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General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Maidenscombe on November 23, 2011, 08:43:12 am

Title: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on November 23, 2011, 08:43:12 am
I've decided to have a go at making a short myself.
I am writing the script myself, that is the easy bit but I do need some knowledge about camera's. I wouldn't ask you to name a specific camera, more so what functions to look for in a camera.
I'm thinking of sending the finished product to You Tube, if and when it is good enough.

Hopefully thanks.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Felek on November 24, 2011, 04:24:18 am
Hi Maidenscome

When it comes to choosing a camera for a short, or anything else, you generally need to ask yourself a few basic questions:


(My Opinion of the) minimum specs for a camera to produce an indie short

You'll also want to consider what accessories you'd need to add to your kit. It of course depends on the scale of what you're shooting/locations.

(My Opinion of the) minimum accessories for an average small scale short

A brief overview of the levels of camera available:

DSLR cameras £500-£2,000 approx: The Canon 550D, 5D & 7D are used heavily in indie-shorts.
Positives: Cinematic style shallow depth of field, low cost media, small file sizes, 1080p, lightweight, used in some TV productions, often HDMI output for monitoring
Negatives: Moire pattern issues on certain models. Also the form-factor is a bit of a compromise. Sometimes can be clunky to use without support equipment. The audio offerings can also often be poor. Monitoring may also not be ideal.

'Semi-Pro' Broadcast grade multi-purpose cameras £2,500-£6,000 approx: Cameras such as the Sony EX1 & EX3 and Canon XF series are used by broadcasters and 'self shooting' producers. They are usually used for additional footage, for example on The X Factor many of the researchers run around with cameras like these for use in VTs.
Positives: The EX1 in particular has an amazingly sharp image for the price, broadcast grade, used by indies, ability to add shallow dof adapters, professional inputs, professional resolutions/frame rates, low-mid priced recording media, good form factor
Negatives: Price, may not achieve extreme shallow DOF without an adapter

Large sensor video cameras £4,000-£12,000 approx Cameras such as the Panasonic AF100 and Sony F3. These cover both the prosumer and professional markets. The main attraction of these are the large sensor capabilities for mounting cinema, stills or prime lenses. The models vary, AF100 is lower end, F3 higher end. The Af100 is common in indie productions.
Positives: Cinema style look
Negatives: Varies per camera but usually price


Broadcast Cameras £7,000-£50,000 approx: Shares many of the same pros/cons as the semi-pro broadcast cameras

Digital Cinema Cameras £10,000-£200,000 approx: Such as the RED Scarlet, RED Epic, RED One MX, ARRI Alexa, SI-2K, Thomson Viper etc
Positives: The ultimate style of camera to shoot a film on
Negatives: Price, The time needed to learn the equipment

Super 16 / 35mm I have no clue! I think the Arri 435 is/was quite popular and of course various offerings from Panavision
Positives: Used for most large projects until recently
Negatives: High developing costs, starting to be phased out

The list isn't exhaustive, with many cameras above and below the list above... these are ones I have a decent knowledge of.

Cameras used at The Great Escape
Before 2009 - Mini DV Style Camera
2009 - Sony VX2100e
2009/2010 - JVC GY-HD111e & GY-HD100
2010/2011 - Sony PDW-F350
2011 - Sony PMW-EX1
2011 - Canon Rebel T2i 550D

These are all my options and my experiences.. but I hope its helpful to you!

Let me know if you need help with anything :)


 

Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on November 24, 2011, 12:01:51 pm
Felek,
thanks for the info it is very helpful.
As this will be my first foray into the world of making films, I don't want to spend to much, because I might be crap at it.
I had thought of a weekly rental of a good camera, but the cost factor was such that I could buy a reasonable camera that would do the job for less.
I've already picked out a place for the 'shoot', it is on dry land. I plan to 'shoot' it in an interview style, that way any recordings will be to a set place, the actors don't need to move. And the info is of a historical nature about the water authority, the water pipeline that takes water from Perth to the Goldfields (permissions are being sought).
Even if permissions are not needed, the tourist bureau of WA and the water authority will know of me.  That will come under the guise of free advertising.

A secondary storyline is planned on being included, to give the end result a bit more dramatic impact to those that watch it. This will be done with one or two sightings of ghosts, someone with red eyes (contact lenses) that is in the bushes and the 'haunting' sound of a flute. Nothing that requires any special effects, they can come later when I am good enough (or if I get good enough).
Delving into the world of making films will also make the scripts I write more effective, hopefully.
Lighting won't be a problem as such, as the sun can be bright here, using reflectors is a necessity though. To keep the harsh shadows at bay.
Once again, thanks.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on November 24, 2011, 10:02:15 pm
My thought that if you want something cheap, you could easily go with a stills camera with a good lens (preferably something you already know takes good pictures) or a second-hand older standard-definition MiniDV camera (such as a Canon XL1), especially if you're new to filming (start off with something simple rather than things with a million buttons and features). I agree that it's good if you get something with a microphone-in socket as on-camera audio tends to be a bit rubbish and the closer the microphone is to your actors the better. Manual focus I would say is a must as auto-focus often flips-out mid shoot.

Renting a camera is a big no-no - the costs are prohibitive, and you're better off saving up your money, buy something simple to start and work up to better and better cameras.

Good luck with your filming project, and keep us updated!
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on November 24, 2011, 11:11:57 pm
Thanks for that Rich,
I had thought of using a stills camera, but only for dramatical impact, such as.... looking at the pages of a book that show a village not being there, then being there. But like some films special effects, please don't try to imagine the size of the book.
I got the idea of a ghost village from the ghost cottage on Dartmoor.

I first wrote of it in a story that I sent to Chrissey. The story was developed, and soon after it became the short film script of Jay's Grave, or Kitty and Jaime. Oddly enough it was several months after I had written that, I found out that Kitty had in fact had a friend named Jaime.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on November 25, 2011, 11:10:13 pm
I really didn't expect this amount of help, but I am grateful for it. I have had another offer of help, from Simon Akkerman.  www.profilmcrewwa.com.au/
I had thought of doing something in about 6 months, now I have the feeling that I want the project finished in 6 months.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on February 01, 2012, 08:29:19 am
After much thought and much reading of several articles I decided to get a Canon OES D550. Guess what, when I got home I found out that the 55-250mm zoom lens didn't work. Back to the shop for a replacement lens.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on February 02, 2012, 11:10:13 am
After much thought and much reading of several articles I decided to get a Canon OES D550. Guess what, when I got home I found out that the 55-250mm zoom lens didn't work. Back to the shop for a replacement lens.

Good choice of camera, we initially picked the 550d ourselves due to it's high specification for its price point, superior video output and good expandability. TGE have recently switched to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 for filming purposes (just because it was a bit daft having a cameraman who didn't have his own camera), but I will always have a soft spot for our 550D.

As for the lens, what was wrong with it if you don't mind me asking?
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: mysticjim on February 02, 2012, 07:22:21 pm
Bummer.  Assuming you get a swift replacement, whats the first thing on your shooting schedule?
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on February 03, 2012, 12:16:48 am
Rich,
the problem with the lens (55 to 250 zoom) was that the zoom function didn't operate at all.

mysticjim,
the first thing to do will be to get a shot of Tina Standish (name of character in short film) in the water run off from the dam at Mundaring, then zoom to a shot of the dam wall.
I wrote an English version of the script, the English version is about a canal. It is on the thread Just another script I wrote.
The original is a documentary come ghost story set near Mundaring dam. About a water supply pipeline to the Goldfields.
If you don't know any facts about the Goldfields Water Supply Pipeline, the length of it is similar to the distance from Perth, Scotland to London. 

Rich,
anything further known about the script that includes a night scene at a churchyard, with a man spelling his name correctly on his headstone? Or the script about the grave of Kitty Jay?
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on February 06, 2012, 11:18:07 am
Rich,
anything further known about the script that includes a night scene at a churchyard, with a man spelling his name correctly on his headstone? Or the script about the grave of Kitty Jay?

The script about the churchyard is still in pre-production (aka: setting production dates, casting etc.) but we're still very much interested in making it if we're still allowed. I'm expecting sometime in the summer.

As for the script about the grave of Kitty Jay: I don't recall that one being in the project planner yet, but I think the focus is on the first script.

Sorry for the delay, but hopefully we'll have some more news on it soon.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on February 06, 2012, 10:46:07 pm
Rich.
About those scripts, when I sent them to Chrissey they were sent on the understanding that I wouldn't get anything for them, that if you wanted to do anything with them you could, and if you did you'd have my consent/permission.

The Kitty Jay script might be described as being in the tray marked.... if, but, maybe one day, possibly yes and possibly no.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on February 07, 2012, 11:28:55 am
Cool. Thanks for the clarification.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on April 11, 2012, 07:16:53 am
Rich,
it was reccommended to me to use a Rode NTG-2 microphone. ( That was by the sound person at Balthazarmedia, one of the film production places in Perth)
I noticed on the Rode Microphones web-site that there is a Rode adaptor available, to take the 3.5mm jack (that is used for the camera) to an XLR.
Did you try it? If so, was it any good?
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on April 13, 2012, 11:01:47 pm
Rich,
it was reccommended to me to use a Rode NTG-2 microphone. ( That was by the sound person at Balthazarmedia, one of the film production places in Perth)
I noticed on the Rode Microphones web-site that there is a Rode adaptor available, to take the 3.5mm jack (that is used for the camera) to an XLR.
Did you try it? If so, was it any good?

Not used a Rode one, but used generic 3.5mm to XLR adapters before and they work fine, but if you're running directly into the camera you may have issues as a) some cameras don't amplify shotgun mics properly so you may require a microphone pre-amp and b) some use an automatic volume control which means when a scene is quiet background noise gets amplified.

For optimum sound using an DSLR, I suggest recording separately; either a standalone device (for example: the Zoom H4n or Tascam DR-40) or a laptop if you're on a budget. Of course, it introduces the requirement to synchronise audio and if you're doing simple stuff it might be a little OTT, but after having issues last week trying to record audio to two different DSLRs I would recommend considering it.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on April 14, 2012, 12:12:41 pm
Thanks for that, I'm currently looking at making a short that will be called The 2J ghost train. I will need to make a recording of the 'ghost train'. As other parts of the short require a reporter, having a hand held microphone will be needed. I may as well get a recording unit, separate from the camera.
Rode microphone's seem to be used in the music industry a fair bit, which might make them more suitable to record the sounds of a goods train. I don't know how long they are near Bristol, but here the longest I have heard took 2 minutes and 10 seconds to pass by (last week). Lots of metal to metal sounds to record, plus near here is an unmanned crossing, the ringing bell warning sound is good as is the horn blast from the train.
A train can look impressive, having three locomotives to pull it.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Felek on April 14, 2012, 04:26:19 pm
Of course, it introduces the requirement to synchronise audio and if you're doing simple stuff it might be a little OTT, but after having issues last week trying to record audio to two different DSLRs I would recommend considering it.

http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html (http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html)

PluralEyes is a godsend for syncing audio!
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on April 15, 2012, 03:44:15 am
Nice one, thanks.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on April 17, 2012, 11:32:49 pm
Rode microphone's seem to be used in the music industry a fair bit, which might make them more suitable to record the sounds of a goods train. I don't know how long they are near Bristol, but here the longest I have heard took 2 minutes and 10 seconds to pass by (last week). Lots of metal to metal sounds to record, plus near here is an unmanned crossing, the ringing bell warning sound is good as is the horn blast from the train.
A train can look impressive, having three locomotives to pull it.

Hmm... if you're trying to go with more environmental sounds (such as the sound of a train going past), you may want to pick a microphone that picks up a wide field rather than a shotgun mic (which only picks up well for whatever you're pointing at it).

Ignoring that quibble, however, the NTG-2 is a very good choice for a microphone. Once I've saved up my pennies, that's what I'm potentially buying (the mic we have, an HTDZ HT-81, is excellent quality for the price but it does have its flaws such as a little bit of hiss and a tendency to pick up unwanted noise). I see a lot of people using DSLRs go for the Rode VideoMic, which is also very good, mounts directly on the camera and has a built in amplifier, but once you expand into having a boom pole it becomes scrap. Also, it's good to buy from an Aussie company! :D

I'd also suggest purchasing the three basic essentials at some point: a good windshield if you're going to film outside (for example: the Rode WS6), a good mount (preferably one that has a shockmount to reduce movement & cable noise getting in the way of the sound) and, once you move up to it, a lightweight non-flexible boom pole - believe me, a light boom pole is a godsend!

Good luck!
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on April 18, 2012, 12:00:38 am
After looking at several pictures of sound people holding the boom for the microphone I was horrified. What a stupid concept I thought.
A good sound recording is usually so vital for a film, so having a mike hand held is a dumb idea. To get a constant recording level a fixed microphone would be so much better. Make use of a light reflector to keep the wind noise to a minimum.
As for doing the recording of a train, it would be done at night as there is a lot fewer other sounds that will affect it. Also as the sound carries really well the microphone can be set back to 20 or 30 yards and just get the sounds from a certain length of rail. As the time spent going past a certain area can be over 2 minutes, cutting out a lot of the trains noises will be beneficial.
At 3 am I can hear the train coming about 6 miles away, this is a hilly terrain so the noise travels along the valleys, it also echoes from various other hills. So the shotgun type mike suits this area.

My main problem will be getting a good set up for the mike as there isn't anywhere less than 2000 miles away that supplies these items. My idea will be to fix the boom pole to a tripod. By using the contraption that holds the mike to fix the boom pole to the tripod (somehow) the sound reproduction can be much better. There are some stands for boom poles but they are crap and more suited for table top situations.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on April 19, 2012, 11:13:48 pm
After looking at several pictures of sound people holding the boom for the microphone I was horrified. What a stupid concept I thought. A good sound recording is usually so vital for a film, so having a mike hand held is a dumb idea.

In the case of your static shot: yes, by all means mount it on something - either as a separate microphone stand (such as the kind singers use) or as a 'shoe mount' (as in, mounted on the flash shoe) on the top of your camera. Both are both inexpensive and easy to use.

Of course the best strategy is to have it static, but in most cases of film shooting, actors move, different people talk, camera angles show areas you'd stand a microphone, etc. - which is why boom poles exist. They allow you to get the microphone close to the actors and yet still mobile enough to cover more than one person.

To stop the noise of hands and movement, most mountings for shotgun microphones, both to go on a boom pole or be hand-held, have one of these rubbery things on them: (http://www.audioquip.net/images/sennheiser/me66.jpg)
- it's a shock mount that prevents/reduces the noise of handling. More professional ones use rubber bands to essentially 'float' the microphone so that knocks and movement don't affect it. As you can understand, with one of those you hardly suffer the issues you'd expect from using a shotgun microphone hand-held.

Quote
Make use of a light reflector to keep the wind noise to a minimum.

You could try that, although I wouldn't suggest it. Unless you're really careful, you could find your audio becoming distorted (akin to holding an umbrella or holding your hand close to your ear), you will get thump and rustle as the wind catches the light reflector and unless you're fortunate enough to have the wind always blow from the same direction you'll have to keep moving it. As I said, I strongly suggest a fluffy microphone windshield if you're working outdoors as microphones are highly sensitive to wind. (I have this one, a Rode WS6:)
(http://www.micsdirect.com/rode_ws6_pic1.jpg)
I'd also suggest avoiding foam ones unless you're working somewhere where there's low chance of wind or there are natural windbreaks (such as trees, buildings, a news reporter etc.) - most microphones come with them but they

Hope that's useful information.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on April 20, 2012, 03:05:48 am
I just went outside to time a passing goods train, it was passing here for 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Admittedly it was a bit slower than usual, probably due to the speed it went throught the station a mile back. But the sounds it created, they were fantastic, just what I want. I Wish I'd had a decent microphone set up to record it.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on August 07, 2012, 01:01:14 am
So there I was, standing in the location of where the first scene was to be shot. I had gone there on a dry run, just to make sure there were no unforseen problems. And good thing too, an unforseen problem reared its ugly head. The LCD screen on the camera began to accept all the daylight on the screen, so I couldn't see what I was looking at.
I tried to think of ways to avoid the glare on the LCD screen, my thoughts were of the first camera's. Of how the camera operator would shroud him/ herself in a black cover.
What ways do you guys stop the glare on the LCD screen?
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: mysticjim on August 12, 2012, 10:38:43 pm
My suggestion would be hooking up one of these;

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mini-3-5-Inch-TFT-LCD-Color-Screen-Car-Rearview-Monitor-Free-Shipping-UK-Stock-/270988430120?pt=UK_In_Car_Technology&hash=item3f182b4b28 (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mini-3-5-Inch-TFT-LCD-Color-Screen-Car-Rearview-Monitor-Free-Shipping-UK-Stock-/270988430120?pt=UK_In_Car_Technology&hash=item3f182b4b28)

to your camera.  You've got a 2nd screen independent of the camera, so potentially you can look at what the camera is seeing while tilting the screen to avoid direct sunlight onto the screen.  You could also fit some kind of improvised sun visor to the portable scr
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on August 12, 2012, 11:04:49 pm
Thanks for that mysticjim,
I received an e-mail yesterday from Team Digital, a camera shop in Perth. There is a proper fitting for the camera I have. It costs $9.
And there was me thinking of a black piece of cloth to cover part of the camera and me, a bit like the first portrait camera operators used.
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on August 14, 2012, 12:24:48 am
Thanks for that mysticjim,
I received an e-mail yesterday from Team Digital, a camera shop in Perth. There is a proper fitting for the camera I have. It costs $9.

Yes, an LCD hood is a far more practical solution for your problem! :D
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Maidenscombe on May 07, 2013, 11:58:11 pm
Manfrotto Fluid Head Shootout


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnBxu7STmag&feature=fvwp&NR=1
Title: Re: What camera to use?
Post by: Rich on May 13, 2013, 09:21:16 pm
Manfrotto Fluid Head Shootout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnBxu7STmag&feature=fvwp&NR=1

Manfrottos are really nice tripods. I believe all the ones I've used have had 501 heads, which are rock solid for the job.