Prosumer Camcorder Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by boke, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. boke macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    #1
    I looked thru some of the older threads and found some good help but I was hoping to get a little more direction.

    I'm starting up an E-Learning company making ...well.. E-Learning platforms and our first is an ESL english learners program. It's more or less an interactive textbook that can be a stand alone program (so I don't have to worry about size of the program in terms of the internet and internet video) or can be progresivly downloaded and viewed on the internet. Inside the program altogether there is about 30-40 minutes of chromakeyed video clips that act more or less as the guide/teacher. That would take up about 90% of my camcorder use, the other 10% would be doing video podcasting.So I need a descent camcorder. But my budget is currently around $2000.

    I have a couple of questions , if I increase my budget to $3000 can I get a worthwhile improvement? Should I go with High Def? All of my customers will be viewing it thru their computers . Is the difference between "prosumer" and normal "consumer" camcorders that great?I've found so many choices that I feel a bit overwhelmed. Here are some of the things I've researched ($2000-$3000 range)

    Canon GL2

    Canon XH A1

    Panasonic AG-DVX100B

    Canon XL2

    Any help is much appreciated,thanks.
     
  2. Tattoo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Miami, Florida
    #2
    Sony HVR-HD1000U
    Shoulder Mount 2/3" CMOS Prosumer Camera for under $1500
     
  3. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #3
    Of the camcorders you've listed, personally I'd go with the XH-A1 or AG-DVX100B. Both have XLR microphone inputs. At risk of starting an argument, the DVX100 is about the best SD camcorder in this price range. Large LCD, good automatic and manual controls. Very highly regarded. OTOH, the XH-A1 would probably future-proof you somewhat, in that it can record HDV or DV. This is one of the most affordable and popular choices for prosumer HDV.

    The others are pretty old models. I think with the GL2 and XL2, you're looking at an additional accessory to get XLR microphone inputs. The GL2 is a very old model. The XL2 has an interchangeable lens you're not likely to need, and a not-quite-shoulder mount (which only annoys me, personally).

    The big thing about most prosumer models vs. consumer models is usually the input connectors, and the amount of controls you have to achieve certain looks. If you're shooting talking heads, a $300 DV camcorder with a microphone jack will probably work fine, as long as you have a Studio1 or BeachTek XLR adapter and a good lav. A headphone jack is highly recommended, as is a LANC input (for a remote zoom control) if your subject will be moving around at all. And if it's a talking head, put the person in a chair that doesn't tilt or roll.

    The HD1000U looks good with its 1/3" CMOS HDV imager, shoulder-mount form factor, LANC and headphone jacks, but it really should've had XLR inputs.
     
  4. Tattoo macrumors 6502

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    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Miami, Florida
    #5
    It has 2/3" CMOS - NOT 1/3" - Its almost 1" Large :)
     
  5. hvfsl macrumors 68000

    hvfsl

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    It might have some good optics, but is let down by the crappy compression used.
     
  6. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #7
  7. Tattoo macrumors 6502

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    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Miami, Florida
    #8
  8. ShakeWellProd macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    #9
    Hdr-a1u

    I just got my HDR-A1U for under $2000. I love it so far. I shot in SD and the image is GREAT. It has two XLR inputs. The size of it was a huge plus. I do interviews with it, add a mono pod and feel like I can go anywhere with it and shoot all day with it.
     
  9. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #10
    Yes, 2.9" is huge. But you did notice the "1/" before the "2.9" in 2jaded2care's post, didn't you? ;)

    - Martin
     
  10. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #11
    I have to admit I'm a little curious about how your E-Learning program works. You mentioned chromakeyed video clips, but I'm not clear on exactly what you mean; is there like a small thumbnail video of the teacher somehow laid over and synced to instructional slides (like PPTs converted to Flash, maybe?) -- or are there slides keyed in the background of the teacher, kind of like a weatherman in front of a chromakeyed map? Or something else?

    It might help to know exactly how you intend this to look and how you intend to achieve it. I can't tell if you're just needing a talking head video at 160 x 120 pixels, or a 640 x 480 px medium-long shot of a person in front of a greenscreen. If it's the former, a simple locked-off shot in front of a neutral, fairly undetailed background would probably suffice. If it's the latter, you might need to worry more about your lighting.
     
  11. boke thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    #12
    Its going to be 1/2 body shot to a full body shot, so yeah I've been studying up on how to evenly light the screen and actor with 3 point lighting (for the actor not screen). I'm not going to key anything in, I'm going leave the alpha channel blank and put that into the program. The program will kinda look like a stage.Here's a quick example I made up (quick so no criticism please), only the mini-chapter button and main menu buttons work if you want to see the transitions. And my actor/teacher will be inside it walking and gestering


    http://spamtheweb.com/ul/upload/090508/51679_temp_front_menu.php
     
  12. TaKashMoney macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    #13
    I have a canon Xh A1 and I have to say that I love it. While this was a huge upgrade for me, I still feel that I have made one of the best choices I could have for the money. Initially I was very hesitant about making the jump to HD, especially since I only have a Macbook to edit on. However, now after I have hammered out my workflow, I can't go back to standard def.

    Here is a link to a short movie I made with the XHA1.

    http://www.vimeo.com/754479
     
  13. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #14
    Boke, if the size of your GUI is any indication, it looks like you should shoot HD. I'm still having a hard time visualizing what you're describing, but if you want your on-screen talent in a viewer larger than 640 x 480 px, you're looking at HD. Plus, it'll future-proof your content. You can always down-convert to SD (or shoot SD at first, if you feel more comfortable with that; HDV camcorders will also do SD), but up-converting is never going to look that great.

    I read good things about the XH-A1, especially for that price range (this coming from a Sony fanboy). You'll need a good lav mike, so the XLR inputs would be nice.

    You can adapt from an XLR mike to mini-phono jacks on a camcorder, but it's just annoying to depend on an external box and that flimsy, consumer-grade jack for your sound.

    Even worse would be having a consumer-grade Sony camcorder with no microphone jack, only a smart-shoe adapter for external audio in. They do have a decent BlueTooth microphone-thing, where the receiver plugs into the shoe, but then you're stuck if you don't like the sound from that. (There is a mini-phono to shoe adapter, which IMO is worthless.)

    An external zoom control, like a VariZoom Rock, would also be nice if you're going to man the camera.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

    ... BTW, good job, TaKashMoney!
     
  14. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Location:
    Socal
    #15
    Two things:

    1) I would recommend going with HD, just because it will help make your presentation look more professional, all other things being equal.

    2) Chroma-keying with DV or HDV can be somewhat difficult because of how much color information has been thrown out during compression. One way around this is to use an HDV camera with an HDMI output and record the clip to a hard drive instead of to tape. Then you get the resolution without the compression. The downside is you need quite a bit of disk space! But at least you'd have the option.
     

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