View Full Version : help video purchase $$$

Jun 10, 2004, 11:53 AM
I have been asked to help select some equipment for video editing in a college setting. I work for the college of education of a large university and there is a $6,000 grant that needs to be used to purchase video equipment. I will be suggesting that we purchase one high-end video camera and then some cheaper models to be loaned out to students.

My thoughts:
One Canon XL or GL for the high end camera- $2500
4 low end miniDV cameras - $450 each (possibly canon also)
4 tripods $75 -$100 each

We have 2x2Ghz G5 with 2 GB ram that I would like to turn into a high end video work station. Would a cheap tv be good for a video monitor? What would be the kind of tv to look for? What do I need for the video out to the tv (just a video card or a video break out box?) is a tv monitor even that important?

If cost permitting:
Final Cut
After Effects or Motion
DVD Studio Pro
Omni mic for room sounds
Lavalier Mic

Please give me your thoughts on what is most important and what would serve the school best. Donít be afraid to give personal opinions

Jun 10, 2004, 12:30 PM
I'll just post some things to think about.

First, what is the projected use for this equipment?
Second, there is nothing worse than a kick arse camera (such as your more expensive Canon...I'm not familiar with that model...but that appears to be a moderately priced piece of equipment) sitting on a crappy, cheap, wobbly tripod. So you may want to think about buying a really nice tripod and then cheapies for the loan outs.

Third, I used to work for a large university's law school as a media guru. We had one very nice DV cam that only we, the staff, used for official stuff (like promo videos that were then sent out with applications to prospective students), and then a bunch of cheapies that we loaned out or used for daily tasks (such as taping classes or students, etc).

Fourth, your post makes it sound as if you will get Final Cut only if the budget permits. What would you be using if you didn't purchase Final Cut? As far as the other software, it really depends on what you wanna do with it. I very rarely used After Effects--but it was nice to have it around.

Unfortunately, I can't answer your question about the TV monitor except to say that if you are doing serious editing--spending hours in there, then I would suggest getting a nice monitor (we had very sweet Sony Trinitron monitors). However, if you're running Final Cut and your display or displays is nice enough--then you can definitely get buy without investing in monitors.

Jun 10, 2004, 01:52 PM
I work as a video producer and do online video editing and shooting for a living, so I can offer some tips:

First, having a preview monitor is important for any project that will end up being watched on a TV, especially if it's broadcast. (If you know it will only end up on the web or CD, then it's not so important.) The issue is that your computer will not output the colors the same way that a TV monitor will. You will also not be able to see any places where colors clash or video or chroma levels are too high for NTSC broadcast to display properly. All of these things make a preview monitor important because your computer is just approximating what the image will look like on TV. By it's very nature (progressive scan instead of interlaced, VGA signal vs. NTSC, etc.) the computer can't display the video signal exactly. Having said that, a high-quality monitor is way out of your price range. A regular old TV is better than nothing, but don't buy a cheap TV. At least use a nice TV monitor, even if it's small. Yes, the video out will come from your video card.

Re: tripods. stevietheb's right. For your work, a good tripod is essential. In some ways it can be more important than the resolution of the camera. It depends on what you're shooting, but for anything that requires pans, tilts and steady zooms, you need a good tripod, probably at least $500. Like he said, the loaners can be cheapies, especially since they will take a beating from others.

Are you referring to the much cheaper Final Cut Express? Or the full-fledged Final Cut Pro? The Express version is more appropriate for DV-only work at your level.

The Canon XL1 is a very nice camera. Its big advantage over the GL1 is that it can accommodate different lenses. If you don't need more lenses (or can't afford them anyway), then the GL1 is a good way to go. The recent Sony 3-chip DV cameras are also very good. Whatever you choose, ALWAYS test them out in person at a store first before you buy. Know where the buttons are, test out the features, figure out what you need and what you don't. There's nothing worse than finding out after the fact that it doesn't do what you need or that it's hard for you to use.

Good luck.

Jun 10, 2004, 03:21 PM
Thanks for the replies they have given me some good information to consider.

I just got done with a meeting with the professor that needs the equipment and she has refined her needs so my initial posting is now overkill for what is needed. She has informed me that the cameras will be used by student teachers to record their time spent in local high schools. This video will then be reviewed to let the teacher see how well they did. After discussing this further it became apparent that my first suggestion was too advanced and we will need many cheaper cameras to get the job done and will only need simple editing like imovie for any editing work. This greatly reduces the requirements for the equipment.

Now off to find that perfect cheap miniDV and tripod combo.

Jun 10, 2004, 03:43 PM
Just my two cents: Any video setup should have at least one 3 ccd (3 chip) DV cam, the XL1 is expensive, I have a sony trv-900 that is awesome you could probably pick up a used one from a camera store like
(these are good resources for tripods too, which are, as was said, important)
Also they give good advice --by phone since you're not in nyc, send good catalogs (especially B&H) and are all around a great resource for any pro/pro-sumer video, audio, or photo needs.

but if you want a new one there are equivalent ones, I think the PD-150?
iMovie's very easy but limited, Final Cut Express sounds like it would be useful?
Don't forget external (firewire, 7200 rpm) hard drives, which are cheap (relatively: 120 GB=$200.00 or less) but you'll need em.

Jun 10, 2004, 04:24 PM
My friend is a film major and uses the gl2's at his school and loves them. I hear good things about them. As far as a DV cam how much was your sony 3ccd? Im looking into getting a dv cam , i hear now there is something like hdv cams also.

Jun 10, 2004, 07:14 PM
If it's just for taping instructors and the final products will only be distributed internally, then you probably don't need a 3-chip camera at all and you can go even cheaper. BUT, that's only true if this is the only purpose you'll need a camcorder for. It might be a good idea to buy one nice 3-chip camera that can also be used for higher-end purposes and make the rest cheapies. Ditto with the tripods. Just a thought. I don't know if you still have that same budget or not.

You might want to investigate what kinds of microphones will be appropriate for this. A wireless mic or camera-mounted shotgun mic might be good for the quick-and-dirty setups that you describe.

I have the Sony TRV-900 that furrina mentions and it's a good camera. Like most DV cameras though, it only has unbalanced audio inputs, which can make for some chincy audio sometimes. One with XLR inputs like the PD-150 might be a better choice.

Espnetboy3: I wouldn't worry about the HDV cameras yet. They're just starting to come out and the accessories, editing, and features on those cameras are still coming into their own. While they do technically bring HD specs into a small DV camera, there's a lot of compression going on there, and a lot of sacrifices are being made at that price level. It's an exciting prospect, but I don't think it's quite ready for primetime yet.

Jun 10, 2004, 10:08 PM
My friend is a film major and uses the gl2's at his school and loves them. I hear good things about them. As far as a DV cam how much was your sony 3ccd? Im looking into getting a dv cam , i hear now there is something like hdv cams also.

my particular one (trv-900) was actually a very reasonable $1800, about two years ago. It was one of those great products that is priced a lot lower than most comparable models for the quality. even at the time it was a good $500 less than comparable ones.
Unfortunately it was discontinued, there is a trv-950 ( i think) that is the next gen, as good if not better, I think it's also reasonably priced, under 2k.

The XLs are state of the art and can use a huge range of canon lenses but very big to carry around and if you're not going to really use the lenses and all the features may not be worth the $ (though it too is a lot of camera at a prosumer price point). Ive heard good things about the sony PD 150 (there is a next generation). The GL2 are probably comparable.
The best prices are at B &H and adorama camera (bhphotovideo.com and adorama.com) and you can often get used ones.