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


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Old June 21st, 2011, 10:00 AM   #46
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Dave,

Once again, you bring up a great subject. The economy is horrible right now and our sales (aside from a handful of shows in the past year), have been down across the board. We even declined a few shows this past season because the sales and support just wasn't there after multiple tries previously. Most would say that this isn't the right time to make such an investment in equipment.

My issue is not about "keeping up with the Joneses", but remaining competitive. With six years of use on the VX2100 and four years on the GL2 (It was purchased used off of eBay, so there's no telling how many hours were put on it before that), I have a fear that one of these cameras will simply go down in the middle of a show. If that happens at a time when I can't afford to have it fixed or replaced, I could very well be out of business. I gotta be honest, that thought gives me more anxiety setting up at an event than actually pulling off a good taping. In other words, I view my cams as a weak link right now.

The initial idea was to get a decent camera that also shot SD to use as a third or just as a backup. However, with the shift to HD, it really makes no sense to go that route. Add to that, MiniDV tapes are becoming harder to find and an unnecessary expense with the advent of tapeless acquisition.

So, yeah. It's a very bad time to make such a leap. I'm not even sure my customers will notice a change to HD since we would still be providing our product on DVDs for the foreseeable future, so I can't even pass an additional cost onto them with the local competition ready to pounce at a lower price point.

In the end, it comes down to peace of mind - and even then I'll still have to worry about learning the new cameras and a different editing workflow. I'm still wavering back and forth on what is the best direction for us.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 10:49 AM   #47
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Hi Rey,
Just butting into your conversation there with Dave.

I was in a similar position last year to the one you describe. I have been shooting SD 4:3 up until then and never had any complaint about the work - weddings, small business and stage/dance shows. No one ever asked for HD nor even questioned that it was 4:3. However I felt that eventually I would be asked for HD, or at least widescreen so I had to take the plunge. My experience was at first very rocky adapting to an HD workflow, which still has its wobbly moments but at least the most of that is behind me now and like it or not the future is never going back to DV or 4:3.
However whether the change in technology has gained or retained any work is difficult to say. I have had a few dance schools drop out for reasons similar to yours, can't raise the order level to make it viable. but I have gained a couple of new ones. Business work has more than doubled but that was through previous connections based on old work so it wasn't the technology that brought it in.

I've still never been asked to provide anything other than DVD even though I offer Blu-ray, and never had any wildly excited comments about the picture quality, despite trying to tout for comments when I presented the new work. I just wanted to try and gauge if people who knew my work would notice a difference.

I'm someone who doesn't spend money easily believe me so I always go though mental battles when buying new kit, and there never is a good time to take a risk, but taking risks it what business is all about.

In the end I guess you just have to decide if you want to be a sustainable on-going business, in which case at some point you're going to have to invest some money, or trickle along until things blow out for you; which I hope they never do.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 12:43 PM   #48
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

A couple additions to George's thoughts...

Most of the time you'll still deliver on DVD... but IMO because you start with HD, you can crop and still have better initial image quality - not to mention that if your render settings are well chosen, you simply will get a sharper end result by starting with more data/resolution.

Unless your video is truly dreadful, 99% of people probably won't "notice" - bad WB, focus issues, funky framing... yeah, they "look" bad, but it's still about what people "expect", even if it's not the level of quality YOU expect...

I think this is one of the main reasons I tend to upgrade/update - if *I* can see the difference, I will do the upgrade - the improved lattitude, sharper image, cleaner low light performance, and the results of 60p... such things matter to "me", even if no one else "cares" - I want my output to look as good as possible.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I doubt you could buy a new 4:3 SDTV if you tried... 4:3 displayed on the average widescreen of course looks "wrong" (yeah, so they COULD set there "tee-vee" up "right" for 4:3, like that's ever going to happen...). HD 16:9 will "look" right - it's also WAY better for framing stage shows - less space that goes to waste, and better side to side coverage. Widescreen is here to stay, and as 4:3 TV's "retire" due to age, they will be less and less of a market slice.

Equipment can fail anytime, that's just the way things are - stuff breaks - that's why multiple redundancy is necessary if you're getting paid. Tape is twitchier because of the mechanism, but you still need a backup of some kind, I tend to buy all but the most indestructable gear in pairs... if you're really stressing that your cameras have so much use on them that they are nearing the end of their life... you probably should sell while they still have some value, and save yourself the stress, but remember, ANY camera can fail, and not many will withstand an accidental gravity related incident unharmed...


From a practical economic standpoint "new" gear (bought at retail rather than at a reduced "street price" from a reliable vendor) always will cost the most, and have a pretty steep depreciation curve if you 'had" to sell it. Slightly used, nearly new "toys" can be had with careful buying for 20-40% off "retail" - I've never had a problem buying used, and my balance sheet is happier for it. I keep my eyes out for the "killer" deals and try to snap them up when they present themselves, I can always re-sell at "good" prices if I don't keep my insane deals! After the first year, prices tend to stabilize and go into a slow decline until the gear is nearing the end of its "useful" life, or is sufficiently obsolete that there's little demand for it. Your SD cameras are getting into THAT part of the curve... I've watched prices on "consumer" SD tape cameras absolutely collapse over the last couple years... and some crazy low prices on pro gear that's relatively new, but tape based.

You shouldn't just go blow a wad, and doing what you're doing to evaluate your options is the way to go - buy a piece at a time used once you've identified your "targets", sell off whatever becomes redundant to fund your "next find", and you shouldn't bust your budget. Things like tripods and support gear will last you a while, audio purchases shouldn't be "obsolete" nearly as quickly as cameras, and honestly the "improvement curve" is starting to get pretty flat in the camera domain - you're not going to get drastically "better" images beyond a certain point... there are a lot of economical options that shoot good HD now. Put a couple potential "kits" on paper, and go hunting!


Oh, as George notes, there is a learning curve with HD, you'll have to deal with it EVENTUALLY... the good thing is that lots of people have already done it, so you can study the forums here and save yourself some grief!
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:14 PM   #49
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I want to expand on a point that Dave just made about "cropping." Since you have not worked with HD cams before, you would not have realized how handy this is for editing multi-cam shoots to DVD.

What I'm talking about is basically doing some mild digital zooming and reframing with your "b" cams. This is virtually undetectable when shooting HD for DVD. Let's say you have a CX cam on the opposite side of the room from where you are running your main cam and recording your audio. You have the CX set to the full width of the stage to get everybody in the choir. The small Sony cams, as well as the Panasonics and Canon Vixias, not only shoot in widescreen but they also have the equivalent of a 30 wide angle lens, which is far wider than you can get with your VX2100 and GL2 cams. So, at some point in the performance, you get a small group of choir members standing by themsleves for a particular song, say three or four of them. The full wide shot leaves a lot of empty space around them. You can (judiciously) zoom in to a better frame so the group does not look alone and tiny on a large empty stage. (You do this mentally while watching in person, but the mental adjustments work differently when watching later on video.) Or, maybe somebody walks in front of your main camera and you need a closer shot from another angle. Or, maybe somebody in the middle of the choir starts a solo while other folks on stage are block your view or, if you are like me, your drop the ball in zooming in promptly zooming in on the soloist with the main cam. n editing, I can cut to the other camera and pull a bit of zoom-in (actually, in Vegas, I think you crop and enlarge) and get a tighter shot.

This really is not practical with SD video. I find it to be a significant advantage (and stress reliever) in my multi-cam shoots of events, particularly recitals and choir performances.

Now, to add to the response to your question of whether or not one needs HD cams for what you do? I've always tried to spend the least to the most capability I could use --- I mean, I bought a VX2000 and used an XLR adapter rather than buying a PD150, for example --- so I fully understand what you say about economics. Let me add that I have yet to get even an inquiry about Blu-Ray versions of the weddings, events or shows. On the sign-up sheets for the dance recitals I've shot in the last couple of months, none of the hundreds of orders were for a Blu-Ray. My personal take on this was that I "needed" HD when my SD cams started to fail.

What I discovered with the move to HD, however, was that I had more capabilities and flexibility and much better video to work with. Even though I am not producing Blu-ray DVDs for anybody other than myself (I do make archival copies for myself), I find that HD cams make it significantly easier for me to do what I was I was doing with SD cams. By shooting multi-cam, I can offer both a quality and a kind of video that folks around here cannot make for themselves. That is what has turned out to be the business incentive for me. YMMV.

Both George and Dave have mentioned a learning curve to working with HDV. Personally, I have found the change over to be pretty easy except for some audio sync issues with HDV under Adobe CS2 and 3. (Cineform turned out to be an easy solution in my case.) The "curve" was in finding all sorts of new capabilities such as the crop and zoom with b cams. Again, YMMV.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 07:39 PM   #50
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Jay,

Cropping is one thing I never thought about and would definitely use. There have been many instances where my wide cam could/should have been zoomed in closer to a smaller group on a large stage. Most times, I am able to lean from the main cam just long enough to make that adjustment, but there's always that chance of missing a shot or not getting the zoomed shot focused properly in time. Frequently, it's a missed opportunity and I'm stuck with it in editing.

It looks as if I'll be stuck just under the $3k range for camera upgrades. I'm not sure where that will lead me in the next few weeks (the window I have to trade in the old/obtain the new) before more events on the calendar. However, a backlog of about a dozen projects currently in editing will allow plenty of "me" time to mull it over! :)
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 11:39 AM   #51
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I've been shooting Choir shows for about 4 years in my local area, did it as a favor for a co-workers choir director, she liked my work so much I have been hired for every gig since..
I started out just using a Canon HG10 since It was all I had at the time, I soon got the video bug fever and purchased a Canon HG21 to go along with my HG10 for multi cam footage shots which later led me to purchase the outstanding Sony AX2000.
My Canons have been giving me issues due to their limitations so I just decided to order the Sony NX5U to go with my 2000 since the price difference was so close and it offers far more adjustments so it's a no brainer for me..
This will allow me to retire the old HG10 which does not cut it anymore...My Canon HG21 still does a very good job as a locked down cam and matches up very well with the sony 2000, so very little color correction is required in post.. So when my NX5 arrives my setup will be the following..

Sony NX5U AVCHD 2-32Gig SDHC Class 6
Sony AX2000 AVCHD 2-32Gig SDHC Class 6
Canon HG21 AVCHD 120Gig HD or 32Gig SDHC

Last edited by David Wayne Groves; June 22nd, 2011 at 04:15 PM.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 10:55 AM   #52
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Okay - final question. I know this has been discuseed many times before, but since I seem to have attracted some folks in this thread whose opinions I truly value, so here goes...

When buying new or used (B&H, Amazon, etc.), do you buy an extended warranty? I have in the past on expensive purchases and NEVER used it. Is it really worth it if you aren't constantly taking your equipment out onto a sandy beach or duct-taped to a skateboard to POV your newest trick?

My cams go from padded hardcase to tripod (covered if they'll be sitting for a while out in the open) and then right back to the padded hardcase....and I dare anyone to touch or breathe on them. :)
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Old June 24th, 2011, 02:03 PM   #53
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rey Lowe View Post
When buying new or used (B&H, Amazon, etc.), do you buy an extended warranty?
I never would. Those warranties are ripoffs, IMO.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 02:08 PM   #54
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I have the extended warranty with accidental coverage from sony on my AX2000 even though I treat it with tender loving care at all times and keep it well protected case wise..I will be purchasing the Accidental extended coverage from sony as well for my NX5U because life can always creep up and bite you in the a** when you least expect it.
It only averages to a little over 25 cents a day which is less than a cup of coffee for the coverage....
I just feel less stressed while on the job.....It can also keep you out of prison for nearly killing the person for knocking over your camera who can barely put one foot in front of the other without a set of instructions......

Last edited by David Wayne Groves; June 24th, 2011 at 06:22 PM.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 02:26 PM   #55
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

A variety of considerations led me to not purchase the extended warranties for my cameras, but the importance of these considerations vary for different people in different places, Here's what I see as the considerations.

First, how much does it cost and what does it really cover? Read the fine print. Technically, an extended warranty protects against manufacturing defects and parts failures rather than accidents, wear and tear, and things that might be your "fault" (i.e., things like the skateboard accidents and sand in the equipment.). Protection against damage is actually a form of property insurance. Some extended warranties may provide this kind of insurance coverage and some may not. If you have business insurance, it may cover some or all of those things. It may not. If you are on a tight budget and feel you are careful with your cameras, maybe you are comfortable with no coverage or or more limited coverage (say, protection against damage from fire, flooding and theft.) If you need an extended warranty for peace of mind (or to avoid giving a piece of your mind to the manufacturer of a shoddy product), do not rely on what the sales people tell you. Read the thing to find out what it actually covers.

Second, if you use a credit card (and maybe a debit card) for the purchase, your card company may extend the standard warranty by a year or two.

Third, with new technologies coming out so fast, I find myself doubting that I really care about a five year warranty on, say, the less expensive consumer-type cams I own and use for "b" cams (such as CX550s), For example, my first HD cam was a Sony HDR-HC1 that I purchased new. This was a tape-based HDV cam. When intermittent glitches and malfunctions started to show up in the tape mechanism in the fourth year (plus a couple of beatings from tripods getting knocked over, something that the available extended warranties would not have covered if I had purchsed one --- I found that Sony's new (or, rather, what was then new) and tapeless CX550 was so much better a camera for what I do, that I lost interest in repairs or buying a tapeless unit. (It also happens that I did wind up with a a deal on some tapeless recording units so I can still use the HC1 when I have a particularly complicated event to shoot. Tell you what, though: the newer CX550 cams make a noticably better picture so that I have to be judicious about throwing the HC1 into the mix.)
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Old June 28th, 2011, 08:39 AM   #56
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Having sung the praises of the Sony CX550 here I think I should let it be know that I have come across a problem that may be vital to anyone thinking of buying one. I may be alone in this but it is a problem I've not got a cause or solution for. I have posted in another part of the forum in case anyone can shed light on it.

If you are interested I've posted the problem here:

Sony CX550 audio glitch at end of file.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 08:55 AM   #57
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, George. While things are still very much up in the air as to what our future holds, if we are to purchase new cameras, the NX70U and one or two of the CX models seem to the the front runners thus far.

I'll keep up with your thread to see what the verdict to your problem is.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 09:47 AM   #58
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN SOLVED THANKS TO MICHAEL BRAY'S POST BELOW FOR POINTING ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

I think it may be a problem with some Sony cams as I found this whilst looking for the answer.

NX5u dropping 4 frames of audio after 30 minutes : Sony NXCAM

and a few others; if you google you'll find I'm not alone.

It's not a huge problem so long as you are aware and make contingencies. In my case the cams weren't started at the exact same time so I was able to bridge the gap with the audio track from one of the others.

I'll wait to see if anyone else has experienced it with these cams.

Last edited by George Kilroy; June 28th, 2011 at 12:03 PM.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 10:45 AM   #59
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Kilroy View Post
I think it may be a problem with some Sony cams as I found this whilst looking for the answer.

NX5u dropping 4 frames of audio after 30 minutes : Sony NXCAM

and a few others; if you google you'll find I'm not alone.

It's not a huge problem so long as you are aware and make contingencies. In my case the cams weren't started at the exact same time so I was able to bridge the gap with the audio track from one of the others.

I'll wait to see if anyone else has experienced it with these cams.
This is not a problem with these cams. Sony requires the use of the supplied software (Picture Motion Browser or Content Management Utility depending on camera model) in order to properly "stitch" multiple continuous files together thus eliminating the dropped audio frames.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 01:07 PM   #60
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

All high definition AVCHD camcorders have the same file splitting problem. A simple solution that doesn't require additional software was discussed on this forum in January 2008.

Canon Vixia HG10 2GB File Limit Headache

After you've got the cameras and burner, adding a free blu-ray disk to a wedding package means 1$ for a blank and pushing a different button in the burning software. Most couples want their marriage and wedding memories to last a lifetime and blu-ray speaks to that future. Therefore, a free blu-ray disk will be appreciated by even the most technologically backward couples, as long as it's properly labeled so they don't think it's a defective DVD.

Last edited by Eric Olson; June 28th, 2011 at 02:12 PM.
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