Expert Buying Advice Please

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    • #42952

      Let me first admit to being totally ignorant about professional filming despite the fact I have, whether by dumb luck or divine providence or both, managed to get decent preliminary work done on the project below. Using a Sony TRV-140 handycam. I’m here because despite my luck, even I can see the shortcomings of my current camera and it wouldn’t be fit for commercialization of the final product.

      I will try to give as complete information below as possible without taxing your patience with too much text.

      I’d like advise on buying a camera that will provide a quality job for what I want to do. I’m producing a DVD based curriculum in which the primary language of communication is American Sign Language (ASL). Thus the videos need to be sharp and clear for this visual language to be perceived with clarity.

      Because a fair amount of the work will cover history, some filming will include elements in which I will employ chroma keying using such software as Ultra 2 and virtual sets from other software such as Elite Video. I expect to make limited use of special effects where appropriate to illustrating o enhancing instruction content using VisionLab Studio. So quality video will surely help here. Because I don’t have a studio, I do as much filming as possible using natural light, which for me usually means waiting for a cloud day or morning hours before the sun has reached the backyard patio. I’ve managed thusfar to produce shadowless video. So a camera that can produce quality video under these circumstances is very helpful.

      I’m not rich and a lot of what I have came from buying things one at a time over a period of time and via mercy selling where some companies gave me truly deep discounts for some software. Still, what research I was able to do,it seems the two best bets for my use are:

      1. Canon XH A1 Black 1/3″ 3CCD 2.8″ LCD 20X Optical Zoom High Definition Professional Camcorder
      2. Sony HVR-HD1000U MiniDV 1080i High Definition Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom

      But it’s what I learn from this forum that will dictate my final decision which may be one or neither of these. Your advice is urgently desired and hugely appreciated.

    • #179927

      Well since you are delivering on DVD, I would NOT spend the money on an HD camera. Your end product will be standard definition video, and while shooting HD and down converting to SD looks nice, it is not wise (in my opinion) to go that route because you’re budget does not call for it.

      Since your budget may be tight, I suggest looking for a used Sony PD170 camcorder. It is a miniDV camcorder that records great images in low light. This should cost you no more than 1800-2000 dollars. Use left-over money to buy lights. If you plan to shoot in front of a green screen, you’re going to need decent lights anyway.

      If you have enough money to buy a Canon A1 but buy a PD170 instead, you should have about $1000 to spend on lights. Buy a lighting kit that includes enough lights to evenly light the green screen and nicely light your talent as well. 4 lights, some bounce cards, and diffusion for the lights shining on the green screen should be fine.

      The camcorder I suggested is an SD camcorder, and while I took note that clarity of your image is of high importance, you should note that everyone feels that way too. And before there was HD, all we had was SD. And we all found ways of recording clear images then, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to now. The key is having enough light, not the camcorder.

      Another reason why I don’t suggest going HD is because the camcorders you suggest record the HDV codec. This codec is very compressed and can be problematic when trying to ad effects. If you really feel the need to shoot HD, not only will i disagree with you, but I would suggest buying a camera that shoots the DVCPro HD codec or XDCam HD codec. For example, the Panasonic HVX200a or Sony EX1 or EX3. Those are probably out of your budget. So the best thing for you to do, in my opinion, is to buy a Sony PD170 (or Panasonic DVX100B) and buy some lights — don’t be foolish and buy just a camera.

      Good luck, and happy holidays.

    • #179928

      Also, when you shoot the green screen scenes, make sure your talent is no less than 6 feet away from the green screen. A lot of people don’t know that….

    • #179929

      Forgive me for taking so long (and I do mean long) to respond to your gracious assistance. I accepted a new job offered out of the blue and close to my usual job’s start date a well as the new one’s start date. Packing, moving, unpacking and getting acclaminated to the new job ate up all my time until now. But here I am. THANK YOU for the advice. I’m ready to buy a camera now so came back for the expert advice I sought.

    • #179930

      Rob is right. I shoot SD with a sony HDR-HC1 and it is pretty good. When I use it with my light kit it is fantastic. Very sharp, very clear.

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