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Camera for absolute beginner?


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#1 Claire Reilly

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 09:07 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm about to embark on a three year drama degree at a top uni in the UK - the degree is half theatre, half film and you can specialise in the second and third years...

anyhoo...having been an avid contemporary theatre geek for most of my life, i recently have fallen out of love with the theatre and in love with film. I'm really new to this, I've been studying film for the past two years in an academic sense via A levels but I haven't had any technical experience (for some coursewrok i was handed a camera and told to go make a film....i physically couldnt get it to work - t'was v.old though).

I want to make surrealist shorts, preferably with stop motion as I adore stop motion cinematography and want to have a go. I'm looking for a camera that's simple to use and has the capacity to make aesthetically delightful films...preferably not over the £500/$1000 mark. Recommendations for computers and software programs for editing would be amazing as well.

Thanks all.

Reilly
:D
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#2 Jason Anderson

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 12:46 PM

I suggest you get a single shot still camera, to learn about composition and lighting first. A 35mm film camera will teach you alot, learn the basics of photography.

The first camera I used was a dvx100, however the HVX200 has come down in price, and probably will come down more in the future. The HVX200 can shoot higher resolution than the dvx100, if you can afford the HVX its worth it.
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:29 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm about to embark on a three year drama degree at a top uni in the UK - the degree is half theatre, half film and you can specialise in the second and third years...

anyhoo...having been an avid contemporary theatre geek for most of my life, i recently have fallen out of love with the theatre and in love with film. I'm really new to this, I've been studying film for the past two years in an academic sense via A levels but I haven't had any technical experience (for some coursewrok i was handed a camera and told to go make a film....i physically couldnt get it to work - t'was v.old though).

I want to make surrealist shorts, preferably with stop motion as I adore stop motion cinematography and want to have a go. I'm looking for a camera that's simple to use and has the capacity to make aesthetically delightful films...preferably not over the £500/$1000 mark. Recommendations for computers and software programs for editing would be amazing as well.

Thanks all.

Reilly
:D


Yeah, you can use any still picture camera to do stop motion animation and learn exposure, lighting and composition. You didn't mention if you are interested in film or digital. Digital is easier as you can see the result of your picture taking immediately, which keeps cost and disappointment to a minimum.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 15 June 2008 - 01:30 PM.

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#4 Valerio Sacchetto

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 02:10 PM

ditto

I'd use a still slr camera for studying light, composition, film exposure etc and a cheap digital camera for motion. Ask your friends to act for you in some shorts, speech driven not action centered! Buy an inexpensive analog lightmeter, keep it with your slr and bring them everywhere you go. Take pictures and immediately (that's very very very important) take notes. very good notes, take your time and write down everything you think can be important. Date, time, lens, aperture, a brief description of the scene, iso, weather, how you decided your exposure, any variation...then while you watch your photos read the relative note and add your feelings, what's good and what's wrong.

For stop motion there are many ways. In school (not film school unfortunately) i remember i borrowed a laptop with premiere, plugged in a cheap minidv camera with firewire and did some timelapse and stupid stop motion tests (like glassware running in circles and spelling my name :rolleyes: ) premiere has an option for capturing single frames (or group of frames) directly from the camera.
I don't own a digital still camera and with film that can get quite expensive but you can put your dslr on a tripod, secure it so it doesn't move and take a shot for every frame. Inexpensive and rewarding.
I haven't read it but there is a book about the work of Ray Harryhausen, that may be useful to you. Plus on the net there are thousands of sites and forums where you can ask and get infos about stop motion techniques.
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#5 Claire Reilly

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 03:14 PM

Thanks everyone who has replied, I'm really grateful.

I think I'll be going for digital as film looks a bit expensive to clumsily fiddle with as a complete newbie.

Thanks again :D
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 01:03 AM

I think learning on film is absolutely essential as video tends to foster bad amateurish work habits right from the start. With film if you screw up, you can't just rewind the camera and shoot over your mistakes so you must take time to set up your shots, light them properly and really take a professional attitude towards the work by knowing something about the camera and the technical aspects of film making where as with tape and consumer cameras, you set it on auto everything, (IF it even HAS a choice of manual or automatic setting), point and shoot and never learn a damn thing about photography. This is fine until you want to do something artistic with the image, then your screwed. I would recommend a pro level super 8 camera like a Beaulieu 4008, Nizo or Bauer if you're concerned about film and processing costs or if you CAN go more which would be better, A 16mm camera like a Bolex Rex 5 or an Arri S, maybe something cheaper if you can't afford 1500 to 2 grand like a Bolex H, a Filmo or a Beaulieu R16 all of which should be in your price range with cash left over for a little film, processing and maybe even a super 8 or 16mm projector. Shoot a few shorts. Hell Bolexes shot tons of TV shows back in the day and I know the Beaulieu R16 has been used to shoot a few features. Filmos were used as new cameras even sections of The Doors, Natural Born Killers, Nixon, U Turn, and JFK were shot on S8 according to Wikipedia and I know one real famous concert film was shot on super 8 but the name escapes me right now. Go with film, dude save video until AFTER you learn your craft, at least if you shoot 16mm the a slight chance you'll be able to sell a film.....video, forget about it.
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#7 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:39 AM

I think learning on film is absolutely essential as video tends to foster bad amateurish work habits right from the start.


Indeed. How many self proclaimed "DP's" do I know who have NEVER shot a single frame of film? Too many. It's akin to a race car driver who only drives automatic racing cars . . . As a cinematographer, one is gotta be able to deal with whatever format the particular production throws at one, both film and digital. Not just one or the other.

BUT one can always learn if the desire to learn is there, even after starting with video. Sadly, it doesn't happen very often. With the advent of HD, very few of the "digital-only DP's" feel the need to learn how to use a hand held light meter, to light by eye and not look at the video monitor to establish exposure.

Damn, I sound like an old man :(

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 17 June 2008 - 11:42 AM.

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#8 Cory Lonas

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 01:08 PM

Indeed. How many self proclaimed "DP's" do I know who have NEVER shot a single frame of film? Too many. It's akin to a race car driver who only drives automatic racing cars . . . As a cinematographer, one is gotta be able to deal with whatever format the particular production throws at one, both film and digital. Not just one or the other.

BUT one can always learn if the desire to learn is there, even after starting with video. Sadly, it doesn't happen very often. With the advent of HD, very few of the "digital-only DP's" feel the need to learn how to use a hand held light meter, to light by eye and not look at the video monitor to establish exposure.

Damn, I sound like an old man :(

I so wish I could shoot on film... its just so expensive.. the cost of developing film are too high for a student...I would love to get my hands on a 16 MM camera to fool around with but even then I would spend so much money on film only to experiment with in my free time... Im thinking about getting a super8 camera to fool around with... but I agree that the workflow of film gives a DP a limited scope that enhances rather than hinders creative view... I think the best way to remedy this in the digital world is to treat your video camera like a film camera... especially when working with prosumer models..
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#9 Nate Downes

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:11 PM

I so wish I could shoot on film... its just so expensive.. the cost of developing film are too high for a student...I would love to get my hands on a 16 MM camera to fool around with but even then I would spend so much money on film only to experiment with in my free time... Im thinking about getting a super8 camera to fool around with... but I agree that the workflow of film gives a DP a limited scope that enhances rather than hinders creative view... I think the best way to remedy this in the digital world is to treat your video camera like a film camera... especially when working with prosumer models..

$4.88 per roll of Super8 E64T at walmart is too expensive?
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#10 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:30 PM

I so wish I could shoot on film... its just so expensive.. the cost of developing film are too high for a student...I would love to get my hands on a 16 MM camera to fool around with but even then I would spend so much money on film only to experiment with in my free time... Im thinking about getting a super8 camera to fool around with... but I agree that the workflow of film gives a DP a limited scope that enhances rather than hinders creative view... I think the best way to remedy this in the digital world is to treat your video camera like a film camera... especially when working with prosumer models..


Film is not cheap, granted. But that also forces you to think about what you are doing. One cannot afford to make mistakes when shooting film. So it is a double edge sword. And as Nate pointed out, S-8 is not incredibly expensive to shoot and project. A decent video camera will cost you upwards of $1000. If you find an old S-8 camera that you can do manual exposure on, a Sekonic analog cine meter and a projector, and maybe spend $300 to $500 you still have a lot of money left to shoot plenty of film. S-8 cameras these days can be found for $50 or less, the more advanced ones go for more, of course.

I bought a fully functional Canon S-8 camera for $15 bucks not too long ago, and a 16mm Krasnogorsk full kit for $400. There are labs who process S-8mm/ 16mm film for dirt cheap and they do a good job. So there is no excuse not to be shooting film, except not wanting to.
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#11 Cory Lonas

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:33 PM

$4.88 per roll of Super8 E64T at walmart is too expensive?

thats why super 8 is a much more practical solution in getting used to film,,,but one roll of super 8 for developing and the film equal about 20 bucks a roll... and if I want to edit it I still have to pay decent chunk of change for a video transfer... so in the end just to fool around with film would cost me over 50 bucks... each time I want to get 3 minutes of footage... thats a hefty chunk of change for most people...

Edited by Cory Lonas, 17 June 2008 - 02:37 PM.

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#12 Valerio Sacchetto

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:53 PM

and if I want to edit it I still have to pay decent chunk of change for a video transfer... so in the end just to fool around with film would cost me over 50 bucks... each time I want to get 3 minutes of footage... thats a hefty chunk of change for most people...


Try splicers and rubber cement or tape
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#13 Cory Lonas

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 03:15 PM

Try splicers and rubber cement or tape

and if I ever want to show someone that doesn't have a projector I still have to get the tape transfer... its a digital world now... so if I want to show what I've shot I still have to shell out the cash for the transfer... Im still looking forward to getting my super 8 camera and shooting a few rolls..
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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 04:30 AM

I LITERALLY just bought a B& H 240 16mm with a set of lenses For my 13 year old film student at the Del Norte' Film Institute to use to shoot her 3 to 5 minute short on in GREAT condition for $14.30 well shipping was another $9.95 so it actually cost me $24.25 TOTAL. It's a parallax view camera but what the Hell, she has to learn to measure and adjust the lens settings anyway so parallax is a great way to learn how you'll be setting focus on a 35mm film set later on. Ebay in lousy with Filmos and Bolex Hs for under a hundred bucks and these cameras filmed WWII, Korea and Vietnam and the Hs shot all the model FX sequences for Captain Video in the 50s as well as dozens of other shows.

16mm, you can pick up short ends for pennies on the dollar at the same places you buy 35mm short ends at, so you're building a relationship with industry suppliers right off the bat. Students get insane discounts on EVERYTHING having to do with film (WHICH I might add is one reason we'll have them on the set of Blood Moon) so processing is cheap, equipment rental is cheap, FILM is cheap.

If you can't haul your $30 dollar portable projector and $10 dollar portable fold up screen to somebodies house for big screen viewing, you could always video tape the projection off your wall, put it on disk and take it that way.
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#15 Valerio Sacchetto

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 04:32 PM

and if I ever want to show someone that doesn't have a projector I still have to get the tape transfer... its a digital world now... so if I want to show what I've shot I still have to shell out the cash for the transfer... Im still looking forward to getting my super 8 camera and shooting a few rolls..


Then, but only then, you'll pay for the transfer. Until that moment why pay a useless service? You do that to learn. When you'll be "good" than you'll shoot your movies on film, get a transfer of them and show it to your potential clients as a demo reel.
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#16 Danny Haritan

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 01:42 PM

My first year at school, we were only allowed to use Sony PD150's.
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#17 Nate Downes

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 06:05 AM

and if I ever want to show someone that doesn't have a projector I still have to get the tape transfer... its a digital world now... so if I want to show what I've shot I still have to shell out the cash for the transfer... Im still looking forward to getting my super 8 camera and shooting a few rolls..

Edit it with scissors and tape first, THEN telecine. Saves you a ton of money. Why pay to telecine footage that nobody will see?

Heck, take the edited footage to WalMart, again, for a Super8 to DVD transfer. Only $30 I believe.
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#18 Cory Lonas

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:07 AM

Edit it with scissors and tape first, THEN telecine. Saves you a ton of money. Why pay to telecine footage that nobody will see?

Heck, take the edited footage to WalMart, again, for a Super8 to DVD transfer. Only $30 I believe.

this is a good point...
I think Im going to buy my girlfiends moms 16 mm camera for super cheap... I think the experience will be worth it...
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#19 Glen Alexander

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:12 AM

super 8mm, choose right stock and blow up isn't really that bad.
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#20 Nate Downes

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:23 AM

this is a good point...
I think Im going to buy my girlfiends moms 16 mm camera for super cheap... I think the experience will be worth it...

which camera is it? Some cameras use 2-perf, and will chew up 98% of the 16mm film produced nowadays.
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