Opinions Needed, Please - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 18th, 2011, 06:59 AM   #16
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 8,222
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Hi Rey

One thing you will have to get used to if you move to a real HD camera as opposed to a DSLR is that they are all a lot worse than you are used to in low light (based, of course on a normal budget and not top of the range cameras with 2/3rd " chips!!!)

The Sony VX series were amazing in low light cos the chips only have to contend with a tiny 720x480 image...just going to widescreen SD started off the challenge for low light performance but when you have chips the same size as an SD camera attempting to resolve a 1920x1080 image you just are not going to get the same low light performance...My shoulder mount DVC20's with tiny 1/6" chips were amazing in low light because they only had to produce a 4:3 SD image but that was maybe 5 years or more ago!!! ....chips have gone up to now 1/4" or 1/3rd " but the image is nearly 6 times as big (assuming SD at around 340K pixels and HD at over 2000K ) Chips and processing are way better but you are not going to get the same low light performance for the price you want to pay.

Maybe DSLR's with really fast lenses would be a better option as stage performances have their own lighting!!! I shooting on nice looking HMC82's but the cameras really struggle in low light!!

Chris
Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 18th, 2011, 07:16 AM   #17
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Byron Bay, Australia
Posts: 1,142
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Rey, I wouldn't worry about what other people think of your equipment. Let your work do the talking! You can always dress your cameras up a bit with a lens hood, rails and a Rode Videomic (which will also give you better back-up sound for emergencies) if you are concerened.

I remember reading something a while back about the design of CMOS sensors (which are used in most HD cams) making them better for single-chip designs than CCD's (which were used in most SD cameras). Basically what that means is that the widespread use of CMOS chips in HD cameras means the image quality gap between 3-chip Prosumer cameras and Single-chip consumer cameras is closer than ever. I've mixed footage from a Sony SR12 with my FX7 & Z1p without too many problems, and I know alot of people rave about the quality of some of the smaller cams, particularly the Panasonic TM900 and the Sony XR500/550.
John Wiley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 18th, 2011, 09:06 AM   #18
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Lakeland Florida
Posts: 619
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Rey,

I agree with John about letting your work do the talking, yet looks of the equipment is a factor with some clients. My main camera is a used Canon XH-A1 that I bought nearly two years ago when starting up my business. I already had two consumer Canon HV-30s, that match up well with the A1 in good light.

All three cameras have a lot of attachments. All three have lens hoods, all three have shotgun microphones. The HV-30s with the Rode Videomics and lens hoods, plus a special focus ring from an inventor on the internet, tend to make all three cameras look like a set. Of course, that's what they are when I shoot multicam.

Being a one man band, I man the A1 myself, and set the two HV-30s up unmanned. The A1 has the wireless microphone system, an external hard drive recorder, etc, and that big Canon Wide Angle Adapter with lens hood. Most clients think it's a studio camera. No kidding, they do. And since their footage comes out looking great, why should I tell them otherwise?

Everything works together, the cameras, the audio, the NLE software, everything. You'll save yourself a lot of grief if you take a systems approach to your business. You expressed a concern about "painting yourself into a corner."Make sure your cameras can match up well. Think about your workflow, after all, time is money.

Along with not painting yourself into a corner, don't dig yourself into a hole either. Think about your costs, your cash flow situation. Place your emphasis on "client relations". Customers are more important than gear. I think you're already thinking along those lines. Don't count on the economy improving. It's hard, but the truth is, we'll have to make our business improve through making wise decisions.
__________________
Roger
trueviewfilms.com
Roger Van Duyn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 03:04 PM   #19
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

IF as you say you show up for free, and make the $$ on the back end sales, who cares what your gear looks like, it's your DVD's that will make or break you. You're selling your expertise in camera operation, and your editing. WHAT you acquire that image with is a nominal consideration - people with HD cell phones are going to be shooting TOO, the difference will be in the total package you supply...

I know there's lots of parroted critique of "low light" when you go to HD. Turn on the low lux mode on ANY of the 500 or later series Sonys... you'll be fine. Really. They do quite well in low light, including lighting conditions where most cameras will be terribly grainy. Worst case, if you're shooting in situations where the light is REALLY awful, a $40 dimmable LED light will solve your problem in most cases. The XA10 and it's siblings have gone to lower pixel density, so they seem to do quite well in low light as well from samples I've seen.

Cameras today are "smarter", so IMO manual becomes less of an issue, except for very rare situations. Face recognition will tend to quickly lock focus and exposure on a face in the frame, faster than you can adjust the settings. The lattitude of the 500 series is quite good, and will help you avoid blown out footage if you learn to use it to your advantage (using AE shift or exposure when needed).

Poke around, and you'll find several people here using the small Sonys alongside larger more expensive Sony cams, and most of the time, image quality is equal or "better"... what you get in the 1K ($750-1500, depending on how you purchase) price range is pretty good, whether you buy Sony, Canon or Panasonic. While I'm a Sony user, primarily so I don't have to go re-buy all the accessory stuff, I'd not hesitate to use Canon or Panasonic, I've had both in the past, just sorta like the Sonys overall.

The whole "size" thing is really not a big issue for the most part, trick your camera out a bit, and most will go "ooooh, ahhh" that's really high tech... you know, high tech makes things smaller and all that. The only "critics" might be guys with some big ol' camera sitting in the closet and they have to justify how much they spent on it. I've got a farily low investment in my cameras, a pair of CX550's and a pair of CX500's which may well be replaced by a couple of the new Sony P&S cameras for additional angles. I have hoods and a couple mics, plus decent "rigs" that make them look reasonably professional and ensure I get good steady, stable level footage. May not be as impressive as larger "toys", but get the job done, are easy to cart around and allow me to keep the budget low in a difficult economy.

The proof is in the image quality, the camera work, and the editing, as I've said, the image acquisition equipment portion of the equation is becomming inconsequential, and quite rapidly.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 04:01 PM   #20
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Green Bay Wisconsin
Posts: 553
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

When we did the band work we shot with up to 5 consumer cams. Everything was on tripod or monopod and all the gear around made enough of a statement that no one questioned what the cams were.

Dave seems to have the experience with those upper end consumer Sonys. I can't say as I have not shot them. But a suggestion might be to look for somewhere with a "liberal" return policy like Amazon and order one and then see if you can make it "dance". Take it out to the worst possible situations/environments and run it through its paces. Then, for you, you will know for sure what most of us are guessing at.

If you can get great results from the $1000 cam, then I wouldn't spend less money, I'd get MORE CAMS!

I have always been a fan of having more views to work with in editing. If you had the space available, one locked from the left and another locked from the right, one locked wide center and one roving for closeups gives you a ton of various perspectives/options to work with, that can only enhance you end product.

There, did I just muddy up the options available as you enter your decision process ??? :-) :-) :-)
Chip Thome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 04:24 PM   #21
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Red Lodge, Montana
Posts: 889
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Rey:

What Dave and Chip have just said reflects my experience as well.

Following up on what Dave said, footage from the little CX cams will seem pretty amazing alongside that from your VX2100 and GL1.

I would suggest skipping the MC50 because it is simply a rebadged CX550 with a lenshood and small proprietary shotgun mic. If I recall correctly, a used MC50 can be had for about $1150 which is about what you would pay for a new (and somewhat more capable) CX700.

If you have the funds, I would strongly second Dave's suggestion of an NX70. The NX70 is a bit larger than its CX siblings but still small. (I have not actually seen one but seems like it would be about 2/3 the size of your GL1). The NX70 does have XLR inputs, a good lens hood, a lens ring, and external buttons which make it look a bit more impressive, to the extent that matters in a dark room. The NX70 also can record LPCM audio with full 60p video. LPCM is a mroe robust recording format for audio and I use it exclusively with my NX5. (However, as of this writing, I do not believe any NLE will recognize the 60p/LPCM audio combination. The video is fine but you have to use AC3 audio This may not be a concern for you when using external devices since, presumably, you only use the camera audio for sync purposes). There is now a forum here on the NX70 and CX cams where you can see some shots of Mike Beckett using one on a tripod so you can get a sense of the size and appearance of this unit.

Like Dave, I also can highly recommend the CX cams. I regularly use two CX550v cams as locked-down "b" cams (paired with an FX1000 and an NX5) for multi-cam shoots of events, dance and stage shoots and weddings. They have a pretty good reach into dim lighting --- close to what my treasured old VX2000 got, though not as deep as the VX2100. Even in low light situations, they have low video noise in full auto modes with the "low lux" setting engaged (it basically allows the shutter speed to drop to 1/30th of a second). They have usable white balance adjustments (more important for me in changing lighting conditions at wedding receptions than for theatrical settings.) There is limited manual control -- these cams are too small for ergonomic manual control --- but the auto functions and settings are good enough that this is often not a problem for theatrical shoots. If you bump the AE shift down to -3 or -4, they have a surprising amount of headroom for lighting changes in theatrical settings even when spotlights pass over your scene.

If you have not already done so, check out this long discussion which has a lot of good information about how to use CX and XR cams for shooting 5 hours of dance recital in a theater.

Amateur Recital Video Production

There is an equally long follow-up thread in the Vegas forum where you can see examples of the footage he obtained.

An additional consideration with newer tapeless cameras like the Panasonics and the Sony is that there is greatly extended battery life because there is no tape mechanism to power. On Friday, I recorded a Continuing Legal Education program (which our state's Supreme Court wants to distribute), and used my CX550 cams with NPFV100 batteries. I basically ran the CX cams on one battery all day long, recording just over 6 hours of the presentations between 8:45am and 5 pm. I used the CX cams as back-ups to my NX5 which also ran all day long. Never having to swap batteries or replace tapes is something I find extremely useful. ) In the last couple of months, I've shot long-form year-end dance school recitals, two of which ran over three hours of shooting time. Much less stress with the big batteries and the solid state recording media. (Note that the NPFV100 batteries add weight and bulk to the NX70 and CX cams and that they stick out enough to impede access to the viewfinder.)

Besides not needing to change tapes (no worrying about breaking in at 1 hour or 1 hour intervals) there is no worry about drop-outs, either.

The CX cams and the NX70 go very-wide on the wide angle end of the zooms. As wide as a wide-angle adapter on your VX or GL. Maybe wider. Like the Panasonic HMC40 (another of the above suggestions), there is a trade-off with somewhat limited zooms. Basically the Sonys only go out to 10x and the Panasonic only goes to 12x. This may or may not be a problem for you. As I recall, your Canon had a 20x zoom but maybe you have not needed the full zoom?

As for mixing with SD cams: you can do it but you may not want to. Several years ago, as I transitioned to HD, I mixed HD and SD on timelines under PPro CS3. I found that the color balance of the SD footage seemed off (a bit garish, actually) and the focus seemed soft in comparison to that in the footage downrezzed from HDV. The color problems could be adjusted (somewhat) in editing, and the soft focus issue was less noticeable on wide shots. As long as the color was balanced reasonably well, few folks noticed these discrepancies until I pointed them out. For me, with the time spent editing, it was very noticeable. Fingernails on chalkboard noticeable.

Conversely, it is possible to shoot SD with the CX and NX cams, but the cams record it as 8 mbps MPEG2. My opinion is that this SD often does not look as good as what you get from a miniDV SD cams like your VX2100 and GL1.

So, in sum, the current crop of small cams would serve you well. Do note that AVCHD footage may require upgrades for your editing computer. You may be able to put that off by going with Cineform's NeoScene, which converts HDV and AVCHD to more readily edited AVI or MOV formats. (It more or less decompresses you HD footage into all "I" frames which lowers the computing overhead at the price of greatly expanded files sizes.) So, in addition to buying the cameras, you may want to budget for NeoScene (about $99) and another hard drive (1 Tb SATA internal drives can be had for $60-$70; e-Sata drives will be more.)
Jay West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #22
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central VA
Posts: 156
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Thanks again to everyone for all of the advice.

Just to address a few concerns:

My current editing computer has an AMD Athlon II X4 620 processor running at 2.6GHz and 6gb of RAM and 64-bit Windows 7. It does quite well with my current editing load, so I am not sure if AVCHD editing will bog it down.

Low light is a definite concern. With showchoirs (my mainstay), there is usually plenty of light unless the school is older and ill-equipped to properly light their risers. Otherwise, taping plays and recitals could be problematic if I don't get something that can at least match the low light quality I get currently from the VX2100 and GL2.

Battery life is not much of a consideration. Since I run up to 6 condensor mics for choral shows, the sound mixer requires a/c power, so I tend to plug into a power source at all of my shows. There's really no way around it and most venues are very accomodating. However, if I went into weddings again, I would need additional battery power.

While I shoot in manual focus mode (as I'm told ALL professionals should), I do have a horrible habit of using the "Push Auto" focus button on the Sony to properly focus. I simply can't work the ring fast or accurately enough to keep up. I'm hoping that feature is on some of the newer models or assignable to the manual button. Call it laziness or unprofessional, but it works for me. :)

I guess I need to get past the whole "size matters" thing. My cams have never been loaded down with extra equipment such as wireless receivers (mine is an a/c powered XLR external - used rarely), lights (mine is an older dimmable tungsten with the battery waist pack - used rarely) or mics (all of my sound is recorded from mics stage-side and connected through a 100' snake to the mixer or via digital recorders patched into the venue soundboard). In case you can't tell, I'm BIG on capturing the best possible audio and spend more time planning and setting that system up than with the video portion. The samples on our Facebook page are completely captured with my mics - with the exception of the lead vocalists. As long as I can find tapeless cameras that can equal or out-perform my VX2100 and GL2, I'll be VERY happy!
Rey Lowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #23
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Red Lodge, Montana
Posts: 889
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Some comments in response.

Number one: these little cameras exceed the low light capabilities of the GL2 although they do not go as dim as the VX2100. Sony rates these cams as having 3 lux low light capability. My recollection was that the GL2 only went to 6 lux. My VX2000 was rated at 2 lux. I think Sony may have rated the VX2100 down to 1 lux. There is much more difference between the GL2 and the VX2100 than with the CX cams. (I gather that the Panasonics may be akin to the GL2 in this area but I do not have the experience to say whether they are better or not.) It has to be reallllllllyyyyyyy dim before you get to a point where a VX2100 will pick up stuff the CX cams will not. The only time I've seen these cameras challenged was a wedding reception where the wedding planner turned down the lights for a "romantic" first dance and the lights were so dim that the audience could barely perceive more of the couple than a dim semi-flourescent glow from the bride's white dress. The only way I got anything at all was to get close to the couple with my NX5 open as wide as possible with the gain all the way up and the shutter stopped down to 1/15th. If you have those kinds of dim lighting situations, you need to spend a lot more money on a lot more camera. But, are you really shooting where you need that see-in-the-dark or surveillance camera capability? I've used CX cams in shooting candlelit choir performances at night in a century old church, and they were fine. I even had one of them on autofocus, but with the face-focus enabled there was no problem with focus or image visibility, and there was remarkably little video noise.

Number two: Manual focus is a tool as is auto focus. Manual focus is neither a moral imperative nor a measure of one's worth as a human being. The only "should" is getting good video. Sometimes that can be done with auto focus, sometimes not. These little cams are optimized for auto modes and do a generally excellent job, much better, for example, than the auto modes on my much larger NX5.

It is possible to constantly manually focus and refocus the CX cams but it is a big challenge and one that I avoid. Where I need to deal with things that will throw off auto focus --- stage lighting fading up and down from black, for example -- a better choice than running manual focus --- one that I started with many years ago with my VX2000 --- is to set a manual depth of field. Zoom in as far you can on the stage on something where you can get a sharp focus. Switch to manual focus and then zoom back out. You have now set a wide focus range and you do not need to worry about refocusing. Also, the NX70 and CX700/560 and the CX550 have LCD view screens that are much bigger than those on your old cameras and which have much higher resolution. The NX70 and CX700/560 also have an "expanded focus" function. Press the button and the viewfinder doubles the zooms (but only in the viewfinder) and you've got a far sharper focus capability there. Plus, the cams also have additional capabilties where you can run spot focus and spot exposure control from the view screen, and they also have a face priority mode which makes the auto focus zero in on faces to assure focus. I've used all of these and found them all helpful. Remember, these are tools. As is the push to focus button.

Number 3: Computer specs seem a bit light for multi-cam editing with AVCHD. Depends on what NLE you use. If you are not using Edius 5 or 6 (which have their own conversion utilities), you may find Cineform helpful. There is a fully functional trial download (good for 15 days) so you can experiment if AVCHD proves burdensome on your system. AVCHD is a much bigger load than SD. This is because AVCHD is highly compressed. The NLE basically has to convert from compressed to decompressed formats on the fly and that sucks a lot of computer resources. Converting to another format (Canopus HQ or Cineform AVI) avoids that workload.

Number 4, long battery life can be helpful to position your second camera in a different location where there may not be ready access to mains power. Having your wide camera with a different angle of view has advantages for editing (no risk of jump cuts) and disadvantages (harder to check and adjust). This is discussed in the dance recital thread I cited.
Jay West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2011, 06:57 PM   #24
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central VA
Posts: 156
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Great points, Jay.

There have only been a few instances where auditoriums have been so dim during a choral performance, that the cams didn't fair so well. Although, I let the director know up front how it would affect the video and I simply moved that performance to the beginning of the DVD using the audio only under the opening titles. Problem solved...crisis avoided. No one was the wiser. :)

Cineform may be something I'll need to look into. I currently use Sony Vegas Pro 10 64 bit. No problems in editing, but the cooling fans definitely kick in when it's rendering. I do have room to add more RAM, though and in conjunction with a video card carrying it's own RAM (rather than the onboard) may be an quick fix for the lower-end specs.
Rey Lowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 01:39 AM   #25
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

No camera will shoot a black cat in a dark room with no windows... but if there's something there to work with the little Sonys do pretty well, give a little kick with a small LED for close shots, and you're set. If it's so dark you can't see well with your eyes, you can't expect a camera to "adjust" around that.

The Sony's have touchscreen spot focus - not bad, and better than trying to twiddle the small knob IMO. Sure, it's great to know how to make manual adjustments, but if the camera can make those adjustments faster and more accurately most of the time... You learn to work with what these little cams CAN do, and you're likely to be pretty happy in your application.

I'm not 100% certain on the AMD CPU's, yours MAY be good enough. A lot depends on the overall system from what I've found with Vegas - you're only as good as the slowest link... I think you're at a minimum "doable", and depending on the amount of patience you've got and the edit/render time available, you may be able to make it work, although the higher bitrates may tax any system!
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 03:53 AM   #26
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Midlands UK
Posts: 699
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I can endorse Dave's recommendation of the CX550. Though we've never met I was so convinced by Dave's enthusiasm on this forum for these little cameras that I bought one for just these sort of events where my JVC HM700 just wouldn't cut it in low light. I was so amazed by the little beauty that I bought two more and these are what I use now for stage shows and discos. They are a joy to hold, quite easy to set up the way I want them, quick and responsive. With the 64GB on board and a 3900Ahr battery I can set them anywhere, high or low,the wide angle allows me to even put them one each stage side with a full view, though they do suffer some barrelling effect. These are angles I could never achieve with bigger cameras. I can switch them on and leave them to run, they will last all night (more than I can these days).

Last edited by George Kilroy; June 20th, 2011 at 08:58 AM.
George Kilroy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 08:46 AM   #27
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central VA
Posts: 156
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

The CX550 seems to have been discontinued. Is the CX560V it's replacement?

Sony HDR-CX560V Camcorder HDR-CX560V B&H Photo Video
Rey Lowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 09:02 AM   #28
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Midlands UK
Posts: 699
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I believe it is Rey. There are a few differences the main one being that it will shoot 1080p whereas the CX550 only shoots 1080 interlaced. I think that the screen is smaller.
George Kilroy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #29
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central VA
Posts: 156
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

So the idea now is that I simply replace my existing cameras with two (or possibly even three) of these?

The only concern I have is that it lists one 1x 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mini input jack onboard, but also lists a mic input. Are they one in the same? Does it not have a line level input jack? That has always been something I loved about the VX2100 - the input jack is switchable between mic and line level. However, it is line level that I use 98% of the time.
Rey Lowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #30
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,414
Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
One thing you will have to get used to if you move to a real HD camera as opposed to a DSLR is that they are all a lot worse than you are used to in low light
Chris, I don't know what real HD camera you refer to, but camcorders that Rey mentioned were CX and XA series,
I will not comment on CX series, but Canon XA and HF camcorders have way better low light performance than GL or VX, and this is not a guess, I still have a footage from my GL2 and PD170
__________________
I love this place!
Buba Kastorski is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:12 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network