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Terry Lee May 26th, 2007 11:44 PM

Aspiring film maker needs a pro's help
 
Hello everyone. I am absolutely new to film making. I have been reading this forum for about 5 months and have gathered alot of great information. But, as I am completely new to film, I do not understand some of the concepts and terms, so please keep in mind that I may not understand some common terms. If this occurs, I will ask for a definition. Below, I will give a description of my dilemma with hopes that it will attract the interests of avid film makers.

As any consumer, I would like to start with the basics in film management. So the most essential question would be what camera is best for my film? First lets start with my goal.

For years I have always wanted to have the equipment capable of capturing and editing pro-quality film. I grew up as a skateboarder inspired by skate videos. Today, I am a cultural anthropologist who’s current interests lies with the prehistoric Chiefdoms of Eastern North America. I am currently working with a site in Evansville Indiana known as Angel Mounds. My goal is to reconstruct, as accurately as possible, the houses that these people once lived in, using the archaeological data from this year's field school excavations. During this project, I wish to begin filming a documentary/cinematic representation of what these people's daily lives may have been like.

What I am looking for are breath taking shots of natural environment. Emotional interpretations of burial rituals, represented by actors. Beautifully reconstructed daily life of the common people at Angel mounds. Intertwined with Inspiring footage of archaeologists uncovering the mysteries and answering the questions of Angel Mounds in a documentary fashion.

The camera I believe to be capable and affordable is the Canon XH A1. But is this generally the best camera for what I am trying to do? My environment will be quite sunny with temperatures reaching the upper 90's. Will this have an affect? and what equipment (for instance: a matte box, lens filters) will I need? I also hope to catch a variety of weather such as heavy rain, and snow. I know I will need a rain cover, but are there other things I am not aware of?

Low light capability - Does the XH A1 have good low light capability? Say if I want to shoot a night scene with a camp fire, will the XH A1 have any problems capturing quality film? If so, what camera would be the better choice?

In terms of Wide angle shots, how good does the XH A1 stand against other cameras in its price range?

Equipment - Shot gun mics, boom poles, cranes and dolly tracks. What would I need all this stuff for?

Please forgive my extremely long and disoriented aray of questions. I hope I did not confuse anyone.

If you can help, thank you.
-Terry Lee.

Bill Davis May 27th, 2007 01:10 AM

I'm sorry, Terry, but you're asking the impossible.

You see the camera is a tool. Just like a paintbrush is a tool. Or a musical insturment is a tool. The ONLY thing capable of getting the kind of results you're describing is an experienced and talented camera OPERATOR.

Accompanying a magazine article, I once saw some etchings Picasso did with a pen knife and a piece of overexposed 35mm still camera film. In 15 minutes, he created a series of impressions of Don Quxiote and Sancho Panza by scratching away the black emulsion to let the light through.

Do you think what made him an artist was the kind of paint brushes he used? Silly idea, huh?

Well, so is thinking that buying a particular camera will alone enable you to shoot spectacular video.

I'm always surprised that people instinctively understand that buying a great piano is a separate thing from learning to be a great piano PLAYER.

But lots of people seem to think that buying the camera with particular "specs" will somehow magically confer on them the ability to make better videos.

If you want to grow into a videographer capable of getting the kind of results you imagine - by all means go for it. But don't expect whatever camera you select to make much difference.

The only path to "breath taking shots of the natural environment" is to spend YEARS developing the technical craft and the aesthetic skills necessary for judging the thousand variables that result in consistently capturing something like that.

As you clearly are beginning, the ONLY way to achieve the kind of results you're discussing is to HIRE people who understand why you might (or might not) need the equipment you mention.

If you're buying your camera now - you're taking your first baby steps.

Lots of us will attest to the fact that it can be a wonderful and tremendously fulfilling trip - it just in NO WAY is a short one.

Good luck.

Cole McDonald May 27th, 2007 01:56 AM

Yes, without a crew, it's definately something you have to learn...you can learn lots of it in under a year through diligent practice though. make little short docs on things that are around you...perhaps make a documentary on how to learn to use a camera.

Travelling, smaller will be better...and as an anthropology student, I would think that unobtrusive would be important as well if you do interviews with indiginous folks at all...so I would go so far as to recommend either one of the smaller Canon HD cams (A1, G1) or the Panasonic HVX. The XLH1 is large and you'll need to keep that in mind for travel arrangements, it travels in a case (soft or hard, it's your repair money).

I do agree with lots of the things stated above, but not as discouragingly. www.digitaljuice.com/djtv and izzyvideo.com have how to stuff from beginning to intermediate. You could technically shoot a doc on this topic in your back yard with no help whatsoever tomorrow...it won't look as good as you are aiming for, so start analyzing shots you like, look at the world around you, explore your surroundings visually. Get a little point and shoot digital camera, experiment with framing, light, composition and texture.

Watch tons of documentaries that you want to emulate...emulate them www.sequentialpictures.com have done this alot. attack this forum and devour the info here...tons of footage from various cams too to compare and people to access to ask how they got the footage.

Don't let anyone tell you this is too hard, if you have the passion and the drive fot it, just do it. The same passion that drives you to recreate past culture in a traditional manner and document it for future generations will drive you to get this done quickly.

Never be afraid to fail!

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 02:02 AM

Bill - Thank you for your comment. I understand that it is going to take the artist to create the film and not the equipment. I asked about the camera specifically so that I could get an idea from the pros as to what camera is best capable of doing so. I am able to obtain the knowledge of a good cinematographer. That tool I already poses (the ability to obtain that is). However, the camera is the problem. So I suppose my most basic question is, what camera is the best to buy for my situation? I have worked with consumer cameras before and was able to create some home movies and all that - the essential first steps to filming. Now I am wanting to make something on a larger scale. With a consumer model camera, I will not be able to create the film I am looking for of corse.

So, for this beginner to begin with professional grade equipment - What equipment will I need to learn the tools of the trade?

Think of it as a starter kit. What would a good starter kit contain?

Thank you for your time.
-Terry

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 02:31 AM

Yes! Thank you so much for the encouraging information Cole. I do appreciate the time you took to reply and the links you have added.

Short docs are a great idea, especially on the camera itself.

I certainly have the passion and I won't give up until I have reached my goal. But to reach that goal, I need a tool. More importantly, once I get the tool, how/where to learn all its features so that I can properly use it. I am pretty convinced that the XH A1 is the camera for me, but I am always open to suggestions. As I stated above, what are the good and bad qualities of the XH A1? (Low light/Weather resistivity).

As I stated in a reply to Bill, What is would be in a good starter kit? To specify, what camera, equipment (if needed), and what editing software will I need to get started?

Thank you.
-Terry.

Marcus Marchesseault May 27th, 2007 03:03 AM

Starter kit:

Decent camera - that Canon is just fine.

Extra battery

Tripod - Bogen 501 head and legs that have a quick-leveling feature.

Tapes

Once you start getting the skill to get images that you like, get a decent microphone. Some filters like polarizers and ND filters would be next assuming you already have the editing software and a fast computer.

I think you will also find that lighting equipment is just as important as a good camera. I recommend getting one big soft light that is daylight balanced and a couple of fresnel lights to get started. Reflectors are cheaper if you know you will be shooting with the sun. At night, it is not the sensitivity of the camera that is most important, it is the quality of your lighting setup.

Andy Graham May 27th, 2007 03:20 AM

Terry, strangely enough i have a job coming up that involves an archaelogical reconstruction of some ancient dwellings in caithness scotland and the guy wants a doco filmed. When he asked me to put forward a budget for the production i drew up a series of senarios

at the basic level which is my own equipment the only bit of kit i asked for here was extra batteries and it came to around £900

to the far extreme of my full wish list which included dolly's cranes with remote pan tilt heads, a second camera and operator and a few other toys. with all this extra stuff it came to £15,000 (not including expenses and my time or the second operators time and expenses)

with 4 intermediate budgets I let him choose

I told him that how much you want to spend dictates the quality of the production. I could quite easily make an adequit production using my own gear and a bit of ingenuity but obviously the quality of the shots are greatly increased if you have for example a crane on a dolly with a remote pan tilt head to get those beautifull tracking crane shots ( http://www.ibc.org/cms/dailynewspics/fri_32b.jpg ). All these great toys are nice and produce great images but you can still produce a beautifull doco without them if you choose your shots well.

my kit consists:
Camera JVC HD100e( the right camera is the one you like the feel of, within their price range they are all the same )
Tripod a manfrotto 501 head on the 525MVB legs
boom mic senheisser me66 and a couple of lapel mics also senheisser
Tascam DA-P1 DAT recorder (audio)
Glidecam v8 (steadicam)
set of 3 ianiro red heads (lights)
raincover
IDX battery kit and charger
2x home made jibs one 12 foot one 4 foot
i also have a cable rig i built ( with a bit of ingenuity you can build a lot of stuff yourself)

with that kit you can film anything and make it look good.

Hope this helps

Andy.

Steve House May 27th, 2007 07:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687022)
...
As I stated in a reply to Bill, What is would be in a good starter kit? To specify, what camera, equipment (if needed), and what editing software will I need to get started?

Thank you.
-Terry.

Before deciding on the camera, you first need to decide on the release venue(s) you're aiming for. Will you be pitching this film to PBS or Discovery Channel, hoping to convert to 35mm film for independent theatrical release a la 'March of the Penguins', using it as classroom material for education, use it as a visitor's centre presentation at the Angel Mounds site or sell it on DVD at the gift shop or through Amazon? If your hope is to get it to broadcast television, you're going to need to look higher in the camera pecking order than a middle to high end consumer or prosumer HDV camcorder. For example, while it's true that Discovery will accept programs containing material shot in HDV such as with the Canons you mention, they limit it to no more than 15% of the total footage in the program and the rest needs to be on HD, HDCAM, or XDCAM HD. So now you're looking at having to shoot the majority of your program with cameras whose prices start up around about 20 kilobucks and climb rapidly from there or else they simply won't give your program consideration. And while I don't have the details at my fingertips, I understand PBS's requirements are even more stringent. If your budget won't sustain that high a purchase, it might be more feasible to rent the camera for the length of the shoot instead of buying it. $5000 in rental for a 2 or 3 week shooting schedule gets you far more camera than does a $5000 retail purchase.

Quote:

Equipment - Shot gun mics, boom poles, cranes and dolly tracks. What would I need all this stuff for?
Your question begs a certain lack of appreciation for the critical importance of sound to the production or the amount of technique required to record it properly. An on-camera mic is almost always going to be inadequate for capturing production sound regardless of whether you use the manufacturer-supplied mic or replace it with something better - it has its uses but production sound and dialog ain't among them. Shotguns for outdoors, hypercardioid mics for dialog recording both indoors and out, a boom with shockmount and wind protection to hold them both close enough to the actors, perhaps wireless laveliers for micing performers in wide shots where a boom isn't possible, a good sound mixer and/or recorder, a smartslate and associated timecode capabilities if you elect to record double system sound are all going to be required. If you're going to record to a separate recorder, that will influence your choice of camera as well since you need to have some way of getting the timecode OUT of the camera in order to sync the recorder to it - the XH A1 won't do that and so right there it's eliminated from the running and now we're looking at the XH G1 or XL H1 as the minimum camera you should consider since with those you get genlock input and timecode I/O, critical for proper sync to external recorders, while the A1 doesn't have those features.

Theodore McNeil May 27th, 2007 08:53 AM

I agree with everything written above, but I would just like to reiterate that sound is probably going to cause 70% of worries for your project. A1 is a good camera but the on camera mic will give endless headaches and make your project sound cheap.

I recommend a book called "Video Shooter" by Barry Braverman. I make all the interns at work read it. It's the best primer or intro to making videos I've ever read.

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 09:14 AM

Marcus - Thank you for your information. It is well appreciated.

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 12:08 PM

Andy -what a coincidence! I simply love Scotland! I would be interested in knowing more about what you will be doing there.

I too have built a crane with a 12" arm. Luckily I have a friend who loves to fabricate things. It looks very professional and I can't tell the difference between it and a factory built one.

I have a few questions regarding your equipment and the reasons for why you have chosen those items. Keep in mind that I am absolutely new to film making so please excuse me if I do not understand some things.

For starters - Why the HD100? I assume that the HD stands for High definition correct? But why this camera over say, the Canon XH A1?

The senheisser me66 and the lapel mics will connect directly to the Tascam DA-P1 DAT and record separately, the audio correct? Afterwards, in post production, I can add the sound? or does something else happen..? I guess what I am asking is what is the importance of the Tascam?

On site a couple weeks ago, a crew from Indiana University was filming our excavation. The sound man had what I assume to be a Tascam portable recorder with a boom mic attached to it. I saw a cord from his boom mic to the recorder, and another cord attached to the camera (which btw looked like the HD100, only bigger). If you have time, could you explain the process?

Thank you so much for your input on my situation. This post has been a BIG help.

-Terry.

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 12:34 PM

Steve - Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. The film will be viewed in the visitor's center. I would like the film to be something similar to any National Geographic video. A perfect example of this would be Jarred Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steal" video done by National Geographic. The film shows actor representations along with documentary style footage of Diamond himself. This is exactly the type of film I am trying to make.

As for audio - I see your point. Everyone has highlighted this issue. So, a separate recorder is practically essential? like a Tascam portable recorder with a boom mic and laveliers? What cameras should I look at for with this type of capability?

Thank you.
Terry.

Steve House May 27th, 2007 01:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687234)
Steve - Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. The film will be viewed in the visitor's center. I would like the film to be something similar to any National Geographic video. A perfect example of this would be Jarred Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steal" video done by National Geographic. The film shows actor representations along with documentary style footage of Diamond himself. This is exactly the type of film I am trying to make.

As for audio - I see your point. Everyone has highlighted this issue. So, a separate recorder is practically essential? like a Tascam portable recorder with a boom mic and laveliers? What cameras should I look at for with this type of capability?

Thank you.
Terry.

IMHO, the Tascam is the entry level for recorders with this capability. Others to consider would be the Sound Devices 702T or 744T. These recorders all accept timecode from an external source but the ability to use that depends, of course, on a source of timecode to be had. That means the camera has to have timecode outputs which the H1 and G1 do but the A1 doesn't. Now what that gets is the same timecode sync'ed to the frame on both the camera and the recorder but it still doesn't guarantee sync won't drift over longer shots. The Tascam can sync its sample clock to incoming timecode or to video. The Sound Devices don't sync their sample clock to either one but on the other thand they are very stable to begin with so they don't drift out as soon as other recorders might. If the A1 otherwise appeals to you and the fact it is HDV doesn't present a problem, the flexibility you get with the advanced "jackpack" on the G1 is worth the price difference I think.

Another way cameras, including multiple cameras, and recorders get sync'ed so they stay in sync is through the use of external sync generators such as the Ambient Lockit box - a box on each camera supplying genlock and on the recorder supplying wordclock and all the boxes tuned to each other and everything stays in sync to as tight no more than a single frame drift per day. But that technique requires a genlock input on the camera, something the A1 doesn't have but the G1 and H1 do. That may be overkill for you - the boxes are about a kilobuck each, but it still would be worth having a camera with the ability to work with them to allow for future growth.

Before you make a decision do take a look at the Sony XDCAM HD line. Considerably more expensive but if you think broadcast or theatrical distribution may be in the cards you ought to consider it.
http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Broadcastan...cam_hd_systems

Bill Davis May 27th, 2007 01:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687234)
Steve - Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. The film will be viewed in the visitor's center. I would like the film to be something similar to any National Geographic video. A perfect example of this would be Jarred Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steal" video done by National Geographic. The film shows actor representations along with documentary style footage of Diamond himself. This is exactly the type of film I am trying to make.

As for audio - I see your point. Everyone has highlighted this issue. So, a separate recorder is practically essential? like a Tascam portable recorder with a boom mic and laveliers? What cameras should I look at for with this type of capability?

Thank you.
Terry.



Terry,

Well, if GD&S is what you're truely aiming for, then it's instructive to study how Nat. Geographic was able to achieve THEIR results. On iMDB, they list a supervising crew of about 50 people - plus likely a couple of hundred people working on the show under those credits at a level where their contracts don't specify credit inclusion. (e.g. someone has to FEED everyone on location, etc.)

The list at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475043/fullcredits#cast includes FIVE cinematographers, six individuals in the Sound Department and three separate location managers, in addition to FIVE producer types and much more.

THAT is precisely what it takes the get the results you admire.

Again, don't get me wrong. I absolutely admire a spirit of "I want to do that too!" and every single one of the people on that crew list, started PRECISELY where you are now - with a burning desire to work making films/videos.

All I'm saying is that you need to understand that if there was a SIMPLER way to do this - National Geographic (and every OTHER production company in the world) would JUMP at the chance to do that.

The bottom line is that great videomaking is complex, difficult, often arduous and that obtaining great results requires a lot of technical expertise ALONG WITH the tools.

The great thing about today is that even the simplest tools are AMAZING in their capacity to help you learn. Literally, a $400 camcorder from Best Buy can help you learn the craft of camerawork PERFECTLY WELL. You don't NEED a better camera until you become a better camera operator.

Same for audio, lighting, etc. etc. IT's the skills, NOT the gear that drive results.

And typically a better camera in the hands of an unskilled operator achieves only marginally better results than a lesser camera in those same hands. (the picture might be of better quality, but what about the FRAMING? the COMPOSITION? the quality of the camera moves? The positioning of the camera relative to the sun? The balance of light, dark and grey scale elements within the frame? There is all this and much, MUCH more that a quality shooter instinctively understands and considers in order to turn out the kind of shots you admire.

Embrace who you are and the stage of development you currently enjoy. Embrace learning. Embrace trial and failure and improvement.

If you can't afford "Camera A" don't sweat it. Use whatever you CAN get your hands on and GO MAKE VIDEO.

That's what I was trying to get across - albiet poorly.

Steve House May 27th, 2007 02:04 PM

100% right on, Bill

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 03:56 PM

Bill, Steve -you both put so much time and thought into your replies. Thank you, it is well appreciated. I couldn't ask for better answers.

I have alot of questions so please forgive my minimal knowledge of some concepts.

Steve - Thank you for describing the external recorders. To verify, with the proper timecode output capable camera (G1 or H1), an external recorder syncs with the camera and the audio is integrated into the film? I suppose that this external recorder allows little space for failure in obtaining quality sound correct?

What I am looking for is the equipment capable of doing all these things. I am happy that you picked up on that. Thank you for bringing the G1's Jackpack to my attention. I was very skeptical at first as to what the importance of that specific feature was and why it is 2k more than the A1 simply because of it. I am beginning to see its importance. The G1 is a mini camera with the capabilities of some of the higher end models. This is what I have gathered...

So you think the Tascam is good for a semi small budget? or does the Sound Devices 702T etc... fall into the same price range?

Bill - I see your point and am overwhelmed by its reality. You are right, in order to create the quality film I admire, I must have a facet of professionals specializing in all areas of my film. However, I persist. I believe that it is better to shoot higher than lower so that my results are atleast moderate. I realize that I will not be able to create a film with NG quality by myself, but I can atleast try with hopes that I will land some were in the middle. Better than giving up.

Bill you've been a great help. Thank you sir

Steve House May 27th, 2007 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687319)
Bill, Steve -you both put so much time and thought into your replies. Thank you, it is well appreciated. I couldn't ask for better answers.

I have alot of questions so please forgive my minimal knowledge of some concepts.

Steve - Thank you for describing the external recorders. To verify, with the proper timecode output capable camera (G1 or H1), an external recorder syncs with the camera and the audio is integrated into the film? I suppose that this external recorder allows little space for failure in obtaining quality sound correct?

What I am looking for is the equipment capable of doing all these things. I am happy that you picked up on that. Thank you for bringing the G1's Jackpack to my attention. I was very skeptical at first as to what the importance of that specific feature was and why it is 2k more than the A1 simply because of it. I am beginning to see its importance. The G1 is a mini camera with the capabilities of some of the higher end models. This is what I have gathered...

So you think the Tascam is good for a semi small budget? or does the Sound Devices 702T etc... fall into the same price range?

...

The Tascam is ~ $1000, the SD 702T a little over $2000, and the SD 744T a little over $4000.

There are two problems associated with using separate recorders for the picture (camcorder) and the audio. The first is establishing a matchup point to align the separate audio and video recordings (to be aligned in post) and the second is to make sure that the playback times of 1 minute of recorded video and 1 minute of recorded audio match exactly down to the 1/60th of a second time interval over the longest shot you're going to record. Easy to do over a 1 minute shot; hard to do preserve over a 1 hour shot. There are a variety of methods used to accomplish this at varying levels of precision but a having a camera that can output timecode makes the whole process much more straightforward. Having one that can receive timecode and also external sync makes it even easier to establish a workflow that serves your needs.

If I can be so bold, and please don't take offense, but you need to decide if your role is to be that of cinematographer or of producer/director. As a cinematographer you're less concerned with content and more concerned with how it is captured and expressed. As a producer, you are concerned with content and you hire a director of photography and a sound recordist and they coordinate between themselves the optimal mix of equipment necessary to deliver the final product. Now there's no reason you can't wear several hats but if you do, try to keep in mind the heirarchy of priorities. The post production workflow and the final release formats will determine all these equipment choices and trying to choose equipment before making those decisions is putting the cart before the horse.

Terry Lee May 27th, 2007 09:52 PM

Steve - None taken. I was actually hoping to get enough knowledge to make executive decisions in all positions. But in order to get the knowledge, I must either attend classes or simply work with the equipment myself. It sounds like a lost cause, but I never surrender. Thus, I am hoping to teach myself (with the aid of some friends who are also interested in film) the tricks of the trade. I believe that it will not be to long before we are able to atleast make short docs. My ultimate goal is of corse the film for Angel Mounds. The short docs will be training but I want to eliminate excess expenses like buying a cheaper camera now to learn with. I would like to make sure that I already have the equipment that it takes, or atleast the camera. The other stuff that we are discussing can wait until I am better equip (mentally) to handel film of this calaber.

With more money will come the things like a boom mic, external recorders etc..

Steve House May 28th, 2007 03:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687481)
Steve - None taken. I was actually hoping to get enough knowledge to make executive decisions in all positions. But in order to get the knowledge, I must either attend classes or simply work with the equipment myself. It sounds like a lost cause, but I never surrender. Thus, I am hoping to teach myself (with the aid of some friends who are also interested in film) the tricks of the trade. I believe that it will not be to long before we are able to atleast make short docs. My ultimate goal is of corse the film for Angel Mounds. The short docs will be training but I want to eliminate excess expenses like buying a cheaper camera now to learn with. I would like to make sure that I already have the equipment that it takes, or atleast the camera. The other stuff that we are discussing can wait until I am better equip (mentally) to handel film of this calaber.

With more money will come the things like a boom mic, external recorders etc..

Not a thing wrong with that approach - in fact, it's the one I use. Just bear in mind that cheapest options at the start are often the most expensive in the long run and a few more dollars spent up front gives you a much longer service life in the end. It is far more expensive to replace equipment one has grown out of too quickly than it is to buy the better gear from the outset.

Boom mics, etc, are not optional accessories though an external recorder for double system sound can be deferred until later - many a video has been shot single-system recording in camera. But no matter how you cut it, for decent sound your mic MUST get off of the camera and up within a few feet of the talent - there's simply no work around for that, the physics of acoustics make it so. A sound kit consisting of a good quality light-weight boom pole, shock mount, wind screen, a decent field mixer such as a Sound Devices 302, proper headphones, and at least a) a hypercardioid mic such as an Audio Technica 4053a or AKG SE300/ck93, and b)a good quality short shotgun mic such as a Sennheiser MKH416 (as a mid-priced example), should be considered as vital a part of your startup kit as the camera itself. A quality tripod with fluid head likewise is something else that goes hand-in-glove with the camera and simply can't be deferred to later.

Andy Graham May 28th, 2007 04:47 AM

Terry here is the link so you can check it out, http://www.caithnessarchaeology.org.uk/fieldwork.html

As for why i chose the HD100, yes the HD stands for High definition but it is HDV which is the very basic entry level HD, some orginisations do not consider it to be HD like the BBC, as steve says they only allow 15% in their programming. The reason i chose it is simply because i liked the ergonomics over the other cams, it is more like a traditional broadcast layout. Even although some orginisations consider HDV to be standard def, in HDV mode it still produces superior images to SD mode which can then be downconverted to SD. Another major reason i chose it is it is because (this might sound vein ) it looks very impressive when you have a matte box, rails, the IDX kit and the DR100 hard drive attached. People feel they are getting their moneys worth if they see a lot of impressive gear.

The Tascam is just a seperate audio recorder, the boom and or lapel mics goes into a mixer (which i forgot to list) and then the mixer goes into the DAT via XLR cables, the me66 boom mic is my second choice due to the cost of the senheisser 416 which is £400 dearer (if i had it i would shell out in a minute). Now I am a camera operator and editor, although i did do some sound at college i am by no means an expert in sound, steve is the man to listn to in that department, he knows his stuff. I do however know the problems that sound causes and how hard it is to get it right and for that reason i have my own sound engineers so i don't have to worry about it. The tascam i have is becoming obsolete, now they have solid state recorders which saves your recorded audio as a computer file internaly. In post you then capture or download your audio and then bring it in to your editing timeline, i know a lot of people swear by timecode and if you have a lot of cameras fiming i'd agree but i have never found the need for it, i line up my DAT audio with the audio from the cameras on board mic and i sink it by ear.

As for the crew you saw filming, i can't imagine why they would have the boom going to the DAT and another cable going to the camera, there is no reason that i can think of for attaching the DAT to the camera.

The best advice i can give is to get a pro to do your audio, it will make things a hundred times easier on you.

Again i hope it helps you out

Andy.

Steve House May 28th, 2007 06:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy Graham (Post 687578)
...

As for the crew you saw filming, i can't imagine why they would have the boom going to the DAT and another cable going to the camera, there is no reason that i can think of for attaching the DAT to the camera.
...

I can think of two scenarios ...

1) They were recording sound in camera and what was thought to be an audio recorder was actually a mixer/preamp to control levels etc.

2) It was a recorder and the cable to the camera was actually going the other way, sending timecode from the camera to the recorder.

Just FYI - the Tascam we've been talking about, the HD-P2, is not a DAT but rather a file-based recorder going to internal CF cards, recording in Broadcast Wave (BWF) file format.

Richard Alvarez May 28th, 2007 07:40 AM

Terry,

Reading your posts, it seems as though you have several needs you wish to be fulfilled.

You have a need to become a filmmaker.
You have a need to tell the story of THIS particular archeological dig.
You have a need to produce a documentary for educating the public on this site.

If I am reading between the lines correctly, you are searching for a strategy that will fulfill all of those needs. But you haven't given us some of the parameters that might define the limits of the correct strategy.

What is your budget?
What is your TIMELINE?

For instance, does the documentary have to be completed by a specific date? If so, then the strategy for teaching yourself documentary filmmaking on a budget, might not fullfill the need for delivering a quality product on time. Not conflicting needs mind you, but conflicting STRATEGIES. Can you become skilled enough in the limited TIME and MONEY your schedule allows? Are you going to miss certain key elements of the dig, while you are learning to run the equipment? Are parts of the story going to pass you by, while you fumble with the natural mistake of the learning process?

Please state some of these parameters, and perhaps we can assist you in meeting all of your goals. It might be, that you HIRE a crew, and ASSIST them, thereby getting your need for a quality documentary met, even as you LEARN from professionals how best to do what you want to do on the next project?

Just some thoughts.

Terry Lee May 28th, 2007 10:42 AM

Steve - To make sure I understand this concept, when you refer to double system sound you do mean the camera's stock mic and the external recorder (tascam, sound mixer) correct? I am trying to understand this process once you get the captured film in post. Is the audio seperately recorded into one of these external recorders which must then be synced in post? Or does the sound automatically get recorded onto the film from the recorder?

A boom pole isn't to much right..like about $400? I've seen them on Ebay for $100 and it includes everything you listed (boom pole, shock mount, wind screen).

Terry Lee May 28th, 2007 10:58 AM

Andy - Thank you for the link.

So the HD100 is HDV but not to the extent of say the XH A1/G1? I didn't know there were different grades of HD.

you've got me interested in the HD100 now. I looked it up and it looks like a very nice camera. I like the LCD screen on the side. A camera of that body style dosn't look like it should have an LCD screen but it works. I also like it better (than the XH A1) because it has the ability to change lenses. I do not know very much about JVC though and their lens options. I've been doing alot of research on Canon cameras and know the extent of their lense arsenal for the XL2. Since I am going to be shooting alot of landscapes, I am going to need a wide angle lense. What options do I have if I went with the HD100?

Thanks Andy.

-Terry.

Steve House May 28th, 2007 10:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687710)
Steve - To make sure I understand this concept, when you refer to double system sound you do mean the camera's stock mic and the external recorder (tascam, sound mixer) correct? I am trying to understand this process once you get the captured film in post. Is the audio seperately recorded into one of these external recorders which must then be synced in post? Or does the sound automatically get recorded onto the film from the recorder?

A boom pole isn't to much right..like about $400? I've seen them on Ebay for $100 and it includes everything you listed (boom pole, shock mount, wind screen).

One refers to sound recording workflows as single-system or double-system. In single-system the sound is recorded internally in the camera on the tape right along side the picture. That's the default, basic, consumer camcorder setup. In double-system, the pictures are recorded on tape in the camera while the sound is recorded on a separate sound recorder. Some common reference mark, like banging clapsticks together in front of the camera so you can see the sticks hit on the picture as you hear the 'bang' in the soundtrack allows you to line them up in post. With double system you might just not bother turning on the sound recording ability of the camera at all, or you might choose to let it still record using the on-camera mic. In the latter case you probably wouldn't actually use the resulting sound track on the tape, instead replacing it with the higher quality soundtrack from the separate recorder but having it can make aligning the sound you're going to use with the picture a bit easier (and there's nothing wrong with having an insurance policy just in case). It's single when there's one recorder for both picture and sound and 'double' when there's two recorders, one dedicated to picture and the other to sound. Virtually all film-based motion picture shooting is double system, while there were sound film cameras made for newsreel shooting back in the WWII-1950's era and also some sound Super-8 cameras in the 60's, they're all long gone by now except in the hands of a few enthusiasts.

Terry Lee May 28th, 2007 11:01 AM

Richard - My budget varies. Its pretty much whenever I have the money or can get a grant.

I'm simply doing this film for myself and for the public. There is no due date.

Andy Graham May 28th, 2007 12:34 PM

Terry, there is not much diffirence in picture quality between the various prosumer HDV brands, some people preffer canon some JVC or Sony or panasonic. the only thing is that all of these brands have developed their own flavours of HDV which means you can't shoot HDV on a panasonic and play it on a JVC deck etc.I personnally think format wars are pointless, you can sleep safe in the knowlage that whatever cam you choose in this range will give you equally good images.

It is worth doing some research into the post production workflows of each camera because HDV has its bugs, its a reasonably new format and it takes some getting used to (at least in my experience with the HD100).

There are a few cameras in JVC's HDV range now, the origional HD100 , the HD110, the HD200 and the HD250 for the diffirences between them you can look them up (if i had to buy one it would be the 200 because the main diffirence between it and the 250 is that the 250 has the facility to be used in a live studio situation which i cant see myself needing). As for the lens options there are many of them however they are very expensive......the wide angle costs $6,600 ,check it out at B&H http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...arch&Q=*&bhs=t

Anyway i'm starting to sound like a JVC rep! all the brands are good, if you like the canon layout try the XL-H1 which has interchangable lens options as well.

Andy.

Terry Lee May 28th, 2007 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy Graham (Post 687758)
the only thing is that all of these brands have developed their own flavours of HDV which means you can't shoot HDV on a panasonic and play it on a JVC deck etc.

I know this is probably a common term among the film community, however I do not know its definition. What is a "deck"? and if you could, elaborate a bit more on the concept.

For post production, I was considering Avid, but what Avid program to get is another story and question to ask the experts. The editing of the film is where I want to make most of the executive decisions. What shots to edit, include/not include etc.. I would like to stick with Canon but the XL H1 is a bit to expensive for my budget right now. I had the XL2 for about a week that I bought used. Needless to say I had to send it back. I would love to stick with the XL2 but it is SD only, so I decided to go with the XH A1. That would be a good choice for my budget but it seams that the A1 does not have the output jacks that is included with the G1/H1. If I had the money I wouldn't think twice about buying the H1. So for now, I either have to gain enough money for the G1 or find another camera, which is why I was asking about the HD100, but I found out that it is alittle over my price range as well.

Thank you Andy for talking with me about my situation.

-Terry.

Andy Graham May 28th, 2007 05:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 687787)
I know this is probably a common term among the film community, however I do not know its definition. What is a "deck"? and if you could, elaborate a bit more on the concept.

A deck is just a VCR, you get SD decks And HD or HDV decks ( http://www.libraprobroadcast.co.uk/prodimages/hd50e.jpg ). when it comes to standard def you can shoot mini dv and it will play on any mini dv deck regardless of the make however when it comes to HDV because there are different ways of recording it (jvc's 720p 19mps or sony's 1080i 25mbs) you can't for instance use a sony deck to play JVC HDV, in the article below it tells you a bit about HDV1 and HDV2 at the bottom

http://www.hdvinfo.net/

I have never used Avid so i can't comment on them however the impression i am getting is that they are falling behind in the technology race and folks are getting very angry with them whereas apples Final cut pro 6 looks to be very interesting with a whole new color correction programe , new 3d workspace in the programme "motion" and new uprezing technology for upconverting SD to HD so you may want to look into that.

As for the camera prices maybe a second hand XL-H1 might fit the bill.

Andy.

Terry Lee May 28th, 2007 10:53 PM

I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind but could you explain what a deck is used for? I've done alittle reading on it and what I have concluded was that the deck is for recording (copying) footage from your miniDV tapes to..something? Most of the information was advertisments about a product..

Btw what is NTSC and PAL video?

-Terry.

Steve House May 29th, 2007 03:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 688083)
I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind but could you explain what a deck is used for? I've done alittle reading on it and what I have concluded was that the deck is for recording (copying) footage from your miniDV tapes to..something? Most of the information was advertisments about a product..

Btw what is NTSC and PAL video?

-Terry.

Decks are used for playing and recording tapes. One big use is to capture the tape into the computer for editing and they're sometimes used for recording the end result for distribution, among other things. Decks are also used for playback of source tapes in analog editing systems and there are play-only decks are often hooked to a monitor for viewing the tape of the finished program - for example, once your movie is completed you might distribute it by burning the edited film to DVD for playback or you might choose to record the completed and edited film to a fresh tape for playback that way (or both). You can use your camera to play the tapes into your workstation for capture but some users would rather not put the hours on the camera's expensive-to-replace recording heads and so prefer to use a stand-alone VTR (Video Tape Recorder) deck to do this. Decks don't need to be as lightweight as a camera and so the transport mechanism may be more robust and better able to withstand the constant starting and stopping as the tape is shuttled back and forth. (Though that's not always true - for example, Sony uses the same tape transport mechanisms in some of their prosumer decks lineups as they do in their prosumer cameras.)

NTSC and PAL are two different encoding schemes for broadcasting colour video (a third scheme also exists called SECAM). NTSC is used mainly in the Americas and uses frames made up of 525 scan lanes arranged like Venesian blinds into two interlaced fields, one field consisting of the even numbered lines and the other the odd-numbered, displayed at the rate of 29.97 frames (or 59.54 fields) per second. PAL is used in the majority of the rest of the world and consists of 625 line frames displayed at the rate of 25 frames per second. SECAM is a minority third place scheme similar to PAL and is used mainly in countries that are ex-French possessions and also in parts of Russia - it originated in France and was used there while the rest of Europe was PAL but I'm not sure if that's what they use now since the EU mandated so many common standards between the European countries in recent years. The most important thing to remember is that NTSC and PAL are not compatible with each other - PAL footage and DVDs will not play on NTSC televisions and playback equipment and vice-versa (though a lot of TVs, etc, sold in Europe now actually can play and display NTSC signals without a problem, it's far from universal and I'm not aware of any NTSC equipment that will work with PAL sources).

Andy Graham May 29th, 2007 04:37 AM

Terry, the deck is attached to the edit suit via a firewire cable exactly as you would attach your camera to capture footage, you put the tape in and capture your footage from the tape onto the computer for edit. You can also "print your edit to video" which means when you are done editing your footage you can then put a fresh mini dv tape in the deck and record your finnished edit back onto tape

This may interest you because most if not all TV networks want any footage deliverd in the digibeta format which is the high end digital format (mini dv being the low end) in order to give them a digibeta copy of your work you must first record your edit back to mini dv (alternatively you can take them an exported file on a zip drive etc) and then take that to a conversion company who will take your footage from the mini dv tape or file and copy it to a digibeta so you can deliver it.

Just so you are clear on this, the deck is not an essential bit of kit because most cameras have the ability to "print your edit to video" although using it like a deck puts strain on the camera heads. In America your cameras come standard with that ability, however here in europe we have to pay £500 more for it because of tax reasons. This is the reason in America you only have the JVC HD100 and in Europe we have the HD100 and the HD101......the HD101 has the VTR function i.e being able to record BACK to tape.

What is NTSC and PAL?...The very basics

There are three main broadcasting standards in the world NTSC, PAL and SECAM.

In America you use NTSC in television broadcasting. This means your television runs at 30 fps (more like 29.97 to be exact). 30 fps means there are 30 indavidual frames (images) per second made up of two interlaced fields (one half odd one half even). It has 525 lines of resolution.

In most of Europe and a wole load of other places we use PAL. This means our TV's run at 25 fps, that is 25 iindavidual images per second also made up of two interlaced fields and has 625 lines of resolution.

France and a few other places use SECAM which also uses 25 FPS with two interlaced fields at 625 lines of resolution very much like PAL.

It gets a whole lot more complicated so you are probably best looking it up in wikipedia.

The bottom line is that you being in America want an NTSC based camera to shoot with. Although this is not such a big deal these days as a lot of the cameras like the JVC HD100 have the ability to shoot both NTSC and PAL frame rates.

Andy.

Andy Graham May 29th, 2007 04:40 AM

I see steve got in there first :), oh well now you have two descriptions .

Terry Lee May 29th, 2007 06:50 PM

Amazing! you guys are great at explaining this stuff. Let me try to put this in a scenario so that we know we are both on the same page.

I record a tape(HDV). In order to properly copy my tape's content to my editing software, I must put the tape into a deck, which will transfer the tape's content onto my computer. This can also be done with the camera, however its best to use a deck so that you are not putting extra miles on your camera.

I edit my film. I want to copy the edited film onto a few DVDs so I put a DVD into the deck and am able to make as many as I want?

If I have a Hi8 tape with some footage from 1998 on it, can I also use the deck to record the footage to my computer?

As we discussed before, If I have a Canon camera, I must buy a Canon Deck correct? This what I interpreted from your previous posts.

Richard Alvarez May 29th, 2007 07:37 PM

Terry,

You can import your video from your camera via firewire, yes - using a deck saves mileage on the camera - yes, SOME recording formats are proprietary and not compatible between other cameras/decks - AND EVEN NLE's (Non Linnear Editing systems). (The 24f format on the XLH1 is an example, not supported by AVID at the moment. There is currently no canon 'deck'... only cameras.

SO - Decide what camera you want, and what format you are going to record in. If you want to buy a deck for it, make sure it is compatible. Make sure your Editing system will support the 'workflow' you have chosen. (Workflow is the term for getting the footage from your camera, into your system, and back out again)

Yes, once you have edited your documentary, you may 'export' or 'print' back to tape, and give that tape to a duplication house to make OTHER format Tapes with it. OR you may create your own DVD.

A DVD utilizes a MORE compressed codec for your documentary (COdec = COmpression DECompression algorithm). Your typical DVD is MPEG 2. THEREFORE you have another step between getting your film OFF of your finished editing timeline and onto a DVD. You must first COMPRESS or ENCODE it. This software may or may not be part of the editing software you choose, it might be a third party application that is 'supported' by the software you choose. At any rate, you must send (export) the movie from your timeline to your COMPRESSION software, and create a compressed MPG2 file. As you can imagine, there are a gazillion settings that can be altered at this point. ONCE you have compressed the movie, you then take it into your AUTHORING software, this is the software that allows you to create menus, chapters and titles and such. Some products will do compression and authoring in on package.

AUTHOR the movie - THEN you can burn it to disc. Yes, you can do this as many times as you want. But unless you have a multi disc duplicator, you will have to do it one at a time. Could take a while if you are looking at hundreds or thousands.

ALTERNATIVELY you can farm out the DUPLICATION or REPLICATION process to an outside house, which might also offer design services for cover and label art and packaging. YOu do this by providing either a master disc, or a master tape, depending on their request.

Importing HI-8 Footage can sometimes be done through the deck, sometimes through the camera. What you want to know is if they have an 'analogue to digital' pass-thru. Almost all modern cameras do. You will send the analogue signal THROUGH your camera/deck and into the computer. The deck/camera turns the analogue signal to a digital one. You can also by a 'transcoder' like the canopus advc 100 that will do this as a stand alone function.

See... it's simple really.

Terry Lee May 29th, 2007 08:41 PM

Richard - That sums it up nicely. Very, very good explanation.

Alright - This brings up a few questions. I personally like Canon cameras. I just always have and given my lack of knowledge about film, its probably the camera's ascetic values that spark my interest. However, If I want to stick with Canon, what would I do in the way of a deck? Since Canon does not have a compatible deck for HDV, must I use the camera to export my film to my edit suit until Canon comes out with a Canon brand deck? I understand that there are some bugs yet to be worked out of HD.

I would have no problem sticking with SD. 24p will work on Avid in SD (or am I wrong?). I can get a JVC deck to work with my Canon (XL2). The XL2 has interchangeable lenses which is handy because of Canon's 3x zoom lens, which I will need for landscape shots (If anyone has any additional info on Landscape shots feel free). It has built in XLR outputs which I can hook my external recorder (Tascam...other brands..etc) to, correct?

My only problem with buying an SD camera is that the sell back value of an SD camera will decrease with this year's NAB convention (What is NAB? I read a little about it in another thread today and gathered that it is an annual release of new camera's and equipment. That true?). Secondly, HD provides such a better picture. I would love to have that quality in a film for the site.

I know this is a constant debate among this forum. But I hear alot of people say that they are changing to HD. Should I fallow the herd?

Steve House May 30th, 2007 04:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terry Lee (Post 688691)
Richard - That sums it up nicely. Very, very good explanation.

Alright - This brings up a few questions. I personally like Canon cameras. I just always have and given my lack of knowledge about film, its probably the camera's ascetic values that spark my interest. However, If I want to stick with Canon, what would I do in the way of a deck? Since Canon does not have a compatible deck for HDV, must I use the camera to export my film to my edit suit until Canon comes out with a Canon brand deck? I understand that there are some bugs yet to be worked out of HD.

I would have no problem sticking with SD. 24p will work on Avid in SD (or am I wrong?). I can get a JVC deck to work with my Canon (XL2). The XL2 has interchangeable lenses which is handy because of Canon's 3x zoom lens, which I will need for landscape shots (If anyone has any additional info on Landscape shots feel free). It has built in XLR outputs which I can hook my external recorder (Tascam...other brands..etc) to, correct?

My only problem with buying an SD camera is that the sell back value of an SD camera will decrease with this year's NAB convention (What is NAB? I read a little about it in another thread today and gathered that it is an annual release of new camera's and equipment. That true?). Secondly, HD provides such a better picture. I would love to have that quality in a film for the site.

I know this is a constant debate among this forum. But I hear alot of people say that they are changing to HD. Should I fallow the herd?

Personally I think HD is the way to go to 'future-proof' your shoot. You can always downrez and release on SD but you can't go the other direction. For wedding and event shooters it may be another issue, there's not a lot of HD activity there yet - sales of their product don't run for any signifigant time after the immediate event so long-term distribution isn't an issue and affordable consumer HD-DVD players haven't made much market pentration so far - but for potential broadcast distribution or feature/DVD sales over the next number of years into the future you really need to be shooting with the current state of the art. Even releasing in SD for the more immediate future, picture quality is a big factor. A picture shot is HD and downrezzed to SD during post is still more crisp and detailed than the same scene shot in SD to begin with. Years of still photography has made me a real stickler for image quality so anything that improves the picture is worth it IMHO.

NAB is The National Association of Broadcasters trade organization and colloquially refers to their annual convention where manufacturers traditionally debut a lot of new equipment.

If I understood your question about the XL2, no it does NOT have XLR outputs for connection to an external audio recorder. It has XLR INPUTS to allow you to connect professional grade microphones and mixers. If you are using a separate audio recorder such as the Tascam, you normally would NOT be sending sound between the camera and the recorder in either direction anyway. You might be sending timecode from the camera to the recorder but that's something else altogether.

Andy Graham May 30th, 2007 04:31 AM

Terry, I just want to clarify that Hi8 is a completely difirent format from mini dv and HDV, you could not put a hi8 tape into an hdv or mini dv deck, if you want to capture hi8 just use your hi8 camera (provided it has firewire) . And you also do not make dvd's with the deck, as richard said you use compressing software and authoring software on your nle for that.

Regarding the canon deck or lack there of, as i understand it sony and canon use the same HDV2 format which is 1080i 25 mbps with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Conceivably you should be able to use the sony deck with the canon camera, bare in mind i haven't done any research on that so i may be wrong but the formats are the same so maybe you should look into it further.

Just so you know at the moment i can't afford the JVC deck so i have been capturing using the camera, its not ideal but it works just fine .£2500 for the deck was too much at the moment

Andy.

Terry Lee May 30th, 2007 05:39 PM

Andy - That is quite a bit for a deck. I'll have to pass on getting a deck at the moment.

Thanks for the info.

Terry Lee May 30th, 2007 05:51 PM

Ohhh, alright. So an external recorder does not have anything to do with the camera at all? Both the sound and the film are recorded separately and is then, and only then, synced together in post?

Sorry I didn't get that earlier, and please let me know if I am still not entirely right.

Thanks.
-Terry.


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