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Help with the equipment needed for a feature


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#1 Armin Hokmi

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 09:54 AM

Hi,

I'm about to shoot my first feature , the script is almost finished and i need some help with the equipment.

The story is about a couple of couple of buddies, it's a family fiction, the scenes mostly will be shot indoor and in daylight , there are only 4 or 5 scenes in night.

I care about this film very much , and i want to make it as best as i can , and at the same time i wanna use equipments that would make a valuable film which can say something in festivals. so i wouldn't my film to have incompatibility with film festival's technical requirements.

i wanna replace most of my stuff, most importantly the camera , with all the things said above what kind of camera do you recommend , under 10000$ ?

How about camera accessories ?

What stuff do you recommend to record a nice sound on the set ?!

Any other advice that you think would be needed is really appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Armin Hokmi, 27 December 2009 - 09:57 AM.

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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 10:04 AM

I recommend renting the equipment you need to tell the story properly as opposed to spending tens of thousands of dollars buying new things which won't be as "good" as that which you can rent.
You'll probably need HMIs/Daylight Kinos/Photoflood practical bulbs as you're shooting a lot of daylight (and you can gel all those daylight fixtures without sacrificing too much of their output).
You'll need a camera/tripod/mattebox/monitor at least, and also may want a dolly or steadycam, jib etc depending on what types of camera motion you're into. Again, when you look at the prices for all of those things, you'll realize that rental is the most sensible/economic option and will hopefully leave some money left over for something vitally important and often over looked-- Production Design-- even as simple as a few cans of paint, can really build a location. Here's an example:
This was an all white basement... but a few panels from home depot and some sand bags really helped change it into a "dad's place" for our faux interview:

a.jpg

And another example, wherein we painted the whole hallway yellow (it was just white) added in an end table, and also decorated it, just for a quick interview shot (as well as a very long camera motion shot.. something like a 5 min hand held between 3 characters, which was.. well fun).

b.jpg

Now you also don't mention what you're doing on this piece, are you the sound recordist, the DoP, the director? Hire those to fill the roles you need with the experience and insight to help guide the project in terms of equipment selection. I'm a DoP, and I know enough about audio to get me by when I'm flying on my own, but when I need feature film quality audio, I recommend and deffer to a good friend of mine who I know knows the job, just as often when I'm DoP-ing the Director will deffer and ask me what will work when we get stuck (not to too my own horn too much), or I will deffer to a director for how he things it'll be best to block it or my colorist for how best to get a certain effect. Point being, when you're doing a bigger project, you get a bigger crew and one hopes you get a qualified crew (or at least one you can stand! I'd rather have people I get along with than someone who is necessarily uber-super at all they do) Ok rant over.

(edited for image placement)
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#3 Armin Hokmi

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 11:05 AM

Thanks for your reply dear Adrian .

I'm the director and the DP of this film.

I certainly would rent most of the stuff , but about the camera i have to buy one , cause i live in Iran and here we don't have rental professional cameras , so i have to buy one . so what do you recommend in this situation ? i have a dv camera now but obviously it's absolutely not right for this project.

And one another thing that's been on my mind is that should i necessarily shoot on film ? i know film is the better choice but is it worth the price ?! i mean wouldn't i get what i want with digital shooting ?! would "not shooting on film" really effect the work ?!
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 11:22 AM

Depends a lot on the film and how you're approaching it and what look you're after. There are some projects which call for film and others which do not. In my opinion, yes, you get what you pay for with film and a lot more. I personally, and I stress that I speak only for myself, find shooting film fantastically easy and I am blown away by the results under all conditions. That being said, I have been happy with my XDCam EX1 in most situations. I recommend the camera so long as you're not doing frantic motion, or anything with strobes, as the cameras' sensors fall apart in those situations. There is also a slight issue in needing FCP 6 or higher to work with the footage (or newer versions of AVID MC (3+) and other NLEs) , but this is becoming less of a big deal as people are continually upgrading their editorial systems.
Another camera to look into would be those systems based on the Panasonic tapeless workflow (DVCProHD); such as the HPX170 or the HVX200A. While I personally find the HVX very noisy and I don't use it, many people have had wonderful results with the camera systems.
Depending on when you're planning to shoot, I would also look into the A-cam dII (http://www.ikonoskop.com/dii/) which while not availible yet, seems to be a viable option once (if) it comes out. Or waiting around for some of the newer offerings from RED such as the Scarlett, which, again, if it comes to realization, seems to be a well thought out system which may well suit your needs. Again, those last 2 cameras do not yet exist, but are currently under-development and from the test footage (for the A-Cam) and the other camera RED offers SHOULD, again emphasis on should, be nice systems.
JVC also offers a few nice systems built around HDV. Now, HDV is OK for some situations and the familiar tape based workflow would certainly work well for applications such as documentary/run and gun/ or anything else where you'll be shooting a lot in remote locations. The problem of tapeless workflows is always the need to bring a computer around. Now, this wasn't too big of a deal for the documentaries I've shot on the XDCam, though I'd've felt a bit safer when I shot in Africa without having to worry about the hard drive and macbook.
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#5 Armin Hokmi

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 04:50 PM

Thanks again for your guidance dear Adrian.

I've read some good reviews of XDCam EX1 in websites after you've recommended it , it's actually perfect for my project based on demos i saw that were filmed with it. the price is definitely reasonable too. just one thing, have you had any problems with it filming at night or in a dark place ?!

I agree with you on HVX200A , i've worked with it once i just didn't feel comfortable shooting with it !
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 10:07 PM

Of all of the small chip cameras I've used the XDCam has performed the best, thanks a lot to it's larger chips. I have shot it outside in a city and brought the gain up to +3 and not had too much trouble with noise (wide open of course). Tomorrow I can see if I can find a frame grab or two of some night shots with the camera.
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