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STOLEN CAMERA -- HOW TO PROCEED?


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#1 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 12:32 PM

Hello,

My name is Jamie Sneider, and I have been shooting a documentary for the past 2 years on a Sony PD-100A, with all professional sound equipment - shotgun and wireless Seinnheiser mikes, etc.

About a month ago, my camera and all my sound equipment was stolen from my car. As you can imagine, this has been a bit dilbilitating to myself, a new filmmaker. The documentary is about breast cancer, and my family.

I need to continue shooting -- footage for the present and future, and some past shots and interviews.

If I could start over, I would have bought a Panasonic DVX-100 - for the 24p option, but I shot the whole thing in DVCAM. So....any advice? I am planning to enter this film, once finished, into film festivals, etc. So..I want it to look professional.

Should I buy a new PD 170? Do I try to borrow a camera to finish? Do I buy the new Panasonic, or the HDV cameras? The fact that the camera was stolen can be a part of the documentary.

Basically, I am trying to keep the continuity of the film, but am not sure if I should invest, at this late stage, in a different format. Yet...do I want to invest in a camera that is not useful for future docs.

I truly belive in this documentary and really need to finish it.

Thank you!
Jamie Sneider
jamiesneider@gmail.com

Edited by jamiedocgirl, 05 December 2005 - 12:39 PM.

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#2 Eric Brown

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 01:48 PM

The look of the DVX and PD 170 will obviously be wildly different if you plan to use the DVX 's 24p mode.
That type of an aesthetic shift can be jarring. Even more so if it is not somehow imbedded into the narrative.
The camera being stolen (sorry to hear that by the way) doesn't seem to have anything to do with your doc's subject matter. It was merely an unfortunate incident that occured while shooting the doc. Trying to stitch that into your project for effect might fail.
It's probably best to borrow or rent another PD 170 and finish it with the camera you started with.
After that, if you want to move to a DVX or other 24p camera, sell the PD 170 and put that toward the purchase of your new camera.
This is just what I'd do, though. Get many other opinions as well.
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#3 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 04:11 PM

Hi Jamie: Sorry to hear about your setback. Losing equipment, especially to theft, must be very frustrating.

I can't remember if the Sony PD-100A is a 1/4" or 1/3" 3-CCD miniDV camcorder? If 1/4", it's probably very similar to the current model Sony PDX10. If 1/3", it's probably most similar to the Sony PD-170. However, in many shooting situations these cameras can be adjusted to record a very similar "look". Of these 3 cams, the PD-170 is the most light-sensitive.

However, if you happen to have enough budget to consider a cam such as the PD-170, you may wish to consider a Panasonic DVX-100B instead. This is the current version of the popular DVX-100 series. The DVX-100B is a 1/3" 3-CCD miniDV cam which can be adjusted for a much wider range of "looks" than the above-mentioned Sony cams, and unlike these Sonys can record in 24p, 24pA and 30p progressive modes in addition to interlaced video like these Sonys. The "look" of a DVX-100B can be adjusted if necessary to very closely match the above Sony cams (and other cams, too), but its various framerate and progressive modes do so much more when required.

I believe the DVX-100B has a "street" price similar to the PD-170, and both cams have many common features, such as 2 XLR audio inputs, built-in LCD screens & VFs, generally-similar non-removeable zoom lenses, fully-manual or automatic operation, fairly "clean" electronic gain, and so forth.

Other worthy miniDV camcorders such as the Canon XL2, or DV/HDV cams such as Sony's Z1 or Canon's new DV/HDV model are considerably more expensive compared to the PD-170 and DVX-100B.

If miniDV "DV25" quality is adequate for your current and near-term projects, a cam such as the DXV-100B can be a great investment.

Next year, and the year after that, HD/HDV cams will continue to come down in price and you might consider one then. In the meantime, a cam like the DVX-100B may have served you very well indeed.

Just an FYI: Relatively inexpensive insurance for freelance video production businesses is available to members of organizations such as WEVA. I don't shoot weddings, but I joined to get the reasonably-priced business insurance available through them:
http://www.weva.com/

Again, sorry about your loss. Good luck in picking up the pieces and moving forward.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 05 December 2005 - 04:16 PM.

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#4 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:32 PM

Thank you Peter and Eric for your responses.

Quick question about the DVX -- I was told that the Panasonic's colors are different from the Sony's -- and that I should stick with the same brand.

I do feel a little silly buying the PD 170 for the same price as the 100B, but I don't want the viewer to notice the difference.

I believe the PD 100A offers a 1/4 chip. I just want to make sure, if I get the Panasonic, that it can be woven in and out of the old footage.

Thank you again!
Jamie
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#5 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 07:48 PM

... I was told that the Panasonic's colors are different from the Sony's -- and that I should stick with the same brand. ... I just want to make sure, if I get the Panasonic, that it can be woven in and out of the old footage.


Straight "out-of-the-box" from the factory, a Panasonic DVX-100B will likely have a somewhat different "look" than a Sony PD-100A. Sony cams can have a slightly "cooler" (more blue) default look compared to Panasonic cams, but overall their default look is more similar than different.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the best features of the DVX-100B is that it's is far more adjustable than other cameras in its price range. Camera operators I work with who own DVX-100A cam routinely adjust it to match the look of Sony cams such as the PD-150, PD-170 and DSR-250. To do this, they view both the DVX video and other cam's video (you could play a tape recorded by your old cam) on the same monitor, switching back and forth. It takes some skill, but it's not difficult, and can be repeated whenever necessary.

The PD-170 is a good cam, but the DVX-100B is just as good and much more flexible, including the ability to match the look of many other cameras.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#6 Bryan Darling

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:38 AM

Hey Jaime, having your camera stolen really sucks! I would say not to get to caught up on cameras and looks. Your subject matter- your family & breast cancer- is what will make your documentary, not the technology you're using. Whether you get the lastest & greatest- of which will always be debatable until the end of time- or you get something that you can "use" is up to you. I highly doubt anyone will give you demerits just because the "look" seemed a little different here or there.

In my work I constantly mix up formats & film types in the same piece- Super 8, 16mm, color & b/w- to me it's all interchangable. It's about your content, that's where you should concentrate. Viewers will never know the difference and even if they did "see" a difference they'd have no clue as to what was different- they aren't that keen. Only tech-heads will notice and say something, but that's not your audience so you don't have to worry. Your audience are the people out there coming to see a piece on breast cancer & your family.

As far as equipment goes all I would recommend to you is beware of used gear unless you know it's history of use. I've used an XL1 for many years & love it. I recently bought a GL2 and it's amazing. You can adjust the look if you so desire. It's basically an XL1s in the body of a GL1. I've also used a Sony PD-150 and that too is a great camera. Don't worry if some think 24p is the "it" and better than interlaced 30fps, it's not so much what is "better." One can always make an argument that there is something better, but better is subjective. What matters is what works for what your doing, for what the project calls for. Go with your instincts. Everyone will have an opinion on how they would do it or want to do it. However I bet inside you have the answer to your question already, perhaps you're looking for affirmation & am unsure of your thoughts. But you did get a camera at some point in time in the past and that camera has worked for you. Go with what you think, it won't be "wrong." Someone else may consider it so, but all that matters is getting your documentary onto something & out into the world.

Good luck & I wish you well.
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#7 SpikeUM

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 05:14 PM

I know this is late but if you have not already replaced your camera check your insurance about replacing it. A friend of mine got his stolen the same way and his insurance replaced it within a month.
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#8 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 10:02 AM

Hello Eveyone!

Thanks for your advice, and I now I just need a commmandment! Sometimes I just want to be told, "This is what to do..."

So, I ask for your thoughts -- or commands ;)

I am ready to buy a camera now. I will fight for more money if necessary, I just want my film to go to festivals and be considered as a serious documentary.

I shot 175 tapes of miniDV (40min) over 2 years on a PD 100A, and then all my equipment was stolen. I didn't buy the original camera, but I did buy $4,000 worth of sound equipment.

My question is, which camera should I buy to replace it?

I battle with two issues:

1. Continuity - I do want the footage to avoid being dramatically different - so if I need to I can interweave them. I am also not a film-person (I was an actress for a few years and a writer), so I know that camera.

2. Excitement - If I can spend the money, why not buy a better camera? Why not show the brighter future? I can also hire a camera person to shoot cool stuff (I sound like I'm 10 - but I am 30 - don't worry) - I will also try to do some animation in the film, and may need HD, but can rent a camera for that.

I may never make another documentary again, but I have given years for this movie, and I want it to be the best it can be. I don't care if I never do another piece again, I just want this to be amazing.

If I am planning to submit this to festivals and have a serious run.

Do I buy the same camera and sound equipment again? Maybe upgrade to the PD170? Or go to Panasonic DVX100B

Any thoughts?

The documentary is about breast cancer, and going home, and finding love, but it's also very funny and dirty.

Thanks for all your help!

Jamie Sneider
jamiesneider@gmail.com

Edited by jamiedocgirl, 02 February 2006 - 10:11 AM.

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#9 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 10:46 AM

TO ADD ONE MORE THING TO THE ABOVE POST --

I am leaning toward the Panasonic, but very nervous that they will look dramatically different, and I definitely don't want that.

I look at documentaries up for awards, say "Murderball" - that used that camera in 24p, and then transferred to "HD" and then film - which I also would like to do.

I am not sure if I am in a bad position to do that, considering that I shot so much footage with the PD100A.

Thank you!
Jamie
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#10 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 11:03 AM

Sorry to add one more thing...maybe they shouldn't allow girls on this site...;) just kidding.

I did just read that Born Into Brothels was shot with a PD 150, so maybe I'll be okay.

I'm leaning toward the PD 170, and I'lll leave my last post at that.

Have a wonderful day.

Signed,
Manic and exited Doc Girl
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#11 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 01:04 PM

Hi Jamie.

People here have already given you much good advice. Personally I think I would go with the Panasonic DVX100B and finish the film with this camera in the interlaced mode so it would match better with the old Sony.

For future projects you can use the progressive mode if you wish.

I've just been grading (last two days) a film which I shoot on the Panasonic in progressive mode. The end scene of the film was shot on the Sony PD100A. There is quite a difference in the two cameras. Mostly because the Panasonic was in progressive mode. BUT, there also are some scenes shoot interlaced with the Panasonic and they don't seem to stand out against the sony too much to be honest.

In the end it's all up to you.
Good luck with it all.
Marcel

P.S No luck of finding a used PD100A? Are you in PAL or NTSC country? I can get a PAL camera for you very cheap, but no guarentee, since these cameras now are more than 6 years old. It comes with quite an interesting musical history though.
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#12 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 02:01 PM

Hi Jamie.

People here have already given you much good advice. Personally I think I would go with the Panasonic DVX100B and finish the film with this camera in the interlaced mode so it would match better with the old Sony.

For future projects you can use the progressive mode if you wish.

I've just been grading (last two days) a film which I shoot on the Panasonic in progressive mode. The end scene of the film was shot on the Sony PD100A. There is quite a difference in the two cameras. Mostly because the Panasonic was in progressive mode. BUT, there also are some scenes shoot interlaced with the Panasonic and they don't seem to stand out against the sony too much to be honest.

In the end it's all up to you.
Good luck with it all.
Marcel

P.S No luck of finding a used PD100A? Are you in PAL or NTSC country? I can get a PAL camera for you very cheap, but no guarentee, since these cameras now are more than 6 years old. It comes with quite an interesting musical history though.


Thank you Marcel!

I appreciate your help. I am in a NTSC Country - The US, and I definitely could find a PD100A for about $1,500 - but to spend that, I feel I should probably get a more modern camera.

What I want is my film to succeed, and the better the camera, the better it would look. I do have so much footage in the 100A, but if the Panasonic 100B - interlaced, would go well, and maybe make the movie look better for more interviews, maybe that is the way to go.

Thanks again,
Jamie

Edited by jamiedocgirl, 02 February 2006 - 02:05 PM.

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#13 Chien Huey

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 03:26 PM

I know someone who made a documentary with footage from both a PD150 and a DVX100. What happened was he didn't talk with his 2nd camera operator (who had the DVX) beforehand about running her cam in 60i as opposed to 24p.

Now granted, the second time I watched the doc, I noticed the difference in motion rendition (even then most shots were static and it wasn't as noticeable). But the first time, I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn't notice at all. If you nail the human interest aspect, the technical aspect won't matter to most audiences.

Of course, if you get distribution, someone somewhere (probably on this board) will be saying "that Jamie mixed DVX and PD100A footage - @$$#%#$@$@". But other than that I don't really think it matters all that much.

I'd recommend getting the DVX over the PD170 if you're buying the camera. Just because if you're going to continue to shoot more projects (whether your own or others) the DVX is much more flexible (progressive modes, in-camera image controls, etc). Especially since both cameras are virtually the same price. The DVX is a better camera. That's just what I would do if I had $3500 to spend...
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