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Old September 17th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #31
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Not much and declining I'd say!
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Old September 17th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #32
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Although HD is the future, SD is still 'now'.
The majority of worldwide programs are still broadcast in SD and so if your footage is good enough and of sufficient interest you'll be able to sell your work, as long as you push your work and manage to get the right contacts or coverage.

The best option of all is to sell your work in completed professionally edited form on a DVD. These can be sold in shops and distributed worldwide by good distributors or by the best means of all, via the world wide net.

HD in Blue-ray form is still a tiny and more expensive section of the DVD market, and SD-DVDs are still the vast majority of all sales in UK, Europe, USA and across the globe.

Not only is SD still the largest market, but the costs of working, editing and producing DVDs etc, is far lower when working from and originating in, SD.

Yes, HD/HDV will be the mainstream in some years to come, but today and for quite a few years yet, SD will be a viable format...and even if you work in HDV you will generally be down converting most of the time when you eventually show or sell your work to the media and public.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #33
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But few would start with SD today. Actually, no one would start with SD today. I can build an HD editing computer for $800 + monitor + storage. Disk storage starts at about $70/TB.

As far a FL - 7D + 1.4TC + 400 5.6 is 900mm ish


The 7D has several more stop of sensitivity compared to 1/3 sensors, so at 1/48 shutter you wont run out of light. But it better be on good support.
The great stuff is usually from blinds, remote control cameras, and other ways to get close. Shooting at 1500mm, unless it's a small animal, is shooting through a lot of air. Unless you get something really special, the long shots will need to compete with a guy who shot from 30 feet away.

I see you studied biology. I think you need to use your brain rather than 1000mm + FL. Also think about doing time lapse. It's about interesting critters and places. Instead of just shooting, pick a passion.

All of the 70-200 2.4 or f4 lenses are good. Sigma is fine on a 7D or 5DII. On a smaller sensor I would go with Canon. The older Canon 80-200 2.8 is fine too. Old Canon FD mount glass does not work on Canon eos (EF mount)

For a head I usually use the Gitzo 1380 with up to a Canon 500/4. But people here can give you better support suggestions. One place to save is aluminum legs.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #34
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Well I suppose there are all sorts of markets but certainly I've not shot a single thing in SD for at least 5 years. I wouldn't advise anyone to buy any SD gear if it's for broadcast.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #35
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Also think about doing time lapse.
The 12 minute limit for the 7D pretty much eliminates the possibility of speeding up footage for time lapse. Or will the 7D offer actual time lapse options?

Anyway, I have a showreel with a bunch of footage including a few time lapse shots. You can check it out here if you'd like: Jonathan Betz Showreel (updated summer 2009) on Vimeo

I've spoken with a few producers and after these conversations I have one goal for now: shoot nice behavioral sequences using narrative techniques. Shots of a fox, shots of a woodchuck looking disturbed, shots of a fox chasing a woodchuck, shots of the woodchuck escaping into a hole. This type of thing. I need to show that I can tell a story by getting a bunch of shots that can work as a sequence when edited together. As far as I know this is the best way to get work in this industry: more mammals and better mini-story sequences. But then this seems like it will only help me get contract jobs as an assistant or cameraman.

Anyone have suggestions about other ways to break into the industry or things I should be doing to get my foot in the door? For instance, is it realistic to think that I could produce a film myself in SD and distribute the DVDs without help from distributors?
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Old September 17th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #36
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Johnathan,
I have been in your shoes. Good luck. You would be really fortunate to find a client interested in SD today, the reason being that their own customers all want HD, whether its for broadcast, commercials, or just art. They are not going to buy your SD. If you are doing small subjects at distance, you can't possibly do better than an XL-something with 35 mm lenses and an adapter. The XL-2 is reasonably priced, and might be good for you to learn on with a 70-300mm lens (560-2700 mm on the camcorder). You can always resell the camcorder, recoup about half of your price and buy an XLH-1 to use with the same 9or better) lenses in HD. The economic advantage of these cameras running on tape compared to the still cameras with video functions recording on a chip is huge...and then there's the audio.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 06:41 PM   #37
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Again, thanks Steve! I've got a lot to think about.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 09:22 PM   #38
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.....I have a showreel with a bunch of footage including a few time lapse shots. You can check it out here if you'd like: Jonathan Betz Showreel (updated summer 2009) on Vimeo.....
That's some real good footage you got there, nicely edited together, but I would have left out the rain in the town. I like the pans in the beginning, would you mind telling me exactly how you got those.

Thanks,

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Old September 18th, 2009, 07:18 AM   #39
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I've just bought yet another XL2 this week (yikes, says my HD head), and I wouldn't have bought it if I didn't think that I could quickly recoup the costs - far cheaper and more worthwhile than buying another XL-H1s at three times the cost to capture the same subject on tape that would need to be down-converted anyway. I rarely do things without a great deal of thought and calculating my costs against profits.

When a subject becomes a business rather than a hobby, it is vital to produce a continuous stream of money to cover overheads and make a profit big enough to live off. Chris Hurd makes a very valid point when he mentions that if you are a professional and purchase professional video equipment, then it is vital that the costs of buying that equipment is quickly and easily recouped...if not, then it is not a trade but a hobby.

Jonathan, no matter if you choose SD/HDV/HD, there is one piece of advice I can offer – and that is to try to widen your scope if possible outside of wildlife, or if wildlife/nature is your only goal then try to specialise in a subject and work very hard to obtain footage that is rarely seen.

Shooting popular subjects such as foxes & badgers, or even more popular subjects such as bears, wildcats, dolphins etc, takes you to a far wider audience, than say insects or small mammals, but there are many more cameramen shooting that same subject worldwide, and often with far more money and resources than you have...so unless it is incredible footage, or rare/violent (such as bear attacking a human) it will not stand a chance to be sold to TV companies – and also difficult to sell high volumes as DVD or BlueRay.

Earning money from wildlife films is not easy, and earning a long-term living doing it is even tougher. There are very few who can earn a decent yearly wage from it and the majority who set out to make it their goal in life fall quickly at the wayside and rarely even cover costs of all that expensive equipment. Some of BBC's top wildlife film-makers have had an extremely tough time making ends meet during the past few years – and years of HD captured footage is left unseen by the intended audience.

Filming wildlife & nature is only a part of what I do, and to make decent money this footage has to be combined with more specialist subjects such as adventure fishing & travel - and then streamlined to appeal to a targeted audience.
I do the same with my stills photography and books. I've lived off their worldwide sales for the past three decades...but it has never been easy, and I'll never be rich by it, although my life is certainly rich in wonderful memories...and I'm extremely happy.

I can read between the lines that Jonathan is keen and hungry enough to try and fulfil his goal in life...and I'm sure that if he works hard enough - no matter which tools of the trade he decides to use - he'll turn those dreams into reality.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 07:48 AM   #40
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Here's my spoon into the soup. There's right or wrong answers so take the liberty to express my best understanding. I would advice to forget SD equipment. Although one is producing SD material, still, a HDV, D7, and all other cameras with 4:2:0 color space give quite a lot of head space when downrezzing to SD. This means, one may easily stabilize imaes and crop when needed. The result, at least 4:2:2 color space, is still better than what one gets from any DV format SD camera --which results in 4:2:0 SD material. In addition, later on a unique D7 or HDV footage can be embedded into a genuine HD master tape. It won't be too distractive, especially so, if the contents is unique. Finally, new cameras tend have more dynamics than old ones, and for this reason I would advice to go for something like D7. Dynamics is one of the best friends of wildlife shooters.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 08:28 AM   #41
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Caleb, thanks for the kind words regarding my reel. And yes, I've had a lot of differing opinions about the rain shots. When I can get a better wildlife sequence together, that's definitely the first thing to go.

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I like the pans in the beginning, would you mind telling me exactly how you got those.
For the pans I used a combination of an 8-foot jib and a DIY mini dolly setup I created using HO scale model train tracks and a slightly modified flatbed car.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 12:08 PM   #42
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Yes, I agree with Caleb that the smooth low-level slides in the opening sequence were the most powerful sections of the showreel. Nice work, Johnathan.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #43
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Thanks for telling me how you got those pans Jonathan.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 01:11 PM   #44
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Thanks! Just to specify: pan1 = handheld, pan2 = DIY dolly, pan3=jib
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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:23 PM   #45
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Pan 1 is my favorite, but I really didn't notice difference.
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