Clean slate - video capture/edit workstation and HD camera

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CortexRock, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. CortexRock macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #1
    I have an opportunity to create a speculative bid for funding at work to procure the necessary equipment to produce video shorts/documentary footage.

    These video shorts will need to be delivered across a range of media and channels, from video podcasts, to streaming video to HD quality broadcast material.

    I'm thinking either a tricked out iMac 24" or a Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro and a Sony HD camera, but I'd welcome any advice from pros out there on specs, or just general advice.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. AnatomyOfARyan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2006
    #2
    i currently own a Sony HVR-A1U which i purchased from B&H for about $2500. its an awesome HD camera that is small, light and fits into cramped spaces. i have been shooting a documentary at work with my boss, which owns the A1U's big brother, the HVR-V1U, and the footage is same even with the $2K price difference.

    i do my editing on a 17" iMac with 1.5 gigs of RAM in final cut express with no lag issues or bumps. if your firm is looking to spend big bucks on a full set up, go for it. if they are more budget minded, but dont want to slack any on quality, a similiar setup would be great.

    i see that you are in the UK, so youd be looking for a PAL formatted HDV camera. i believe sony's version of the A1U for european use is the A1E? also, alot of documentary's are being shot film style using 24p. the A1U has this option, which is about all i shoot in, so if you are looking for this sort of footage, be sure to check if the camera shoots "film style" or "25p" (the european version of 24p). good luck!
     
  3. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #3
    Yes, that can happen in perfect conditions. Where you'll really notice the price difference is when things are not quite so perfect, which could be most of the time depending of things you shoot. Just think of low-light performance, and the A1U all of a sudden doesn't look so good anymore, does it?

    CortexRock, since you are looking at Sony cameras, the V1U is great, and so is the Z1. Z1 is a little older, no progressive recording or 24 frames per second, but larger CCDs and slightly better low light performance than the V1U. If you let us know a little more about what you'll shoot with it, we can probably give you more advise.

    The current iMacs are great for video editing, all the way up to HDV. If you go beyond that (such as uncompressed HD), the data rates will be a little to high to handle. Mac Pros are more future-proof, but it might not be a bad idea to start with an iMac, use that for two or three years while you decide what you really want from a Mac Pro.

    - Martin
     
  4. CortexRock thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #4
    Thanks for the advice so far ppl.

    The subject matter to be captured will range from straight interviews with various bods, through to recording/broadcast of public meetings, to promotional short films illustrating services my public sector organisation provides - shot in over the shoulder documentary style.

    I'm not set on Sony, but my past experience with their other hardware leads me to believe they are a good option. Willing to consider other marques though!

    I'm leaning towards the Mac Pro for future-proofing and upgradeability - the funding opportunity I have is a one-shot deal, so I want to get the best I can for the money.

    My proposed budget is around £9,000 ($17,000?) plus extra for training on applications etc.
     
  5. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    Ireland
    #5
    Don't go down the imac route for serious video editing ... :eek:
    The Mac Pro with at least 6 or 8 Gb of ram and either the 23" ACD or 30" ACD (if the budget allows) and of course Final Cut Studio 2 ..... awesome combination .. :cool:
     
  6. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #6
    Leave some money in the budget for lighting and sound. Also, for recording of public meetings, a second (or third?) camera would be helpful. When you talk about "broadcast", do you mean live video switching and distribution? That gets a little more complicated...

    For the "one-shot deal", I agree that the Mac Pro with tons of RAM would be great.

    - Martin
     
  7. CortexRock thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #7
    The public meetings are fairly regimented, so only one person speaks at a time - hopefully this will help make a one camera recording possible, if not completely advisable! Sound can hopefully be recorded separately through the meeting venue's integrated conference hardware.

    I doubt I'll have the budget for a two person crew, so I'll have to rely on lighting and microphones attached directly to the camera. The majority of filming should be done in daylight or under commercial grade interior lighting.

    There won't be any live broadcasting as such, but some footage once edited will need to be broadcast quality for distribution on local TV networks and digital channels.
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #8
    Having it be a "one shot deal" is a bit of a bummer as you don't have the luxury of buying the "core" equipment now and adding more gear a bit later once you have a better idea of what you need. Considering the amount of gear you are looking to get you definitely should make sure you focus on what you need, and only look at what you want if there's any money left over.
    Just off the top of my head here is my 2 cents about stuff in the "need" category
    For post:
    Mac Pro 2.66
    4gig RAM (don't buy RAM from Apple)
    250gig HDD for a boot drive
    1TB external storage for media (just ball parking here).
    X1900 video card (upgrade via Apple)
    2x 23" Apple Cinema Display
    Matrox MXO (this will allow you to use one of your 23" ACDs as a decent-on-a-budget HD monitor as well as giving you b'cast quality HD and SD outputs)
    Blackmagic Intensity Pro (cheaper-but-not-as-good alternative to the MXO that may or may not meet your needs. You can't plug it into an ACD so you'd drop one of your Apple monitors and add an HDTV))
    Deck - What format(s) would you need to deliver on so your stuff can be broadcast?
    Speakers - A decent pair of powered audio monitors (not computer speakers)
    Surge protector or two

    Production:
    Camera - I know the EBU is pushing for progressive formats (720p or 1080p) does that matter to you?
    Tripod - good, fluid head tripod
    Camera bag, extra batteries, filters, etc.,
    Audio - A lapel mic that can work both wirelessly and wired.
    Lighting - can't offer specifics I just know you'll need it. :D

    Nothing against the helpful members here at MR, but you might be better servered hitting up an industry site like The Creative Cow or DVinfo.net and getting advice from guys who may be in a similar situation to yours especially since you only have one shot to get the gear you need.


    Lethal
     
  9. bimmzy macrumors regular

    bimmzy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #9
    Because macs are so good now, a "cheepy" (this is a relative term) mac will do you just fine, and this will give you some room in your budget!

    What you should not compromise on is the camera.
    Blow about half your budget on it. as the camera is the most important link in the chain. Why not try JVC's GY-HD201E?!
    It's capable of recording both 720p and 1080i. It is also comes with a good lens too.

    1080i (eye) does not look as good as 720p, I know it sounds counter intuitive, but honestly it's true (obviously 1080p (pea) is where its at, but unfortunately for you that’s like having champagne taste on but beer money).

    Get a "basic" macpro with a graphics card able to give you a separate HD output, a separate hard drive for storage, and a decent tft/lcd display (don’t spend a fortune on this).
    Then buy an HD ready "plasma" TV to run along side it all, LG are good and it doesn’t need to be big either.
    Then as they say Bob's you uncle!
    :D :p
     
  10. CortexRock thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #10
    Right - thanks for the advice everyone. The deadline for my bid is 12 noon on Monday, so I'll keep my fingers crossed! :D
     
  11. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #11
    Unfortunately going that route (taking a feed right off the GFX card and into an HDTV) won't result in a very accurate image. If you want to use the GFX card you need to couple it the Matrox MXO to get a quality signal out of it. And the MXO+23" ACD combo has been shown to get good results for those that don't have the budget to get a "pro quality" LCD which start around $2k USD, IIRC.


    Lethal
     
  12. Davowade macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    #12
    If your budget allows, I cannot speak too highly of the Panasonic P2 cameras. We have been using them at work and they have impressed everyone.
    My bosses are old film nuts and regularly use 35mm, they love the look of our HVX202.

    Otherwise definitely go for the Mac pro over the iMac if you can, I have the iMac at home and the pro at work (see my sig.) and the mac pro is so much better over all (because it is designed to be).
     
  13. bimmzy macrumors regular

    bimmzy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #13

    I agree the Matrox MXO(http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/public/view_item_cat.php?catalogue_number=matrox_mxo#) would be a great addition.
    On the issue of LCD or PLASMA, the EBU recommends plasma for viewing at home, and for production, CRTs.
    But its all to do with budgets:
    What I was implying was that it would be better to use a good plasma tv over one of apple's "cinema" (displays similar in price). why? Because the gammas on LCDs do not reflect the true nature of the picture, PLASMAs on the other hand are more faithful in this respect. I'm not saying this alone, it’s the engineers at the EBU who are, and its the advise of engineers at my work place, having canvassed there views.
    Using a good home plasma tv (£1000/$2000) will give a very fair approximation of what Cortxrocks' films should look like.
    :)
     
  14. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #14
    I was not aware of the EBU's recommendation of plasmas for home viewing, and CRT's are still the b'cast monitor of choice on this side of the pond as well unfortunately companies have stopped (or nearly stopped) making so they are becoming increasing hard to find (and b'cast HD CRTs are jaw-droppingly expensive).

    The reason I mentioned the MXO+23" ACD is because that combo has been independently tested and shown to get very close to Sony b'cast HD CRTs in terms of color and image quality.


    Lethal
     
  15. CortexRock thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #15
    Sorry to resurrect an 'almost' dead thread, but just wanted to say thanks for all the advice given. Unfortunately, the controller of the purse strings had an attack of "but surely you can do it cheaper than that... after all you have a handycam and a PC."

    Sheesh. :rolleyes::(

    Update: there has been a change of heart at management level. Digital media is now the 'next big thing'. I have £15,000 to play with for hardware, software and training :D only problem is that I don't get the money 'til April 2008! Hopefully the Mac Pros will be updated by then at least :)
     
  16. CortexRock thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canterbury, England
    #16
    * Casts Resurrect Thread *

    Sorry for the bump, but I wanted to let people who were helping me above know that nearly all my new kit has arrived.

    I got the best specs I could within reason/budget:
    • Mac Pro 8-core 3.2GHz with Nvidia 8800GT
    • 10GB RAM
    • 4 x 1TB hard drives
    • 2 x 23" Apple Cinema Displays
    • Final Cut Studio 2, Creative Suite 3 Design Premium, iWork, AppleCare
    • 1.5TB external FW800 2 drive RAID for scratch disk

    • Macbook 2.4GHz
    • 4GB RAM
    • 250GB hard drive
    • iWork, AppleCare

    Still to come is a Sony HVR-A1E HD camcorder with sound equipment and other accessories.

    Looking forward to getting my teeth into FCS2, with a couple of courses and the Apple Pro Training series books.

    Best of all, I even managed to get my very wary ICT department to let it be put on their PC network, bound to Active Directory and running my Windows apps through a Citrix client. There were a few screwed up faces at first, but when they saw how easy it was, they've started queuing up to come have a look!
     
  17. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
  18. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816

    MIDI_EVIL

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #18
    Hello CortexRock

    I was just wondering how you feel about the Sony HVR A1E?

    I'm about to purchase one for my organisation and I was considering the A1E or the FX7E?

    Would love to hear your opinions?
     

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