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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old December 26th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #1
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What equiptment/computer should I get?

Hello all! This board is awesome. I've been reading it like crazy and am grateful for the wealth of great information it contains.

I need some advice. Mod's if this is the wrong folder and I could get more information in another folder please move the thread.

I plan to start my business. Wedding's will be my major focus in the beginning. I'm in the process of choosing my equipment.

My budget is around 4000.00, I know, it's not a lot but that's what I have.

Here's some background. I've shot and edited 6 wedding's. But I also made an indie feature film, I wrote, directed, produced and edited it. I've also shot a "concert" which was a local band playing for about 400 people.

I have two mini dv camera's now. One sanyo and one sony, simple 400.00 range camera's. Just for the record, I also have a super 8mm video camera, lol. Got a simple tripod. I have an older pc with premiere and dvdit software that I've authored my dvd's on.

The indie taught me loads about editing, sound, lighting, composition and endurance!

I have a network of people in the business ready to help me.

The last wedding I shot the DJ saw my work and said he wished I would have done his wedding and asked me to be his referral at the time. He has wedding's all year and stays booked. But I was in the middle of editing my film and was completely fried from working my full time job and editing and I passed on the offer.

Now I am ready. I'm in a position to drop my hours or even leave my full time job to give this my full attention.

Which lead me here. I was researching equiptment and the busniess model and found thise forum.

In early Feb I'll buy a Mac or PC and a camera, mics and simple lighting. From what I've read it's a wierd time and the tech is caught in the middle of transition from Sd to HDV. I'm leaning on buying a good solid 3 chop SD camara for now then move to HDV later.

I'm torn between buying a mac or a pc. I've worked with premiere and it seems like I could get a more computer with a PC. But my friend says get a Mac, it's industry standard and all the software is made for video. What do you think? Mac or PC. My budget is between 1500 - 2000.00, I'm also trying to decide if I want a laptop or a desktop.

Would you put more money in the camera or the pc/mac?

I want a laptop so I can edit anywhere, plus I'm a writer and want one to be mobile for that too. I edited on my pc for years and always wanted the freedom to move locations but continue the work.

Now, the camera question. Deep breath...and exhale.

What would you go for in the two thousand dollar range? I've been reading the thread on SD vs HDV and from the sounds of it my choice is made with the fact I don't have the budget for the editing side of HDV.

My uses for the camera will vary, mostly wedding and events like birthdays etc, etc...Nothing corporate.

All opinions welcome, thanks for reading.

Witt
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Old December 26th, 2007, 11:20 AM   #2
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What would you go for in the two thousand dollar range? I've been reading the thread on SD vs HDV and from the sounds of it my choice is made with the fact I don't have the budget for the editing side of HDV.

My uses for the camera will vary, mostly wedding and events like birthdays etc, etc...Nothing corporate.

All opinions welcome, thanks for reading.

Witt
If you're on a budget, go with PC. Avoid Vista for now. Very buggy. For editing you can get Vegas 6.0d from B&H Photo for $99. By far the best bang for the buck. It even comes with the Cineform codec for HDV editing.

Camera? I'd look for a B-stock Canon 3ccd HDV. Hopefully your tripod is good enough for the moment. For audio get an I-river. Then rent everything else for now like on camera light, shotgun mic.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #3
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I think your decision to buy an SD camera is probably a good one. Wedding/event clients aren't terribly willing to pay for HD yet, so with all of your added costs it can be a little more difficult to recoup your investment if you're just starting out.

I use the DVX for weddings quite a bit- I think it should definitely be on your list to check out in the $2000 price range for event work. Compact, unobtrusive and easy to handhold, different frame rates, great audio, excellent low-light performance, etc... You can buy a used DVX100a with low hours for $2000 nowadays, probably even a little less. Brand new, the best price I've seen is $2400 at newegg.com.

Mac vs PC is tough...If you're used to Windows and like it, there's no reason to switch. If you're at all tech-savvy you can build a great editing PC for around five or six hundred dollars, depending on what you can salvage from your existing system (Monitor/Case/power supply, etc.)

As Brian mentioned, you can get an older version of Sony Vegas cheap. I'd recommend downloading a trial to see if you like it and somehow testing Final Cut as well. Your friend is kind of right...lots of creatives use Macs for audio/graphics/photo/video, but plenty of people use PCs as well. It's not terribly clear cut that one is better than the other. IMO, it should come down to your personal preference/ease of use with the operating system (Windows or OS X) and the software (Vegas or Final Cut). Adobe Premiere is another option, but it's available for both systems and therefore won't steer you in one direction or the other. Another thing to consider is that the Intel Macs can run Windows, so you could use Vegas on a mac if you wanted. Basically, you can run any of the NLEs on a mac, but you can't run Final Cut on a PC.

If you decide to go the Mac route, you can get an iMac or MacBook for around $1200. They're equally fast - both have the Intel 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo chips - but you'll have to decide whether portability or a larger screen is more important for editing. I've edited weddings on a MacBook before. Preview and renders were very fast, but I was constantly straining to fit everything on the tiny 13" screen. =) It's doable, but you'd probably want an external monitor when you're able to park the laptop back at home or the office for longer editing periods.

There is a stripped down version of Final Cut Pro called Final Cut Express, which you can get for $200. I've never used it, but from looking at the tech specs I'm fairly certain you wouldn't be missing any key features any time soon.

As far as audio goes, you definitely need a wireless kit for weddings. The workhorse standard is probably the Sennheiser Wireless G2 Lav kit which runs $500. You'll need a shotgun to mount on the camera, and you can find something that will work great for your purposes like the Rode NTG-1 for around two to three hundred dollars.

Hopefully that gave you some more ideas...Good luck!
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Old December 26th, 2007, 02:32 PM   #4
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Hopefully that gave you some more ideas...Good luck!
This is exactly the info I hoped for. Thanks, to both posters so far. That helps me narrow my field of research. I hadnt thought about Vegas but went right over to that folder and started reading. There's a lot of good PC info over there too.

I can see how the 13" screen would be small and having a larger monitor at the house will be perfect for longer editing sessions at the house.

I do not plan to buy anything for a month or so. I want to be very confident in the equiptment I purchase.

Witt
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Old December 26th, 2007, 02:39 PM   #5
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All suggestions welcome.

"You might want to look at this camara" or "consider this mac" will send me reading and searching for all the details on that product.

I'm also scouring the wedding folder checking out the business, sales and creative choices that have been written about.

I'll use *this* thread to ask more detailed questions as I get closer to buying.


Thanks again,
Rob
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Old December 26th, 2007, 03:16 PM   #6
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Well, the advice you received that "Mac is the standard" is flat out wrong. A Windows PC is just as capable in the graphics/editing realm as the Mac. So go with whatever you are most comfortable with, what fits your workflow, and what fits your budget. From what you've said, it looks like a PC will work for you. I'd also stick with XP. While I don't agree that Vista is "buggy" (it's been working just fine in our office for 13 months now,) much of the currently available software doesn't work well under Vista... yet.

I started shooting wedding videos a couple years ago, and have recently made the switch to business video exclusively (the hours are better!)

I'd look for used equipment, you'll find a plethora of great SD equipment as more and more move toward HD. Speaking of that, please check out my "wedding starter kit" in the classified section: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=110463

I wouldn't worry too much about not offering HD - I have never had one client request it. If they did, I'd simply go rent an HD camera.

Remember that audio is half of your video. From the beginning I made that a priority in my wedding videos. I used a MiniDisc recorder connected to the church PA, and a wireless (with fresh batteries) on the groom. I'd always get comments from the clients about how they appreciated hearing *everything*. Another option is to wire up the groom with an MP3 recorder and Giant Squid mic and sync it up in post.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #7
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I'm reading through different topics. I want to post the links to helpful threads here to reference and for those who may have the same questions I do regarding what camara and computer to buy.

This thread ask's the same question, mac or pc and also goes into detail about how that effects what editing software you can use.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=88499

Rob
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #8
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Since I already have a PC that is running premiere I do lean towards mac for my upgrade. I like that I can delve into avid at some point and that FCP is similar to premiere making that transition a little easier.

I was checking out the Apple site and came accross these refurbished deals on these MacBook Pro's. What are your thoughts on refurbished computers?

I started to post the link but not sure if that would violate a rule on the forum.

The price is normally 2499.00 and now is 1899.00.

Specs:
Model Refurbished MacBook Pro
Processor 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 2GB (two SO-DIMMs) 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300)
Display 15.4-inch (diagonal), 1440 x 900 resolution, TFT widescreen
PCI Express Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM and dual-link DVI
Video Built-in iSight Camera, DVI, VGA (DVI to VGA adapter included)
Audio Combined optical digital input/audio line in, combined optical digital output/headphone out, stereo speakers, microphone
Hard disk drive 120GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm
Slot-loading optical drive 6x SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Ethernet Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
Wireless Built-in 54-Mbps AirPort Extreme (802.11g); built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Modem Apple USB Modem (sold separately)
Input Apple Remote; full-size, illuminated keyboard with ambient light sensor; Scrolling Trackpad
Expansion One FireWire 400, two USB 2.0 ports, and ExpressCard/34 slot
Weight 5.6 pounds
Footprint 14.1 x 9.6 inches
Thickness 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
Video accessories DVI to VGA adapter included (other adapters sold separately)
Hardware accessories 85W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, power cord, lithium-polymer battery


Thoughts?

Rob
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:02 AM   #9
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Speaking of that, please check out my "wedding starter kit" in the classified section: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=110463
I don't think I can view the classified section yet.

Rob
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:29 AM   #10
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An inexpensive PC will leave you more money for something else than buying a Mac, but the Mac Mini at $599 (plus monitor) could be adequate for basic editing. For PCs don't bother building your own for getting started, just get something with a decent dual-core processor and a dedicated video card instead of 'shared memory'. For software there are several starter options including Adobe Premiere Elements, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, Pinnacle Studio and so on - or you can try to find something more advanced at a discount as mentioned by others earlier.

As far as HD goes, it would be silly to buy SD cameras at this point unless you plan to stick with them indefinitely, since the cost of later upgrading those to HD would be painful. Spend a few hundred extra per camera now and you'll save thousands of dollars later, plus you'll be ahead of any competitors who haven't made the HD switch yet. Either the Sony FX1 or Canon XH-A1 will get you going for a little over $3K per camera, and if necessary you could get a second cheaper HDV camera for B-roll shots. If you can't find a way to edit HDV effectively on a budget you can still shoot and edit widescreen DV and produce better results for modern HDTVs than by shooting with 4:3 DV cameras. 4:3 SD is a dying format, especially for wedding videos.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:36 AM   #11
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Kevin,

Good point on the SD vs HDV, but if he DOESN'T have the extra few hundred right now, but he DOES have the extra thousand by the time he needs to upgrade, it seems SD would be more practical for now.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:58 AM   #12
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Kevin,

Good point on the SD vs HDV, but if he DOESN'T have the extra few hundred right now, but he DOES have the extra thousand by the time he needs to upgrade, it seems SD would be more practical for now.
The SD vs HDV really makes this a more complicated decision until I look at my wallet...lol. But seriously, I think my only choice right now is A 3 chip SD camera. I'll use my other 1 chip camera's as back up. I have some experience on shooting and editing with one camera. I know how to cover an event and get lots of pick up shot's and insert material for editing. I also know several shooters who I can pay to come shoot. I can prob rent their camara's or hire them, but I have to have one good camara that is mine, that I can depend on.

Another thing is that editing HDV seems a little more complicated and with all the other things I have to learn like sales, promotion and presentation, I don't think I want to add editing HDV. If I'm wrong about the learning curve please let me know.

From what I have read SD shooters are not losing business and are not even being asked if they are shooting on HD. Plus I can always rent a HD camera if the need arises. For now this is all theory but I am drawing from many posting on this site to come to this conclusion.

I'm sure the HDV option will keep coming up. I will still read up on it and will migrate to it later. But with 4000.00 total for computer upgrade, camera, mics, lights, tapes and startup I'm limited.

Luckily, there are work arounds to this limitation. People skills, creativity, and contacts are of great value too.

Rob
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Old December 27th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #13
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This is a good thread with someone starting out with a 10k budget not a 4k budget like mine but there is a lot of useful info in it. Also has a SD vs HDV discussion.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=88022

Rob
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Old December 27th, 2007, 10:25 AM   #14
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What are your thoughts on refurbished computers?
I buy refurbished whenever possible. I've bought several refurbished workstations from Dell over the past decade and was never dissapointed (I currently have three refurbished workstations and one refurbished server in my office from Dell's outlet store.)

Apple has a sterling reputation when it comes to refurbs. I just bought a refurbished iPod for my wife's Christmas gift. It was absolutely perfect and you wouldn't know it was refurbished except for the small sticker on the back of the box.

Honestly, if your budget is limted and you already have a computer for editing, I'd put the computer purchase on the back burner for several months.

As far as shooting with a 3-chip and a single chip: I did that on my first two weddings and ended up with very mis-matched footage. I didn't like it at all.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 10:41 AM   #15
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I buy refurbished whenever possible. I've bought several refurbished workstations from Dell over the past decade and was never dissapointed (I currently have three refurbished workstations and one refurbished server in my office from Dell's outlet store.)

Apple has a sterling reputation when it comes to refurbs. I just bought a refurbished iPod for my wife's Christmas gift. It was absolutely perfect and you wouldn't know it was refurbished except for the small sticker on the back of the box.

Honestly, if your budget is limted and you already have a computer for editing, I'd put the computer purchase on the back burner for several months.

As far as shooting with a 3-chip and a single chip: I did that on my first two weddings and ended up with very mis-matched footage. I didn't like it at all.
Thanks for the refurbished input.

My current computer will edit but is buggy, old and slooow compared to newer computers. I would rather it be the back up...and not the main workstation. The other thing is the printer is crap and the DvD burner isnt a lightscribe(sp?) which I would think you really want for making the DvD look polished and proffesional.

I agree with trying to match a single-chip and a 3-chip, it won't look right. I'll use them only for audio back up or if something catastrophic happened with my main camera. Or as a seperate menu option. Example, give it to a relative to walk around and grab candid interviews and it be a stand alone portion not edited with the 3-chip as a DvD option.

I've let someone take my camera before for interviews. People open up more to a person they know behind the camera. I'd only do this with a camera that I'm willing to risk damaging. My single-chip cameras fit the bill.

Going back to using my current computer. I guess I could buy a new printer and a
lightscribe burner. I have premiere and adobe photoshop already and a scanner. Vegas might be an option but then again I might not need it since I can edit my material now. I can reload my OS and get rid of a lot of the bugs I'm dealing with.

Then upgrade my computer in a few months. Hmmmm...never really gave that much thought. I got so focused on wanting a new comuter for editing and in general.

Decent idea. With the setup I just described do you think I have the basics covered?

Rob
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