Grass Roots TV on Mini DV

Grass Roots TV on Mini DV

Exiled, billed as the first ever college student-produced reality TV series, was created entirely with consumer video gear. What began as a college project to bring some fun and excitement to a dull campus has now, backed by Zilo Networks, reached more than 250 college campuses and 5.5 million possible viewers.

"Our (consumer-level) equipment made the show more realistic," said Jennifer Matto, one of the three J’s in Triple-J Productions (along with Jessie Leland and Jonathon Allen). "And our hand-helds added to that effect. Exiled is kind of a Blair Witch Project meets Survivor. We don’t use any jibs out there. One, we can’t afford it, and we like the way we film, it gives the effect of realism."

Exiled followed the lives of nine students at Gardner-Webb University, who endured living off the land for eight rainy days in the North Carolina foothills. And Triple-J Productions shot the six-episode show with four camcorders: a Sony VX2000 and Panasonic AG EZ-1 3-CCD Mini DVs, as well as a Sony TRV310 Digital8 and TRV36 Hi8. They pushed a non-glamorous

PC to the limits, using Adobe Premiere 5.1 and Syntrillium Cool Edit Pro to edit the first five episodes on a machine with only 256MB of RAM and 20GB of hard-drive space. For the sixth episode, they switched to a PowerMac G4 with dual-833MHz processors, 256MB RAM and 80GB of storage. Apple Final Cut Pro was the editor of choice for the final episode.

But wait, there’s more. A second season of Exiled, which takes place "in a top-secret U.S. coastal island location," is well underway. This time, a talent search from colleges all over the Southeast yielded 12 brave souls, who competed in mental and physical challenges for a chance at a $3,500 scholarship.

Camcorder to the North Pole

Thomas and Tina Sjogren recently embarked on a two-part trek to the ends of the earth. Traveling on foot, the married couple completed a 1,250-mile expedition to the South Pole on Feb 2 and immediately followed that up by finishing a 483-mile hike to the North Pole on May 17. Never before has anyone trekked to both poles, back to back.

Among the gear in the couple’s 350 pounds of supplies – a Sony PD150 3-CCD Mini DV camcorder.

The Sjogrens, former Swedes who now live in New York, managed to shoot more than 10 hours of footage in conditions as cold as 60 below zero. The microphone was the weakest link, according to the Sjogren’s spokesperson. They kept their equipment operational only by keeping it next to their bare skin and warming batteries in their palms.

And while Sony designers are diligent in designing their camcorders, heavily gloved fingers were not meant to operate the small camcorder buttons.

Visit to watch a video of the Sjogren’s North and South Pole experiences. While most of the audio consists of howling winds and the crunch of thick boots on rock-solid snow and ice, the adventurers managed to capture footage of themselves, including pulling their raft and sled full of equipment behind them as they skied across the frozen, moon-like arctic surface. Another clip caught Tom as he climbed out of frigid water onto hardened ice.

While the couple was able to operate its PD150 and record good-quality footage at 60 below zero, they were unable to stream it back while on their trek, something they hope to accomplish on the next journey. However, thanks to two wearable computer systems, one a 500MHz computer with voice input, head-mounted display and wrist-mounted keyboard, and the other one, an iPAQ Pocket PC attached to a satellite phone and a small flat-panel screen, they were able to send still images and e-mails around the world.

Media Cost per Minute Table
Format Min. Price* Cost/Min.
VHS tape 120 $2.25 $0.02
S-VHS tape 120 $5.70 $0.05
8mm tape 120 $3.08 $0.03
Hi8 tape 120 4.80 $0.04
VHS-C tape 30 $2.44 $0.08
S-VHS-C tape 30 $6.95 $0.23
Mini DV tape 60 $8.66 $0.14
CD-R (burned as VCD) 74 $0.56 $0.01
CD-RW (burned as VCD) 74 $1.05 $0.01
DVD-R, General 135 $7.70 $0.06
DVD+R 135 $8.58 $0.06
DVD-RW 135 $10.80 $0.08
DVD+RW 135 $9.14 $0.07
80GB, 7,200RPM U100 hard
drive, medium quality
560 $143.98 $0.26

*Average price quotes from online media distributors.

Compiled by Charles Fulton

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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