Filming a Doc, need advice :-)

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    • #37094

      Hey everyone,

      Am in Moscow, planning to film a documentary that will be pitched to television networks. Am wondering what camera’s can pass for broadcast quality. XL1? GL2? Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
      Also what did the Jackass guys use for their MTV show?


    • #164430

      MikeMoscow Wrote:

      Hey everyone,

      Am in Moscow, planning to film a documentary that will be pitched to television networks. Am wondering what camera’s can pass for broadcast quality. XL1? GL2? Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Also what did the Jackass guys use for their MTV show?

      Just curious: are you going to film for Russian TV?

    • #164431

      What is your target market? How do you plan on editing the final?

    • #164432

      Hi Mike,

      As you can see, it takes a lot of questions to really give you an accurate answer, especially considering your location. If you’re planning on selling this to a Russian station, you’ll need to be able to output to SECAM format, which i am vary unfamiliar with. But, assuming that SECAM camcorders are similar to the PAL/NTSC models on the market…

      The biggest question to ask is "What is broadcast quality?" In the United states, most Television stations are slowly moving to High Definition. Because of this, they often prefer new programs to be recorded in 1080i resolution. High Def cameras that I appreciate include the Sony FX-1, Canon XH-A1, and if you had the budget, either the XH-G1 or the XL-H1.

      Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and many stations will still air new programs in SD. If they will do so, then a camera like the XL-1 or XL-2 would be sufficient. I would really, if I were you, avoid the GL series for on-air broadcast. They’re great cameras, and could probably pull it off, but they do use a slightly smaller CCD, which makes their low-light conditions less than stellar.

      As far as any other tips I can give, it would sure help to know a lot more of what you’re doing.

    • #164433

      I realized after posting that my post was lacking information. Its a pilot that will be pitched to Russian cable channels that examines a certain sector of the music industry. Filming would involve night club visits, apartments, studios, outdoor night shooting. Most filming would be of interviewing people in a unprepared area. I imagine the equipment that the Jackass crew used for their MTV shoot would be sufficient. Thanks also for everyone who is reading and responding.

    • #164434

      Since a lot of this seems to take place in locations that are dimly lit, go for an HD Sony. I seem to recall from somewhere on here with someone recommending the PD-series….not sure. Go for a camera that is rated for a low lux.

    • #164435

      Hi guys. I have to interject here, because I saw one of my pet peeves in action πŸ™‚

      Don’t be fooled by going with a camera just because it has a low Lux rating. Those can be deceiving. First of all, there’s no one universal rating guide for Lux ratings that crosses all camera manufacturers. That means that while Company A might consider a camera to be 3 Lux, Company B would consider the very same camera to be a 1 Lux camera. If you dn’t like the sound of that, here’s news that’s worse yet. Most manufacturers don’t even have a consistent Lux rating within their own brands. For example, Sony gives several of their consumer cameras "0 Lux ratings", but I’ve seen some of their prosumer cameras with larger apertures, bigger CCD chips, and better imaging processors that were labeled 3 Lux or worse. In essence, Lux ratings are a marketing tool to fool you into thinking a camera is hot stuff. Plus, if you’ve ever looked at the ultra fine print that accompanies Lux ratings, they usually say that to get that rating, your camera’s shutter has to be set at something like 1/8 or even 1/4, with -12db gain, and really, who’s going to want to shoot like that? It would be a grainy, trance-like video, but doggonnit, you could still make out their faces in the moonlight, assuming that is that neither the camera nor the person move much, as your shutter would be exposing for a whole 1/4 or 1/8 second, as opposed to, say, 1/30 or 1/60.

      Anyway, my best advice is to ignore Lux ratings. Instead, look at the CCD chip size, aperture settings, etc. If you can get a 1/3" 3CCD setup with a 1.4 f-stop, you’ll have a decent camera for low light. This means that if you’re going to stay in the SD world, cameras like the XL-1 and 2, the Sony VX-2100, or the Panny DVX-100 series will be right up your alley. That is, if low light is your concern.

      That being said, I also own GL-2’s and I like them plenty. They’re not as crisp in lower light, but they do the job. And as I firmly believe, you can get by with less than stellar video as long as you have phenomenal audio. If it were possible for me to destroy every built-in camcorder mic on this planet, I would do so. Virtually anything would be better.

      Now, what’s the bbcode I was looking for… Oh yeah!

      [/rant] X-D

    • #164436

      For most production companies producing for America’s top cable networks, the Panasonic DVX100 has become the "low-end" camera useful for run-and-gun shooting, b-camera and otherwise "too risky for our nice camera" shooting conditions.


    • #164437


      very true, but most of the "prosumer" SD cameras are going that way as well, not just the DVX100 series. I remember a time when Discovery’s cable networks used Canon’s line of XL and ever GL standard def cameras. But that day is LONG since gone. Ultimately, most networks can afford far better cameras, and even for the shows where cameras take a lot of abuse, the gear they use can still be well ahead of the average prosumer level budget.

      That being said, there is still a place for this stuff. After all, these cameras still get the same quality that they did when they were network favorites, and the shows they helped create are still out there playing, and still look pretty good.

      Like I said, most networks are going to prefer HD, but that doesn’t mean a documentary, pilot episode, or other productions can’t be shot with gear of a lesser caliber. Don’t forget that the cult phenomenon movie "Blair Witch Project" was shot on nothing nicer than Hi-8 Video, and it made it to the big screen. If your production itself is good enough, your gear won’t need to be the latest and greatest out there. πŸ™‚

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