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Old April 21st, 2003, 12:49 AM   #1
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Questions on Pro Camera Aquisition

Hello Guys. I respect the advise you all give here on the forums and I need some help on deciding which camera I should use for a 10 minute short film we will be shooting this summer.

Please bear with me here, I will try to be as thourough as possible in describing the situation I am in. The shoot is going to last 4 days and budget really isn't that much of an issue. I can afford to spend a few hundred a day to rent a nice pro camera.

1. I have a Sony VX2000. Basically I'm tired of the look. It's time for me to move up. I've used this camera for a while but I want this movie to have a better image than what I feel miniDV can offer.

2. I have been offered to use an old Ikegami Betacam from a film company I did work for a few weeks ago. They owe me and said I could use their camera. It's a $50,000 beast. The problem? I have absolutley no idea how to use it. I don't know much of anything about Beta, and I don't often hear of people using them for anything other than broadcast. I'm sure I could learn the basics, but I don't want anything to happen on set that I can't deal with.

I don't even know what to do with Beta tapes once I'm done with them. How would I edit? Does beta transfer easily to DV so I can use Premiere? Is beta something I should consider? Or..not a good idea?

3. A friend of mine has an old 16mm film camera that I could use, and will even throw in some film for me...for free. The problem? Again, never used a film camera, and I don't really feel like paying thousands to develop the film!

4. I'm been reading up lately on the Sony DSR500. The reason I like this camera? It seems to be the cheapest camera with true 16:9 aspect ratio. Part of me really wants to film this short in true widescreen which this camera can offer. Since I'm familiar with Sony, I will probably be able to pick it up quickly, plus I've used the DSR 250 and 370. The problem with this is it will probably cost me $300 a day to rent the camera. Plus, don't I need insurance in order to rent?

5. I could rent a Canon XL1s for about a 100 a day. Not really what I want to do, but at least this will give me the option of using different lenses.

The film is a drama and the goal is to send it to filmfests.

What do you guys think I should use? I really like the widescreen capability of the Sony. It is really that necessary to have widescreen? Any thoughts you guys have about this will be appreciated. thanks!
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Old April 21st, 2003, 01:17 AM   #2
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Try renting a Panasonic DVX100. It'll probably be in the same price range as the XL1 to rent (relatively cheap) and will offer a nice film look plus 24p if you plan on transferring to film.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 01:22 AM   #3
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Brad Simmons wrote:
"I have a Sony VX2000. Basically I'm tired of the look. It's time for me to move up. I've used this camera for a while but I want this movie to have a better image than what I feel miniDV can offer."


Stick with the VX2000.
You know it well. Unless of course the other cameras come with DPs and operators, its likely that you will get the best results with something that you are most familiar.
Just because you have the money to spend, doesn't mean you should spend it, especially if it could mean over-complicating your production.
I can understand being sick of the look, but that is truly subjective. I imagine that Hitchcock armed with a VX2000 would be just as effective as he would with a film camera (or at least close.)
which is to say, other factors other than acquistion method dictate the look i.e. angle, proximity, staging, etc.

I recently finished working as one of the collaborators on a short DV film. I shot with a JVC one chipper, the other camera was a 3 chip Panasonic. I hand held mine climbing on phone booths,and booming it overhead on an extended monopod, while the 3 chip got the tripod treatment. When it was screened, the shots that got the most oohs and aahs were ones that the 1 chipper shot.
What I am saying is that if you already have a camera, go shoot with it. This film will not likely be a masterpiece, which is fine. You'll learn a hell of a lot more because of it, and when its time to shoot 35 or 70mm or HD you'll be satisfied knowing you could do a kick ass job with a DV camera.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 06:43 AM   #4
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Old Betacams probably don't produce as nice a picture as your VX2000. I've owned and shot Betacams for over 10 years and old footage I've shot are not as nice as XL1S footage shot recently. This isn't just my opinion. Here's a quote from the Swiss Effects site.

Quote:
Not taken into consideration are the respective camera-heads, all of which can substantially affect the picture quality. The older Beta-SP cameras, in particular, deliver a less-acceptable result than todays new DV cameras.
If you're tired of the look from your camera, do as Dylan suggests, rent a DVX100. If you don't have a budget that permits renting a camera, check out different filters for your camera. You can use the search function to research the topic.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 08:13 AM   #5
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Brad,

I'd be taking Justins advice and stick with your VX2000. With the money you planned to spend on renting a camera you could rent a really nice set of lights and maybe a better mic. If you light your scenes well you will do a lot for the look. As Jeff said the old Beta camera won't look as good as the VX/XL plus as you said you'll waste too much time working it out. The same will go for the DSR500W, it'll take too much time to work out all the adjustments and functions. I'm gonna take a chance here and say that 90% of a productions look is in the lighting, the composition and the camera movement, so again I would stick with the camera you know well and concentrate on the other 3.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 11:49 AM   #6
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You said you've used the DSR300, so you should be able to use the Betacam camera OK. However, I too would recommend you stick with what you're the most familar with, ie., the VX2000. Using a higher quality camera isn't going to do as much for the look of your project as good composition and lighting will. Also, depending on which Ikegami is available to you, it may or may not be better than the VX2000. Also, it is probably a dockable, which means you'd have to have a bigger tripod than you probably have, and it probably will also require more light. Then, you'd have to have all the Betacam tapes transferred to DV so you could edit. One option, if the Ikegami is a dockable, is to see if they have a DVCVAM deck to dock it with, instead of the Betacam dockable deck.

Overall, I would vote to stick with what you're more comfortable with. If you've only used a professional camera one time, then you probably aren't really up to speed on them and you could get yourself in trouble.

As far as the 16:9 chips on the DSR500, that would be your best quality short of 16mm or a DV50 or better format; but again, cleaner, sharper video isn't going to make your movie all that much better.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 01:03 PM   #7
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thanks for all the advice guys. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and I think, the more expensive the tool, the better quality. And in a way that's true, but a great image won't make up for bad story or bad lighting. I just feel so restrained by my VX2000. Yet, you guys speak the truth. It would be much wiser for me to use my VX2000 and spend the rest of some other equipment. I already have lights and sound, but perhaps I could rent a glidecam or some other rigging equipment with the extra cash.
Thank you for setting me to reality. :)
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Old April 21st, 2003, 01:22 PM   #8
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Not to mention the oodles of praise (not to mention future investment potential) of spending the extra money on better food for the crew, a great post party, and whatever would be leftover for marketing etc.

Break a leg!
Oh and if you have any updates as to your continued progress, I would be happy to hear about it.
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Old April 23rd, 2003, 03:09 AM   #9
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Well, change of plans. A few of my fellow filmmakers and I have decided to pool our money together and get a Canon Xl1s. We feel this will allow us more options than the Sony, and it isn't as expensive as the more professional setups, so it's an investment. Thanks again for the advice. I would have gone with something more expensive had you not talked me out of it. Off to the Canon forum! ;)
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Old April 24th, 2003, 12:48 AM   #10
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Now spend the extra money on feeding your crew better!
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Old April 24th, 2003, 08:39 AM   #11
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Good point! You get people to work cheaply or for free, you damn well better feed them well. We've got a motto around here: When in doubt, break for lunch.
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