I'm looking for new cameras for my school district.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by MartyB, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. MartyB macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2009
    I have taught iMovie to Teachers and students for years. Our district has stayed with NTSC based Canon Firewire cameras from the ZR 10 all the way to the 960 with little trouble. These cameras are all tape based. Now that the new cameras are leaving the tape realm and replacing it with removable and hardwired cards, DVD’s and HD’s, the file formats are also changing to accommodate smaller total memory configurations. It seems to me that iMovie and also the free and low cost PC alternatives (Movie Maker and Premiere Essentials) are not keeping up with these new camera advances(?).

    I’ve also failed to mention that more of our machines use iMovie ’06 than any other version. I stayed away from ’08 and we don’t have enough ’09 (or Intel machines to run it on) to justify using it.

    I’ve been asked for suggestions for new cameras. I’ve been lent a Canon FS-21 to preview. It saves to .MOD, .MOI and .PGI file formats, that iMovie does not identify. I do not know if these are different formats or are components of one video project. I did not understand all of the on-line conversations that I read about conversions, etc.

    Can anyone tell me, in simple prose, what I need to be looking for in new cameras and what I need to add to my classes in order to continue showing teachers how to incorporate video into their classrooms, remembering that the more complex the process, the fewer teachers that will use the media.

    With tape or NTSC choices dwindling on the camera side of the equation does Apple (or the competition) intend to improve their products, on the software side to read the new file formats?

    Thank you,

    Marty B
  2. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    Hey Marty,

    Couple of quick questions, what is your budget for the cameras?

    Would you be willing to stay with tape?

    From my experience as a student, a tape work flow sounds the easiest for your existing workflow and edit system. Until a more standardized tapeless system emerges I would stay away from Hard Drive/disk/flash cameras considering your current setup.

    iMovie 06 is always going to be compatible with tape based MiniDV cameras so that would give you the most lifetime for your older computers.

    Your probably not going to see MiniDV disappearing for another 10 years, too many schools rely on it as a cheap teaching system.
  3. MartyB thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2009

    Thanks for the quick response. I am relieved at your estimate of 10 years and hope that we get at least 5. I too hope for a more “standardized tapeless system [to] emerge” before that time comes. I guess I was also worried that the time frame was going to be much shorter and that it would be equal to the time frame for my own obsolescence!

    Our vendor still has tape cameras offered at good pricing. Our repair facility likes Canon as they are co-operative when working with our district.

    Can I just return to the original question for a second? I like the USB file transfer. You don’t need to do a real time transfer/conversion like with fire wire. Do any of these alternative format video cameras take movies onto .dv or .mov or even .m4p that iMovie can read?

    Again, thanks for the answer, in addition to the info you eased my stress.

    Marty B
  4. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    I was doing a quick spin through B&H and I came across the Canon FS-11 Dual

    It looks like it does MPEG-2, but I am unsure of what output format it would be.

    Sadly I don't have a lot of experience with consumer video cameras that use these compression schemes. At school we rely heavily on MiniDV, its big brother DVCAM, and the next generation of mini-DV which is HDV.

    I would say your best bet is to try to get a few loaner models and see if they work, there are so many formats its just hard to say without personal experience.
  5. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Couple of questions for you to be able to give a better response. I myself use iMovie 6HD all the time as I like the time line setup. But, I use iMovie 9 to import AVCHD format video from my Sony SR11. Don't let the newer cams scare you or iMovie itself. Here are my questions for you:
    1. What are the cams used for?
    2. Is video quality important?
    3. How powerful are the computers that the video's are being edited on including memory?
    Allot of newer cams with hard drive or flash memory are moving to AVCHD format. Produces beautiful movies. But, needs a more updated mac to import. Imovie 8 and 9 will import AVCHD but will transcode into a different format in order to edit it. After I import to iMovie 9, (did iMovie 8 too), I save the import, then fire up iMovie 6HD, direct it to open the file I saved in iMovie 9, then edit. Not that complicated. I started with a tape based cam. When I upgraded, I bought a hard drive cam. Never regretted it and wouldn't go back to tape. You won't go wrong going to a hard drive or flash based cam. Go to www.camcorderinfo.com for good reviews on the latest cams. Another thing about AVCHD, It produces very large files so you will want allot of hard drive space.
  6. MartyB thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2009
    Thanks Bearcatrp,

    You and Macmaniac have been very helpful. I followed information from a few posts ago and went into B&H. I was surprised to see that people were saying that they loaded easily from the FS-21 into iMovie. Now with this new info I see that they were using ’08 or ’09. That makes sense.

    In response to your questions, the cameras are being used for classroom projects to later be shown within the room or at schoolwide assemblies or parent meetings. Sometimes clips are included in PowerPoint presentations to the Board of Ed. Video and Audio quality is important but it is recognized that you can get no better than your equipment will provide. My training equipment is old but funds prohibit upgrade at this time. Some schools are fortunate enough to have new installations of Intel Macs. Others have chosen Windows based machines.

    I have access to an intel machine with iLife ’09. I did not like iMovie ’08 and therefore didn’t jump immediately into ’09 even though iPhoto was worth the price of the purchase. Your suggested procedure seems to open a door for me and for the more daring teachers in the district. I could loan out newer cameras as we start to purchase them. These teachers or kids could shoot video. They could use equipment here at the training center to download and then move it via HD back to school where the project could be worked on older computers running ’06. The more conservative of the crowd could continue as is with their tape based equipment.

    This allows for the continued use of old equipment. It allows the more daring to not feel stunted by funding or by my desire to keep the pack together. It allows for my growth into the new cameras and video formats.

    I will shoot some more video this afternoon and try to download it to ’09. I am afraid that it will take a BIG effort to come to terms with ‘09. I like ’06, but I’ll try. I really want to see how opening in '06 works out. Thanks again.
  7. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Just remember that if your going to use AVCHD, when iMovie 9 ingests the movie, the trancoded file will get very large. You will have to watch your projects and delete them off the computer, if your putting them on a dvd. I don't keep the AVCHD files after I transcode or the files in iMovie after i am done editing. I burn to dvd, then rip a copy to itunes to play in my apple tv. Helps keep the hard drive less full. Good luck. If you get stuck, let me know and will gladly give you some help.
  8. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    Good luck with the transition!

    I wish I had more experience with iMovie 08 and 09, but Bearcatrp seems to have you covered there.

    B&H is a fantastic place to visit, they are very helpful, and if you are near NYC I would recommend you take a stop in there, that could be a great resource.
  9. BradMacPro macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2005
    Canon FS21

    The FS21 is not a HD camcorder and it does not save in ACVHD format I'd have to assume which is a HD format file. Last year's FS10 is listed as compatible with iMovie '09, so maybe the FS21 will work. I don't know for sure.

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