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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.

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Old April 1st, 2006, 06:57 PM   #1
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Need lots and lots of help-please!

I am wanting to start an outdoor TV program, which would involve hunting, fishing, sporting clays, etc., along with a short segment to witness for the Lord. I would really appreciate any help I can get with some questions, but keep in mind the following: only previous experience with TV was radio/TV class in high school 30 years ago (yes, we had TV's back then) and a journalism class in college; had some editorial experience for very small regional magazine; OK with computers (have website and update it myself with FrontPage and alot of help from the Lord), have some photography experience (amateur), and a very, very limited budget. Given all of this:
1. This HV vs. SD question seems like a real issue. Given the fact that I dream big and have been in touch with a semi-national network about airing the program, and hope it goes bigger than that, it makes sense to me to film in HD and then convert to SD so that the footage taken now can be used on HD in the future. Is this reasonable, based on a long-term commitment to this idea?
2. I have looked at posts about the Sony HVR-A1U, and the great pricing from B&H. However, this camera is about the top limit of my range, and from what I read, minimum lux is 35! Since alot of my filming would be early and late in the day, this seems like a huge problem. Is the 35 lux rating right? Is there any way around it other than buying an FX1?
3. If I go with FX1, which I am seeing today new FX1's in the $2500 range, what about the audio with no XLR ports? I assume I need these, from what I have read, but is the standard shotgun mic not good?
3. Would I be better off getting a used PD100A or V2000 or a GL2 and not worry about HD?
3. I want this to be a top notch production. Is there a huge difference between 1/4" and 1/3" CCD's, and how do three (3) ccd's compare to one CMOS with the A1U?
4. I have talked with the manager at the local university about editing the program, especially the pilot(s), and think that's the way to go initially. If I do try to edit myself, especially after the pilot, what's your opinion of Premiere 1.5? Anything better?
5. Any suggestions on how to get sponsors, including one that would donate a camera for being listed on the program?

Thanks for any help anyone can provide. This is a big decision, especially on a very limited budget. I would love to do this, and it would be great to be involved with this, but I want to do it right. Please provide me with your insights, and may God bless you for doing so.

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Old April 1st, 2006, 09:53 PM   #2
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these questions can probably be answered in many different ways, but here are my suggestions:

1. Does the semi-national network you speak of currently broadcast in or have plans to broadcast in HD? If so, an HD(V) camera is probably your best bet and of these cameras, you seem to be on track. If they don't have anything to do with HD at the moment, get a Canon XL2 or Panasonic DVX100B and you'll be happy - both have excellent reputations, good low light capability and XLR inputs.

2. I've never used the A1U so I can't comment on its performace in any way (I don't like to speak of cameras I've never used) but for this kind of a production, you should be fine as long as it isn't horribly dark and if it is, perhaps investing in an on-camera-light would be a good idea. Ideally, the FX1 would do better for you because it has larger sensors.

3. If you would like the FX1 but cannot afford the Z1U and still need XLR inputs, you can get a small adapter box that will provide them and they aren't that expensive.
Like I said, if the station you have in mind doesn't require HD, you can get SD cameras that do a lot more for the money, only downside being they aren't HD, but you do make gains in other areas, so it is something to think about.
In terms of 1/4 vs. 1/3 inch CCDs, larger CCDs generally mean better low light performance with less noise. In terms of how they compare with CMOS sensors, the only CMOS sensors I haven't used CMOS based video cameras yet but the size rules still apply - bigger=better in low light. There are of course exceptions and other factors to the equation, but I'm trying to keep it simple.

4. Premiere 1.5 is fine for editing this. There is a 2.0 version available, but I don't think you'll gain anything from upgrading to it at this stage.

5. In terms of sponsors, I've never tried to get any before so I don't know the process, but I believe you can try calling the marketing departments of the companies interested and speak with them. I know Canon is a very active sponsor (you see that logo almost everywhere) and so is Sony, so perhaps try them.

In concluding, I really don't want to scare you off from doing this, but there are quite a few costs aside from a camera you'll need to consider such as audio equipment, underwater housings (if you need them) and other little things, so make sure you leave some money aside for a good shotgun mic, light and other stuff.

Sorry for writing a novel, but I hope it helps
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 01:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mark Fish
Is there a huge difference between 1/4" and 1/3" CCD's, and how do three (3) ccd's compare to one CMOS with the A1U?... what's your opinion of Premiere 1.5?
Hi Mark,

Don't worry about any difference between 1/4" and 1/3" CCDs. Don't concern yourself with opinions about Premiere. The main thing is to choose the camera which feels best in your hands, and also to choose the editing software which feels most comfortable to you. The question is NOT about the capabilities of the camcorder or the editing program. The question is really about how comfortable you are with this gear in your hands. The rest will come naturally and with practice. The limitations are not in the equipment so much as they are in your head. Pick the equipment that feels good to you, and those limitations will disappear as you gain experience and confidence in what you're doing. The more you shoot, the better you'll get. Just do it.

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Old April 2nd, 2006, 09:21 AM   #4
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Adding a note: I believe it was our own DSE who wrote "Sound is 75% of what you see." Don't neglect the audio side of things - viewers and networks will forgive marginal pictures if the subject is interesting to them but they will NOT forgive bad sound - and regardless of what camera you decide on, the on-board mic is absolutely going to only be of limited usefulness. There's a thread currently running in the "Hear It Now" section titled "Getting Started in Sound" and in it Ty Ford has presented a list of the contents of a basic startup sound kit. I suggest you give that a once over and make sure you have funds in the budget to cover purchase or rental of most of the list.

Just speaking for myself, I'd prioritize the budget in roughly the following order...

Audio & Video Editing Software (since it sounds like you're already familiar with Premiere, go with the current full Adobe Production Suite 2 unless you feel compelled to try something new. Sony Vegas production suite is also a good bundle.)
Specific Audio Editing Hardware (audio interface, monitor speakers, etc)
Audio Acquisition Hardware (mics, mixer, boom, recorder, etc)
Specific Video Editing Hardware (reference monitor, etc)
Video Acquisition Hardware (camera, tripod, etc)

I place editing over acquisition because it's easier to rent camera and sound gear if you don't own them than it is to rent editing setups.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 03:02 PM   #5
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I was just reading some specifications and requirements for a couple of networks, one of which is the Outdoor Channel.

Interestingly, if you provide HD programming, the Outdoor Channel will either barter time, buy rights to air your show on a limited basis, or buy it outright.

If it's in SD, then they'll charge you to run the show and allow you to sell a limited amount of air time to your sponsors.

So there's a huge difference between the business models of SD and HD-originated material.

Also, the Discovery Channel, according to what I found in their "Technical Requirements for High Definition Programming (No. HD-05.2)", you are allowed to use HDV for up to only 15% of a show. So there are restrictions when it comes to the HDV format. DVCPro HD, and other formats, are unrestricted. That's not to say that other networks or distributors have the same requirements or restrictions. But just in case, you might want to gather material in a format that won't prevent you from hitting particular markets. You might consider this when looking for a camera. That's what our own production company is considering for its upgrades.

In short, format selection might affect your ability to sell your program.

If you're just starting now, you might want to "future-proof" the material you shoot and just start shooting in HD. You can do post production for current needs in SD but still re-purpose in the future in HD.

Most important: Content is king. Learn how to tell engaging, compelling stories. The best equipment can't make up for a half hour of boring material.

And do whatever it takes to keep production standards high. A recent demo of another outdoor show I watched had good action. Good interaction of the people involved. But it could have been shot and edited a whole lot better.

As Steve House mentioned, audio is often overlooked. Don't be afraid to spend a little more to get equipment you can depend upon. Going cheap sometimes means having to spend twice, and that's more expensive in the long run than paying once for something that's a lot better.

Good luck with the production!
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 05:42 PM   #6
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dean, that was a great post!

"mark fish" is gonna look good on the credit roll of outdoor show :-)

stick with minidv, but spend the $$$ on good audio gear, because it can be used with multiple cameras and formats.

considering where you are in terms of experience, and your knowledge of the web, why not put the show on the 'net for viewing? learn how to put it into a podcast format as well... do all the editing yourself.

that way, you can perfect your craft, yet still reach thousands of viewers with your message... i'm pulling in somewhere around 25,000 unique url's a month, but i've been doing it since the mid-'90's... in your case, all it'll take is for the show to get some key links from big church websites.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 06:10 PM   #7
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I used to hunt in Willams IN! Then moved to WI to start doing the same thing. I just bought a Sony pd 170. I have used it a couple times early and late in the day. I also will be filming hunts and fishing. Everyone says its the best in low light situations. After reviewing my footage id agree, it "sees" great in the morning. I have a lot of the same questions as you. I may be coming back home to film some turkey hunts this month. Maybe we could hookup and hunt and do some filming. I also know of someone that has a gl1 package for sale cheep. he was filming and had to stop {2 kids and family} email me if your interested Thanks and good luck. Mike
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 07:03 PM   #8
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I really appreciate everyone's help and advice...we are about to get pounded by a thunderstorm, so just wanted to take a minute to say thanks before I turn off the computer. Hopefully post some answers to some of your questions about what I am doing tomorrow. Thanks again, Mark
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Old April 4th, 2006, 06:55 AM   #9
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Andrew-thanks for all the info, I need all the help I can get. I am not sure if the semi-national now shows HD or not, but from what I have read, I really think that's the way to go so that any footage shot now could be used now as SD or used later as HD. Is that correct thinking? Thanks for all of the explanation on the other items, I think the Beachtek adapter for an FX1 would be the way to go on sound.

Chris-thanks for your info as well. I never thought that much about how the camera fits or feels, guess it's kind of like a shotgun needs to fit the shooter. My problem is there is no one near where I live where I can even see the cameras. All of my window-shopping has been via the internet. I am pretty sure I don't want a shoulder-mount camera, though, due to size and weight. Would try to use a portable tri-pod whenever possible for stability.

Steve-thanks for emphasizing the sound. I never thought that much about it, even though I do want XLR capability (even though I am not 100% sure about what it is). I do know I don't want to sound like I am in a box when I record, even some outdoor commercials sound like that, and it really "cheapens" the broadcast. Your post makes me realize I need to research more on this topic.

Dean-thanks for the info. I appreciate hearing from all of you guys that are experts in this area. The Outdoor Channel news sounds really good. I had received pricing from them for buying time, but if I could sell the show to them, especially when getting sponsors is so tough, would be a huge blessing! And I think you are right about designing the production for the future and really emphasizing quality. If this ever works out, I hope to have a show that is entertaining, educational, that witnesses for the Lord, and hopefully brings a laugh or two as well. After all, isn't fishing and hunting supposed to be fun? I think so! I think you are confirming some conceptions that I had, so hopefully I am on the right track.

Dan-thanks for the idea. I had actually looked (online) at a JVC camera that was designed for web streaming. How big of a deal is it to use SD or HD footage and post it on the website? I assume it's just like loading a file, but what about download time? Never thought about the church link idea, that's a good idea too. I did think too about posting on the site about the upcoming show in hopes that it might draw some advertisers, if they can see some footage maybe that would help "seal the deal". P.S. I agree, a name like "Fish" helps in this business.

Mike-what are the odds of that? I've spent a little time hunting and fishing at Williams too. One of the first places I ever remember fishing at as a kid with my Mom, Dad and sister was at the old covered bridge (and Dad blowing the horn on his old 50 chevy while driving thru the bridge). Not really interested in the Gl1, but thanks for the info. If you do want to try the hunt/film route and if I can work it out, email me when it gets closer at

Thanks everyone for your help. I really think I want to go after the HD camera if I can find a good deal on one to be building for the future. The issues about sound, content, quality and getting a camera that I am comfortable with all gives me a good start on how to get to where I want to go, if it's the Good Lord's will. May God bless you all.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 10:00 AM   #10
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I'm going to make a suggestion that will seem like I'm trying to rain on your parade - I'm not, but I think it's something for you to consider.

Given your lack of experience with shooting, sound and editing as evidenced by your questions, you may be faced with a very steep learning curve and your efforts will probably not be successful in the beginning. You will have to spend thousands of dollars to buy camera(s), audio equipment, lighting and accessories, and editing equipment. Once you have all of these techno-goodies, you will have to learn to use them effectively to produce a pilot for submission to a TV station for airing. That is another long process.

May I make a suggestion? Find some experienced videographers and editors who you can work with locally, pay them for their equipment and talent. Your very significant contribution to getting this show on the air would be looking after the millions of details, schedules, on-camera talent, segment arrangements, scripting, editing decisions, interface with the TV channel/network - in other words, be a Producer.

While your pilot is being produced, observe and learn. If successful, begin acquiring the gear to begin the DIY approach.

There are many talented people who can run a camera and edit. A good producer is hard to find!
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Old April 4th, 2006, 11:12 AM   #11
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I appreciate your objective observations. I feel like with the Good Lord's help, this could be a very good program. And I feel like I catch onto things fairly quickly, and I think it would be alot of fun too (in addition to work). But you are so correct, this is all new to me, tons of things to learn, and I may be getting in way over my head. I think I will try to take your suggestion and dig into that approach a little deeper. Or, maybe I will consider doing the filming and letting someone else do the editing. That's what I initially had in mind, until I found out the local university's TV station is a year or two away from editing HDV. Do you have any idea about the costs involved in hiring someone to film enough footage for a 30 minute program (let's say an 8 hour day), or what it would take to put that footage into a finished product? As I mentioned in my original post, the budget is very limited. That's another reason I wanted to do it myself. But again, I want a polished, finished product, and may have to go elsewhere to get that. Thanks for your suggestion, and don't worry about raining on my parade. I need feedback like yours from people who have been there, done that. Thanks.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 11:39 AM   #12
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Mark - can you really capture enough footage in an 8 hour day to fill a 30 minute program? I suppose if you have a lot of 'talking head' interviews you could, but for straight-up outdoor activities, it might be difficult.

For example:
I produce an ourdoor video of sorts (outdoor motorized recreation) which basically involves me hiking on trails all day following and filming Jeeps. In a typical 8-to-10 hour day on the trails, I shoot between 4 to 6 hours of footage (it varies greatly depending on location, events, people invloved, etc). But in the end, no matter how hard as I try, I can't get more than about 6 hours of footage in a given day. And that doesn't mean it's all good/useable/compelling footage, either.

For my last video, I shot 16 hours of footage. For my current video, I've already shot 12 hours of footage, and have 3 more shooting days scheduled. I figure I'll end up with about 25 hours of footage to cull from. And that's for just a 45 minute run time program.

Just something else to consider. :-)

- Duane
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Old April 4th, 2006, 11:43 AM   #13
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I'm glad you took my suggestion in the spirit in which it was intended.

I piloted a 30 min outdoors show four years ago using in-house talent and resources. Our show was a magazine format with 3 main features and a few shorter segments. The show concept was accepted and is now on the air in 9 markets in NY State on either the Fox or CBS affiliates. We chose to contract out the actual production, talent and promotion.

A lot will depend on your show format and locations you choose. One thing to keep in mind, especially with outdoor shows is that fish & wildlife operate according to their own schedule, not yours. Actors can learn their lines, rehearse actions and you can set a schedule - critters don't! For example, we planned to shoot a 7 min. feature on a charter fishing trip on Lake Ontario. We spent 2 full days, from 5:00 AM to late afternoon trolling with one of the top captains in the area - NOT A BITE! On board was a videographer, assistant, on-cam talent (a fisheries biologist) on-cam host and the captain. Lost of high priced talent for 0 return. We ended up grabbing our fly rods and running to a local river where there were reports of good salmon fishing. - We got that segment, but it was a long day!

There is a lot of travel involved in shooting outdoor shows, factor in weather and the unpredictability of your target (pun intended) - expenses can run high.

A simpler format with only 1 topic per 30 min. show may be easier to shoot within a day, but it will be very difficult to keep lively and interesting. A compromise would be to have a few "sidebar" segments that can be easily shot, but would keep the show moving. For example, on a fishing trip you could make a side visit to a fish hatchery or local tackle manufacturer. Or perhaps you could do an interview with a biologist about the fishery in that particular lake or stream. For a sporting clays segment, a visit to a gun shop to talk about the types of shotguns work best for clays or a close-up look at the traps would be appropriate. Maybe you could get a shooting expert to give tips...

Lots to think of - Go back to the very basics of communications planning - an in-depth analysis of your audience, purpose of the show and "take-away" messages you want to emphasize.

By the way, Welcome to DVinfo - if you haven't guessed already, there is a lot of great information available here and plenty of people willing to share their expertise.

Good luck.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 08:46 PM   #14
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Duane-I am hoping in a "full" day we can get enough footage for a 1/2 hour segment. From what I have gathered, there is usually 28.5 minutes allocated, and of that, approximately 6 minutes are devoted to commercials. That leaves 22.5 minutes, less opening and closing segments. So somewhere around 20.5 minutes of actual footage would be required. I am hoping that with footage shot hunting, fishing or whatever we are doing would fill the majority of the slot, along with a guest segment that ties into that particular area of interest, kind of like what Mike was discussing, and maybe some type of pro's pointers. In addition, I hope to have a short segment tying hunting and fishing in to witnessing for the Lord. I wrote a column in a small outdoor magazine years ago that did this. I would like to have just one topic per show, if I can fill the time allotted without just dragging it out. But you're the expert, so thanks for raising this question as well and giving me something else to consider. That's what I am looking for, is questions and answers.

Mike - I appreciate the info in your post. Sounds like it can be costly, time consuming and "iffy". What I hope to do is, for instance, have my contacts let me know when they are "on" birds or fish or whatever, so that I can try to maximize the time spent in the field. Of course, that doesn't always work out, as you pointed out. As far as travel, my intent is for the show to be midwest related, to again minimize travel and expenses. As far as content, I think we are kind of on the same wavelength there, so I am glad to hear some of my ideas are hopefully headed in the right direction. I would be interested in hearing how you were able to get in with the networks, that seems to be a pretty difficult task to accomplish. And any other guidance you can give me would be welcomed. The (3) steps to a good program also made me think, and to realize how much I don't know.

I really appreciate the warm welcome as well. It's nice that you folks are kind enough to share your experiences with me, so maybe I can learn from youins (Southern Indiana language) and maybe not have to learn everything the hard way. Again, may God bless you all.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 11:01 PM   #15
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Mark, here's another thought:

Watch similar shows to what you envision creating and pay attention to the number of CUTS in the edit. On most prime-time Docu-drama stuff nowadays (a la "Discovery Channel" type stuff) it's common to have a cut every 3 to 5 seconds, with extended minute-long segments reserved for only the most special of situations. Unfortunately, that's what seems to keep the public's attention. Anything beyond about 5 seconds and they change the channel. ;-)

Okay, so maybe that's a bit coy to say, but still...WATCH some of what you envision, and then PLAN ACCORDINGLY to see how you can pull it off. Can you do it with one camera? In one day??? How much more work will a one-camera setup require? Can you accurately portray/communicate your intended message in a manner that will cativate your audience?

I'm not saying you CAN'T do it; I'm just saying that you should plan as much UP FRONT as possible in order to maximize your time in the field shooting; you'll likely need every minute of the available day to accomplish your goal.

Good luck! :-)

- Duane
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