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shooting an instructional Video


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#1 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:02 PM

I need to figure out which camera to use shooting my first instructional video. I've got a nice budget to work with. I'm figuring about $300 per day to rent a camera rather than use my sony vx2000. I'm going to be setting up sound and I'll need something with xlr inputs. I've got a few concerns as to which camera to get. While I feel comfortable with the Sony vx-2000 I have not really used many other cameras so I don't want to rent something that's I'm going to be unsure of the outcome or be fumbling around with in front of the client. But I do want something that's going to give me a nice picture. I've looked at some of the newer cameras with high def and 24p but I'm wondering if worth me messing with on this project. We'll be making about 3500 copies of our DVD this year and probably 8000 next year. This instructional video will be for a new home appliance.
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#2 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 04:08 PM

It's just my opinion, but shooting 24p tends to be more appropriate for dramatic or emotional footage rather than informational, "just the facts" footage. So you might want to use 60i (or 50i in the PAL world) instead of 24p depending on the tone or style of the production.

30p can be a nice half-way compromise between the two approaches, but 30p can be more difficult to convert to PAL, so might not be appropriate depending on the intended audience.

As for SD vs. HD: There's already been a universe of discussion about that here and elsewhere, so you may wish to do some further searching/reading.

Whatever tools you use, you'll need to be quite familiar with them before you start production, unless your employer is paying for on-the-job training. (This is might be the case; I can't tell from your post.)

Although there are many, many cams which are capable of producing better-looking video and audio than the VX2000, it's also true the VX2000 is capable of producing excellent SD results -- in capable hands. And for current SD DVD distribution, a "good" basic SD DV cam such as the VX2000 might be more than up to the task.

BeachTek and other companies make XLR audio adapters which work well with cams such as the VX2000.

You might find related info in this website helpful:
http://alanbarker.com/

... and there are many, many other sites out there with info on how to get the most of of "low end" camcorders.
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#3 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 06:27 PM

Thanks for your reply. I do like my sony VX2000 and I'm probably going to bring it, but since I have the $$$ in the budget, I do want to get my hands more familiar working with different cameras and I do have 1 day before the shoot to get myself familiar with whatever cameras I choose.

I've been told the Sony Pd 150 is very similar to the VX2000 and that the only big difference is the XLR inputs, is this true?

I'm pretty much ruling out the idea of shooting this instructional in HD but are the HD cameras good for shooting SD? I have found a few places where I can rent a Panasonic AG-HVX200 or a Sony HVR-Z1U?

I guess I'm just excited about having a budget that gives me the option to use these cameras, but maybe I should just keep it simple and make sure I do the best I can with my knowledge and experince level.

I'm self employed so any job training I'll have to pay for myself. I'm not ruling that out, but I only have 1 month before the shoot.

I'm not worried about converting to pal since this product will only be distributed in the US.
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#4 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 09:20 PM

... I've been told the Sony Pd 150 is very similar to the VX2000 and that the only big difference is the XLR inputs, is this true?

Yes, the VX2000, PD-150 and DSR-250 are essentially electronically & optically identical, with the only difference being that the latter two cams have XLR inputs. The 250 also has a pro, hi-res B&W CRT viewfinder and can record on both miniDV & standard (large) DV cassettes. The PD-170 is identical to the PD-150 except it's a bit better in low light (which all these particular Sony DV cams are), and the 170 allows finer adjustment of f-stops. The PD-150, PD-170 and DSR-250 can also record in DVCAM mode in addition to DV mode. Although DVCAM recordings are slightly more reliable (resistant to drop outs) compared to DV, there's no difference in video or audio quality.

I'm pretty much ruling out the idea of shooting this instructional in HD but are the HD cameras good for shooting SD? I have found a few places where I can rent a Panasonic AG-HVX200 or a Sony HVR-Z1U?

The "low-cost" HD cams are quite good for use as SD DV cams, especially if you shoot in the cams' native 16:9 aspect ratio. Because they have relatively hi-res CCDs, they produce surprisingly good-looking SD. I believe most users of these cams recommend recording in HD mode and then use the cam to down-convert to SD at the time of capture into your NLE. However, be sure your NLE and computer is 100% compatible with the cam you intend to use before you lock yourself into using one. Skip this last step at your peril! :)

There's quite a difference in workflow and cost associated with shooting in HD mode using the HVX200 vs. all the HDV cams: The HVX200 only records HD on P2 cards, and these are relatively expensive to buy/rent, and P2 cards each only hold a few minutes worth of HD video. HDV cams record only on miniDV-style tapes, which are a fraction of the cost of P2 and have much longer running time capacities.

I guess I'm just excited about having a budget that gives me the option to use these cameras, but maybe I should just keep it simple and make sure I do the best I can with my knowledge and experince level. ...

Not knowing your skill level it's difficult to make recommendations, but for example, instead of spending money on a bigger/better cam, you could put more into the lighting -- perhaps hire a gaffer for the day with the understanding they should teach you a few things. Again, I don't know if that is appropriate to your situation, but myself I know I learn about lighting every time I work with a more experienced shooter or gaffer.

Enjoy your shoot!
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#5 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 10:58 PM

I believe most users of these cams recommend recording in HD mode and then use the cam to down-convert to SD at the time of capture into your NLE. However, be sure your NLE and computer is 100% compatible with the cam you intend to use before you lock yourself into using one. Skip this last step at your peril! :)


What does NLE mean?

I've checked on rental prices in the area I'm doing the shoot and my only choices are a Sony PD-150 for $150/day or the Sony HVR-Z1U $110/day. These prices are from two different companies I found it a bit funny that the Z1U is cheaper somewhere else.

I'm not familiar with down converting. Since I would have to return the Z1U and I wont be able to bring it back to my editing suite, can I down convert from one camera to another? In other words can I down convert fro the Z1U and record the footage onto a SD miniDV camera? At home I'll only be able to capture SD since I don't have any way of playing HD.
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#6 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 11:20 PM

Should I use the Z1U and record in SD mode since it's a cheaper rent or should I get PD150 if I'm going to do that since I'm more familiar with that?

Maybe the answer to this question is 6 to one 1/2 dozen the other, but if there is a significant difference I'd like to know. I appreciate your patience. It's nice to have a resource like this to be able to put my questions out there.
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#7 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 12:05 AM

What does NLE mean?

Non linear editor, such as Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, Vegas, and so forth.

I've checked on rental prices in the area I'm doing the shoot and my only choices are a Sony PD-150 for $150/day or the Sony HVR-Z1U $110/day. These prices are from two different companies I found it a bit funny that the Z1U is cheaper somewhere else.

It's not unheard of. Until recently most rental houses rented PD150-type cams for around $150 or more per day, and "low-end" HD cams like the Z1 for more, but now that the Z1 has been available for awhile, rental prices may have come down. However, the devil's always in the details, so check carefully as to what each rental price includes, such as accessories, batteries, tripod, monitor, and so forth.

I'm not familiar with down converting. Since I would have to return the Z1U and I wont be able to bring it back to my editing suite, can I down convert from one camera to another? In other words can I down convert fro the Z1U and record the footage onto a SD miniDV camera? At home I'll only be able to capture SD since I don't have any way of playing HD.

That's a great question which I don't know the answer to. However, I suspect that it "should" work: Record in HDV mode with the Z1, play the HDV tape in the Z1 in downconvert mode via Firewire to your VX2000 to make a DV copy. That's the way rationally-designed gear should work, but it's best to confirm this ahead of time. Ask the rental house if you can bring your VX2000 over to do a simple test with their Z1. (You may need to bring an appropriate FW cable with you if they don't have it.) A good rental house might not charge you to do this sort of test. BTW, if you decide to go this route, you may wish to keep both the original HDV tape and the DV copy, in case you decide at a later date to use the HDV version for some reason.
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#8 Bob Hayes

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 12:12 AM

The Z1U is superior to the PD-150. I?d recommend not using the 24P mode as it is computer generated in the camera and not a true 24P. I?ve been told. We shot 30P and everyone was very happy with the results.
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