Help with HD camcoreder and editing software

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by islanders, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. islanders macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    I'm planning some instructional videos and would like the option of recording in at least HD that you might expect to see on broadcast cable. 1080i or 720p.

    After some basic research I'm not sure which HD camcorder would be best suited for a base 2011 MBP 13? Cannon appears to be one of the supported formats.

    Is AVCHD a good choice for format? Or should I avoid it? From what I read it needs to be converted to be edited in iMovie or FCP. That's doable but then it creates a very large file? I realize that's for higher resolution but is this practical?

    Would it be better to use bootcamp and Windows to handle video? Or just get a windows machine for video editing?

    Could anyone suggest a basic set up for video editing? What size external harddrive, is iMovie a good program to start with, is my MBP 13 capable?

    I've read a lot of information and post here but it's difficult to know what the level of video editing each person is doing. Maybe I don't need as much to do some basic intructional video that would look good for most people who watch HD. I also don't want to invest thousands only to have it create files that are too large to be practical.

    thanks if anyone can help point me in the right direction :)
  2. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    You mean what you watch on TV or do you want to deliver to broadcast.

    If you want to put your videos on YouTube, basically ANY camera will do. Make sure you have manual settings for exposure and audio (manual gain would also be nice) - $300 and up.
    You want a nice microphone - minimum 150 bucks.
    You might need lights - that can be from 50 dollar DIY store halogens to 20,000 dollar Arri kits.
    iMovie can be sufficient if you keep your stuff very basic. FCP X would be next step up - for YouTube it works fine.

    What's your budget?
  3. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for your response. Sorry if I wasn't that clear. I want to deliver to broadcast. I don't want to limit the video quality so much that it wouldn't be suitable HD viewing. I'm not familiar with the Youtube quality. I want the option for HDTV quality that one would see on cable. Perhaps it will be downloaded and viewed on a HDTV 1080i or 1080p, and also HD viewing for computers? Would this be 24 fps?

    I guess what I'm saying is that I'm looking more at pro-sumer set up.

    I've been looking at some of the prosumer camera for about $1000 - $2000? However they are the AVCHD. And I read in one of the post that 1 hour of converded video for FCP used 100 GB of storage space.

    So if I got a prosumer camera, mic, lights, FCP, my MBP 13 would work, and I wouldn't need excessive storage? I was thinking about getting a Mini as well but maybe I should get a PC instead and do video editing on the PC? Would this be more practical?

    Is the MBP 13 limited to YouTube?
  4. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    If you really want to sell your stuff to bradcast, then you need to add a zero or two to the price of the camera + plus equipment.

    I know for example from PBS that they expect you to have your footage shot on a camera with a minimum sensor size of 1/2". The cheapest is the Sony EX1 for about 6500 dollar. Add the needed infrastructure to get that thing ready for a broadcast shot, and you are at $10k. BBC is known to be accepting footage from minor cameras (Canon XF series), but then the material has to be more than stunning.

    Then you have to color correct your footage to specific limits. That means minimum FCP7 with an external broadcast monitor. Neither iMovie nor FCP X help you here.

    Your project has be delivered in HDCAM (PBS)... no iMovie here either.

    For your further reading the PBS TOS in pdf

    If that is what you mean with broadcast...
  5. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    Your 13" MBP would work with FCP7, but editing on such a small machine is a pain. You need at least an external monitor - the bigger the better and a load of external drives (FW800 minimum). For hardcore editing think of a RAID cluster.

    OTOH: I'm living in a small community and produce some stuff for our local channel. They even accept VHS-C if they're in urgent need of programming. (still have my linear editing setup rotting away somewhere in storage).
  6. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    Yes, that is very good information, cgbier. Of course I won't be submitting anything to PBS any time soon, lol. In fact the only cameras I've glanced at had the 1/3 sensor. The Cannon XF did look good. Then there is FCP7 and all of the other processing I have no experience with.

    Can my MBP 13 even handle FCP7?

    What about downloading HD video from a website? That's more of what I had in mind. As I mentioned someone could download it and watch it the same way they would watch it wiht the same quality most cable TV shows.

    Is there nothing between YouTube and PBS that would still be HD that people watch every day?
  7. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    More good info! I'm glad to know my MBP 13 is up to the task of starting. That's not what I got it for but at least I can use an external monitor. And a bunch of external drives? Wow, I'm glad I went with the FW 800.

    That's fantastic you produce programs for your local broadcast.

    Sorry if I haven't been that clear about what I want to do. I have a few instructional videos I'd like to do, and after that who knows? I'm just tying to figure out what I can expect to accomplish on my own.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond to the noob questions.
  8. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    My suggestion to you is to ask the people where you expect to distribute your video about their requirements. Don't ask them about your equipment. Choose your equipment and software based on your outlet's requirements.
  9. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    Good suggestion. Thanks for bearing with me here. I'm starting to connect the dots for the kind of equipment I might target and the limitations I might expect.

    In short I'm trying to avoid some beginner mistakes, by wasting money on equipment and software that would either be too limiting or too advanced.

    I've done more research and have a better understanding of what I want to accomplish:

    1) What would be a decent budget digital recorder that would be suitable for HD streaming, such as YouTube? cgbair had some good suggestions for some manual (controls for settings for exposure and audio (manual gain would also be nice) - $300 and up, You want a nice microphone - minimum 150 bucks.)

    As a reference are these the kind of cameras I should be considering?

    Or could I get by with less professional for the mics?

    2) So what I'm trying to target is a digital camera that could handle quality HD for YouTube streaming, and also could have the capacity to possibly be good enough for broadcast HD.

    I realize there a large gap between the two formats but is this a good idea to give myself some room to expand when I'm purchasing video equipment? Or should I use less expensive video camera for HD YouTube?

    I'm not wanting to submit to PBS as that would take a huge investment and lots of experience. I just want to try this out as a hobby. As I mentioned I have a few instructional videos I'd like to make and have them available on as many accessable formats as possible. Then after that I may have networked in and have some other opportunities to work with other people or try to make a documentary or something.

    I'm trying to assess some realistic expectations for the camera and equipment.

    I appreciate the information! It's has been very helpful.
  10. mstrze, Jul 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011

    mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    FWIW I use a Flip camera and the video uploaded onto YouTube and viewed on my HDTV looks fantastic in all its 720p glory.

    These days, for what you are claiming is a hobby, any HD camera will do. I really wouldn't sink thousands into it if you cannot afford it. The Flips and Kodak Zi8 (1080p) will set you back less than $200 and be a good springboard for getting your feet wet.

    The Kodak at least, allows an external mic to be attached (unsure of the Flip). Maybe for interviews and such you could get a wireless lav mic? Go with the $50 DIY Home Depot lighting and use iMovie at first and you will have a complete set-up for probably around $500. It will serve you well, I would think, to 'test the waters' until you are certain exactly what you want to do in a more professional manner.

    I would hate to see you sink several thousand dollars into this project and then realize you are in way over your head.

    With proper lighting and mic-ing, your Zi8 video will look very professional. Heck, a good photographer can make iPhone video look fantastic:

    (watch in full 720p HD)

    Even simple cameras these days can get you impressive-looking results.
  11. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Go check out vimeo to get an idea on HD video's shot with smaller camcorders. Canon and Sony make great cams under a grand that can get you started with HD quality video. As was mentioned, don't sink to much into this until your comfortable with your work flow. Figure out how editing works will take time to learn. iMovie would get you started. Unfortunately, not having 3rd party plugins to spice up you videos in iMovie makes it limited but still a good start.
    When it comes to AVCHD, you will want a descent computer or your importing will take a long time to get in and to process. I had a couple Mac pro's that helped tremendously. Sold them to build my own and am in the process of going back to windows. Currently using my mini until I'm ready. It works but terribly slow dealing with AVCHD. If your clips are not that large, a mini (wait for the update) would get you buy for awhile, along with an external scratch disk, until you feel your ready to move up. A quad core at 3ghz or higher will work good.
    Before you really jump deep into this, your going to have to figure which software you want to work with as well as platform, PC or Mac. Allot of free demos to try to see if it fits your needs when your ready to move up.
    For now, keep it cheap and learn.
    Just to add, is another great site for information on both platforms and software.
  12. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for putting all that into context. I won't be sinking a bunch of money into equipment and software any time soon. If I decide to upgrade or spend thousands on a camera and equipment it would have to be next year. My MBP 13 will arrive this week, so that should be up to the task of getting started with iMovie. I'm still researching cameras and considering something that would be good for YouTube for $200-$300 with an external mic. Anything more than that I would have to start considering prosumer $1000 plus. Not sure. That's about what I gathered about the editing software and AVCHD. Thanks for the links. I would like to stay with Mac but not sure if they plan to support AVCHD and exactly what it means to convert it? FCPX may be a good option for me? I suppose I'll need to weigh all this out with the projects I have in mind. As others suggested I'll probably start off with a $200 HD camera and that should keep me busy while I research. Thanks again for the replies. :)
  13. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    They support it by transcoding it to AIC or ProRes. AVCHD needs a lot processing power. To edit more than 2 streams fluently, you need a 4 core machine.
    For your plans, FCP X is more than sufficient... in fact, you are Apples target group for this app right now. Play around with iMovie, and the step up to FCP X is not that hard.

    Camera choice: I'm an old geezer and still like my HDV (tape) workflow. Canon has one model left - the HV40 (roughly $650 new). Good enough for a lot of tasks.
  14. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC

    Cool. I'll check out the HV40. That appears just what I'm looking for and a good deal! The HDV tapes appear to be more compatible. I don't want to be transcoding AVCHD if I can get around it.

  15. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm pretty sure though that iMovie still transcodes HDV footage to an intermediate codec (AIC) on ingest. If you were using FCP, Premiere, Avid, etc. you would be able to cut that format natively without a transcode.

    Just something to keep in mind.
  16. islanders thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    I picked up a new HV 40 on eBay for $500 and "switch" promo for Premier 5.5 for $400. It was a toss up between that and FCPX and a S200 that were in the same price range so I went with the best deal available. I wasn't sure my MBP 13 could handle native ACHDV with the S200, and I kind of went with my intuition and this should keep my busy for a while. Appreciate the advice.

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