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Old March 21st, 2013, 05:04 PM   #1
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I'd like some recommendations

I've been a magazine writer and still photographer for 30 years. About two years ago I started a YouTube channel, but I'm dumb as a rock on video equipment, so my stuff is no great shakes.

This year, besides my YouTube channel I've been getting contracts to do videos for a website. I've got contracts for five videos and I've submitted four so far. And I may be getting a contract for multimedia website articles for an outdoor sports cable TV channel's website.

I'm doing all my video with a Canon Vixia HF R20, a Vixia HF R10 and a Midland Radio XRC-300 action cam, along with mics, et al.

I think I need to upgrade, but I don't want to break the bank because video is still only 20% of my revenue, and cost matters.

I wouldn't mind suggestions.

Here's a video showing my stuff and how it is used.


Thanks for the help.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 06:13 PM   #2
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

What do your clients require, and how much do you have to spend? If you can make engaging video with what you already have, there's no need to upgrade. For what you're doing, it seems content is king. Getting a interesting shot with a lower-quality camera is better than vice versa. If you want to stick with Handy-Cam type models, there are many great options that would increase the quality for far far less than $1,000 each. Consumer-based tech refreshes and advances so quickly that you're at quite an advantage right now. If it makes sense to upgrade, do it, otherwise if it's just one job that needs the better gear, choose to rent.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 09:36 PM   #3
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

I go along with Nate. If you're making it work with what you have and the clients are happy with what you're doing then leave it alone. you can always get better (most expensive) gear later as is needed (or wanted)
Like the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"!
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 12:53 AM   #4
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

I watched a few more of your videos on YouTube and there's some really great content there. You do an excellent job of explaining the topics and I think your cameras are completely sufficient for your videos. I was never put off by the quality.

If youre still looking for the next step, there are a couple of things you might be able to do right now with minimal investment to increase the quality and consistency of your clips:

- color grading would help. More saturation and more contrast. Make things really pop. Also, bringing down the highlights a bit when they're blown out. Take care in removing blue color casts on overcast days. You may even add a subtle vignette to the entire project. Shots between cameras should match as closely as possible. White balance settings in camera may help this. Auto settings are the enemy!

- perhaps buy a few screw on ND filters for when you're shooting outdoors. It will help the cameras cope with the very bright days. This may also sharpen up the images (small sensor diffraction?)

- if possible, turn on as many manual settings as you can. A consistent shutter speed, aperture, white balance and gain setting will keep things looking similar throughout the entire video. 1/60 or higher shutter speed and gain as low as you can manage

- focus was a little strange at times. Almost like the camera was focusing on the background. During stand up presentation bits where you're not moving, perhaps try setting the camera to manual focus. An external monitor may assist in this regard, as well as in framing your shots. Those camera LCDs are small for anyone to see what they're doing.

- your tripod use was excellent. Keep it up. Nice and stable with great angles. I didn't like it when the shadow of the tripod was in the shot though, so watch out for that.

- exteriors look great, but I'm sure you know the interiors are where things get murky with your Vixias. Use twice as much lighting as you think you'll need and it will all look great indoors and out :)
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 06:35 AM   #5
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

I'm with both Don and Nate here too.

If they are working for you and you are happy with them then keep using them. Videos for income need to be looked at from a business point of view rather than "I'd love that $15K camera attitude" ...It's a bit pointless forking out $20K on gear and making $5K...that doesn't make sense and if the little Canon's are looking up at you and saying "Trade me in for an expensive big camera" tell them how much profit they are making you!!

Since I also love fancy cameras I never break the rule that my annual expenditure on gear will never exceed 10% of my turnover ...so if you are making $10,000 a year from your videos then don't let your gear costs exceed $1000!!! If you want a different POV then consider getting yourself a GoPro and stick it on a lighting stand and let it run in the background..I even use one for weddings at get awesome 3rd cam footage all for a measley investment of $399!!

Chris
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 11:09 AM   #6
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

Thanks for the advice, and for the tips on manual settings.

I'll stick with what I have for now.

I appreciate the help.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 01:48 AM   #7
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

Hi Mike,

As I read your post and watched your video, it struck me that our histories are similar if about 180 degrees out of sync. I spent more than 30 years shooting video, and just made the transition to being serious about shooting stills a couple of years ago. I've also made a good bit of my living writing - and spent a decade as a contributing editor to Videomaker Magazine.

In part I concur with the other advice that if you're getting the results you need, then that's evidence that the equipment you're using is just fine.

There are a couple of places where you might spend some thought.

First, as to audio. Your microphone "types" have very little do to with the issue of hearing the other range fire when you're recording. And similarly they don't have as much effect as you imagine with the supression of your home's HVAC noise. What's affecting that is how you're USING the mics. A lav suppresses background noise better than a stand mounted mic largely because you've put it CLOSER to the sound source. Audio waves are physics in action. That means the inverse square principle. As distance increases, the loudness diminishes faster than the distance. Much faster. So close verses far is a bit deal for ALL audio recording.

With your extremely loud sources (gunshots) there's no type of mic that will make any difference. The shot itself may be coming from a direction that even a so-called "shotgun" mic is pointed away from, but the sound energy is hitting stuff and echoing all over the pace, so it WILL hit the mic's diaphragm and there's nothing you can do about that.

I do a good bit of teaching these days helping local still photographers learn more about video, and the central truth is that these are two distinct disciplines. Quality still shooters have an advantage as to shot composition and understanding aperture, focus and light, but generally have little training about camera movement, audio and continuous lighting.

Similarly, I've learned that even being a VERY experienced video maker didn't give me that much a "leg up" on becoming a quality still photographer. I consider myself a mid-level photography amateur after shooting primarily stills for two solid years. I'm getting a lot better fast, but the learning curve was much steeper than I expected.

I suspect you'll find the same thing with video. But just like you mastered still shooting - if you stick with video, you'll get better and better over time.

Just keep doing what you're doing and solve problems as they arise and you'll do fine.

If you want to read up on audio for video, I recommend Jay Rose's fine book Producing Great Sound for Film and Video. It's got a LOT of info - way more than you need for your purposes, but it contains all the basics and you can read it in small doses over time and ignore what doesn't involve your type work.

Drop me a line if you have specific questions and I'll help if I can.

Bill Davis
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 09:29 AM   #8
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Re: I'd like some recommendations

I'm not saying you need to but you can always go pick up a new 5D mark III as it will serve both sides of your profession.
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