Cheaping Out on Gear!

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    • #40284

      I scan most, and read a LOT of the posts here on a daily basis. Doing so, I’ve noticed a strong focus on, and HUGE demand for, cheap gear – especially camcorders.

      I know the economy sucks, money is tight, we all want to save some money, the world is full of “starving artists” and I am very much aware of the cliche “it’s not the tools, it’s the talent.” But, come on, get real! The vast majority of posters, especially regarding cameras, NLE systems and editing software, ask where they can get such for a little bit of nothing, but want it to DO everything!

      Another cliche is “Good, fast and cheap – pick two!”

      While there ARE numerous resources “out there” offering SOME kind of shooter and NLE hardware/software for next to nothing – even FREE. And while the “stuff to die for” is often out-of-reach-expensive for most of us, there is a point where we have start out with what we can afford and build into something better, BUT…

      HOWEVER, while we can certainly aim low, we cannot expect only talent to carry us forward with the low-end hardware. There comes a time when it simply is not realistic to expect the single chip, or CMOS jobbies in the under $300 range, and the free editing options, and the cheap microphones to carry the day.

      I am posting this with a desire to get some dialogue going regarding this tendency – to cheap out, but want it all in the process. I guess my question is, “are those reasonable expectations?” Do we really believe that we can shoot commercial/entertainment level productions on sub-$300 cameras and edit them on freeware, and expect ANYBODY in the mid-to-high commercial levels to take us seriously?

    • #173081

      With cheap gear you may be able to convince an employer to higher you, and then you’ll get to use their stuff. But if you want to buy cheap gear, don’t expect to go far no your own.

      I see what you’re saying, Earl, and completely agree. I don’t even bother answering posts anymore if the poster wants to know if a particular camcorder will provided decent images when you can tell by looking at the camcorder that it’s a piece of crap. Or if people complain that a camcorder doesn’t have XLR connections or manual controls when you can clearly see the camcorder is made for consumers. It’s one thing if someone is a hobbyist and will only be making home videos, but if someone wants to seriously make a living, then seriously save up some money and get a real camera and all the necessary accessories.

      Cheap can only get you so far. They don’t spend millions of dollars in Hollywood just for the hell of it.

    • #173082

      Or when people want to know what the best camcorder/mic/lights/etc they can buy for $XXX.XX is. Just go on B&H and look at what’s within your budget. Then come back with a specific question.

    • #173083

      Cheap, yea

      But often these type of person would charge 120$ for a video. Just like one of my friend, he is a police offcier and ask me how much it would cost to make a video like this one

      There is one XDCAM f350 ( 40 000$ whit the lens ) whit the sound ans light i came up whit around 90 000$ of stock . I told him i would charge from 1500 to 3000 for a equivalent of a better outcome video. He was like wow, approximatly 2000$ you are crazy ! And i told him it was a friend special price.

      Most of the amateur and the auto proclamed semi-pro or people who dont work in or whit the real professional video production making dont seem to realize all the making of that is involving to make something professional.

      Yea a real HD shoulder mounted 2/3 ccd camcorder can cost up to 20 000 to 90 000$ whit the lens. But you charge 3000 and can go up to 100 000 for a corporative video, videoclip or anything else made by real professional.

      I make this to pay my bread, and im not gonna survive if i charge 120 or 400$ for a video that will take me 1 day in post-prod, 2 day of production and 1 day in post-production.

      If you think you gonna film wedding, corporate event or something like this, yea you need to buy some expensive gears to charge a good price. Dont think you gonna make a professional video for a compagny whit a 1500$ cam , no external mic, no light kit and all by yourself.

      But if you just want to make video for fun, or a short film whit your friens, filming your friends in the snowpark or skatebording. Now you should by something cheap since you will never get money from it. Maybe thats the type of user that ask for cheap gear earlC, but if you are looking to make money whit something custumer, i think you just gonna flop and never be called back.

    • #173084

      Recently I decided to sell my xl-1 and buy an HD camera and I ended up getting a canon HF10 with some accessories to make it stable and appear more professional etc. That’s all well and god but like was posted above, it’s hard to do something professional by yourself. So the Tax refund check comes in and I decide to buy a second camera. I agonized for over a month over which one to get. I do music videos, local commericals, and weddings mostly but I’m also planing on shooting an indie feature next year so I need something very versatile. after careful consideration I narrowed the field of options and features to the things I wanted: Shoulder mounted was preferred but mot mandatory, XLR was a must because I didn’t want to have to fiddle with a converter, a “real” lens (this came up in another post and I stated that it meant interchangeable and was later corrected. The reason for this was that I forgot about canons 12x lens only having manual zoom and focus.) with full manual controls, and the ability to upgrade.

      This was, I soon realized, a tall order. Certainly many cameras had two or so of my requirements but I really fell in love with the JVC GY-HD110u. The only problem was that it lay mere dollars outside of what I had available. So what I did, was go without coffee and cigars for a few weeks and instead depositing the money I would have spent on them into my camera fund because i knew that quality came with a high price tag and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice because I know that it will make its money back.

      So all in all the point I am trying to make is: if you are going to do this to make money, take a small investment and get a camera you can be proud of and that you won’t have to replace in a year. After that, write up contracts with all of your clients that require a deposit so that before each shoot, you can go out and upgrade one piece at a time until you have a setup that you are proud of.

    • #173085

      My story

      I am a hobbyist in this venture. I have only been working with this for little more than a year. I use low dollar gear because it is a hobby for me at this time. I joined Videomaker because the magazine and video articles were very much tuned to my level of competency. The Forum is a great place to learn more about how I can improve my skills. My vision of “someday” is still a long way out there.

      My biggest expense, so far, has been the computer I upgraded to for editing. I shoot with a Panasonic HDC-SD9 (AVCHD format full 1920X1080p 3CCD). It has a 5.1 surround mic built in. I love the color and sharpness of its image. No motor noise (SDHC record media) so the audio works surprisingly well with me. Use a Velbon Videomate 607 tripod (claims fluid head). Use a Zoom H2 digital audio recorder for second source sound. I use a dog training clacker for a sync mark to line up audio on camera and H2 in edit. Use the H2 as a studio mic for voice overs and narration. I edit on Corel VideoStudio Pro X2. I am working with Sony Acid to make my own background music. All for less the $2500 over the course of a year. With these low end “tools” I am having a blast making mistakes and figuring out how to overcome them on the next attempts.

      I cannot justify $1000+ software and $3000+ cameras, whether it be skills or the thinness of my wallet. I look for “on the cheap” items, 1) to learn how they work, and 2) how I can best incorporate them into my projects. 30 day software trials are nice but seldom long enough to convince me I need to buy it. Nothing scares me more then to dump $500+ into something that I find out is not going to work for me no matter how hard I research it. But I am having a blast.

    • #173086

      There does come a point where it is the equipment that holds you back – I have reached this point myself but don’t see getting past it for a couple of years yet.

      That said, I can create a significantly better finished product than several folks I have seen that shoot with prosumer or professional gear.

      It all depends on a combination of native talent, acquired skill and practice. I am one of those folks who believes that anyone can learn a technical skill and practce it until they become proficient. It takes more than that (IMHO) with to create quality video (same as photography) – You have to have an “eye” and take the time to develop it – and never stop – it is a never ending process (no matter how good you are, you can always get better).

      A couple of years ago (when I was nowhere as good as I am now) I had my company’s director of corporate communications come to me in a panic – She had paid a production company (one that had a good reputation) $50,000 (yes, fifty thousand dollars) to come up with a five-ten minute piece the chairman of the board was goign to use at a meeting of all the company’s senior management team – She first saw the product on a Thursday and it was supposed to be used the following Tuesday – In short, it was lousy (big time). Due to my creating a couple of short, corporate videos for others in the company, she knew I could do some decent work. I was able to work through the weekend and create a killer presentation (for free mind you – they did pay me well for my real job however) and the chairman was thrilled! (as were many of the corporate officers). All this with a decent royalty free library (music, photos, stock videos, animations, etc…) and a Sony Handycam HC-40, my own voiceover (OK – I can do that well) and some skillful editing.

      When I used to teach photography, I used to tell my students to use the least feature laden camera they could, so they could learn the basics without relying on the gizmos to help you (look up the equipment Ansel Adams used). I’ve told (and proved to) many folks who came in with high end Nikon’s and Canon’s that I could outshoot them with a Kodak Brownie.

      So while I would really like that Sony PMW-EX3, it’ll have to wait a few years while I am still paying off the HDR-SR11. In the meanwhile, I still plan on crafting good video.

    • #173087

      I’ve brought up this point in several threads and agree with many of the point brought up. I was fortunate and started out working with high-end broadcast quality gear. However, there were many times you couldn’t drag a big Betacam on a job so you got issued anything from a handycam to a pro high-8 rig. I learned from those shoots that the basics still apply and you could push a low-end camera to get good shots. That experienced helped me once I started working on my own (no high-end gear to be found!) Renting was out because it took up 60 – 75% of my production price. So, I did small gigs with low-end gear always with my eye on getting my hands on better gear. Eventually, I moved up to the CanonXL series of cameras and shot some very good productions with them. Now I’ve moved up to JVC GYHD-200UB cameras with an eye for either their latests pro handheld orthe Canon EOS 5D MkII as a supplemental shooter. On much bigger jobs, depending on the requirements I can now rent as needed and nowI can put the costs into the production budget.

      With creativity and skill you can shoot some remarkable stuff with low-end gear. But you are not going to come close to anything shot with mid-level to high-end gear. One thing is for sure, you don’t want to blow a buttload of cash on gear and not know what the ‘hamfat’ to do with it!What’s really annoying these days is how many potential clients trying to hire professionals only want to pay $150 bucks for a full day’s shoot with gear and stillexpect a quality product.

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