Help me know where to start!

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by stradale33, May 18, 2011.

  1. stradale33, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011

    stradale33 macrumors member

    stradale33

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #1
    Hi,

    I have the task of getting a video camera for my work at a Deaf Cultural Centre. The problem is I've never owned one and rarely used one in the past.

    Here is why we want to get a camera;

    * We want to overhaul our Sign Language courses by making a series of short (say 2-3 min) videos with people in different scenarios signing, e.g. in a bank, a store etc,.
    * We also have some films that we want to add sign too i.e someone signing the dialogue and using green screen to overlay it over the original. (We own the originals.)

    I guess most of the shooting will be indoors so light will be artificial and maybe pretty average. It will be mainly on a tripod with minimal zooming. The goal is not making a beautiful artistic film.

    Budget is as little as possible of course! Money I don't spend on a camera can go on paying the rent etc. But up to $500 US, but if a $300 camera will do the trick - great.

    What we have;
    We have some of the most resent MacMinis with 320GB HDD, I was thinking of throwing in 4GB of ram into one. (Obviously not the greatest but I don't think we are getting a hold of a MacPro any time soon :) )
    Tripod,
    lighting, etc,

    I was thinking we would buy Final Cut X once it's available (next month right?)
    Currently I have FCE on my personal computer but the plan is to use a centre computer for all this work.

    So please send my your helpful constructive comments :)

    Joel

    PS would this kind of thing by Sony be OK (I saw one locally on sale);
    http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/review/digital_video/sony/dcr-sx43/344040
     
  2. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    1/8" sensor size means it won't do well in average lighting. Even the review says:

    I reckon the "video light" won't be worth a pinch of the proverbial.

    How noisy will the image be for you? You'll have to have a go.

    Summary: great camera for sunny days, not so great indoors. I think you'd have trouble doing greenscreen with it, too.

    About that greenscreen idea... in my experience (I have shot people signing), you want a visible background behind a signer. If you greenscreen them, the hands will be over the top of whatever footage is underneath them (obviously) and the detail of the signing risks being obscured. I just use our canvas photography background. On the teev, they sometimes put the signer in an oval shape in the corner which gives them maximum room to move, while taking up minimal space on the video.
     
  3. ibennetch macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    #3
    I couldn't agree more -- the first thing I thought was to use a box (or oval) in the corner of the screen. Like picture-in-picture. Additionally, a $300 camera with no studio lighting will very likely key very poorly, so if you were to go ahead with the greenscreen idea you probably would be less than thrilled with the results.

    A recent Mac Mini should have no trouble keeping up with what you're trying to do. More RAM is better but if money is really that tight, I bet you could get by with what you've got, at least to start...if you spend a lot of time waiting, then start bumping up the system specs. I haven't seen system requirements for FCX so of course that may change once it's released.
     
  4. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #4
    I forgot to say, by all means get the camera (assuming you've checked that it works with Final Cut Express OK) just be aware of its limitations. If you are filming a scenario that's being acted out, the camera will probably be the least of your problems. Having a good script, getting a well-framed shot, getting someone to act etc will be your main problems, particularly with a sympathetic audience (e.g. if these are short instructional vids for use at work, because they are learning something they need to know, people will forgive a slightly noisy picture, but they won't forgive shaky cameras or badly shot images).

    I'd say pay close attention to audio, but I'm not sure if you'll be using it (I don't know if you are creating movies sans sound for a Deaf audience, or with sound to demonstrate signing scenarios for a hearing audience.) If you do need sound, your camera's mic will suck. There is no getting away from that one. Not much you can do, either, with a <$500 camera that doesn't even have a mic jack.

    If you need to get audio from this camera's mic, try getting the camera as close to the actor as possible. Take a look at this for an idea of framing and getting it close. Please note that the woman's script is taped to the man's chest :D

    If you are recording narration, a USB mic on your Mac should be OK. I had an adequate Logitech desktop mic, now I have a killer Rode Podcaster. Getting a quiet room, rather than sound quality, is the bigger problem for me.

    Be aware of the limitations of the camera, and make sure those with the purse strings are aware too. One way of doing this is by showing them a range of cameras that includes more expensive alternatives and explaining in what way they are better than the $500 one. That way
    1. you won't cop flak for making a 'dud' purchase (money people always buy according to cost, but have million dollar expectations) and
    2. if the videos are a big success, you may be able to springboard to a better camera next FY ("the videos are great, but some people think the ...... could be better. Here's what I propose we buy: ... ")
    Of course with better cameras comes the need for better accessories like microphones, and they aren't cheap.
     
  5. stradale33 thread starter macrumors member

    stradale33

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #5
    Thanks guys,

    thats very helpful. It will help me as I work with the others at the Centre to make the best use of the money we have.

    I was thinking the same thing about the green screen thing.

    So basically given the capabilities of the lower end cameras we will likely get a better looking end result having the signer in a box or oval in a corner rather then green screening. Does that sound right?

    As far as audio goes we will be adding maybe some background music as it's for a audience that will be either Arabic or English speaking we want minimal spoken language on the instructional videos and the dialogue will 'in class.'

    Cheers
    Joel
     
  6. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #6
    Sounds about right to me. I still think that it wouldn't look to have a signer floating (with no background) above the underlying presentation anyway, but maybe that's just me.
     
  7. stradale33 thread starter macrumors member

    stradale33

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #7
    Thanks! yes I agree, I might quote you at our Monday morning meeting:)
     
  8. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #8
    Easiest thing would be to take a look around the web for signed vids. Pretty sure you'll find they all have "person in a box/oval" style. There is nothing to be gained by knocking out the background, it may be worse, and it's quite a bit of extra work to shoot it and then pull the key in editing.
     

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