Here Be Answers about Cameras, Editing Software, etc

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    • #43770

      Every couple days or so,some new video apprentice will post a question about what (pick one:camera, editing software, tripod, microphone, etc.) to buy.

      I was thinking maybe we could all post our thoughts/opinions about this generic question here and then refer allnewbies to this post. Maybe it would save typing time? Whatever…

      I’ll go first.

    • #183389

      Hey! Welcome to the Videomaker forums! I’m a filmmaker, motion graphics designer, 3D animator and music composer.

      What you’re asking isa very subjective question. I think most people are biased one way or the other. The important thing to understand is: There isNO one right camera, microphone, tripod or editing software. Here’s what I think:

      1. Camera Price: You should SERIOUSLY consider using what you have already. It’s better to study it out yourself and save your money, then decide you only need Uncle Elbert’s old camera after all, then run out and buy a piece of junk.

      2. HD Cameras: I use a Flash Media camera (SD) and have used it forfour of my lastsix films. I’m planning on using it for myseventh. It’s good enough for me.I think HD is partly just a way for employers to weed out the pros from the amateurs. In this business, it’s “What have you done lately?” Show ’em your lastproject in SDwhich usedevery trick you could think of and you’ll probably be hired instead of the amateur with the HD camera.

      3. Camera format and other features: If somebody tells you some format is better than another, then theyknow what works for them. This is called agency and everyone has it. We can choose to like brussel sprouts or hate them or not care one way or the other. Figure out what works for you and go with it.

      4. Editing Software: I edited my first three films on Windows Movie Maker. There’s nothing wrong with that. Teach yourself free trials and be on the lookout for freeware. Study it out yourself. Same applies money-wise as Cameras.

      Good luck! I look forward to seeing you on the forums!

      Chris of Colorado 🙂

      “Keep it simple, make it perfect – if you don’t have time to make it perfect, rethink the idea.”- Tony Ross on

    • #183390

      Well said.

    • #183391

      I’m new and I just found this thread after starting my own. Oops. Sorry.

      It would seem that the questions I’m asking have all been asked 1000times before. I’m starting from scratch so I don’t even have a camcorder yet. How do you decide on what features are primary and which ones are secondary? My goal is to produce a DVD to sell to my customers. I don’t know what medium I’ll be using so I don’t know what to get to handle and edit what I film yet. I know there are many ways to go but i don’t have the money to blow on a major mistake. If I buy too little camera, that’s not good because I’ll find out later on that I have to buy a better one. If I buy too much camera for my needs, it seems like a waste of money. I need to get some feedback on how to get a decent starting point to launch my venture. The idea is to film an instructional videothat will run for about an hour. I’ll need to know how to finda reputable company capable of producing the DVD soI can then sell it.

      Any input you can offer would be awesome. Thanks in advance.

    • #183392

      As I said before, I STRONGLY suggest studying this yourself. However, I admit that I didn’t give any leads on how to do this. OK, here are some.

      1. READ, READ, READ!!! How to Make A Winning Short by Edmond Levy, The Art of Video Production by Leonard Shyles, How toMake Documentary Films and Reality Videos by Barry Hampe, Videomaker magazine, website and forums,,, Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez. You will learn about other goodreadsas you readthese.

      2. MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIES!!! Once you have a starting point, experiment.Most of my successful films(my 2nd, 3rd and 5th)were complete experiments.

      I did these two things and it is now a year and a half later and I’ve made 6 short films, working on a bunch more. I just got a new job doing video editing. I can’t over emphasize the importance of these two things.

    • #183393

      Thanks to maverick for helping us get going, but let’s not have this post be all me!

      I’m sure FallingStarFilms has more to say. To say nothing of Aspyrider, BarefootMedia, jerronsmith, D0n, film814, robgrauert, johnboyand a bunch more out there.

    • #183394

      I think you covered it. 😉


    • #183395

      Well…I’m bored. So I’m just going to rant about purchasing a camera first:

      Whenever purchasing anything, whether related to video or life in general, think about what you WANT and then think about what you NEED. There is a big difference, and being able to see what you need and what you can hold off on will save you head aches and money. You don’t need a $30,000 Sony CineAlta camera to shoot your kid’s football game. That’s swatting flies with a nuke if you do that.

      So how do you know what you need? Well, decide what you want to shoot and go from there. To use myself as an example, in high school I started off shooting my school’s sports teams and editing 1-minute highlight montages of each sport. Now it seems that’s going to be the branch of the industry I’ll be working in since I’ve been getting a lot of freelance work involving sports.

      With that being said, I plan on getting a new camera sometime soon, so what I need to do is research. It sucks, but it pays off. The other day I read an article from Videomaker about interlace vs progressive. I already knew what the differences were, but never gave it a thought about which would be better for me (camcorders gives you all the options these days anyway). In the article it states that interlace scans faster and will be more crisp during fast motion, but progressive doesn’t have the “jitter” of interlaced-footage freeze frames. So you would assume that interlace is the way to go if you were shooting sports, right? You don’t need freeze frames or slow-mo that much. Turns out, 60p gives you the best of both worlds. 60 progressive frames per second will give you the crisp images of interlace during fast motion since it’s so many fps, but also gives you the nice freeze frames and slo-mo of progressive scanning. It’s the best of both worlds (after reading the article, I’m assuming 24p isn’t the best choice for sports). Now, all that I knew except for the 60p being the best of both worlds (i just never thought of it), but it just goes to show that doing some research (or stumbling across articles) will guide you in the direction of anappropriate camcorder.

      You’ll find that when you do your research, answering one question will lead to even more questions. To start out though, I start with questions like: What’s my price range? What format do I want (personally, I’m avoiding HDV)? What am I shooting and what are the technical things I need to know to shoot it at the highest quality (like my example above)? How will I record audio, do I need a camera with XLR connections? What manual controls do I want? How about CMOS or CCD sensors? There is a big difference I think. What kind of media does it record to? From there, you’ll probably start asking more questions as you answer some of your initial questions.

      Also, look at B&H and look at the specifications of some cameras just to see what’s available, even if it’s out of your price range. See what features it has and if you come across something you’ve never heard of, research it. See if it’s something you want in a camera thats in you’re price range. Maybe you’ll find it, maybe not.

      A lot of purchases should be researched before hand. That’s just the way it is. Unfortunately, technology improves fast…too fast. So you’re new gadget is out dated in a week. So keep in mind that having the latest equipment isn’t a factor at all, it’s whether or not your equipment does what it’s supposed to do and fulfills your needs.

    • #183396

      OK. Next I’ll talk about computers and choosing an editing program:

      Computer: Mac.

      Editing program: Final Cut Studio

      (oh boy, i can smell a heated debate comin up already already)

    • #183397

      Thanks robgrauert! That’s more what I was looking for.

      Well, I’ve been studying up on this and although in days past I would have been against you on this “heated debate”, I will only say this:

      1. I don’t think Final Cut Studio is a program, it’s more of a bundle.

      2. Though FCS is ok, I’d go with the Adobe CS3 Production Premium bundle any day.

      I admit that Final Cut Promight bebetter than Premiere Pro and Soundtrack Pro is probably better than Soundbooth, but I think Encore can do what DVD Studio Pro and Compressordo combined in one. I don’t see the need for Color because AE, Ps, and Pr all do color already.

      And when you put After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash together, Motion doesn’t stand a chance. Not a chance. Plus you get Bridge, OnLocation andUltra(Although OnLocation sounds pretty slick, I don’t see the need for Bridge very often and I can’t find anywhere what exactly Ultra does).

      Although, if Shake came with FCS than I would get it because Adobe CS3 has no 3D software, despite what many After Effects people might think.

      This just goes to emphasize that you need toALWAYS keep studying. Even if you think you are a pro.

      BTW, does FCS have something like Dynamic Link?

    • #183398

      I was just joking about the heated debate anyway. But yea, I hear the Adobe suite is actually pretty good. I hear it offers a lot. Luckily both FCP and Adobe are similar, so if you were forced to switch from one to the other, it wouldn’t be a huge problem.

      I don’t know what Dynamic Link is.

    • #183399

      This is what I know about Dynamic Link.

      On adobeTV, this guy at NAB did a thing where he took an After Effects composition and put it in Encore without rendering. Just slammed it in, I think, like drag and drop editing from one program to another.Then hetested it in Encore tosee if it worked. When hesaw it worked, he went back to After Effects and rendered it out andimported into Encore.This way, he could test it in Encore without rendering out of After Effects both times.

      Pretty nifty! He said that all Adobe CS3 stuff can do this.

      Also, the Adobe CS3 can render out as Adobe Clipnotes, which you email to somebody. they open it, watch it and then at the bottom there’s a place where they type in comments and critiques, then email back to you. The comments are linked to a specific frame, so you could have comments about each frame, which is useful. You watch it again, see their comments and make the necessary changes. Very Useful when working with a team or submitting to your boss.

      Clipnotes and Dynmic Link are just another reason I’d like to get Adobe CS3.

    • #183400

      hmm…sounds real useful, but I’ve never heard of anything like that with Final Cut.

    • #183401

      Okay we are real novices and working on our first movie. We are using Video EditMagic for Editing software. I thought I would be brave, because one of the things said early on was use what you have. So our question is, what are we missing out on, what should we have as far as neat stuff that we don’t have? In another word what is essential and what can we make do with?

    • #183402


      Like always, it depends what you want to do. Personally, I’m not into crazy effects and all that jazz. I think a good story and good production values make for a great movie. So if you follow that philosophy, all you really need is something that can cut and dissolve.

      Let us know what you want to do as far as editing goes and maybe we can guide you in the right direction.

      But to answer your question, you’re non linear editing program (NLE) is mainly preference because a lot of programs, especially the higher end programs, offer the same things but in a different way. I guess what you could be missing out on is the ability to work seamlessly with other programs. For example, the Final Cut Studio programs all work together in a fast, efficient work flow, and I’m sure other NLE bundles do as well. The higher end programs can work with higher end formats and codecs as well, and they offer better solutions to some of the problems you may come across in the production stage of your video, like noise reduction for instance, or color correction/grading.

      In a nutshell, it’s just preference and what you need to do.

      Does that help?

    • #183403

      Yes, Rob, that helps. Thanks. we want good graphics,multi layer audio and video. We want to cut and dissolve. We want frame by frame editing capability. Do we need to do our graphics inside the editing program or outside? We are a little confused on that. Do we buy an editing program that includes graphics or buy a graphicsprogram seperately?

    • #183404

      “Do we need to do our graphics inside the editing program or outside?”

      If you purchase a professional editing bundle, like Final Cut Studio 2, you’ll find that each program within the bundle is geared toward a specific task. In FCS2, Final Cut Pro does the cutting of the sequence; puts together all the stuff you shot into a sequence that makes sense. That’s usually where you start. Then you send it to Soundtrack Pro to do pro sound editing if you want. Then if you want graphics, you send the timeline to Motion. There’s other programs too, but I’m sure you get the hint. Also, the program that is used for the construction of the sequence, FCP in this case, can sometimes do audio editing as well, just not as intense as the program made specifically for it. Same thing for color correction capabilities.

      “Do we buy an editing program that includes graphics or buy a graphics program seperately?”

      I’m sure this was answered in the above paragraph, but just to emphasize: get an editing bundle if you plan on editing in a lot of areas. Look for a bundle that has the video editing, sound editing, graphics, and DVD authoring as a minimum. You may be able to find some that offer really good color correction/grading as well.

      Some examples of top notch editing bundles are Final Cut Studio 2 and Adobe Premier CS3. I’m not exactly what’s included in Adobe’s bundle, but Final Cut Studio 2 has much more than the bare minimum. I highly recommend it. I’m sure other’s have their own preferences as well, but I’d recommend Final Cut. It’s becoming more popular in the industry anyway.

    • #183405

      Hey, Dusiegirl!

      If you only want graphics, multi layer audio and video, cuts and dissolves, than you could go get a copy of Adobe Photoshop 6(really old and kinda hard to use!) and Avid Free DV(hard to use, hard to find, free). The point I’m making is, like we mentioned above, this is all up to you, your budget, your preferences, your knowledge, your willingness to learn, etc.

      If you don’t have the money or time to learn for top notch stuff, don’tsweat it. My 7th short film is being made on freeware and free trials of software. I want to see how cool I can make it …for nothin’!

      You mentioned what you can make do with: You can make do with anything! If you need more audio tracks in windows movie maker, get Sony ACID Xpress and do your audio, render as one track and slide in to movie maker. I’ve done it. Big pain, but if I can do it, anyone can.

      You can do your own fake stunts in front of the camera, do the credits by writing it on paper with sharpies and shoot down the paper and edit it all in-camera(I’ve done all three of those at different times).

      People seem to think that movie making is like detonating a bomb like you have to have “the tools”, but that’s not true. I’ve been to college and read a lot and have never heard of any “the tools” that you MUST get to be a movie maker.

    • #183406

      This is a repost so newer members can find, read and learn.

      Another good thing to read is all the posts that say “newbie with questions, extreme amatuer with questions, new guy with questions, etc.” Generally, these posts are of interest to all new members.

      And of course, if your question is not answered here for some reason, then go post in the forum.

      Happy Independance Day, America!

    • #183407

      >>And when you put After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash together, Motion doesn’t stand a chance. Not a chance. Plus you get Bridge, OnLocation andUltra(Although OnLocation sounds pretty slick, I don’t see the need for Bridge very often and I can’t find anywhere what exactly Ultra does).<<

      Bridge is Adobe’s file browser, it used to be the Photoshop File Browser but they made it into a standalone program with the release of CS2. It can preview just about any media file around including most of the adobe ones that the OS won’t and it can even preview video files and up to 16-bit audio (I believe) directly in it’s preview window. Ultra is a standalone chroma keying and compositing application. It is geared almost entirely towards creating newscast style pieces, or that seems to have been it’s original intention. It has a pretty good keyer that often works in just a few click and then backdrops and other elements can be added to the foreground plate to create a composite. I don’t believe that it was really intended for highend commercial use, but it may fit into certain workflows. Adobe acquired it when it bought serious magic.

      >>I admit that Final Cut Promight bebetter than Premiere Pro and Soundtrack Pro is probably better than Soundbooth, but I think Encore can do what DVD Studio Pro and Compressordo combined in one<<

      I cut on both FCP and PP I think they do almost exactly the same thing, just with slightly different emphasis on how they want you to do them. DVD studio pro is however a superior DVD authoring application in that is has support for dvd scripting that is the ability to add custom code to the dvd to create custom behaviors. To be honest many people won’t need this functionality if all they are authoring is simple menu dvds. And at the moment, I don’t think that Adobe has anything really like compressor, a stand alone video media converter.

    • #183408

      Jerron that was very helpful . The comparrison’s are great!

    • #183409

      Video camera newbie question. We’re proficient at still photography, Adobe CS2, and design work. Our website is We want to take one minute videos of our listers, which range from individual artists to regional theaters. This video would go on the page of each artist, shop, etc. (We have a Zoom H4 sound recorder that we’d like to use for this project as well. We’ll be doing podcasts for our listers in addition to the videos. We’d like to use the Zoom for sound recording of the video work, if that’s feasible.) The 1 minute videos will be shot in art studios, craft shops, offices, whereever the artist or shopkeeper wants us to shoot, so we won’t have much control over the location. We will be editing the videos with help from our sound engineer son and actor/director son, adding music, graphics, titles, etc. Now here it comes…what would the best camera be for us at around $1,000? Thanks so much for your help!

    • #183410


      read the first post that I posted in this thread. I’d retype it, but it’s a lot. haha.

    • #183411

      yes. go read what we’ve already posted if you haven’t. Go study B&H.

      Asking us what camera to buy is like asking us what the secret of life is. We’re not going to tell you something like “The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient.”(from High Road to China ?)We’ll tell you to study yourself and learn.

      It took me a year or so to figure all this stuff out for myself. Well worth my time.

    • #183412

      Hi guys, I actually don’t have a year, so I was looking for some more directed guidance. I have read a lot of this site and as this site keeps saying, there are so many variables that it’s very hard to make a decision. You guys are experts in the field, so you have more questions than answers, more data than you know how to categorize. I’m just looking for something that takes good videos that I can post on the web. I’d really appreciate some direction. (I actuallyl know the secret of life, so there’s no need to go into all that…). From what I’ve read, I’m beginning to focus on (no pun intended) the Canon HV 10 or HR 30. Just a hint, please!

    • #183413

      Other than what’s already mentioned in this thread about purchasing a new camera, I don’t know what to else to tell ya, but since you are interested in 2 cameras, check out those cameras on and see which camera has the features that cover your needs best.

    • #183414

      Hi everyone

      Im new here, not a pro videographer. Just dabble a little butIm interested in post production stuff. I do video transfer for a camera shop and was looking for some information…. I have a customer that brought in a tape with about 20minutes of footage in a negative effect form and was looking for a way to make it look normal (positive). I thought I had saw something around on one of the computer’s bundled programs but found nothing. Just looking for any suggestions or advice… Thanks John

    • #183415

      Here is an attempt at a brief Video Production Equipment for Dummies:

      Computer: If you havea Mac already, don’t go buy a PC because you are ready to edit. If you have a PC, don’t go buy a Mac because for FAR less money you can edit easily on your PC, if not already.

      Software: If you have a Mac already, use Final Cut pro. If you have a PC and are not looking to network and edit abig-budget, feature length film, then buy Sony Vegas Pro. If you are looking to network and edit abig-budget, feature length film, then buy Avid Media Composer.

      Camera: If your film is intended to be viewed in theaters, then buy a HDV camcorder, shoot in 24p, and buy a Redrock Micro M2 35mm lens adapter so that you can achieve a shallow depth of field. If your film is not intended to be viewed in theaters, thenbuy a3CCD, standard definition (SD), MiniDV camcorder preferrably with XLR mic inputs. (If XLR mic inputs are not in your budget, buy one without and then buy a Beachtek XLR adapter.)

      Tripod: As long as your tripod budget is over $100, you should be good. A successful film can be made with very little panning and tilting. If you feel you need to be able to achieve smooth pans and tilts (for music or corporate videos for example) then spend $450+ on a tripod with a true fluid head.

      Audio: Use a wireless or wired lavalier mic for interviews. Use a quality ($200+) shotgun microphone (Azen, Rode, Sennheiser) for almost all other purposes.

      If you want to shoot music videos, then it would be well worth your money to buy a camera crane (also known as jib or boom arm. $400+) Check out and


    • #183416

      Thanks film814! That’s the thing we need!

      Welcome mandolinaire! You have an excellent, very good question that I don’t know the answer to. I would “google” that and read what comes up. also go to your local library and do some research. Since this is for a client, it would count as working(with my boss, anyway)and will also give you some good skills for the future.

      Good luck! Video transfer is not my expertise. anyone else?

    • #183417

      Another repost.

      Here is a way to find some cameras in your price range. Go to andin the search box, type in a camera brand and your price range ie. Sony $1000, hit searchand see what come up.

      Brands: Canon, Sony, JVC, Panasonic

      I usually hear people saying their camera brands and I don’t know of any who use JVC.Lots of Canon, Sony and some Panasonic lovers though.

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