Am I on the right track to get into videography?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by iCheddar, May 29, 2007.

  1. iCheddar macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #1
    I'm just starting to get into videography, and I'm probably going through my pre-purchase thought process very stupidly.

    A while back I decided I wanted to start doing videography, and I had my sights set on a Mac Pro, and a Canon XH A1, etc. And I finally realized that really is overkill for an amateur starting to get into videography.

    This summer I should have money enough to buy some real equipment, vastly improving upon my no name DV camera, and windoze editing. I have the ambitions to make a full length documentary, and also want the ability to be able to do video for various local events and other 'artsy' type things I might want to film. Basically, as an initial project, I'd like to cover, from beginning to end, the entire process involved with putting on a theater production.

    So basically, I have myself set on getting a few cameras. I'm thinking a Canon XL2, a GL2, and possibly a Sony Xacti.

    Since its probably going to be just little old me...and maybe a friend to help out. I see the XL2 as being the stationary camera, sitting on the tripod, filming whatever is on stage, etc. Then using the GL2 for some guerrilla type videoing back stage and such.

    I'll also have situations in which I can't lug around video equipment covered by having the little Xacti. It's small, portable, flash based. And it'll let me do quick and dirty shots.

    So um...basically, am I on the right track here? Have I thought of this right, or am I still a little too overkill here? Also, technical questions, I've heard very good things about Sonys in low light situations, but am rather fond of Canons. Will the XL2 and GL2 serve me well in what could possibly be low light situations back stage and such? More importantly, I see the XL2 as filming from the area around the control booth, despite being that far back, will it still be able to pick up well on subjects that will be well lit by stage lights? Or will I have to consider a different camera?

    I probably forgot something I wanted to say here, as I wrote this up kinda ad-libish.

    So, I know I asked quite a few questions, but any suggestions, answers, critiques, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #2
    As I was reading your post, purchasing multiple cameras like that seemed overkill, but I guess if you want multicamera for theatre, that's the only way to do it. :p

    I would, however, suggest getting multiples of one model of camera instead of mixing it up like that. In college I used to shoot concerts with a few friends. I had a DVCAM checked out free from my college, and others used their camcorders. Every camera has its own color and optics, so the mix doesn't look very good. These days I make sure everybody has the same camera.

    Also, I'm not sure if you were still considering the Mac Pro or not, but I would suggest a MacBook Pro instead. Just because it's portable and extremely powerful. You can check your shots right on location if you want to. And if screen realestate becomes an issue, you can just attach a DVI monitor with a higher resolution and you're all set.

    Finally, if I were you, I would be sure to keep room in my budget for audio equipment, and maybe even some lighting. Those are two extremely important elements of production that people don't think about often, but they are the key to getting a professional result. The built-in mics on your cameras simply will not cut it! You will have way too much background noise/camera noise, and are of a general lower-quality than a good lavalier (clip-on) or shotgun mic or something.

    I think anything else is just based on preference. As you shoot stuff, you'll develop your own habits and be more drawn to certain brands and models of equipment.

    Good luck and have fun! :)
     
  3. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

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    South Dakota
    #3
    Yeah, I have pretty much decided to get the MBP. I'm thinking the, uh, midend model, I don't need 17 inches if I'm using an external monitor. After I decided I didn't need HD I said no to the Mac Pro. However, if a headless Mac comes out at the WWDC, I might have to consider that.:rolleyes:

    In any case, from what I know, the Canon GL2 and XL2 are pretty much the same camera. However the GL2 is the condensed version, and it lacks hardware based settings like the XL2. It also lacks XLR ports and such, but from what I've read, they're the same camera...just different.

    However, I do realize the Xacti is a much different camera, but from what I know, there is no other camera that will offer me the same quality, at the same size. I won't do much shooting with it. But for situations in which I can't afford to lug around the XL2 or GL2, I think it'll do fine.

    In any case, I should be able to fix alot of the cameras' differences using Color with FCP, right?

    Edit: Oh yeah, I've definitely got audio and lighting thought of. Thats one of the reasons why I was so drawn to the XL2, it is a full fledged camera with built in XLR ports. And I know I'll need a small shotgun to go with the GL2 as well.

    Lighting, I don't have too much thought up, but I expect my lighting experience from theatre should do me good to crossover into video.
     
  4. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #4
    You could get the two cameras closer to matching with some post work, if you're willing to do that. ;)

    That's good that you have audio taken care of! I don't know much about theatre lighting, but I'm sure that would help a lot. :)

    The other thing I had intended to suggest is to be sure not to overspend on equipment that is currently the "new thing." All the stuff you have planned would be a pretty big purchase for me, and I've been at this for quite a while. The frustrating thing about this industry is that there is always something bigger and better, and equipment can become obsolete in a matter of months. As an example, I spent a good amount on one of the first prosumer HDV camcorders when it first came out, and a year and a half later, there have been two additional upgrades to that line. So I'm sure you know all this, but just be sure to keep it in the back of your mind. :)
     
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #5
    Are you on the right track to get into videography? IMO, no.

    I'd strongly suggest getting a part time or summer job w/a local TV station, cable station, videographer, production facility, etc., and learning how to do things properly before dropping nearly $10,000 on gear (which is close to what your three camera setup, plus audio, plus accessories, plus tax would cost). If there are any classes in video production you could take at a local community college I'd look into taking those as well as basic business classes. As unfun as it sounds, if you don't know at least the basics about the money side of things (or partner up w/someone who does) yer at a severe disadvantage. Brilliant ideas are cheap. Turning those ideas into a reality is not.

    If you utter anything close to "I'll just fix it in post" again you'll automatically be banned from this forum. ;)
    What takes five minutes in production will take 5 hours in post and don't save a nickel on Friday if it will cost you an extra dollar on Monday.

    Do you want new equipment because you've squeezed every last once of quality out of your current setup or do you want new equipment because you think the new toys will make you a better videograher/filmmaker/stoyteller?


    Finally, I am curious to hear though how not too long ago a Canon XH A1 was overkill, but now you think a three camera setup is just what you need? ;)


    Lethal
     
  6. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #6
    In regards to the learning thing, I do have a guy I'm learning certain aspects from, in addtion to my school's tech admin, he does all our videography stuff as well. I won't be able to learn about broatcast or anything like that, but I'll learn some of the more advanced things from them. Exposure, aperture setting, etc.

    Well, in relation to the whole money thing, I've got that covered. I have a significant ammount saved at the moment, and a recent venture I got involved in will be making me enough money quick enough to have it all bought by October or so.

    About my current setup, I've got a POS little DV camera, no jack for audio input, no advanced settings, etc. It's utter crap, and the output is crap. So I'm looking to move up, and I figure, buying...older technology will help me. Thats why I said the XH A1 is overkill, I don't need the latest and greatest, and I certainly don't need HD. But the way I figure older cameras such as the GL2, and the XL2 will do me great to learn by. Not only that, but I'm planning upon going to University for Cinematography, and honestly, I can't get good experience on a little consumer DV camera, I need something a bit more advanced.

    And well...yes, new toys will make me a better storyteller. Why use a bike when you can drive a car?

    I know it'll be a learning experience, and I know it won't be cheap. But I think what I've come up with is practical. And honestly, as long as I find good deals on eBay, I won't even have to pay near what these cameras went for retail:p

    Edit: Is it just me, or half the time when I respond to someone with a normal tone, I come off as pissed off?
     
  7. -DH macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #7
    If you think your current DV camera is utter crap, just wait til you get your hands on an Xacti.


    Don't count on that. Story telling is a skill all in itself. Cameras and post gear are merely tools. A chisel in skilled and talented hands can produce a work of art. In untalented hands all you'll have is chips. The quality or price of the camera has nothing to do with one's ability at story telling.


    Very poor analogy. Why drive a car when you can fly? Just because you get there faster doesn't mean the trip will be more enjoyable.

    -DH
     
  8. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
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    South Dakota
    #8
    So, aside from all the 'dumb little kid thinks he can start doing video' crap, will the XL2 serve me well?

    I've used the GL2 plenty of times, so I know its a damned good little 'beginner's' camera, but with the XL2 serve me well in the situations I've suggested, and more importantly, is it worth my money, and the time it'll take me to learn how to properly use it?
     
  9. JohnMC macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Location:
    Duluth, MN
    #9
    The MBP is a good idea. Just remember that Color will not run on the 15.4 model. While you can color correct in post, it is much easier to white balance on set and use the same camera model to keep accurate color.

    The next thing to thing about is SD, do you really want to spent 10K on cameras that are pathetically outdated? HD is the way to go now. In 1.5 years the FCC plans to ban SD form the airwaves, if you need to spend money buy HD.

    The last thing to remember is I can have an F-950 or a Panavision, but if can't tell a story I just wasted 150K. Mentors are great and you should learn everything you can, from every one, but the local computer tech can't teach you everything. You should consider taking some classes from people who do this exclusively as a job.

    Best of luck.

    Just my opinion,
    JohnMC
     
  10. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #10
    I honestly don't see why I should spend my money on buying HD.

    I simply don't have the resources for it. Not only will I be paying huge amounts for the camera itself, but I'll need a more powerful machine, as well as astronomical amounts of storage space. Not only that, but how common are 1080i televisions these days? Seems like everything I see on the local market is all 720p. Also, HDDVD and BluRay? Please, why bother having this high definition video when I'll have to reencode it in post to fit on a DVD. Not worth my time.
     
  11. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #11
    We should make that a rule...:cool:
     
  12. killr_b macrumors 6502a

    killr_b

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    Oct 21, 2005
    Location:
    Suckerfornia
    #12
    It's like I don't even have to post. :D

    Yeah, every time I hear the phase "fix it in post" I just want to hit someone.

    I don't think the OP even needs to buy cameras. Unless rentals are not easily available like down here. The only reason I bought my cameras was because I had so much work that a monthly rental was very annoying.

    Seriously, I would spend the money on one phatty deck, like this: linky
    And a broadcast monitor, like this one

    Cameras, lights and other gear are always available to rent for production, and different productions require different gear more often than not. But a deck and a monitor are needed in post for every project. And you want to look at the same monitor for years, otherwise you'll never really know what color you're looking at. So don't rent a broadcast monitor. Buy one.
    You don't want to rent the deck because *other people* may run wet and dry lubbed tapes through it, gunking up the heads. You want to ensure the integrity of your footage by owning a clean, proper deck.

    That's a good start.
     
  13. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

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    South Dakota
    #13
    Unfortunately, just as you said, rentals are pretty much non-existent where I live. I live in backwater South Dakota. I don't feel like searching for cameras to rent on a constant basis, when I can just buy them and have them be MINE.:rolleyes:

    About the fixing in post thing, why am I getting so much flak for saying I'd be able to adjust the different shots in post. Sheesh.

    And, about the monitor and deck...you have to remember, I'm a kid here, sure I want to buy high end equipment, but I don't have THAT MUCH money to throw around.:eek:
     
  14. thedirtyduo macrumors member

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    #14
     
  15. -DH macrumors 65816

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    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #15

    The GL-2 and the XL2 can both be 'good' cameras when used properly with proper lighting ... but then so can just about any camera. Some of the most memorable photographs ever taken were done with a pin-hole camera. As I said above, it isn't the tools so much as it is the talent.

    I think that the advice to get an HD or HDV camera is sound. Even though you'll be outputting in SD for a while longer, the move to HD is inevitable and you'll be more prepared. You can always shoot SD in an HDV camera, or shoot in HDV then downconvert when capturing. The space requirements for SD DV and HDV are almost the same - remember, they both record the same amount of time on MiniDV cassettes. HDV is just more highly compressed than the DV25 formats. But considering that you could probably find very affordable used SD gear, that might be the way for you to go for now - it's up to you.

    You seem to have the drive ... don't lose that. But keep realistic expectations as well; a better camera won't make the story any better. A better camera person and editor will. Focus your efforts there and don't worry too much about the tools (until you can afford them).

    -DH
     
  16. killr_b macrumors 6502a

    killr_b

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    #16
     
  17. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    Washington, DC
    #17
    Read your second statement...then read your first. It's all in experience. Like Lethal said...why spend 5 hours "fixing it in post" when you can do it in 5 minutes on set. It makes no sense technically, financially, or at all really.
     
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #18
    I don't have much time so I'm just going to run thru this

    iCheddar,
    If you want to shoot an entire "making of" piece on a play yer probably gonna need some help, especially when you shoot the play itself (ideally w/3 cameras). I can't imagine the quality of the Sony MPEG4 camera being very good and it will just be a headache to work with because you'll have to transcode the footage into DV as well as figure out a way to backup the footage (unlike tape cameras where the tape acts as the backup).

    As far as specifics, like will the XL2 be okay sitting by the control booth, we can't help you w/that 'cause we have no idea how big the theater is nor how bright/dim the stage lights are going to be.

    The XL2 is a 16x9 camera and the GL2 is 4x3. Not a huge headache, but a headache none the less. Do you shoot in 4x3 thus losing res in the XL2? Do you work in 16x9 and degrade the Gl2 image? Or do you shoot 16x9 on the XL2, but work in 4x3 (cropping the edges of the XL2's image) which means you'll have to be careful to make sure you are framing the XL2 for 4x3 even though you are shooing in 16x9?

    Unless there is something specific you need that only the XL2 offers I'd look at a different camera. Maybe the VX2100. It's 4x3, about a grand less, and better in low light. Or just get another GL2.

    There are other other considerations as well, and shooting in HD to work w/in SD can does have some advantages (especially in a situation like yours). For example, if you shoot from near the control booth in HD, but you are editing in SD, you can zoom in on the HD image a lot before it starts to degrade. It's almost like getting your wide shot and your medium shot from the same camera.

    It all just depends on your needs and budget (both of which you need to think about carefully before dropping down hard earned money).


    Because you're assuming the image characteristics of the three cameras (two of which you haven't used before) will be close enough that you can easily use a piece of hi-end software (which you have never used before) to get them to match. Doing something in production and just assuming you can fix it in post, even though you have absolutely no idea if you actually can or not, is the absolute worst way to approach a problem.

    It's good that you are seeking out knowledge from others (both locally and on line) just don't get discouraged if people tell you things you don't want to hear. Remember, you are looking to better yourself, not to get coddled.


    JohnMC,
    The FCC isn't banning SD from the airwaves. It's pulling the plug on analog transmissions. Big difference. SD content is going to be on TV for a long, long time.



    killr_b,
    Gotta disagree about the deck, rentals, and b'cast monitor in the OPs situation, my friend. I think owning an inexpensive camera and buying some work lights from Home Depot will serve him better than renting (especially since he's in the the sticks). A TV hooked up to his computer will be okay for now, IMO. And w/the plethera of formats out there now (DV, DVCAM, DVCPro, DVCPro 50, DVCPro HD, HDV 1, HDV 2, HDCAM, XDCAM, XDCAM HD, etc.,) I don't think you need to own a deck unless you work a lot in a single format. I have a MiniDV/DVCAM deck that's just about dead and I'm not going to get it replaced. Too many variables out there, IMO. I'll rent want I need in the future. If he gets a new DV camera he can use his current camera to capture from thus saving wear and tear on his new camera.


    Lethal
     
  19. slinky0390 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    #19
    if you have the cash to spend, more power to ya, dont mind the people hatin on you.. ive been wanting a gl2 for the longest time, but paying off a 35 grand pickup while paying for the gas it shoots through at 11mpg, its kinda ways down the road. unless someone is selling a sweet used one, i could pull some strings then :)
     
  20. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #20
    Well, I'm thinking 2 at most during the play. The little flash camera is for situations in which I can't have at least the GL2 with me. Perhaps, can you suggest a different camera that is as portable and 'pocket friendly' as an Xacti? From what I've read in the reviews, it looks okay in HD, so I imagine it can't be too bad in SD?

    Not necessarily features that only the XL2 offers, but it is the only camera that I have seen in this price range that offers all the same features. It is very important to me, as I'd like to be doing most of the shooting with the XL2, that it offers built in XLR ports, (I'm aware I can get hot shoe adapters and such, but I'm partial to the reliability I feel integrated XLR ports will offer) it shoots in 24p, and it also has 20X optical zoom. I'm aware that 20x zoom is mostly a gimick, but when you're shooting the stage from the control booth, the ability to zoom in could be significantly important.

    Not only that, but the XL2 is the only camera I have seen that offers all these things on just over $2 grand...used of course.

    The only other camera I can think of in my price range that even offers 24p would be the old standby Panasonic DVX. But its only got...what 10x, or 12x zoom? And no built in XLR.

    At this point I'm probably being stubborn, but honestly, the other cameras I've seen on the market, I don't feel to drawn to them.

    Although I do have to say its nice to see a post that I can read, and not feel like I'm being belittled:rolleyes: .

    So...um...yeah...*awkward*
     
  21. trudd macrumors regular

    trudd

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    #21
    iCheddar, I'm sort of in the same boat as you (in the sense that I'm still in the beginning stages of videography). I've only been going strong for about a year and a half.

    A lot of what these guys say is true. Before blowing all your money, start simple and move up. In the beginning, keep it simple.

    I agree with you - better equipment can enable you more effectively tell a story. On the flipside, better equipment will NOT make you a better storyteller. It only gives you more options in how to tell the story. But you've got a head on your shoulders and you know this.

    Do your stories require you to have more than one camera? It definitely sounds like a convenience, but first you need simple production experience.

    Get a Macbook (Pro), get a GL2, get a copy of Final Cut Express and learn the basics. Upgrade as necessary.

    Built in XLR is great, but you can just as easily buy a Beachtek box for a GL2 or similar camcorder.

    If you choose a multi-cam setup, say, a GL2 and XL2, you would want the cameras to act as identically as possible. IE no shooting in 24p on the XL2 and 60i on the GL2. You'd be better off with 2 of the same camera.
     
  22. killr_b macrumors 6502a

    killr_b

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    Oct 21, 2005
    Location:
    Suckerfornia
    #22
    The DVX100 has built in XLR. True, only 10X zoom.
    The XL2 is a nice camera. Cool that you can get additional lenses.

    Seriously though, you don't want to try to match different cameras in post. It just takes a long time and gets frustrating for people waiting on the DVD.
     
  23. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

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    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #23
    The DVX has XLR ports:confused:

    *checks*

    Well I'll be goddamned. How did I miss that. Okay! New thought process here! How about 2 DVX's! Its the price range I'm looking for, it shoots 24p, its got built in XLR ports. And its tried and tested by alot of indie film makers.:rolleyes:

    Okay, so, would that work? Rather, will I be able to live with 10X zoom? I don't want super closeups from the 50 foot distance or so from the booth to the stage, but will I be able to get in close with that?

    Hell, XLR kinda seals the deal on a DVX, I think I might be sold:p

    And! another question, does anyone else know of a camera other than the Xacti that will offer me the features I'm looking for on that front. Again, I have to say, I don't plan on using the Xacti mixed in with the other camera(s) during the actual performance, but for moments when I don't have the other camera with me, I'd like to have something to be able to get a quick shot if I need it.
     
  24. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #24
    That's only a question you can answer. The 20x zoom on the XL2 is definitely a nice feature, but if a 10x zoom gets the job done then it gets the job done.


    If yer looking for something you can keep stuffed in your backpack or coat to whip out in an "emergency" then go w/it if it's gotten good reviews. I'm not familiar w/solid state cameras like that so I can't really say what cameras are better/worse than others.


    Lethal
     
  25. iCheddar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #25
    Hmm, I dunno....I'm still liking the Canons. Don't ask me why.

    A few questions there, assuming I do make what appears to be the less intelligent decision to go with them.

    I know that the GL2 shoots 60i and 30p, it is possible to convert 30p to 24p in post, correct. Yes, I know, never talk about fixing in post, etc. etc. etc.:p

    Also, about 4:3 with the XL2, or possibly 16:9 on the GL2. When one shoots in 16:9 on the XL2, it essentially just crops the left and right edges, correct? Thus you end up with a lower res shot? Is this what I gathered?

    Or, is it possible....in post (I Know! Shut up!) to letterbox the 4:3 shot from the GL2? I know its stupid, and ass backwards, but I'm young and curious.
     

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