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Old June 11th, 2006, 11:12 PM   #1
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Are my thoughts correct?

Hi folks.. Without giving to much away, I'm starting a small video business and need some advice, or reaffirmment on my thoughts.
First, my application. I need a indoor/outdoor camera, a handheld steadycam, a 12' jib, and some sort of D2D system for seamless NLE, all within a $4500ish price point. The camera has to have the ENG look without the ENG price. Showing up to shoot with a more-than-suitable DV palmcorder isn't going to fly.
Output is going to be web based so final resolution isn't going to be a major factor, but good input+good output.

So, my thoughts are the Cannon XL1, with a FireStore FS4. Probably a 12 KesslerCrane and some flavor of homebrew handheld steady platform.

So, thoughts from the pros?

Wade
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Old June 11th, 2006, 11:32 PM   #2
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what are you going to be shooting?
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Old June 11th, 2006, 11:51 PM   #3
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Quite alot of things.. Homes, parks, businesses etc.. Not so much "movie" work, but more documentry. I also may also shoot a music video for my own ego, every so often. :)

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what are you going to be shooting?
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Old June 12th, 2006, 02:39 PM   #4
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Don't forget the audio gear! How about a good NLE editor? What is your delivery media? Can't get good advice without knowing all of this...
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Old June 12th, 2006, 05:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Stine
Hi folks.. Without giving to much away, I'm starting a small video business and need some advice, or reaffirmment on my thoughts.
First, my application. I need a indoor/outdoor camera, a handheld steadycam, a 12' jib, and some sort of D2D system for seamless NLE, all within a $4500ish price point. The camera has to have the ENG look without the ENG price. Showing up to shoot with a more-than-suitable DV palmcorder isn't going to fly.
Output is going to be web based so final resolution isn't going to be a major factor, but good input+good output.

So, my thoughts are the Cannon XL1, with a FireStore FS4. Probably a 12 KesslerCrane and some flavor of homebrew handheld steady platform.

So, thoughts from the pros?

Wade
You know the subjects you anticipate shooting better than I so my advice could be totally off-base but I'm not sure I'd go with a jib and a steadcam as part of my initial purchases, sexy though they be. Unless you're shooting pretty specialized stuff, they'll be used rarely enough that it makes much more sense to rent them as needed. Much more important and used much more often will be a top-notch tripod and fluid head and a good set of sticks can easily run into the thousand dollar or better range right there. Also don't forget audio - the on-board mic will NOT be suitable for professional quality results except in extremely limited circumstances. The audio gear needed for top-notch results could easily be equal to the video gear in cost and might actually exceed it.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 05:29 PM   #6
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Hi Steve, thanks for your comments.. The steadycam is a must have because most of my shots will be moving. I would love to be able to get away with the shots on sticks but thats just not a possibility. I hear you on the Jib, however, as much as a toy it will be, it's going to be a great tool to #1. Sell my service and seperate myself from the pack, #2. use it to upsell my customers. The inital cost of service is going to pay the bills, the jib and other alacart options are going to be the profit.

As far as audio goes, it's fairly unimportant. Nearly ALL of the end products are going to have a music bed, or voice over. Again, more documentry than "movie". I'll be using the onboard mic to take notes during the shoot and then dump the audio track in post.

ERVIN:
The NLE is going to be Vegas Video. More than suitable for my application, as the end product is going to be web based.

I'm mainly concerned about quality of the video. It's got to have a good low light response for indoor work, and provide me with enough quality to dump down to 400x300 30i ish for the web.

Keep poking holes guys!

Wade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
You know the subjects you anticipate shooting better than I so my advice could be totally off-base but I'm not sure I'd go with a jib and a steadcam as part of my initial purchases, sexy though they be. Unless you're shooting pretty specialized stuff, they'll be used rarely enough that it makes much more sense to rent them as needed. Much more important and used much more often will be a top-notch tripod and fluid head and a good set of sticks can easily run into the thousand dollar or better range right there. Also don't forget audio - the on-board mic will NOT be suitable for professional quality results except in extremely limited circumstances. The audio gear needed for top-notch results could easily be equal to the video gear in cost and might actually exceed it.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #7
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I've been researching camcorders for similar applications as yours. We're going to buy some camcorders for filming in our church and low light is an issue, we don't want the filming too intrusive, yet good enough not only for web delivery but also DVD and possible broadcast. From what I've found, the Sony VX-2100 has better sensitivity than the Canon GL2. Someone has posted here in the forum a test he has personally done with several camcorders and the VX-2100 is the clear winner in low light.

Generally the pros agree that Canon gear is better for "film look" while Sony stuff is designed more with TV/media in mind (low light, sharpness) - and I tend to agree.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:33 PM   #8
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"#1. Sell my service and seperate myself from the pack, #2. use it to upsell my customers. The inital cost of service is going to pay the bills, the jib and other alacart options are going to be the profit."

This may be where your thoughts are wrong. Customers will probably not care about your equipment and it will actually take money away from your profits if you are still making credit card payments. Make profits first and then add options. Get one fancy option for now, the steady-rig, and get your skill up with that before you dump money on a jib and other specialty devices.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #9
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You should do an analysis on a spreadsheet, but my gut tells me that when it comes to stuff like jib arms and the fancier stuff along those lines, these things (if they are in fact premium up-sell options) are better rented on an as-needed basis so you can preseve cash flow for more important stuff that will work on every day of every shoot.

Most clients, when given the choice, will choose the cheaper of two options, unless there is some reason for them to fear they are giving something up that is critical to their business. There has to be a value added from the client's perspective to pay the premium. But to amortize somthing like a jib arm when the cash could go to marketing or sound gear makes for some interesting trade off analysis.

It's going to be tough to get an ENG professional-looking camera at a $4,500 price for the whole package, I think $4,500 for everything including NLE is unrealistic, as $4,500 alone is the cost of a good, basic, prosumer camera... or was that $45,000 for everything (grin), one little zero makes all the difference, now with $45,000 I can see nice NLE, camera, audio gear, jib-arm, baby steadicam-like device (double-grin)...
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Old June 13th, 2006, 07:24 PM   #10
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I agree with you somewhat here. Start small, however, even a $500 crane for the simple shots are going to gain me customers, and at a low inital cost it's going to make my service look more professional and have more professional content than just being "another guy".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
"#1. Sell my service and seperate myself from the pack, #2. use it to upsell my customers. The inital cost of service is going to pay the bills, the jib and other alacart options are going to be the profit."

This may be where your thoughts are wrong. Customers will probably not care about your equipment and it will actually take money away from your profits if you are still making credit card payments. Make profits first and then add options. Get one fancy option for now, the steady-rig, and get your skill up with that before you dump money on a jib and other specialty devices.
David: I hope to use my "entry level" jib on every shoot. As I go through the process with my customer I become the salesmen and manipulate the sale to include the "crane shots". I don't see the crane as a optional piece of equipment right now. I see the $30K jib as the option, but a lowend boom will be most sufficient for the work I'm targeting. I can add value with manipulation of the consulatation.

In this situation I'm not a videographer, I'm a salesman. My money is going to be made during the conversation, not when using my equipment. I can reinforce the fact that my customer NEEDS the jib for the MUST HAVE shot. Without it they're NOT going to get the BEST of whats possible.

The same reasoning goes back to what "looks like" high end quipment, not what IS high end equipment. If I show up on site with a unusual camera on a crane or steady platform my customers are going to be impressed. They won't know the difference between a 11 year old, dressed up XL1 on a kesslercrane or a Sony ENG on a high end, gyro stabilised, 6 axis boom. When shooting for my target market, it's as much as the perception as it will be about the end product.

I understand what your saying, and from a professional videographers's veiwpoint I absolutly agree. If I had the budget to drop 45K, I would, however it would take me years to see the ROI. Sound gear is fairly unimportant right now, and I do plan on adding to the studio when cash becomes available, but for now, the equipment list is fairly unimportant.


Keep the comments coming guys!
Wade

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tames
You should do an analysis on a spreadsheet, but my gut tells me that when it comes to stuff like jib arms and the fancier stuff along those lines, these things (if they are in fact premium up-sell options) are better rented on an as-needed basis so you can preseve cash flow for more important stuff that will work on every day of every shoot.

Most clients, when given the choice, will choose the cheaper of two options, unless there is some reason for them to fear they are giving something up that is critical to their business. There has to be a value added from the client's perspective to pay the premium. But to amortize somthing like a jib arm when the cash could go to marketing or sound gear makes for some interesting trade off analysis.

It's going to be tough to get an ENG professional-looking camera at a $4,500 price for the whole package, I think $4,500 for everything including NLE is unrealistic, as $4,500 alone is the cost of a good, basic, prosumer camera... or was that $45,000 for everything (grin), one little zero makes all the difference, now with $45,000 I can see nice NLE, camera, audio gear, jib-arm, baby steadicam-like device (double-grin)...
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Old June 13th, 2006, 11:52 PM   #11
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An XL1 will require a more expensive jib and a more expensive stabilizer. For this application you are better off with a PD150 or PD170, maybe even a used DVX.



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Old June 14th, 2006, 02:43 PM   #12
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Wade,
I think you're going wrong right away. You're already basing your sales appeal on the gear, not who you are. You want to spend $4500. Ok, so if I spend $10,000, get a Steadi Cam Flyer, and a better jib arm, all your customers should come flocking to me, right?

Your business is first and foremost about YOU and what skill sets you bring to the table. The gear is secondary. I think you're making the mistake of preparing to "upsell clients" to get your jib arm in every shoot. What if the project just doesn't call for a crane shot? Sounds like you're set on selling them on it anyways, and for sure some potential clients are going to sense you're trying to sell them something they may not need. Many clients know little about video production, and may not understand the value of what you are trying to sell them. Some may not appreciate the extended time it takes to get that "money shot" that you're looking for.

I think you need to listen to your clients, understand their needs, define their budget and expectations, and then organize equipment to satisfy those ends. After all, in the movie biz they don't go out and buy all the equipment they need, they rent it as budget and time allows. By working with a rental house you will not only be much more flexible in what equipment you can provide for you client, but you will improve your own skills as you learn to work with various gear, and your creativity won't be limited to what equipment you actually own.

All that being said, I wouldn't recommend too much "home brew" for the Steadi Cam work. If you hype up your equipment to your client, and then show up with some homemade piece of kit, they're not likely to be impressed. I also think you're way off base when you say audio doesn't matter, though I suppose you may be saying that you're not concerned with recording audio.

Start with a good camera, some good editing software, a solid tripod and then build things from there.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 06:16 PM   #13
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Would it make more sense if you focused on just one of the steadicam-equivalent or the crane. The steadicam will likely be more useful as it would be useful in more shots. If you want to do home tours for real estate agents, the steadicam would make a lot more sense.

If you do want the jib... what are you shooting with it? Will that require pulling focus?

2- I'm not sure what you're doing exactly, but the Firestore may not really be necessary?

3- If cash is tight, you could also consider upselling them instead on color grading (which costs you little/nothing in capital). An example of what can be done in Vegas alone:
http://www.glennchan.info/Proofs/dvi...comparison.mov

Or just get a reasonably good steadicam and upsell them on that.

Quote:
Keep poking holes guys!
Probably the most important part of your business would be getting clients.

What is your target market? What are they looking for?

Depending on the answer, a jib may or may not make sense. You may also find that you need particular gear... like audio equipment. It could help if you provide details on who you intend to target / the kind of work you want to do.
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