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Old April 10th, 2006, 02:36 PM   #1
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18 Year Old Film Student Looking For Advice...

Hey everyone...

I'm an 18 year old first year film student from Cape Town, South Africa. I've been into filmmaking since I was 14, starting off on a JVC VHS-C camera, which I still use...Yes, it's time for an upgrade.

I'm planning on majoring in editing (Premiere {which I've been using for the last four years} Avid, Combustion, Boris, Media100 and After Effects) and most probably making a job out of it when I leave school. Although my main passion will always be developing (writing, directing, shooting and cutting) my own films.

Right now I'm trying to get a small business off the ground. Earning capital from odd-jobs such as music videos, birthday parties & memorable moments, skating videos and other bits and pieces to earn some cash for leisure purposes, as well as having a budget for any feature projects I wish to pursue.

Because I wont be doing that for a living and rather just to earn some cash, I figure I can secure quite a large customer base by supplying a service where they can get a high quality product at a cheaper cost they'd pay a professional for...I don't want to anger established videographers by suddenly busting in on their turf and poaching their clients. What would you say the standard rate for those type of jobs would be so I could determine my prices around them? I was thinking of having a negotiable pricing scheme where there are no set fees but I charge according to the scale of the job, is that practical?

Now for the second part of my question. I have a good dual-monitor edit suite, 150GB project material HD (For working on Mini-DV @ 13GB per hour and making use of batch capturing, is this too small? Do you recommend an upgrade?) loaded with a full Adobe studio and some other software, however I need better video-equipment or else this really all goes to waste.

I've always had my eyes set on a Sony VX2100 with a Canon XM2 coming in second. Today I saw an advert at school for a PD150 going at 15.000 Rand (about $1300) neg. Is this a bargain or should I avoid this camera for what I'm looing to do? Is it more suited for far more professional work? I believe it's a DVCAM camera, are DVCAM cassettes more obscure to find in retail stores than normal Mini-DV? Can the PD150's footage be captured via Firewire in the same way as Mini-DV and what file size difference would their be between captured Mini-DV and DVCAM?

If it's going to be between the XM2 and the VX2100, which would be the best choice? I can get an XM2 for about $500 less than a VX2100.

Also, just a side question, when it comes to labeling DVDs for more of a professional presentation, what is the best method to use? Would my business lose face if the final cut were to be burnt to a DVD without a label, rather just a plain white face and a permanent marker'd title?

Thanks a lot for any advice! I greatly appreciate it!

Aviv

PS. My first and proudest work from film school can be viewed here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss6u0QyhDaQ
The project was to develop a >3 B&W film with no dialogue.

All my earilier stuff, pre-film school can be viewed at www.neverdead.co.nr (the partnership has since been dissolved)
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Old April 10th, 2006, 02:57 PM   #2
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Hi Aviv,

IF you can choose, the PD150 is definately the better cam. It CAN shoot DVcam, but also regular mini dv tapes.
So that's best, because DVcam doesn't give you much advantages, exept less chance on dropouts, but you have less recording time and they are more expensive, so mostly not worth the hassle.

The PD150 is also a champion in low light and has XLR connections.
And for the price, it's very good, but I think it's best to check out if the camera still works fine, because it's very cheap.

VX2000 is like a little brother of the PD150, and the Canon is just another camera: if you want maybe a more filmic look, and you can use the big zoom (20x) then you should look for the canon.

150gb is good to start out with, but after a while you'll want more. But it's good to start.

Best regards,

EDIT: yes you can just capture the footage of the PD150 as any other minidv camera.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 03:03 PM   #3
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I was always under the impression that DVCAM cassettes were bigger than MiniDV :/

Anyways, thanks a lot for the advice...I AM leaning more towards a new VX2100 rather than a second hand PD150 that is discontinued and no longer under warranty, although because it's coming from a film-school I imagine it's in relatively good condition. What audio connectors does the VX2100/XM2 have and can both of these shoot in 16:9 as well as 4:3?

Thanks again.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 03:46 PM   #4
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Hi Aviv,

I think you got mixed up because (correct me if I'm wrong) there are different sorts of DV cam- cassettes, big ones, and little ones.

I think, if in good condition, the PD150 is definately the better guess.
Because both VX2000 and Canon XM2 don't have XLR connectors, which are very useful for professional mics.
But you can of course get a beachteck adaptor which gives you XLR connections at an additional cost (if you buy one, be sure to buy a model that provides phantom power).

All three cams (PD150, VX2000,XM2) shoot in a fake 16:9, not a real one.
But the Canon's (XM2) are, even when they are all fake, a bit better then the Sony's who are very bad at this.
Only an XL2 or a GS400 or a PDX10 shoots in real 16:9, but the first one is too expensive for you, I pressume, and the other ones are not as good as the cams you mentioned (and both are discontinued right now).
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Old April 10th, 2006, 03:57 PM   #5
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Thanks...The XL2 runs for about 44.000k here which is around $3800. The PD150 does seem like a good choice, I'm just worried about a breakdown.

What exactly is the difference between DV, DVCAM, Mini-DV and DVCPRO?
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Old April 10th, 2006, 05:07 PM   #6
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DV is Digital Video.
So MiniDV is a part of this. You know mini dv, the little cassettes.
DVCAM has a more wide tape or something, so you can only tape 40 minutes on a tape (well, the ones in the PD150, I think the better ones have longer recording times), but you have less chance on drop-outs.
DVCPRO50 is I think from Panasonic, and has more megabytes per second, I think. I don't really know, I think other people will answer that better than me.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #7
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Ahh, so are Mini-DV and DVCAM the same size cassette?
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Old April 10th, 2006, 09:57 PM   #8
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DVCAM can come in various sizes. There is the small size, which is the same as miniDV. And there is the larger form of DVCAM tape.

Same thing with miniDV... there is the larger miniDV tape.

2- DVCAM runs the tape 50% faster. It also supports locked audio and some other minor technical differences I believe. See Adam Wilt's DV FAQ.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 10:33 PM   #9
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If you can get access to the PD150 and can have somebody do it for you and get into the menu, try to find out how many hours the heads have on them, how many load-unload cycles. It is all there and recorded by the camera.

A student cam has possibly had some bad experiences, probably more stand-by running compared to a money earner whilst students are setting up and being taught things on it.

If you can come back to this forum with all the details from the menu read-out, there are likely people here who can give you a recommendation on that particular camera.

Between the VX2100 and the PD150, having the XLR mike inputs is definitely a major plus and eliminates an extra set of leads and power for the Beachtek and would push me in favour of the PD150.

If the head hours are well up on the PD150, then you may not get a long run of reliabilty before some major work has to be done on it. That is a cost you should get a quote on and consider on top of the price of the PD150.

Also if you buy the PD150, find out what brand and model number of tapes the film school was using on it and stick with those. There have been reported problems related to mxing of tapes which use "wet" or "dry" sacrificial lubricant formulations.

Some commentators consign this story to the level of being an unproven urban myth, but there is enough anecdotal evidence published here and elsewhere to suggest that not mixing tape stock on any MiniDV camera is a best practice.

The newer VX2100 and PD170 apparently have even better low-light performance than the PD150 which is already good.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 12:35 AM   #10
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Ahhh, Thanks.

So DV and DVCAM are the formats while MiniDV is the cassette size of both of those? I get it now....

So if I tried to run a MiniDV DVCAM casette in a normal DV MiniDV Camera (other than the PD150), what would happen? All in all though, does DVCAM look better than normal, consumer DV? Or does it all depend on the camera, lens, lighting etc. (Is the xMB/sec ratio also large than normal DV?)

Lastly, what audio connectors does the VX2100 I have? I know that XLR is the professional standard, but what inputs can the VX take in? Is the microphone on that of equal quality to the PD's shotgun? Also, rather than purchasing an XLR box for the VX, can any small adapters be found which can convert the actual microphone jack to the VX-required connection type?
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Old April 11th, 2006, 01:04 AM   #11
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The connector is a stereo mini plug.

You can run XLR Mics to it by adding an XLR adapter, like a BeachTech
DX4-A or a powered version that provides Phantom power.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 03:58 AM   #12
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Is that adapter for the camera or is it a Mini-Stereo Jack to XLR Jack for the mic?

How would I power the mini-stereo mics that would connect to the VX? Is the native microphone good or should I invest in external mics as soon as possible?
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Old April 11th, 2006, 05:09 AM   #13
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Hi Aviv,

I don't know what would happen if you would put a DVCAM mini dv size into a regular minidv camera, but I think it maybe would just refuse to tape. But I'm not sure.

If you for instance would shoot something with the PD150, the image quality between the DVCAM and Minidv will be exactly the same. The differences are only that DVcam has less chance on dropouts, and, like Glenn said, has locked audio too, not that I know what that exactly means. But no very big advantages.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 06:46 AM   #14
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The MiniDV and DVCAM tape cassettes are almost identical. I say almost because tapes which are marked as DVCAM are presumed to be a little more quality assured. But a MiniDV tape cassette and DVCAM tape cassette of the same size will function quite happily in the same camera.

The only issue is what I mentioned above. Avoid mixing tape brands. The issue is apparently Sony branded tapes which have a "wet" lubricant and other brands which have a "dry" lubricant. When the leftovers from the lubricants get mixed together on the heads and guides, they apparently form an unholy alliance which is the very devil to remove.

MiniDV and DVCAM codings are a little different. DVCAM is reputed to be more robust and apparently has better sync performance for sound. The PD150 can be set to record in MiniDV or DVCAM.

You could actually record portions of MiniDV and DVCAM in different places on the same tape but I would not recommend it. More recently, some MiniDV cameras and VTRs will support playback of DVCAM but not record.

DVCAM tapes run faster through the machine and slightly longer, steeper slanted tracks across the tape are made by the rotating heads. This gives a greater resistence to dropouts as a faulty area on the tape passes through a little quicker. The same tape in a MiniDV camera wll record 60 minutes and in a DVCAM camera, 42 minutes.

The DVCAM tapes usually come as a premium price. Some have a facility called cassette memory. On the spine of some MiniDV cassettes, you will find immediately below the donkey trap, four little rectangles alongside each other in a row. In cassettes with a memory device installed, there are four little conductors in place of those marks which make contact inside the camera.

Cassettes with memory enable the camera to write informtion to the cassette for later finding in-out points, memorise details to enable searches of a cassette which has been removed and put back in later and perform other functions. I think one is to store some still images but I am not sure.
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Old April 12th, 2006, 06:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviv Hallale
I've always had my eyes set on a Sony VX2100 with a Canon XM2 coming in second. Today I saw an advert at school for a PD150 going at 15.000 Rand (about $1300) neg.
That's more like $3000us isn't it? Just spent the last 3 weeks in Cape Town, pretty sure the exchange rate is around 5-1. Either that or I've been getting ripped off pretty harsh... ;)

I miss Camps Bay.
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