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Old December 14th, 2004, 10:32 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4
?'s for VX-2100 Settings for Indie Film

Hey everyone,

I am starting production for a feature length film next month. I am a student at North Caronlia State University, president of a film group of about 30 students. I am writer, director, and editior on the project, the script is done and we are finishing up pre-production right now.

I have a VX-2100, which we will be shooting the film with (Unless by some act of God Santa brings the vice president of the group an XL2 for christmas...) and I was wondering on any suggestions for the settings on the camera to do this film with. I am probably going to shoot in electronic 16:9. I know there is a pixel count reduction, and some would suggest to just shoot 4:3 and letterbox in post, but I would like to save time on rendering and all, however my questions are...

1. Should I really look at shooting in 4:3? Would the electronic 16:9 be good enough quality for festival play and what not?

2. Should I do anything about the shutter speeds, I pretty much have been keeping it at "60" (default), but would any other give it more of a film look? Are there any filters I could try in post to achieve this effect?

3. Since this is a low budget film, any suggestions on lighting? I know the VX is wonderful in low light, but should I look at buying anything to make light seem more natural and all?

4. Should I do anything in particular with the AE?

Any other suggestions would be greatly appricated. I have been doing film stuff for about four years now, so I know most of the basics...thanks everyone!

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Old December 15th, 2004, 12:01 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Billericay, England UK
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Chucked in at the deep end, huh?
OK, keep to the default shutter speed. Slower and you lose resolution, higher and you head towards CCD smear.

If possible, shoot through an anamorphic, but do some tests first, because using an anamorphic is not easy and does impose some photographic constraints on you that you may not like (it does me). Shoot some test footage in the camera's 16:9 mode and project it using the best projector you can find - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good it looks. Better yet, using the in-built 16:9 mode the viewfinders remain undistorted and this greatly aids composition initially.

Lighting. This will make or break your movie, and using 'available light' just because the VX is so good in the gloom is not on. First off is to get some Lastolite reflectors to bouce around what's available, but if you're into making moods, you'll need to have a tight grip on lighting more than anything else.

You'll also need a Beechtek box so that you can run proper XLR microphones into the camera. You'll know all about manual control of the exposure, focus, w/bal, won't you? Don't touch the AE button - it's near useless on the VX.

And good luck. A lot of good indie films depend on good luck simply to get the job done.

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Old December 15th, 2004, 02:17 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4

Thanks so much for the detailed response! A lot of great info there. Yes, I know about white balance, exposure and all pretty well. As for the audio, do you have a suggestion for the mic and particualar beachtek device? Keep in mind we are on a budget...I know I can get the beachtek adapter for a little over 100 or so I think. Thanks so much again, I greatly appricate it!

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Old December 16th, 2004, 12:16 AM   #4
Inner Circle
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Location: Billericay, England UK
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Microphones are like lenses Brandon, there's one for every conceivable application. Untill I know your application it's near impossible to suggest one. As a starter you'll probably need something like the Sennheiser K6/ME66 combo, in conjunction with a very useful radio lapel mic. The mic should be positioned where the noise is, which is not necessarily where the camera is. The DXA-4 is the best value Beachtek for the VX in my view.

We haven't started on wide-angle converters. I can't imagine leaving home without my 0.5x in the kit bag. There's the Hoodman that's always in place, the L bracket for the hand-held stuff, the little Sony 10 +10w movie light with diffuser and of course the fluid-headed Manfrotto.

But don't buy a thing until you've got a good script. With a good script you can shoot with a single-chip so-so cam and people won't care. I've just seen a 90 second short shot by a 15 year old that had my eyes wide in admiration. Such brevity, constraint, imagination and audacity! It's wonderful when you come across such gems.

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Old December 16th, 2004, 07:04 PM   #5
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Location: New Port Richey, Fl
Posts: 142
Tom gave you great advice. I'll give you some of my thoughts for you to consider.

I have an Azden shotgun that was about 200USD. It's not as good as the Sennie, but it is more affordable. For what I shoot, it's fine. But try not to skimp on the audio. There is little you can do with bad sound. Get good headphones, too.

As for the 4:3 16:9 thing, well, that will depend on the festival. Some may want a 16mm or 35mm conversion (which costs tens of thousands of dollars.) so be aware of that.

Don't misunderstand, I've seen 16:9 that looks great. But I don't use it. (I hope I'm not mixing my terms here, I'm on my 4th glass of egg nog, so I'm woosey with Christmas cheer.) It's just my opinion, but unless you have the afore mentioned anamorphic lens, I don't really see the point behind the electronic 16:9. It looks like wide screen, but it isn't. Now if you just like the look, or the client wants it, hey, this is America, go for it.

And on a related topic (and now I'm going to step on toes, hurt feeling, sound like a jerk and get flamed for it. Oh well, I'll have it coming.) Please, please, please, foget about trying to make your video look like film. I shoot both and, to me, film is film, video is video. Both can look great or jankey. I try to think of it in terms of pastel and watercolor. Just make good video and don't worry about trying to turn it into something it isn't. Many will insist it can be done, to each his own. But to me, projected images just have a look that is very different than video on a tv.

All debatable issues. But Tom said one thing that I feel can not be disputed; geat a good script. Beginning, middle, and an end-- Dramatic conflict, twist, climax, resolution. You don't want to find yourself smoking in bed with you lady still outside the door.

OK, sorry if I offended. These are just my thoughts. Have fun and listen to Tom.

Why ask me? I thought you were in charge!
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