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#1 mcgraybeard

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 12:03 PM

hi
I'm looking for some feed back on an upcoming documentary project. I'll be traveling to Bhutan (asia) to shoot a cultural doc. For once with a decent budget, (around 400k). I'll be gone for a number of months so need a tried and true package and format. The producers are talking about DVHD, but that seems limiting if the goal is for big screen projection. I sure would like them to buy me a new vari cam. If anyone had thoughts or suggestions that would be great. Also any thoughts buying vs. renting, how many shooting days till buying makes sense. What formats are people using for theatric released docs.

mcg
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#2 Robert Edge

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 12:22 PM

You may find the following fora useful:

www.doculink.org
www.d-word.com

Cheers
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 02:29 PM

I would not use the HDV. I looked into shooting a doc with a mini-35, but in my tests with HDV I found that while it is HD and it is very very beautiful, its still a $5,000 camera. With a budget of 400k I would not trust a $5k camera. Have you looked at Grass Valley Infinity? That is a camera you can own. they are about 20k and record to rev pro disks (45mins, 35GB, $75 each) get a few disks and carry lots of firewire drives with you so you can offload the footage without buying costly rev media.

The varicams are quite beautiful as well. along with the cinealtas from sony. Basicly if you get a 50k-100k package, you are going to get your moneys worth.

But consider other factors. Post production requirements? With varicam or cinealta you need a costly HD deck to playback. with the Grass Valley rev-disk readers are about 300 bucks. keep that in mind.

as for owning versus renting, that all depends on a few things. First choose a camera that you want to shoot with. Find the best rate you can rent it at (varicams go for about 1000 a day, you can probably get it for under 2000 a week with as long as you will need it.)

Also factor in rental insurance. This can get quite costly and price depends on the underwriter and the logistics of the shoot. If this total for rental totals more than 75% of the purchase price, I would outright buy it. Just keep in mind buying a camera doesnt make it free. Just like a car it needs to be serviced, and if your doing big dollar docs you will need your cam running top notch every day of the year, so add at least 200-500 in regular service. (this figure can grow if something major were to break, that just represents general maintenence.)
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 04:11 PM

A decent doc-style Varicam package goes for something like $75K. If your doc. is a three month shoot, then you can expect the rental of the same package for about $30K. That's a pretty good amoritization for an initial purchase. The question is do you think you could make at least the additional $45K off the package within a reasonable period, say two years. If you realistically belive that you can then it is a good investment.

These numbers are very broad and may vary wildly depending on the gear you want in the package and the deals you can find.
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#5 Robert Edge

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 04:57 PM

A couple of suggestions about documentary films that you might want to look at and that were made with fairly inexpensive cameras:

In This World (Michael Winterbottom, shot by Marcel Zyskind, a fiction film shot in documentary style with a good commentary on the DVD about how it was done)

Mondovino (again with a very helpful DVD commentary track)

Personally, if I had the chance to do a film in Bhutan, I would think very carefully about using super 16, although I realize that very few people making documentary films are using it.
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