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Digital or Film 15k and Under


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#1 michaelmikes

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 07:54 AM

If you had $15,000 to buy a camera package (digital or film) what would you select. The camera would mainly be used for music videos. What other equipment would you consider necessary to accompany such a package (lighting, editing/ editing software, etc.)? Feel free to generalize your answers in regards to the equipment but not the camera itself.. -Hope I'm not being to general-

Again, thanks for any replies..

Mike
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#2 Algis Kemezys

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 08:31 AM

Hi Mike,

You know mini DV with 3CCD's and a Leica lens is about as good as it gets for smaller sized cameras.
I believe the smaller the camera the more you can do with it. That means creative compositions because it is easier to move about. Now along come HD with more lines than one could shake a stick at. I just saw a prosumer one with Zeiss lens. It was formidable. I think it takes alot more memory to cut HD than MD. The HD cameras are bigger but not so much so...

I think I would go the way of MiniDV and wait for another few years for the real stuff to settle in.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 10:16 AM

Unfortunately, your budget is too low for the cheapest 16x9 2/3" 3-CCD 24P/480 NTSC professional camera, which I think is the Sony DSR450WSL ($18,000).

I'd be hesistant to get an interlaced-scan only camera for music videos.

Your next best hope are two cameras coming out by the end of the year:

720/24P (plus 480i and 480P) JVC GY-HD100 HDV camera

http://www.hdvinfo.n...hd100teaser.php
http://www.biz-max.n...ax/GY-HD100.htm

This will probably be around $10,000. It is a 1/3" 3-CCD HDV pro-style camcorder with interchangeable lenses.

Then there's the Panasonic AG-HVX200 HD camera.

1080i/720P/480i 1/3" 3-CCD DV/DVCPRO50/DVCPROHD. Can record standard def to tape but records HD (true pro HD, the same format as their Varicam, which is DVCPROHD, not the consumer HDV format) to P2 memory cards, sort of like the compact flash cards used in digital still cameas, so you'd have to get used to the idea of downloading all the time. The camera will be $6000 but it holds two 20-minute P2 cards (so 40 minutes total) and the cards are over $1000 each.

It is a prosumer style camera with a permanently mounted zoom lens. But it does shoot multiple frame rates in HD.

http://ww.letsgodigi...story_3038.html
http://www.uemedia.n...ter_12439.shtml
http://www.ag-hvx200.com/

Below these two choices, in the standard def progressive-scan realm, are the popular Canon XL2 and Panasonic DVX100A. If you wanted something today, it would probably be between these two. Both are well under $5000.

There are plenty of low-end pro cameras in the $5000 to $15000 but none shoot progressive scan as far as I know.
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#4 Chris Cooke

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 04:43 PM

Michael,
I'm in a very similar situation as you except that I have access to many different video camera's. I've come to realise that I absolutely love the pristine quality that film can give us when shot correctly (especially compared to NTSC). I'm looking at buying a film camera package within the next 6 months. Not an expensive one, but that's the beauty of film. It's the actual film that captures the image. With video, you have to spend some big bucks for decent CCD's. I'm thinking of maybe a 16mm Bolex and then renting good a good lens package. For me, I allready have a well paying job as a Lighting Director at an international television station but I'm into Cinematography on the side because I love it.
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#5 Rik Andino

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 12:17 AM

Get a film camera...
If you're shooting music videos or commercial
Well most of the professional ones are shot on film.

Only very low-budget videos are shot on MiniDV
(Which is fine if you're in the market to shoot great looking low budget videos...)
Let's face everyone (filmmakers) get in the music video market for the money...

So my advice get the equipment that can get you the best jobs.

Ideally you should have both a good video camera and a good film camera
But if you can only afford one go for the film camera.

You might even be able to afford a good MOS 35mm camera...
Which is great because that's still the pro standard for videos and commercials
But if you can't get 35mm, well then S16mm is very good too...
You can shoot alot of medium-size budget videos on S16mm

The thing about the music video market is you want to avoid low budget work...
Because it rarely helps you advance--> very especially as a DP...
If an artist doesn't have enough to shoot on film...
They don't have enough for lights or a good location or great extras and dancers...
They pretty much don't have much for anything that makes a good video.
Which means you'll shoot a crappy video for basically little money.

Avoid the hassle just work with better artists
You can put yourself above the riff-raff immediately by shooting only film.

And no offence to the folks who've shoot great looking music videos on DV...
(Frankly I've produced a couple & continue to do some more due to necessity)
But be honest...most of the artist who shoot on video have no money
And a few also have no talent. :)


Good Luck
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:16 AM

Hi,

It's insane to tell someone on this kind of budget to buy film. Once again these reccomendations are coming from people who shoot film all the time at someone else's expense, whose large crews are provided at someone else's expense, who never see the bills for processing and telecine and probably don't even know what these things cost. You can buy a mediocre film camera for US$15k, but it'll cost you half that again every time you take the thing out of the case - and the result will be you never actually do take it out of the case.

I'm forced to point out that the least qualified people to reccomend film are bigtime DPs who probably couldn't tell you what a roll of filmstock cost if you asked!

Phil
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:41 AM

Hi,

It's insane to tell someone on this kind of budget to buy film. Once again these reccomendations are coming from people who shoot film all the time at someone else's expense, whose large crews are provided at someone else's expense, who never see the bills for processing and telecine and probably don't even know what these things cost. You can buy a mediocre film camera for US$15k, but it'll cost you half that again every time you take the thing out of the case - and the result will be you never actually do take it out of the case.

I'm forced to point out that the least qualified people to reccomend film are bigtime DPs who probably couldn't tell you what a roll of filmstock cost if you asked!

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Phil,

Whilst you do have a point I can shoot 3 x 400' rolls of Fuji film process and attended best light on a Shadow for GBP1000 . A small shoot for USD5K is normal for me. Low budjet is 1 x 400'!

I think Rik Andino has summed up the business quite well.

Stephen
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#8 Nate Downes

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 07:17 AM

Hi,

It's insane to tell someone on this kind of budget to buy film. Once again these reccomendations are coming from people who shoot film all the time at someone else's expense, whose large crews are provided at someone else's expense, who never see the bills for processing and telecine and probably don't even know what these things cost. You can buy a mediocre film camera for US$15k, but it'll cost you half that again every time you take the thing out of the case - and the result will be you never actually do take it out of the case.

I'm forced to point out that the least qualified people to reccomend film are bigtime DPs who probably couldn't tell you what a roll of filmstock cost if you asked!

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hrm? If I had $15k I could afford to buy a fantastic Konvas setup and even have enough leftover to buy a backstock of film.

Incidentally, I've paid all of my own music video work out of my own pocket, and I only shoot on film. Last one was shot on Super8, cost me $350 in film, processing and transfer.
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#9 Chris Cooke

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 10:16 PM

As you can see Mike, there are very strong differing opinions on this subject. Phil aparently has a problem with people who make money and Rik is obviously sold on film. You have to count the costs. The camera's that David pointed out might be your best bet for shorts or small music video's. If you want your video's to be broadcast or on the big screen, it might be hard to do that with mini dv or HDV. I did not say imposible but hard. 16mm on the other hand is high enough resolution for any broadcaster and blowups to 35mm are becoming increasingly more poplular. Video or Film? It's not a question of which is better. The question is... What suits your needs and budget?
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 03:47 AM

Hi,

> If you want your video's to be broadcast or on the big screen

But the vast majority of all shorts will never be shown anywhere but on the director's parents' TV. It's pointless. Given what shorts are for, I can't imagine how it's a good use of funds to set yourself up with something you can only afford to use once every three years.

Phil
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#11 Chris Cooke

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 07:46 PM

Hi,

> If you want your video's to be broadcast or on the big screen

But the vast majority of all shorts will never be shown anywhere but on the director's parents' TV. It's pointless. Given what shorts are for, I can't imagine how it's a good use of funds to set yourself up with something you can only afford to use once every three years.

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Why do you tell first time filmmakers to think small? Thinking that you're film will only be seen by your parents on their TV is a bad attitude. Mike didn't even mention that he wanted to shoot shorts. He said music video's. Lots of low budget music video's have been broadcast or at least featured on the bands website. If you impress people with your footage, you'll use your camera more than "every three years". Have you thought about investors Mike?
Another good reason to buy a Bolex Rex 5 or a Konvas film camera is that it'll teach you the finer arts of filmmaking, you can't just put everything on auto and shoot. It's much more satisfying.
Satisfaction may not be what your going for though Mike. You might want to just have some fun shooting videos/films and maybe someday make some money doing it. Don't be afraid of ebay. You won't find HVX 200's on their but you will find DVX 100's and Bolex Rex 5's.
Just remember that thinking small won't get you anywhere. You can shoot on 8mm to start with if you want, but still do your best and think big.
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#12 drew_town

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 09:29 PM

The good thing about most music videos is that you really don't have to worry too much about sound. It's normally just the song, right?

My suggestion would be to start out with a digital outfit and later if money and skill permits delve a little into the film realm. Film is expensive, and like Phil mentioned, it might be a little too expensive unless someone else is fronting the bill.

You'll need some accessories for your camera. What you need will be determined by what you shoot: field monitor, tripod, shoulder mount, stabilizer system, lens filters, matte box, follow focus, so on.

You will certainly need a lighting package. Look into the types of lights that are available and think about what you'll be lighting to determine what you need. Start with the essentials and build up your kit. You'll need some grip equipment too.

You don't HAVE to purchase a lump sum of equipment straight from the start. Get what you need and when you start making some money with your stuff, buy more.

A good learning technique is to buy only what you really need, so you're forced to work and make work with the bare essentials. Don't spend all your time and energy on stuff.

As far as a camera I would recommend the Canon XL2, or if you could wait, JVC's HD100.

Good luck.
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#13 Rik Andino

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 09:56 PM

Hi,

But the vast majority of all shorts will never be shown anywhere
but on the director's parents' TV. It's pointless.

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well first of all we're not talking about shorts here...
We're talking about the MUSIC VIDEO INDUSTRY!!
Which is wholly different from the short film world or the indie film world.

Here are some rules in the Music Video World.

WHEN SHOOTING A MUSIC VIDEO LET SOMEONE ELSE FRONT THE BILL!
If you're paying for SOMEONE ELSE'S MUSIC VIDEO---STOP RIGHT NOW!
Doing this damages us all---Artist will think they can get Good Videos for free.

WHEN SHOOTING A MUSIC VIDEO
ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR PRODUCTION LOOKS GOOD AND EXPENSIVE...
This will insure the label will think highly of you and hire you again...
And they can brag about how big their Music Video shoot for so&so was.

WHEN SHOOTING A MUSIC VIDEO ALWAYS ENCOURAGE THE ARTIST BY SAYING THEY'LL HAVE THE BEST VIDEO THEY'VE EVER SEEN ON TV
(the word best can be substituted by most original, hippest, fliest, or the poop!)
This will insure the artist is happy and willing to work with you again

See Phil there are rules to surviving in the Music Videos World...
Right now you're encouraging everyone to break those rules...
Ergo not having a successful Music Video career.

You're right about shooting shorts but wrong about Music Videos.

Now if I were shooting shorts I wouldn't follow them rules
And I'd get an Panasonic HVX200...it would be well worth it.


Lastly a roll of new film cost aprox. $150 US.
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 03:50 AM

Hi,

> Artist will think they can get Good Videos for free.

They can anyway, regardless of what I do. I've only ever been paid for about 60% of the music videos I've done. Those that paid, paid well, but it's really not something I expect to make money out of because it's too easy. Spending a couple of days running off a standard R&B or four-piece rock ensemble promo is not exactly rocket science; most film school kids could make a reasonable job of it (Certainly as good a job of it as I can) on the day after graduation, so I don't expect to get rich out of it.

> ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR PRODUCTION LOOKS GOOD

What, really? Never!

> ALWAYS ENCOURAGE THE ARTIST BY SAYING THEY'LL HAVE THE BEST VIDEO...

Balls. This kind of gushing just leads to the client making a mental note that you're a self-congratulatory imbecile. Does me, anyway!

> This will insure the artist is happy and willing to work with you again

No, shooting a decent project is what will insure that. Anyway, I've found repeat business very hard to come by on music video, largely because they can't use the "there'll be paying work in the future" line twice and they know that, so they just go and exploit someone else next time.

> Lastly a roll of new film cost aprox. $150 US.

Aren't you lucky. Now realise that will more than double, probably more than triple, by the time you've processed and transferred it, rented equipment and crew, etc. I have developed a rule of thumb that even with some discounts, costs associated with film (as opposed to the rest of the show) are around £500/US$1000 per minute of finished production assuming you're doing around five minutes. I find it a very, very hard sell to tell a client that they can pay many thousands of units of whatever currency you happen to use to get to a DVCAM tape which is substantially identical to what they'll get if we just shoot DVCAM to begin with. The differences are obviously there, but it's very tough to sell a band on this sort of expenditure when the best you can do is wax lyrical about how pretty it is.

Music promos are never going to be a career for anyone except at the very highest levels; get used to the idea!

Phil
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#15 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 03:30 PM

In my experience, any band/record company that can afford to shoot film, WILL shoot film. They are not interested in resolution, color sampling or latitude. They care about the prestige of shooting film rather than video. Right or wrong that's how they think.

The original question was 'what camera should I buy?'. Well, I would follow David Mullens' recommendation. Any one of those cameras is capable of great results, and at a price that won't scare people off.

Owning a film camera is not going to convince a band to shoot film - Camera rental is a small part of a budget anyway, so they won't be saving much. A 24p/25p DV camera is going to be much more flexible.

Wendell Greene posted a link recently to a promo by a band called Buckfast, which was shot on DV. Forgetting for a moment the obvious budget of the video, it still shows what a DVX100 with some good lighting and a nice grade is capable of.

Use a DV camera to polish your skills, then when a film job comes along, hopefully someone else will be picking up the tab....
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