Newbie needs advice

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    • #40485

      Hi, I intend to shoot an instructional video staring myself and an associate. I will edit the footage myself, and create the final product. The video will be shot indoors and outdoors and focus on do-it-yourself home improvment issues. Consumers will purchase the video and either download it online or recieve a dvd in the mail. I don’t want to rent, so I will buy a camera and a mic. My budget for the camera is about $700.
      Question #1 – should I buy an SD or HD camera? Will HD footage need to be converted to SD in order for consumers to view it as a download or dvd? Is it difficult to convert HD to SD?
      Question #2 – Do I edit once it is in SD format? Regardless, what software should I use?
      Question #3 – I need voiceover (or dubbing – not sure of the correct term here) as well as live sound. How do I do this? Will this complicate the conversion to SD? Will it complicate the editing process?
      Question #4 – Should my file be an mpeg format, or something different? What is the most popular format? Should I care at this point?
      Seeing that I am a newbie, I want to buy a camera that will make this whole process as simple as possible. Thanks.

    • #173764

      “Seeing that I am a newbie, I want to buy a camera that will make this whole process as simple as possible. Thanks.” – Flaubert.

      Just the camera, HD or SD, and at a budget of $700 will NOT address all the questions, nor simplify the process as much as you hope. You have a LOT of serious needs, and knowledge to gain, before you can expect to develop such a project, or even hope to generate a marketing success.

      That’s the bad news. The good news is that anyone who is determined, aggressive, a fast-learner, and has the drive and ambition to carry it to fruition can achieve success in a venture like the one you plan.

      If you can, identify a camera that will shoot HD and SD, and use SD if you HAVE to, but HD preferably. You will likely have to down convert to edit, but you might consider (if you have access to the editing environment necessary – or budget you haven’t mentioned) doing it all in HD, then creating an SD DVD product for market. It will still look better than starting out with a standard SD only camera, as a rule. Conversion can be difficult, or easier, depending on your available editing environment.

      You can edit either way, depending on your available editing equipment or budget and resulting acquisition.

      Do voice-over and or dubbing yourself, or find among your friends and acquaintances people who can offer decent voice talent. Exploit them. Or, seek similar at your local institutions of higher education. It will not complicate the conversion, again depending on your editing environment, and most editing options today offer some degree of audio editing capabilities – you will need to move past such software as Microsoft MovieMaker though. Also, depending on your editing capabilities, it will not necessarily “complicate” the process, but could become more complex, depending on your intent and needs.

      Regarding file formats – different strokes for different folks (and projects). It will likely depend on what you shoot with HD, HDV, ACVHD, or other, and what your editing system will accept and allow you to edit with. I wouldn’t be able to guarantee you which format is the “most popular” and you “should care” at this point to the extent that it will have a direct bearing on your acquisition, editing and marketing process eventually.

      Others will pipe in here. Others will be more, or less ambiguous, have stronger feelings and offer their highly opinionated input, or subjective, or objective, or even write from experience. That is all well and good. Some will ask more questions before, if ever, addressing your questions. Read it all, absorb what you think might help, do a LOT of research and try to increase your budget for everything, starting with the camera.

      Good luck. Mostly you will only need a little good luck, a lot of personal commitment and some extra bucks. πŸ™‚

    • #173765

      Earl, thanks for the reply. I’ve been reading for most of the last day or two. I’ve learned that my PC is strong enough to edit HD (processor is only 1.6ghz and the pc will only accept 2gb of ram max). I dont want to spring $400-500 for a more powerful refurbed pc. So…what if I filmed in SD? Will a processor of 1.6ghz and ram of 1gb be sufficient to edit SD?

      If so, I think I have these camera options:

      Buy an HV10 or 20. I believe the HV10 & 20 also shoot in SD (just need to see if it the 10 has a mic and headphone jack). I saw them in the $450 range.

      Buy a used GL1 for $900, use it for say a month, then sell it for $500 (Im guessing). Incurr a net loss of $400.

      Rent a GL2 for anywhere from two ($118) to six ($185) days . My question with renting is how long will it take me (a complete newbie) to learn how to use a GL2 properly?(bearing in mind this is an instructional only, with head shots, close ups, not much movement, etc.) The VX2100 is similarly priced if thats any easier. Thanks again for your input.

    • #173766

      Do NOT buy a GL1 for ANY price. Borrow only! Even then…

      Rent, or even purchase a GL2 and shoot SD. GL2s can be found for around $1,500, even less sometimes, by searching other forums’ for sale boards – here at for starters. I recently posted here somewhere regarding a couple I know personally who were selling off three GL2s for an outstanding value to recoup their investment in HD Canons – XH A1s, I believe. The original ad was on dvprofessionals.

      Rent, or purchase a used XL1 (original model) – their prices didn’t/haven’t held up as well as the GL2s, but it remains an awesome camera.

      Your HV10/20 isn’t a stinker, though kind of small and low on the production pole. They’ll work, but you will need to learn a number of workarounds regarding light and audio. Check here for good tips and suggestions regarding both. Videomaker is tops when it comes to solid basic production information.

      If you stick primarily with cuts only your PC should be useable. (I am NOT at all familiar with PCs but I would think it should at least be able to help you produce something) Your RAM is low, go at least 4 (RAM is relatively cheap) if your unit will accommodate four. You WILL want and need at least that. Be prepared to wait a considerable amount of time for rendering if you use slow motion or dissolves much.

      If any camera you purchase gets you producing and those projects are successful then there will be NO net loss – it’s a write off, or throwaway as they say amongst those in the business who claim to know it all πŸ™‚

      The rental for a week seems in line with your needs.

      GL2 is pretty user friendly and a few hours of practice, testing all the bells and whistles will get you close to ready, if not ready. Also, it is VERY important to try and keep your backgrounds static (no motion, blowing leaves, moving vehicles, belly dancers, etc. πŸ™‚

      …and keep the background as uncluttered, busy and no red as possible. If you go to YouTube and search for “practice builders” I think, I hope you will find at least a couple of talking head productions we did using the GL2 for a marketing services client who works with folks in the medical profession. If you cannot find let me know and I will try to better identify the links later.

      I do not have personal hands-on knowledge of the VX2100, but I know many in the business who have used them and STILL are reluctant to allow them prized from their cold, dead fingers.

      Finally, trust your audio to at least one, two if possible, Zoom H2 standalone digital microphones. They are awesome! you should be able to find them for under $200.

      If you plan your episodes well you should be able to shoot a heck of a lot of instructional video footage in a week’s time using a rental camera, but you will definitely want your own equipment ASAP. Maybe an HMC-150 Panasonic or the comparable JVC – both HD and both tapeless to SDHC cards, the wave of the future, but then you’re gonna need to spring for more power in the editing arena.

      Hope this helps.

    • #173767

      Thank Earl for the advice. I will rent the GL2. I also will check out YouTube. Let me correct my earlier post

      My desktop (purchased in 2005)- Pentium 4 processor at 2.67GHz. RAM of 512MB, upgradable to 2GB. Read/write DVD drive. Internal drive of 80GB, with an external drive of 160GB.

      My laptop (purchased in 2009) – Intel Atom processor at 1.6GHz. RAM of 1.0GB, upgradable to 2GB. No read/write capability.

      Question#1: Isn’t it better to be doing all this stuff on my desktop?

      Question#2: Regarding the firewire (Im really ignorant on this stuff), is this simply a wire that I buy at Best Buy, for example, and plug one end into the camcorder, the other end into the back of my computer somewhere? Or the other end into my external hard drive? And then press a button of some sort?
      Question#3: Do I have to check to see if my system has a video card?
      Question#4: How much free space do I need to have on my internal and external hard drives, respectively, before I begin ?
      Question #5: Why would the Zoom H2 be best for my situation?

    • #173768

      RE: the Zoom H2 digital audio recorder = GREAT, clear, crisp, clean audio with minimum effort. Audio, especially for your intended purpose, is TOP PRIORITY! And though decent enough under controlled taping sessions, the GL2 on-camera mic picks up internal sounds from the tape mechanism, and other hard to isolate sound interruptions.

      Disclaimer: I am NOT PC centric, nor do I have even a modicum of working knowledge of the platform and its various components or available operating or editing systems. That being said…

      Desktop, generally speaking, is always better because (with admitted exceptions) desktop systems are more robust and capable. So, yes, “doing all this stuff” on your desktop is probably beneficial.

      If your system has firewire (still a lot of 400 out there, but 800 is better and faster) then yes you can usually purchase the required cable/connection at most electronics stores. Prices vary, as does quality, but don’t let the salesperson snow you into some ultra-awesome monster cable with gold plating – not always all that and a cheeseburger. You can usually find better pricing and value at on-line, web-centric outlets like or or etc.

      You WILL NEED a video/graphics card. Google for recommendations for your particular computers – primarily the desktop – with at least 512 memory, preferably higher. There are two or three reputable brand names, but you’ll have to do this research on your own.

      DO NOT use your system drive for processing video! Period! Use another drive(s) dedicated to processing/editing video – external firewire, SATA (skip USB, even USB2 simply isn’t up to snuff for dealing with video editing, though some will tell you it works fine. Nada.

      You’re going to need large capacity drives, external or internal. You will need to find a way to determine how well your PC deals with extra memory, and high capacity drives, as there often are, or can be, limitations to what a specific system will utilize and I don’t have the answers.

      It is widely accepted that NTSC, DV, Standard Definition (the GL2, tape recordable digital MiniDV camcorder, for example) will result in your computer needing about 13 GB per hour. HDV, on the other hand, requires anywhere from 38-50 GB per hour; UHDV (ultra high def) chimes in at 100 GB = 18 mins, or six GB per min. Do the math, verify your PC’s ability and/or limits for high capacity HDs, then buy a couple, perhaps a few.

      NTSC = 1.5 GB per min
      DVCPro HD = 1 GB per min, or according to Wikipedia, approximately 250MB per min/13 GB per hour.
      Cineform compressed HDV takes 30-40 GB per hour
      Uncompressed, 1440 x 1080 = 234 GB per hour

      In other words, one hour of Standard Definition (SD – the GL2) at 640×480 (also 720×480 a bit more), at 24-bit color depth, and 25 fps (frames per second) frame rate will require 82.8 GB.

    • #173769

      thanks Earl, I’m a bit confused – regarding SD/GL2 you mention a requirement of both 13GB and 82.8GB. Which one applies to me in my situation?

    • #173770

      There are many variables and I am not knowledgeable enough to explain in layman’s terms the various compression formulas and results. Basically, simple ingestion/digitizing of DV video from a MiniDV videotape used in a GL2 has a minimum requirement of 13 GB per hour. What you do with it, how you work with it, the compression schemes you use on it, your computer, software and DVD output, or web site output size and many other variables will directly effect the size of the files you work with.

      Digital video applied with standard DV/DVCPRO compression takes up about 250 megabytes per minute or 13 gigabytes per hour.

      An example video can have a duration (T) of 1 hour (3600sec), a frame size of 640×480 (WxH) at a color depth of 24bits and a frame rate of 25fps. This example video has the following properties:

      • pixels per frame = 640 * 480 = 307,200
      • bits per frame = 307,200 * 24 = 7,372,800 = 7.37Mbits
      • bit rate (BR) = 7.37 * 25 = 184.25Mbits/sec
      • video size (VS) = 184Mbits/sec * 3600sec = 662,400Mbits = 82,800Mbytes = 82.8Gbytes

      My editing workstation is a Mac Pro 8-core unit with 16 gigs of RAM memory. I have installed three terabytes of hard drive storage set up exclusively for video resources. My system drive is a 350 GB unit. I like having plenty of resource storage space. HD capacity and storage is comparatively cheap and it is not wise in today’s video editing environments to cheap out on storage. More is always better, and I like having the options to take on a short 8-min montage with some fancy production work, or a movie-length project with gobs of resource materials, a wedding project and anything between. I often have more than one project under way at a time.

      In my previous systems I often was under nourished with storage capacity and had to reuse hard drives before I was willing to erase the original work files. Consequently there were times when situations called for me returning to a project and I had to go through the digitizing process all over again. I hope to never have to go that route again.

      In another system I had a series of hard drives in sleds that I could exchange from project to project. That was a GREAT system to work with, and I continue that with external storage capacities beyond my 3TB work drives. My Drobo and some a couple of jbods (just a bunch of hard drives) help me keep resources at hand, but off my primary production HDs. I can fire them up as needed, access resources as needed, and continue with my work flow without interrupting the creative process while locating something on a back up HD, CD, DVD or elsewhere. There’s a lot to be said about being able to sustain your focus and productive juices without having to stop and think…

      …sometimes. πŸ™‚

    • #173771

      Hi Earl, i’m consideringpurchasinga GL2 instead of renting, but i see that relative to sony and panasonic prosumer models, the GL2 has a lot of negative reviews on the amazon.Almost all of them complain about “remove cassette” errors or “inabilaty to rewind”. Any thoughts on this issue?

    • #173772

      I’ve used the GL2 and the XL1 (a pair) for a long, long time. XLs have given me more grief than the GL. On rare occasion, when I’ve had to intermix tape brands, or occasionally in a windy, sandy, salt air and sea, snow going in and out of the cold, I’ve had some issues, but they’ve been predominantly environmentally generated, or from mixing tape brands/stock. Major heat and hot winds, during firestorms – like are experienced in the southern California area, can cause some grief, but the camera is stable, dependable and productive.

      I had “issues” with the defunct Amiga Toaster/Flyer, others didn’t; Others have had “issues” with Panasonic, or Sony, or TDK, or other tape stocks – I did until I went, and stuck, with Sony Premium. Some people hate Memorex or TDK DVD blanks, I haven’t. Poop happens, but I’ll NOT be selling or off-loading my Canons even when I DO change brands and go with the Panasonic HMC-150 or JVC’s 100 version both abandoning tape and offering SDHC card recording instead – no more tape path wear, or “remove cassette” problems.

      If Canon comes out with a comparably priced SDHC only, no tape, recordable unit at a competitive price before I am ready to invest in the new tools I will stay with Canon simply because of their superior lens quality and superior image stabilization quality.

      YOU have to make the decision. Read widely enough and go far enough and you will read negative input about most ANY brand or model on the market since the 1800’s (a joke) – some people LOVE liver, others HATE it; same for anchovies.

      Me? Hold the liver, but put that gravy on my potatoes; no anchovies on the pizza or I will NEVER come back to RoundTable πŸ™‚

    • #173773

      Earl, i bought a refurb’d GL2 yesterday.I should begin shooting in a week or two.I intend to buy a Zoom H2 either tonight or tomorrow. Do I neeed the Canon MA-300 Adapter for the Zoom?

    • #173774

      No, the Zoom is a standalone digital recorder and you can use a USB card reader to transfer the files from the card to your computer. I use TOAST to convert the files to AIFF because that’s what I like to do though there are certainly others ways to handle the WAV files it produces. You don’t need the adapter for this type of audio acquisition.

    • #173775

      than i thought…I’m just concerned that this may be more work in post
      production than simply having the audio already synced to the video. In post production, how do I
      sync up the audio file to the mouth movements of the speakers on the video

    • #173776

      Occasionally sync can be problematic. There’s no literal “magic” formula that works on first try, every try, but with some degree of practice and familiarity with your audio editing software you can really get close on first try, then bump forward or back a few clicks until things sync up.

      Being an accomplished lip reader does give me an edge on this, just has having been a touch typist since I was in junior high (I’m 60 now, do the math πŸ™‚ has always given me an edge in typing. That’s probably why all my stuff is longer and occasionally more definitive than others who hate to read, or write, or type. I was the only one also that did not groan out loud in class when a professor would as for a 500-word essay or whatever. If anything, maybe I DID groan but it was because I wasn’t sure HOW I was going to keep the assignment UNDER 500 words.

      Sorry for the sidetrack there…

      …anyway the amount of “extra” work depends on how much you have to labor in post because all you had was your “synced” camera audio, but there were problems with sound, depth, etc. or simply lining up the GREAT audio from your backup source, syncing it once, maybe a few more if you have to break up sequences in the video, but essentially dealing with nice, clean, clear audio.

      Another thing that is great, in addition to the quality of that digitally acquired audio is being able to “normalize” the levels between proper audio levels due to proximity, and some lower stuff picked up from farther away, making the levels sweeten up really nice.

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