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Camera advice

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Weeell what's happening is this : I'm planning on making fan-films with some friends of mine without any prior film-making education or experience.
So before I get anything done I need to know : which video camera would you recommend for an amateur short-film maker on a relatively tight budget ?

(And while I'm here, any and all advice on the process of making a movie is welcome)
 

Evan of Phrygia

WwwHhAaaAaTtTttTttTtT
NOT Kodak. And may i ask if you have any video editing software and additional lighting sources? Those are vital. As for camcorders specifically, I'd partially recommend getting a Flip HD and a tripod. I'm satisfied with my its video quality, not to mention they go for pretty cheap if you get lower memory sizes. Considering everything it's almost impossible to get really clean HD for less than 500 USD.
 
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General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
As far as video editing software goes, I can get my hands on a pirated sony vega pro or magix video delux 17 ... and I have no idea what you mean by additional lighting. As I said, I'm really taking my first steps here.
Also, I'm not necessarily looking for some kickass high-quality image camcorder, as long as the image looks decent enough not to make people go "wtf is this shit" when viewed in fullscreen or on a TV. Though I do agree I'm probably gonna need a tripod. That shouldn't be too difficult to pick.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
I dunno ... I guess 250-300€ is the max I can invest in that sort of stuff, and I can maybe push it to 350€ if I go all out and I'm sure the project is working out.

EDIT : wait I just remembered I just might get access to a 500€ paycheck sometime this year, so let's say that's the limit. 500€.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Is this film about your space people figurines? :F

WTF ARE YOU DOING HERE LIZZIE no actually, it's about a ukrainian videogame series called S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I saw a couple of fan-films on youtube (like "Heart of the Oasis" and "The Duel") and it made me want to make my own. I already have a good shooting location, I have a large pool of potential volunteers in military outfits with realistic-looking fake weapons (my airsoft club) and I also already have an outline for the plot.

What I need now is to cover the technical side of things. AKA : video and sound recording, video and sound editing, etc ...
 

Onnes

Member
Your budget is a bit below what would be necessary to get a DSLR set up for video, so you're probably looking at things like the Flip. Keep in mind that Cisco axed the division that made the actual Flip, so it's dead as a product line.
 

Bliss

Member
WTF ARE YOU DOING HERE LIZZIE
Am I not allowed here? :[

no actually, it's about a ukrainian videogame series called S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I saw a couple of fan-films on youtube (like "Heart of the Oasis" and "The Duel") and it made me want to make my own. I already have a good shooting location, I have a large pool of potential volunteers in military outfits with realistic-looking fake weapons (my airsoft club) and I also already have an outline for the plot.

What I need now is to cover the technical side of things. AKA : video and sound recording, video and sound editing, etc ...
How much profit is to be expected if I invest 100 € into this project?
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Your budget is a bit below what would be necessary to get a DSLR set up for video, so you're probably looking at things like the Flip. Keep in mind that Cisco axed the division that made the actual Flip, so it's dead as a product line.

Just found a website called "theflip" or whatever on google, and the prices are about 80-100$ for one, is this what you're talking about ?

Edit : it looks a little small and cheap doesn't it ? I was kinda expecting something else of a legit video camera ...

How much profit is to be expected if I invest 100 € into this project?

You won't get anything because it'll be more like a hobby or an artistic outlet rather than an actual legitimate career and anyway I don't own the copyrights for anything even remotely connected to the Stalker franchise so I'd just get my ass sued off if I tried to make a profit :V
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
A video capable DSLR is what you'd really want to get. Like the Rebel T2i or higher.

Hey I'm pretty sure my mom has one of those T2i things. But will that work OK as a video camera to film a movie as well as a photo camera ?

EDIT : I was wrong, turns out it was a Sony DSC H50, but they looked awfully similar in google images :-/
 
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Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Hey I'm pretty sure my mom has one of those T2i things. But will that work OK as a video camera to film a movie as well as a photo camera ?
[video=youtube;ULcxmTHx-NE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULcxmTHx-NE[/video]
[video=youtube;u5r9r7VNfFE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5r9r7VNfFE&feature=related[/video]
[video=youtube;VE0_mo41ytc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE0_mo41ytc&feature=related[/video]
[video=youtube;XWLlMvV_-Bo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWLlMvV_-Bo&feature=related[/video]

Not exactly "pro" quality shooting, but it definitely gets the job done.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
The quality looks great no denying that ... and the price, while high, is still in the upper limits of what I'll probalby be able to afford. This camera looks very promising, it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

Well, thanks everyone for taking the time to help me out. I'll go check what they have at the local electronics and stuff store and keep all your advice in mind.
 

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
The quality looks great no denying that ... and the price, while high, is still in the upper limits of what I'll probalby be able to afford. This camera looks very promising, it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

Well, thanks everyone for taking the time to help me out. I'll go check what they have at the local electronics and stuff store and keep all your advice in mind.

When you start looking at the prices of even 'decent' HD camcorders, what the T2i does is pretty spectacular at it's price point. 1080p at 30fps and 720p at up to 60fps. There is of course one major caveat, these are not video cameras and they arn't rigged for long filming. There is a 4GB file limit, and you have to stop filming and start agian every 4GB. At 1080p this is about every 8mins or so. So if you're doing long interviews or performances this isnt' the ideal camera. For any OTHER task however, you're almost never going to record longer than 8mins because every 1mins you'll be saying 'Cut!'. Also, reguardless of file size, these cameras will stop recording at 29mins and 59secs, this is because if it does record segments over 30mins it becomes a 'Video Camera' and it's taxed in certian regions. But you'd only hit 30mins with the 4GB limit if filming in standard def.

You'll find other DSLRs that do an equally good job. The DSLR has lead to a revolution in indie film making and it's a good way to go. I'm eager to get my T2i week after next.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Yeah, these DSLR things seem to be the shit from what I've gathered from various websites dedicating to testing and comparing their specs. Anyway I don't think I wanted to film whole movies that are longer than 5 or 6 minutes (taking small steps, one at a time). Though eventually that WOULD get kind of constricting ...

I'd have to check other specs, obviously, but basically, if a camera can film at 720p the end result should be alright no ? Because while this T2i camera is awesome, I'm always looking for ways to slash costs, so if other DSLR cameras have sufficient image quality it'd still be ok.

Because basically if the quality of image with a camera is as good as with those two fan-films (Stalker short film and The duel) that'd still be more than enough for me, I'm not trying to build a movie studio from scratch.
 

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
I'd have to check other specs, obviously, but basically, if a camera can film at 720p the end result should be alright no ? Because while this T2i camera is awesome, I'm always looking for ways to slash costs, so if other DSLR cameras have sufficient image quality it'd still be ok.

Because basically if the quality of image with a camera is as good as with those two fan-films (Stalker short film and The duel) that'd still be more than enough for me, I'm not trying to build a movie studio from scratch.

Look at other cameras but remember not just to see 'It films 1080p!!!' but also the framerate. The T1i in contrast to the T2i for example can only record 1080p at 20fps. 20fps is below the 24fps that's used in film, so it'd be unsuitable as a 1080p camera. However the T1i can still do 30fps at 720p, so it'd be plenty suitable. Personally, I'd suggest getting something that does 1080p at at least 24fps. The reasoning being, the price difference is probably $200 at most, but if you're serious about getting into filmmaking, do you want to save a couple of hundred bucks only to find yourself going 'I need a new, better camera now' sooner than later? It could be one of those 'Spend money to save money' things.

That said, if you know someone with an HD video capable DSLR, borrow it instead of buying something. :)
 

Onnes

Member
The fan films you linked were shot with, I believe, a Panasonic AG-DVX100 and a Sony DSR-PD150, respectively--somewhat more serious video equipment.

Don't forget that you'll still want at least a tripod and a microphone if you're going to use the DSLR for video.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Well that's the problem isn't it ? Am I really serious about this or not ? ^^ ...

I kind of embarked into this mess on an impulse, but thinking back I've always been interested in the process of filmmaking ... the problem is, if I want to make movies, I need volunteers. And since I want to make movies about a peculiar subject (for now at least) I need a certain type of volunteer. So what if I buy the camera, and after a couple of movies people just get fed up and stop showing up ? It's not like I have a huge network of friends and relatives I can call upon in cases like this.

But really ... being serious or not is the heart of the problem. I don't know myself. I'd have to give it a shot first to know :/

I guess I'll try to find someone with a suitable camera and see if I could borrow it for a day or two.

Also, how expensive would a mike and tripod be ?
 

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
For a more interesting take, check out Freddie Wong's 'Cereal Killer'. This was filmed entirely on DSLRs, though Freddy uses a range of cameras depending on the projects:

[video]http://www.youtube.com/embed/mzhVAJOHgQo[/video]

[video]http://www.youtube.com/embed/VJ88mzRmZmU[/video]

If you look at the 'Behind The Scenes' video you see that he's using a DSLR mounted into that steering wheel like rig called a 'Fig Rig' ($300) but it allows for nice, stable handheld shots with small cameras like DSLRs and camcorders.

Similarly, if you find you have a problem with recorded audio... ADR it! Automatic Dialogue Replacement. Literally, redub the scene after the fact in much better conditions. Freddie demonstrates ADR later on in this behind the scenes video.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/embed/emzegP66p-Y[/video]
 
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General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
Considering the price of the video camera by itself I believe I can live without a 300$ stabilizing apparatus D:

But thanks for the tips. I watch a few of his videos occasionally, but I never really investigated seriously. I guess this is as good a time as any to take a look.

EDIT : just so I'm absolutely sure everything got through my thick skull : to have a decent picture, I'd need to film in HD at (at least) 720p with 24 FPS ? While taking into account the number of pixels, the amount of available memory, etc ...
 
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Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Oh yeah, one more thing to keep in mind: 1080i is not remotely similar to 1080p. Its overall resolution as compared to 1080p at any given instant is about equal to 540p - Less resolution even than 720p.
 

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
EDIT : just so I'm absolutely sure everything got through my thick skull : to have a decent picture, I'd need to film in HD at (at least) 720p with 24 FPS ? While taking into account the number of pixels, the amount of available memory, etc ...

Yes, anything below 24fps would seem pretty jaggy. I think most "HD Video" capable DSLRs you eye will do 720p @ 30fps minimum. If you're looking at VIDEO cameras however, they'll absolutely use a common video center, just some lower end DSLRs could be iffy.

Memory isn't such a big deal on DSLRs, they all take SD cards so you can use any SDHC card for storage and either stop, copy the data to the PC, then film agian, or swap the cards or whatever. Easy enough there.
 

General-jwj

Prime Minister of Belgium
As I said, this week-end I'll probably hit the electonics store, ask some people I know about cameras and stuff, and sunday I'll start the recruiting process. If everything goes well, we've got ourselves something big going. If something doesn't go well (overpriced cameras even by the standards of holy shit cameras are expensive), nobody I know can lend me one or nobody is interested in playing in my film ... then I'll just crawl in my bed and cry bitter tears of disappointment made of broken dreams and dead kittens.

And OK, I got this resolution thing totally under control ... now, what was that someone said about using external mikes ? What do those look like and is the model important ? (and more importantly, do they cost a shitload of money to an almost pennyless sucker like me ?)
 

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
As I said, this week-end I'll probably hit the electonics store, ask some people I know about cameras and stuff, and sunday I'll start the recruiting process. If everything goes well, we've got ourselves something big going. If something doesn't go well (overpriced cameras even by the standards of holy shit cameras are expensive), nobody I know can lend me one or nobody is interested in playing in my film ... then I'll just crawl in my bed and cry bitter tears of disappointment made of broken dreams and dead kittens.

And OK, I got this resolution thing totally under control ... now, what was that someone said about using external mikes ? What do those look like and is the model important ? (and more importantly, do they cost a shitload of money to an almost pennyless sucker like me ?)

External mics are better microphones that you can mount on and jack into your hardware. A DSLR wouldn't have a good microphone that's for sure, but the ones that are good for recording often have a stereo microphone in jack, so you can mount on an extermal microphone and jack it in. This could cost you $100-$300. You should try to see what results you get with your built in mic first. If you wanted an external mic, you'd be looking at some kind of shotgun mic or something.

Honestly, start small. I'm sure you have some cool big ideas for a fanfilm but you should start with something simple, that doesn't need a lot of people and can be done quickly. Something maybe 30-60 seconds long, make it short, make it good, maybe a bit of a parody or something, and focus on that. It'll let you learn and adapt without sinking you into an 'OMG BIG PROJECT'.
 
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