would target a camera that offers good slow motion capability. We have a large group of special needs kids swim at my local pool each week. In my experience, they are socially awkward, but intensely authentic with their emotions. I believe that real-time footage could risk highlighting the social awkwardness, but that slow motion would take them out of a social context and show an honesty and inner spirit that could be extremely touching. This includes the range of emotions from elation and sweetness to deep frustration and outright fits. If only all actors could deliver that level of authenticity! IMO, it's the emotional thread that could make your project stand apart from dry, factual documentaries.

50 or 60p should be enough, if you deliver at 24 or 25 fps. In general, I'd shoot the wide stuff at real time, if not high-speed/timelapse. It's the tight stuff that deserves slow motion. This will work well, given that you will need to replace the audio anyway.

I'm not sure which cameras offer 50/60p and meet your other requirements. Others here should be able to offer specifics.

BTW, wheelchairs make great dollies. Rigging cameras for real time, point of view video with a wide view should make for great footage.

Best of luck with your project!
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Old May 10th, 2012, 03:43 PM   #8
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Adobe Licensing (download products) allow usage on Mac or PC, or BOTH, does not need to be Cloud version, which is something different.

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Old May 10th, 2012, 06:53 PM   #9
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

Quote:
11. 1 Arri lighting kit @ $4,018 from VideoPro
Not sure exactly what's in that, but if buying new I'd strongly look at LED lighting and/or something like Dedo lights (which I highly recommend). The latter use 12/24volt bulbs are hence are used either via mains and in-line dimmer or directly off a 12 volt supply - the latter makes them very versatile on location, and the size/weight might be seen as a safety factor.

As far as Go-Pro goes they are great - if used sparingly. I wouldn't be happy with long sequences shot that way, they'd get very hard to watch.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:06 AM   #10
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

David,

I'm going to start a new thread on the lighting issues. You're right, safety is a big concern here.

Richard
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Old May 17th, 2012, 02:04 AM   #11
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Re: How should I spend $30,000 ?

The shopping list is now finalized, with significant changes thanks to your input. Thanks everyone.

Ricahrd
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