Starting a business, need a camera

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by NRose8989, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. NRose8989 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    So I'm starting a business and would like to film my commercials / videos but I'm un-sure as to what type of camera i should get... i want to get a professional look with my video (not just some cheesy web cam on youtube), should i go with a high end consumer camera like a canon HV30 or a lower end professional camera? since my video will mainly be online i would like to shoot in HD but don't want to spend a ton of money (maybe $1500 max) what are some of you guys recommendations? go high end consumer or low end pro? BTW I'm going to be filming scenery, so not just talking heads and maybe a little action (but not much) and I'll be editing in final cut express until i grow out of it and move to final cut pro. thanks in advance.
  2. Lunja macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2005
    Lincoln UK
    Hi nrose,

    If you're just starting out, then it may be worth looking at semi-pro SD cameras like the Panasonic DVX100e, or Sony PD170. If you are shooting for the web, you won't need HD anyway since your finished pieces will be compressed. HD won't be widely used on the internet for a few year yet, so there isn't any urgency, and once you've established your business you can then look at investing in HD. (HD on today's cheaper cameras rarely looks high quality IMO - it might be worth wating for the tech to progress a little.)

    On a business note, why not look at second-hand cameras, which would save cash which can then be used on advertising, or other kit?
  3. AviationFan macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    What kind of business are you going to start?

    I apologize in advance, for you will probably not like what I will tell you. I suggest that you hire someone with the equipment, crew, and experience to create the professional look that you are after.

    There's more to the "professional look" than a good camera and editing software. In fact, cameras have gotten so good and cheap that that's probably going to be the least of your problems. But what about lighting? What about audio? A tripod, dolly, or jib to hold and move your camera? And the list goes on.

    Commercial airtime is expensive. You want to get the most out of it.

    - Martin
  4. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    Is it just me or does shooting in HD for online use make no sense at all? I understand you want it to look good, but I sure as hell wouldn't wait to download a gorgeous ad, I'd rather see a decent one right away.
  5. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Aviation makes some great points. If you do want to do it yourself, you have to budget accordingly for ALL the equipment you'll need, not just the camera. And a lot of that will depend on what kind of shooting you plan on doing.

    It is possible to achieve good production quality on a budget, IF you really do your homework. The price of entry for aspiring filmmakers has dropped rapidly over the last few years, that's for sure. But maybe for a commercial you actually need more than 'good'- you want great production quality that won't look out of place on a TV broadcast.

    Also, time is money too. If you are doing this out of personal interest in video production, then great. But if this is a means to an end (advertising your business), then hiring someone is probably going to be cheaper in the long run.
  6. NRose8989 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    THanks for the advice but this would really defeat the purpose of my business idea.... without getting into much detail, my plans are to start a mini production company ( you gotta start somewhere right?) within the bigger parent business. with this route it would allow my partners and i more modularity to branch off for other work.
  7. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    How much experience do you have with production? I would imagine a start up production company is going to have to be pretty special to get into the real professional arena.
  8. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    My wild guess is that OP's parent business is involved in marketing, marketing communications, PR, DTP, something like that, so video production is sort of an ancillary extension of that.

    I doubt he owns a restaurant and suddenly has visions of grandeur of having a video production business on the side or something like that. ;)

    You can really do this any number of ways, depending on your budget and your ultimate expectations/goals. Something like an HV30 is not a bad place to start, phenomenal image quality for the price. You could also rent a camera too. Another great option is to find a deal on the HV20 (which I own), which is practically the same camera as the HV30. was selling them for under $600 the other day I think. Go to and search for 'hv20' and you will find a ton of clips shot with that camera, some really great stuff. Keep in mind you will also need to budget for editing software- do you want to spend just over a grand for Final Cut Studio 2 to handle 24p footage, get pro-level apps for titling, effects, color correction, etc.?

    You can read a million books and threads on the internet, but nothing will replace just going out and working with real equipment and seeing the results for yourself. Only then will you also be able to figure out what additional equipment you will need to reach your production goals.
  9. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007

    Sounds like you have zero experience, no professional knowledge of the field, and have no idea what's involved in running a business, you might want to do some research first.

    Even people who are constantly told they have great work, have a hard time running a successful business unless they do EVERYTHING right (and there are a lot of things to screw up. If I remember correctly, statistics are 9 out of 10 businesses fold within the first few years).
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Write your business plan.

    Rent a camera.

    Do a trial shoot. (Don't gloss over the problems with excuses -- Make careful note of how badly it sucks, where, and why.)

    Start finding out all the things you don't know enough about.

    Revise the business plan.

    Then start looking at hardware.

    And remember - shooting video is NOT about pointing a camera correctly. It's about having the skills to tell a story.
  11. NRose8989 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    thats what i was planning to do but i at least wanted to get a good camera that i could use while i learned everything then maybe in the future find what equipment i did need and get better equipment. thanks for the advice.

    well thanks for @#$%ing on my dreams...... FYI I'm simply inquiring about a camera, and some suggestions. do i have any video experience? NO, if i did i wouldn't be asking these questions on a forum. Do i have experience running a business? yes i do, but my current position when working on this project is not business related. My part in this project is working with the technical aspect. am I a amateur film maker? No, I'm not. I'm a web developer but I'm looking to branch in other fields. So where do i start? I'll start by using the equipment and finding what works and playing with it. I'm not going to become a hollywood producer overnight, I don't even plan to. So before you tell me that my business idea is gonna flop, why don't you stick to the context of the question.
  12. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yeah, I would then say the HV20 or HV30 is a great choice to get started with. You could rent a camera for a weekend if money is really tight, but actually buying it gives you more time to familiarize yourself with the camera and shooting video in general. Also, has a great user forum with LOTS of info.

    It's a lot of work to produce something with good production value because there are a lot of little things to get right regarding sound, lighting, etc. But if it's something that interests you in general, then it's a lot of fun too.
  13. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Unfortunately it is a fact of life.

    Banks will be even worse if you ever need a business loan. If you are committed enough and have people with sufficient experience on your team then I don't see why it won't work but you'll probably want to take some courses or something. Running a business which you don't know much about is infinitely harder than running one in an area you have expertise.
  14. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    I’m a sophomore at Drexel University in Philly, I work at studio and do mostly live-to-tape events. Here’s my advice.

    Before you jump into the industry, get your feet wet. If you don’t have any experience, that’s perfectly fine. Just invest in yourself and buy hundreds of dollars worth of books on shooting, lighting, editing, writing, and directing rules/techniques. You can have a million dollar camera, but it’s useless if you don’t follow the rules.

    Do you know what the 180 degree rule is? Or three point lighting? Or balanced vs unbalanced audio? If not, I’d hit the pause button on the camera and buy the books. Some will say you can just skip this and get the experience in the field, but in your situation this wouldn’t be possible since you’re flying solo. You generally don’t start by playing with the gear, you start by learning the rules and theory and then applying that in your test shoots.

    Another thing most people overlook is the massive amount of equipment associated with creating a professional video. Did you allocate money for lights, tripods, audio and post production? The camera will cost peanuts compared to all of this stuff. Let me do a quick rundown real quick.

    Any interior shot will require lights, REAL lights. You can’t use home depot lights because their color temperature fluctuates too much, and will result in your camera’s white balance being off. Plan on dropping over 500 bucks on Arri 100 watt light. And you’ll need more than one, way more than one. Also, you can choose between Kino Flo’s, traditional fresnels and so forth. You just need to do aggressive research to find the correct light for your application. Don’t forget about gels, scrims, C-stands, gobos, flags, cookies, light stands, diffusion, chimeras, ballasts for Kinos, extra bulbs, transport gear, and so forth.

    I’m not sure what you’ll need audio wise, so here’s a quick sampling. Plan on getting a condenser, a dynamic handheld, wired and wireless lav. A good sampling of mics will cost more than your camera.

    A good tripod will cost you around $750. Don’t scrimp in here. A good tripod absolutely makes the video. A cheapo one will be jerky and will come of as youtubeque. I’ve used the head on that particular model and I’ve never had a problem.

    The equipment for editing is easy, Mac Pro if you’re doing stuff for clients. Easy expansion for RAM but more importantly HDD’s for backing up client’s data. Make the jump to Final Cut Studio as quick as possible so that you can LOG AND CAPTURE your footage. I’ve never used Express before but I’ve heard that it doesn’t have this function. Logging allows you to keep timecode so you can recapture the tapes if your hard drive dies. In express, you’re screwed. Don’t forget to get a broadcast spec “color production” preview monitor so you can accurately color correct your work. This is an essential piece to any editing suite. Also, you’ll need a deck if you get a tape based camera. Decks are used because the intensity of logging would kill a camera after time. Shoot for a DVCAM deck…

    So plan on buying a new computer, RAM, HDD’s, screenwriting software, editing software, variety of lights, gels, scrims, cookies, gobos, c-stands, flags, chimeras, light stands, extension cords, diffusion, condenser mics, wireless lavs, wired lavs, shotgun mics, dynamic handheld mics, boom poles, mic stands, many XLR cables, Tripod, Dolly, Dolly track, transportation equipment, a variety of A/V cables, DVCAM Deck, and aren’t I forgetting something…

    Oh yeah. The camera. Shoot for a PD170. If it’s a paid job, don’t settle for anything less than DVCAM. It has better rates against dropout. You have no need for HD since it’s all for the web. Just make sure the camera you get has XLR inputs for mics and a headphone jack so you can listen to it. The PD170 is a solid camera with a separate focus and zoom rings. It shoots DVCAM. I’ve been using one for dozens of shoots and never had a major meltdown. Just make sure you get a deck so that you can get the most bang for your buck out of the camera. You’ll eat the tape mechanism alive if you capture via the camera.

    I hope that helps… you said you wanted pro! Just get out there and learn everything there is to learn about film! The equipment is merely a necessary tool to help you achieve your goal! Get a cheapo <$200 camcorder just to see if you like shooting!

    If you still have the passion and zest for it after reading about all of that ridiculously expensive stuff, you probably have it in you to shoot. for equipment and stuff. Plan on spending $15K. Good luck and I hope this helped!
  15. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    This is EXCELLENT advice

    This guy is right on the money. Let me add my own thoughts as well:

    If you want truly professional results, you need a crash course in cinematography. This is the least expensive way to get there:

    Watch the samples. You can see how camera movement and framing choices have a direct emotional effect on the viewer. Keep in mind that this DVD series covers only blocking and camera movement--depth of field ("DOF") and lighting aren't even hardly touched.

    This book is fantastic for building low-cost/high-impact camera rigs:

    I own this book, and you'll earn back 2x the price of the book with your first working rig.

    For lighting, you could read up these titles:

    Once you have a complete grasp of what it takes to do quality work that blows away clients, then you can move on to equipment concerns.

    BTW, a lot of professionals will just rent what they need. Technology continually changes, and the price of high-end ear plummets over time. You can do true 1080p work with a Panasonic HVX200 for $5-6k that a few years ago would have taken a VariCam or a CineAlta. Now The VariCam and CineAlta blow a HVX200 away in a number of areas, but they cost 10-15x more to buy.

    Let the rental company deal with equipment obsolescence. Build the gear rental into your billing for clients and your quotes for work. If you own everything, you'll need a minimum of $20k worth of gear APART from the camera.

    Heck, for web-only video applications, your camera should cost about $300, or the equivalent of ONE professional lighting fixture and HALF of what a decent tripod should cost.

    Clents are paying for your EXPERTISE, not your GEAR LIST.
  16. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    I think talking about CineAltas and $750 tripods is jumping as far ahead as the OP has been accused of doing.

    Equally, spending a bucket-load on books straight off the bat isn't worthwhile when we've got this little invention called the internet. There's enough info out there to get started and guide the OP as to what books, if any, they should buy.

    A big portion of video/tv/film production is intuition; and a lot of stuff you'd come across in books or on the net can seem pretty abstruse or pointless before you put it into practise and things suddenly "click".

    I'd recommend the OP get a camcorder with manual controls and a tripod — find out if they even like doing it, and have time for it, before going feet first!
  17. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    Wow Keith. If you would have read the posts you would understand.

    D*I*S was drawing an analogy of how outdated equipment can be when you buy it.

    And I suggested the $750 tripod because that is what works. The OP said
    so I suggested it. I was also trying to show that it's much more than just a camera.

    The net isn't nearly as good as a few focused books. Trust me. I wouldn't be paying $35K a year at Drexel if I could just surf the web.

    C'mon Keith. Read my second to last paragraph.

    Sorry for going O/T, but when people DON'T read posts and criticize others I get annoyed. The OP is starting a business. You need to do youre research and sometimes a good analogy goes a long way.
  18. NRose8989 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    Wow..... Thanks for the advice..... but now I'm pretty sure the my interpretation of "professional" is WAY different then yours. by "professional" i meant that i wanted decent color and light (which you stated). my goal for this was not to look like someone on youtube with a webcam or something.

    i found this online...

    it was shot with a canon HF10, which is also one of cameras i was thinking about getting. is there a advantage to shooting to tape vs. SSD (like on the HF10). id prefer not to use tapes because i have a abundance of hard drives to store it. this video looks pretty good for what im going to do with it. thoughts?
  19. NRose8989 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    on a second note. I'm not going to be working on this alone. I've got a couple friends that are film and visual communications students, and they are going to offer more advice about how things work etc.. I'm more concerned about us just getting a decent set-up to start playing and getting to know the equipment. realistically were not going to be releasing anything with production value for at least a year. so that gives me a good amount of time to learn and tinker. as for renting equipment, i really don't want to do that because 1). i still have know idea how these things work. 2). i wouldn't learn anything in the process. I could see renting equipment once i have everything established and have income to support it but for now it's not very logical. on top of that, getting a overly professional look would ruin the "mood" of the videos we want to shoot. I suppose i should have given a bit more detail of background of what were going to be doing. i think "production" company was the wrong word to use. within the parent business which is in sales, we wanted to create a visual advertising service for the people doing our sales. this would include not only some video but photography, graphical design, and web development. it's going to start out slow (obviously) and thats fine because the parent company will be the main source of income. this is just kinda a side project. and it will give people starting out as our sales clients the ability to get their feet off the ground, start a website, and fill it with content..
  20. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    I watched a few minutes of the video link you posted. From what I saw, that looks like ENG-type video, not slick-as-snot, zippy advertising shooting. I still stand by my last post: Buy some good books and think strongly about that DVD training course. It's amazing.

    I don't want to overwhelm you. FWIW, when I started a videography business a few years ago, I BOUGHT my first camera, a DVX100. The thing was friggin' awesome at making very, very film-like SD projects. It WAS nice actually owning one so I could learn the features inside and out, so I can certainly understand that impulse of yours.

    I did multicamera (4) wedding shoots. I would rent the other three cameras and tripods for $200 ea. per weekend. I had fantastic coverage and LOTS to choose from in post. My experience with renting equipment from a reputable company was great--they buy and maintain everything, and it all works (or they don't get paid).

    I would also do on-location shoots with the bride and groom, and I made a DIY dolly system based on the recommendations of the book I linked to in my last post. The results were, again, great--a smoothly moving camera (NOT tilting or panning on a stationary tripod or "zooming" in and out) is a big part of what makes a video look professional and engaging.

    Good luck. READ UP!!
  21. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    I read your post; but I also read between the lines of the OP's original post. It was pretty clear to me that his definition of "professional" was not what you assumed it to be.

    There's as much information on the web as there is in books, it's just not so neatly collated. I suggested the OP start with the web and go from there rather than buy a load of books only to realise they never need to know about densitometry.

    I think "going to Drexel" is giving you a somewhat myopic view of things. No offence to the OP, but what rental house is going to rent them an F950, a 50' crane and a multi-Par? A $750 tripod isn't necessarily "what works" for a HV20 is it?

    Funnily enough, my entire post wasn't a response to you.
  22. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2003
    The advantage to recording to SSD is generally quicker file transfers. Tape capture is real-time. However, last I read, the AVCHD codec (as used in the HF10) still isn't recording as high a bit rate as HDV tape. (Of course, the compression schemes aren't directly comparable that way.) Anyway, that's probably not much concern for Web distribution, but would be evident at HD resolutions.

    I can see both sides of what people are saying here, between "you should just go for it" and "you have no idea what you're getting yourself into". Chutzpah is necessary to get going, but you need to build your knowledge base as you go. Knowledge without chutzpah is not necessarily productive.

    You could get your feet wet with either an HF10 or HV20. Eventually you'll want an XH-A1, HVR-V1U or some such, especially if your clients will be watching you work. If they see you're using a consumer-grade camcorder and little else, they're likely to wonder why they can't do that themselves.

    Is there a local filmmakers' group in your area? Lots of cities have some organization which holds workshops to learn the basics, without having to pay a college tuition. Probably would be a good place to network, too.

    Good luck!
  23. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Public Access...

    If you're in the US and have cable TV in your town, take a Public Access production course. Their free, provide equipment and assistance. I took one in '88, got hired in 89 as a mobile engineer on a production truck and shoot edit and composite for hire as well as regularly work for ESPN, CBS, FOX, etc. on things you and your buddies watch in the sports bar every weekend.

    Some PBS and broadcast stations also offer internships where you can learn the basics of video production. There's a lot to it, much more than you can tinker to learn. In the end it'll be the noticeable difference in a production that looks polished and one that looks like a few guys or girls with an expensive camcorder. I didn't go to college for TV but learned everything I know from reading and doing, not always in that order.

    Do get a camera. The Canon HV 30 is decent. Don't spend too much on hardware at this point.get a decent computer to edit on with Final Cut Studio if you can afford it. Watch a lot. Read a lot and shoot and edit a lot. Try to aspire a few notches above the video you posted online, you should be able to attain that in a weekend of trial and error.

    Be patient and choose your mentors wisely (college buds are okay for now). Find something on TV that you really, really like and could watch over and over and learn more about that production and the techniques used to produce it. It's funny that U2's Rattle and Hum is on right now and I dissected this movie back in the 80's to learn about producing a concert/documentary. Paid off with a video nomination for concert production.

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