Just Starting, Have Questions

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    • #44519


      I am just starting out in film and am having trouble getting the information I want answered by any of the suits at the big electronic stores. Unfourtunate for me, I have no friends with experience in these matters either. I am looking for some (i call them simple) answers, and I am hoping that someone here might help me.

      The project: I am doing a documentary of a precarious group of people and require equipment and know how.

      1st question: What Camcorder should I look into. I have a budget of about 700dollars, and am looking at a mic, and a software compliment for this camcorder. I am hearing alot of good things about the Canon Vixia, but I have no idea if the information is accurate.

      2nd question: I have heard that Vegas Softwarewould be above my grade for a documentary, but better to have it and not need it I always say. I want to eventually burn it to a dvd to watch, would Vegas work well for this and say normal burn software?

      3rd question: With a documentary I am going to be interviewing people in some pretty noisy places, and would require the tools to turn down the volume levels of the area to better hear the subject’s response. Which program would I use, or would it depend on the mic or camcorder?

      Any help would be appreciated…

    • #186421

      Tough budget.  Sony has a bluetooth lapel mic you can pin on the subject and it links to the ActiveShoe receiver on a Sony camcorder.  Or buy a $99 Zoom mic and place very close to the subject then sync the audio and video in the editor (challenging).  I think you cold save money on the editor and sink it into the camera and mic by using AVS4You Video Editor – lots of bang for the buck.  Also, Corel and Magix products are decent for this type of work.

      The AVS4You has some nice titling effects for lower thirds, etc. and allows for video overlays like Picture in Picture or PowerPoint slides with adjustable opacity, etc.

      http://www.Izotope.com (Nectar and Music & Speech Cleaner) and http://www.bias-inc.com (SoundSoap) offer audio cleaning tools for $199.00, $39.00, and $129.00 respectively.  Both offer trial/demos.  If you are going to use plug-ins instead of stand-alone tools, you won’t be able to use the AVS4You Video Editor, probably want at leat Vegas Studio version.

    • #186422

      John, Sony Vegas Studio is in the affordable range and it comes with an audio editor to help with the clean up of your audio. It should do anything in the basic range of editing and producing DVDs etc. It also has has a lot of the features of the pro model except for the unlimited quantity of audio and video tracks and some things that are more advanced. It should fulfill all of your needs for editing and outputing your video. Keep shooting. 

    • #186423


      With low, micro or near zero budgets like yours, keeping it simple is the only way to go. In all seriousness look at a good Point and Shoot camera with video built-in. Most do HD in 720p or 1080p and you can get really good images. Don’t spend more than 200 bucks. Take another $100 and buy a Zoom H1 so you can record synced audio because you won’t get good audio with just the camera. Next, go to ‘S-Mart’ and buy a small camera bag that will hold the camera, a small tripod (Joby preferred), the Zoom, 2 or more SD cards (4GB or bigger), two extra camera and AA batteries, your manuals a cleaning cloth, the battery charger and any connection cables. Don’t spend more than $30 on the bag. You’ll also want a larger tripod again don’t spend more than $25. You’ll need a small light. There are many small LED and fluorescent LED lights you can hand hold, put on your head or rig up to light your subjects that are under $20. Trick will be to choose the proper whitebalance with your camera settings to get the color right.

      You can find good point and shoot cameras with video and many of the other camera accessories at BHPhoto-Video.com. Stay out of Best Buy. Their job is to make you spend money. You’ll blow your budget fooling with them.

    • #186424

      I will be looking into all of your suggestions over the next week and half. I’ll report back,… eventually.

      Thanks for all the help 🙂

    • #186425

      @John $700.00 budget, you sound like me. I do own the Canon Vivixa. I did a review here on this forum


      I got it from the site suggested above B&H, they are a great online resource.
      Every video editor suggested is a good suggestion. The Corel Videostudio is my choice and it offers a 100% free 30 day trial, so if you can edit it in 30 days that FREE comes in under budget. All the mic suggestions are spot on as well. But again you are like me, nearly empty pockets so have to think outside the box. Here is a suggestion and yes I use this and yes it works but it requires some tinkering to figure out the right balance.

      The camera you buy, make sure it has a audio in jack, mine has the audio mini jack, like on a MP3 player. Find yourself an OLD walkman like from the 80’s that has a built in FM radio. Avoid the newer ones, in the case the 80’s for reception was spot on (my new saying). Then go to a B&H, or a good outlet store (and yes avoid Best Buy, electronic Express etc) These people work off commission and not what you need. Pick up a wireless FM trans mic. Now here is where it gets interesting, again the 80’s were spot on. Remember the adverts “Be a radio star, with any FM radio you can be a star with…Blah blah” Some of those older $10 mics had great tight and close pickup, and if an interview they would work. Transmit to the walkman and have the walkman headphone plugged into the audio in of the camera. Nice clean rich sound with about $20 worth of audio equipment, mind you this is trying to work with an almost non-budget so if you get the monies buy the good stuff, but for the budget you mentioned, you have to find work rounds.

    • #186426

      Wow, that sound like something my brother would have done! Great suggestion, I’ll have to look into that. I think I can afford the zoom h1, but still it is a great suggestion.

      I am looking into the Canon FS40 as of now, thinking it will be the way to go. I have a question about the zoom h1 though, how would I mount it to the camera and the tripod? I have looked at photos of both the camera and the tripod and the shoe would only attach to one or the other, right?

    • #186427

       John, I think that the suggested use of the zoom H1 is to collect the audio at the source. Use the onboard mics or attach a lavalier or other sort of microphone to the zoom and record the audio and later sync it with the video in post. No need to mount to camera or tripod. It could be placed in the pocket of the person being recorded. Keep shooting.

    • #186428

      Kk, so i decided on an aftermarket Canon FS 11 that only set me back $120.00 with all the equipment “-” the remote. I have the Zoom h1, now I need a mic, and a light. That will come within the week, my last question is a legal thing I think.

      In the documentary do I need the participants to sign a waiver or something? One of my friends brought it up after I asked to shoot at his establishment. If so does anyone know where I can get a standard form or something to get started?

    • #186429

      I am a beginner video…ist. But I have done a lot of still photography and some audio work. The one thing I will say is it’s not the equipment in most cases, it’s the operator. My main point here is that whatever you buy, unless you are exceptionally gifted, then your results could well be amateurish and disappointing. Seriously, learn with “trash” subjects and study your results and learn from the comments of others who see it, before you take on that project that matters.

    • #186430

      @John YES, YES, YES…I think there use to be some somewhere on this site to download. But a waver YES. Why? Say in 20 years you are the director….no DP of my movie, that sound better. Anyway you are making millions, and the people you used in this video feel it was because of them you are rich, well guess where your next appearance will be?

      OK more realistic, if you sale this for money or make money off it or it leads to other resources then your friends can stake a claim. Also if filming in public you need to make the public aware that their image may be captured and to approach you to ask to be blurred. Two ways I have used.

      1) A simple sign “Notice to public, Filming in progress”
      2) I have a name badge that is clearly visible to all

      But listen it will protect you, and keep the copy for LIFE, pass it to you kids kids. Give your actors a copy as well.

    • #186431

       John, model releases all around! Anyone in your shots should have signed a model release. Search this site as well as others for model release example. There is a complete set of release forms available from videomaker that have ever form that you will probably need (good investment for documentary producers). Location release, contract forms etc. you will find a complete listing of the included forms. Better safe than sorry. These are suggestions and is not a legal opinion. As Birdcat would say ‘I’m not a lawyer and don’t play one on tv’. Keep shooting.

    • #186432

      I found a group of pdf’s online for free they include

      General, Talent, Minor, Material, and Location.

      Personally I think that would be all that would be needed for what I am doing at this moment. ( I am just cheap, and can’t afford to drop $50.00 on the whole book) Anyone have any suggestions of others I should use?

      Also, these interviews will be around merchandise that is copyrighted or TM, will it matter since I am just filming around them, and thatthey are owned by the model/talent?

    • #186433

      Since the item’s are TM or Copyrighted would I need something from their owners if they made it into a shot?

      i have spoken to several people on this topic and keep coming up with maybe answers.

      As always any help would be appreciated.

    • #186434

      John, you did not state what items are TM or Copyrighted. But let’s clear up some notions.

      Copyright=By virtue of creation an item is copyrighted. you do not need to register it or anything else. If you scribble a poem on a bar napkin, it is copyright protected by its creation. Also mailing something to yourself (song, poem) does not stand in a US court of law as proof of date of creation. Just a myth.

      TM=Trademark. You can use the TM mark on anything you feel needs to be protected without registering it. As example my slogan is “A Photo Captures but a Moment in Time:
      Video Captures a Lifetime in a Moment” because this is now an identifying statement with my company it is more or less a brand, so I can put TM next to it. But it is not a (circle with an R inside) Registered TM. So I can’t use the Circle R. However if someone uses this slogan I can sue, but without the protection of the Circle R it is harder for me to prove.

      Circle R= This is a Registered Trademark. It is protected by international laws and takes a lot of money and paperwork to get that little R.

      Patient= You create a new device, or method of doing something. you do not have to make the device (Ernestine really helped here his first job was in a patient office, a Thought Exercise that can be put on paper can be patented) This is the strongest protection you can get.

      Logos=A logo is an intellectual icon that can be identified with a company, the C in Coca Cola, the Switch in Nike. These logos are considered intellectual property because they represent the company, and are highly protected.


      Why all the protection, say Mr Smith wants to make a video, an movie or short what ever, and in the video is hum…say a laptop with the Apple logo on it, and in the video the laptop is used in a bad crime, Apple could make the claim that the video was demeaning on the way the logo was represented, and thus sue your company.

      So yes you need written and kept on file forever and ever permission to use copyrighted or TM or RTM or P or IP. Your work will be protected as well and you would also want it protected in the even of misuse.

      I have a branch of my company that I do advertising work for several companies



      This is an ongoing issue with some of the owners, and I have to gently remind them of copyright use laws, and I have also had to contact several companies to get written permission to use stuff, and in many cases I do not get it. If you watch this advert, first one.


      You may be able to notice that everything in every scene that shows a copyrighted name, logo or design was covered or altered. I just could not obtain that many permissions, some we were able to.

      The 15 second rule or the arts rule or public domain rule. These are currently being contested, they will be upheld because of the public school system. But the MPAA, the RIAA and sites like youtube are using the public forum to make it unacceptable to use any copyrighted material for any reason at any time. In fact Time-Warner bought the rights to “happy Birthday” song, if you watch shows and movies since the early 2000’s they no long use it, because you have to pay to use it now. It was once believed that if the artist was dead after so many years or unknown the work was public domain, but more and more works are being “bought” and protected that are in public domain and the courts are honoring the purchase. There is a case in court now where the rights to some unpublished children’s stories are being fought over. A company published them in books and the surviving family members are fighting it, the family will loose.

      But yes for your protection and to be fair to the creators do get permission. I may not agree with the method the RIAA and the MPAA chooses to go about what they are doing, but I do feel that use of material needs to be protected and honored.

    • #186435

      Sorry, i missed the vagueness of my mentioning the documentary as a whole.

      I am doing a documentary on nerd culture and the effect on my particular town. Basically I will be filming at game and comic shops around town, and they have posters and products for sale. I was wondering if I would have to get permission to film these items as people discussed with me during interviews.

    • #186436

      I do not believe background items have to have permissions obtained. You are not featuring that item or product. And the vender had to give the owner permission to display it to start with, which means it is on public display.

    • #186437

      Great, i was really stressing over that. I had taken the time to speak with several people who owned shops and they all came back with a similar answer.

    • #186438

       John, just another thought, a decent inexpensive lavalier mic is available from Radio Shack (about $30). If your cam allows, direct wire your mic to it. This is simpler and saves time syncing in post. Keep shooting.

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