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


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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #1
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Camcorder recommendations for a new wedding business

I just want to get a few recommendations etc on what camcorder people in this business is using and recommendations for my new wedding business. I was going to go for the Canon XL2 but then some people suggested I should have one which does HD too for maybe two years down the line or so when more and more customers are looking for this.

What’s everyone’s option on this, all suggestions welcome?
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #2
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If HD is not top priority for your business plan the PD170's are more affordable than ever and are the best low light cam available (for poorly lit receptions). They (PD150's) have been a workhorse in the industry for years. If you want to start a business now HD is not the answer in my opinion. The technology cannot even be officially reproduced on DVD's yet. And when the blue ray technology is available than your clients will have to purchase blue ray capable DVD players. We probably have another three years till it makes sense for all wedding videographers to go straight HD
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Old February 6th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #3
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HD is still 'cutting edge' for wedding video work, but any camera which can't at least record true widescreen SD video is nearly obsolete. HD downsamples nicely to both widescreen and 4x3 SD DVDs, but 4x3 cameras won't yield decent widescreen or HD output. By the way, 'official' HD DVD players should start shipping by the end of next month, and it's fairly easy to give someone an HD disc which will play on their computer. HD will soon become the de facto standard for high-end wedding videos, so unless you only plan to target entry-level customers it could pay to plan ahead.

The main problem with current low-cost HD cameras is that they're not as sensitive in dim lighting as some SD cameras, which can be an issue for many weddings. This means there isn't any one affordable camcorder you can buy today which meets all current needs, but it also means that something like the XL2 could be a good compromise for the next year or two. After that HD is likely to be so prevalent for weddings it will be very difficult to ignore, at which point selling any SD cameras could be difficult. So you can either buy HD cameras today and learn how to work with their limitations, or you can buy SD cameras and plan to replace them soon.

I'm currently using two Sony FX1s for weddings and like them for that purpose, but they do struggle to get a good image in poor lighting. A modest 25-50W on camera light can help with that, and even as little as 10W can be useful at close range. With HD you need to pay close attention to all aspects of image quality including lighting, focus and image stability, but those are things you should be learning to manage anyway. You can start learning now before HD is commonplace, or you can wait until everyone else is shooting HD and then race to catch up...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #4
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Correct me if I'm wrong Kevin, and forgive me for seemingly hijacking the thread, but isn't it possible to gain up a fair amount on the FX1 with little to no noticeable noise in the image? This is what I have heard but I have had not had the chance to verify it myself.

Now, so as not to hijack the thread, I will throw in my two cents concerning cameras. Personally I believe it falls on the needs of your market. Right now in my area there is NO demand for HD and there is very little demand for widescreen video. I shoot with the DVX-100A because I love 24P. That is often seen as a wedding video taboo, but for the type of videos I shoot it works perfectly. I could go into all kinds of detail on that but I won't. As mentioned above, the PD-150/170 or the VX2100 is a great, sturdy camera to start with if you are dealing with unpredictable lighting conditions. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the Sony cameras, as I prefer a progressive image and more manual control. But they are tried and true, you would most likely not go wrong with any of them. Good luck on your choice. Remember, you need to meet the needs of your customers, not the needs of your fellow videographers. If everyone is telling you to go HD and there is no demand for it, what is the point? No offense to my colleagues, but I think you need to weight all things in their proper balance.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Oveson
I shoot with the DVX-100A because I love 24P. That is often seen as a wedding video taboo, but for the type of videos I shoot it works perfectly.
Strange isn't it? When I first started shooting wedding with the DVX people would warn me to use 60i but I've shot in nothing but 24p with always suitable and often stunning results. There have been a couple of instances where it was pretty dang dark and the video reflected that, but guess what....it was dark at the event, the couple remembered it as such, and when I watched the video with them for the first time nobody thought anything of it. The content of the event was what was being focused on psychologically. They did however rave about their video not looking like home video.

In essense, to me 24p is as viable a factor as HD. Some people claim it doesn't make that big of a difference....those people are not seeing through eyes that I can relate to...it makes a huge difference. But I would also add that it all comes down to what type of artist you feel yourself to be and what tools would best suit the feel of your artistry.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Oveson
isn't it possible to gain up a fair amount on the FX1 with little to no noticeable noise in the image?
Yes, and you can also drop the shutter speed to 1/30th to get about the same amount of light sensitivity as a Canon GL2 at 1/60th. So the FX1 is basically one stop less sensitive than a GL2 and perhaps two stops less sensitive than a PD170, but with less image noise allowing you to get some of that difference back in post.

Quote:
If everyone is telling you to go HD and there is no demand for it, what is the point?
The point is that HD is coming fast, and will accelerate significantly this year with the introduction of mainstream HD delivery solutions. More importantly, once you have HD cameras you can offer something to your clients they may not even realize could be useful to them, especially as more and more of them watch their videos on expensive HDTVs. You can obviously get by a while longer shooting good old SD video, but that's going to look very dated a few years from now when most people own at least one HDTV display.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 06:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Runyon
In essense, to me 24p is as viable a factor as HD. Some people claim it doesn't make that big of a difference....those people are not seeing through eyes that I can relate to...it makes a huge difference.
24p is an arbitrary cost-saving standard (from shooting film) which has no intrinsic value for delivering pleasing image quality. The only time I notice frame rates is when they drop too low to handle motion smoothly, and you have a greater risk of that at 24p than at higher frame rates. Plus since you can just as easily shoot 24p in HD as SD, so this has less relevance than resolution for picking a camera these days. HD makes an immediately obvious difference to just about anyone compared to SD, but frame rate is a more subtle effect.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 06:50 PM   #8
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Kevin...SD Cams are not "nearly" absolete......they really aren't, and you obviously do not work in television.....I do, and I have never up to this point in time... ever been asked to provide HD....not YET, that is. It's coming of course....





Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
HD is still 'cutting edge' for wedding video work, but any camera which can't at least record true widescreen SD video is nearly obsolete. HD downsamples nicely to both widescreen and 4x3 SD DVDs, but 4x3 cameras won't yield decent widescreen or HD output. By the way, 'official' HD DVD players should start shipping by the end of next month, and it's fairly easy to give someone an HD disc which will play on their computer. HD will soon become the de facto standard for high-end wedding videos, so unless you only plan to target entry-level customers it could pay to plan ahead.

The main problem with current low-cost HD cameras is that they're not as sensitive in dim lighting as some SD cameras, which can be an issue for many weddings. This means there isn't any one affordable camcorder you can buy today which meets all current needs, but it also means that something like the XL2 could be a good compromise for the next year or two. After that HD is likely to be so prevalent for weddings it will be very difficult to ignore, at which point selling any SD cameras could be difficult. So you can either buy HD cameras today and learn how to work with their limitations, or you can buy SD cameras and plan to replace them soon.

I'm currently using two Sony FX1s for weddings and like them for that purpose, but they do struggle to get a good image in poor lighting. A modest 25-50W on camera light can help with that, and even as little as 10W can be useful at close range. With HD you need to pay close attention to all aspects of image quality including lighting, focus and image stability, but those are things you should be learning to manage anyway. You can start learning now before HD is commonplace, or you can wait until everyone else is shooting HD and then race to catch up...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 07:41 PM   #9
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Okay, I suppose "obsolete" is the wrong term. But once you've seen HD footage on an HDTV and tried to convert 4x3 SD to widescreen output, it's clear that SD video is, shall we say, archaic. In context of recommending equipment for a new wedding video business, it's a tossup right now to go SD or HD, but HD is definitely more future-oriented.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 08:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Okay, I suppose "obsolete" is the wrong term. But once you've seen HD footage on an HDTV and tried to convert 4x3 SD to widescreen output, it's clear that SD video is, shall we say, archaic. In context of recommending equipment for a new wedding video business, it's a tossup right now to go SD or HD, but HD is definitely more future-oriented.
Kevin,

I see in your profile you have, "Canon GL1/GL2!" What HD camera do you have for your business. How many HD weddings have you delivered to customers and in what format?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

Mike

P.S. Andrew has already said he is looking for 16x9, so he will not be attempting to convert 4x3.

Mike
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Old February 6th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
24p is an arbitrary cost-saving standard (from shooting film) which has no intrinsic value for delivering pleasing image quality.

It may have started out as such, but it has indeed become an aesthetic standard of sorts. As for intristic values of pleasing image quality, I have no idea what your basis is...there IS a difference between 60i and 24p video and it is quite large. I have shot and viewed volumous tons of 24p and am quite familiar with the appearance. Where exactly are you getting the idea that there is no difference (in order for there to be no intristic value for delivering a pleasing image quality there would have to be very little to no difference...beyond that it would be subjective as to whether or not it is pleasing)?

I cannot tell you how many "common citizens" have viewed my 24p footage and made the specific comment that it doesn't look like video, and the tone in their voices indicated that it was a pleasing thing. Heck, I even let the guy who was cancelling my AOL acct look at some clips and he, with no provacation, said that it looked like film rather than video and wondered how I could afford to shoot such trivial things on film.

As for being able to shoot 24p "just as easy" in HD, I beg to differ. Each of the "affordable" HD cameras seem to have a different way of getting 24fps (yeah, usaully not full res p) and no way to edit them properly without some form of third party translation software.

Anyway, to Andrew, if you are wanting 16x9 and 24p is important to you (and I'm assuming it may be considering your interest in the XL2) you're going to have some tought calls to make, but do not be affraid to stay in SD at this time and do not be afraid to go with HD at this time...just weigh the differences and meditate on what will give the most support to your artistic vision.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 10:21 PM   #12
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yeah....i know we will be getting it eventually. sd works well for us now though. cheers- j


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Okay, I suppose "obsolete" is the wrong term. But once you've seen HD footage on an HDTV and tried to convert 4x3 SD to widescreen output, it's clear that SD video is, shall we say, archaic. In context of recommending equipment for a new wedding video business, it's a tossup right now to go SD or HD, but HD is definitely more future-oriented.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 08:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
I see in your profile you have, "Canon GL1/GL2!" What HD camera do you have for your business. How many HD weddings have you delivered to customers and in what format?
Ah, I guess I need to update my profile. I'm currently using two Sony FX1s and have had one customer pay for full HD output, which was delivered in M2T format at 1080i resolution on an external hard drive provided by the client. For everyone else I've been downsampling to widescreen SD DVDs, which look very nice when played on a widescreen HDTV.

P.S. I have an advance order placed for a Toshiba HD DVD player scheduled to be shipped at the end of March, so I plan to test that for viability of future HD delivery.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 08:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Daniel Runyon
As for intristic values of pleasing image quality, I have no idea what your basis is...there IS a difference between 60i and 24p video and it is quite large.
My question here would be how you feel 24p compares to 30p or 60p, with the implication being that it's progressive-scan delivery and not the frame rate which is the more important factor. If you're sure it's the frame rate which is what your clients like about your videos then I guess I can't argue with that, but there's no logical basis why a low frame rate would look better than a higher one. Life does not occur in discrete increments of 24 movements per second; it occurs fluidly and hence is best represented as closely as possible to such. I guess you could call me a realist, but I'd rather see us move toward 60 progressive frames per second than any lower frame rate.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 09:56 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
My question here would be how you feel 24p compares to 30p or 60p, with the implication being that it's progressive-scan delivery and not the frame rate which is the more important factor.
I know that this question was not directed at me but since I jumped in with the 24P comments first I'd like to respond. I think it is a combination of the two factors (progressive scan AND 24 fps) that creates the look. 30P alone doesn't look the same as 24P, and people who have no idea what makes that different can still detect a difference. I can understand your point that a lower frame rate shouldn't make for better video. And I don't know that from a technical standpoint it does. But how many of our clients care about the technical side of things? I've never had a bride ask me "Hey, how does 24P work?" They don't care how it works, they just know it looks better than traditional 60i video. My theory on this is that 24P looks more like film. The motion and flow of 24P footage is equated with film. The look of 60i video looks more like the home video camera. If you take something shot in 60i (say with a GL2 or any prosumer cam) and show the raw footage (no color correction, no slo-mo, nothing) it will subconsciously be related in their mind to the home videos they have shot themselves. It's just the way our society has trained itself to interpret video.

You also mentioned that you can shoot in 24 fps with the existing HD cameras. While this is true, NONE of them except for the Panasonic HVX200 can shoot in 24P. The Sony CineFrame mode, the JVC 24 fps mode, and the Canon XL-H1 all shoot in a different manner. And it is not true 24P. I've shot with a Z1 before and the CineFrame feature wasn't anywhere near what the true 24P from my DVX is like. Not even close. Don't get me wrong, I think the Z1 and the FX1 are fine cameras. But the 24fps options offered by these cameras (and other HDV cams) are not up to snuff with a true 24P system.

And last, but not least, your comment that you have an HD-DVD player pre-ordered that will arrive at the end of March has me intrigued. I guess I am a bit behind when it comes to HD-DVD as I didn't know there were burners available for the format. How will you test your material? I'm just curious and looking for more information on the subject. I believe that HD is the future, I just don't think it's time for me to move on yet.

Anyway, I hope that I haven't been too argumentative in any of my posts. I like to have serious discussions and I like to learn from others. I'm very interested in this HD-DVD player, and look forward to your response Kevin.
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