Author Topic: What camera to use?  (Read 18544 times)

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
What camera to use?
« 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.

Felek

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
    • PZP Site
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #1 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:

  • Budget: This is quite a biggie and is likely the main deciding factor. Another sub-question is whether rent or buy. In my opinion, I like to avoid rental at all costs. I'd rather buy a camera knowing I'd be using it for a few months to re-sell than rent for the same period. If you treat your equipment well and purchase an item that holds its price, it could be a good option.
  • Destination for final film/video: For example if you had something commissioned by the BBC, they would have set standards that you'd need to follow. For personal projects, you have a fair amount of freedom, but the aim is still to get the most professional results possible. You've mentioned YouTube as your destination, which is a good starting point to work on. Youtube can support anything from mobile phone footage to 4K cinema resolution currently. This leaves a lot of cameras to choose from (I'll discuss a little more about features/specs later).
  • Shooting Environment:  Do you need to shoot underwater or need to be ultra-mobile? Are you planning to shoot away from a power source and unable to charge batteries as and when you need them?

(My Opinion of the) minimum specs for a camera to produce an indie short
  • Resolution/Frame Rate: A camera with the ability to shoot at either/both 1080p25/1080p24
  • Lens: The ability to be able to control the Focus & Iris (exposure/aperture) Manually
  • Audio: At least 1 external XLR audio input with manual control. Mini Jack can be ok, just less rugged.
  • Recording: Ideally recording to SDHC card (or similar) as they're relatively inexpensive. Ideally recording at a bit rate of 35mbps or higher. Broadcast minimum for HD is usually 50mbps as a comparison.
  • Monitoring: Depending on what your camera offers, you may also need an external monitor connected to the HDMI or SDI port

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
  • Lighting: A set of 3 redhead lights (800w is ideal), diffuser sheets, stands and various grades of daylight filters is a great start-up lighting kit. Also, for outdoor shooting, handheld reflectors are essential.. and only about £15ea.
  • Camera Support:  A good solid tripod is usually a good place to start. The rest depends on what else you require, tracking dolly shots, jib shots, special mounts etc.
  • Audio:  You'd be amazed how decent the £20 shotgun mic we've been using has been! Generally you'd want a boom mic setup, comprising of a shotgun mic, mount, casing and boom pole with a long XLR cable. Radio mics are also great for actors far away or as a backup. Easily concealed under clothing.

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 :)


 

« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 05:02:21 am by Felek »


Felek Werpachowski
Jimmy Jib Operator
& Indie Cinematographer

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #2 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.

Rich

  • Puts the boom in your boomstick
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
    • The Great Escape
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #3 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!

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #4 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.

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #5 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.

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #6 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.

Rich

  • Puts the boom in your boomstick
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
    • The Great Escape
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #7 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?
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 10:27:20 pm by Rich »

mysticjim

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2012, 07:22:21 pm »
Bummer.  Assuming you get a swift replacement, whats the first thing on your shooting schedule?

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #9 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?

Rich

  • Puts the boom in your boomstick
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
    • The Great Escape
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #10 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.

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #11 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.

Rich

  • Puts the boom in your boomstick
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
    • The Great Escape
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 11:28:55 am »
Cool. Thanks for the clarification.

Maidenscombe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #13 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?

Rich

  • Puts the boom in your boomstick
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
    • The Great Escape
Re: What camera to use?
« Reply #14 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.

 

anything