News Camera? Documentary?

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    • #40234

      Hi… There’s a lot of great info here. Let me just ask my question. I guess I’m looking for an all-purpose camera. I have “Ins” with people at the local news stations in town…

      So I was wondering: What do they shoot on? What camera would you get for that? Any of these Pro Comcorders?

      I’d like to make Documentaries too. I know a few of these cameras have the 24P mode (and 24f).

      The Canon XL2 (GL2) have 24P mode.

      Are they for just looks (24P mode) —- or do they make a good transfer to a film? Meaning is the 24P just to make it “look” like a film? Or can it actually be transferred to film?

      So… I’d think to go to a 24P mode for documentaries — and switch it to something else to do TV News footage.

      I also do comedy sketches… so I’d use the same TV-Quality settings for that.

      Any thoughts on what I should buy?

      I’m obviously a novice.

      But, I’d like a multi-functional camera — for my changing needs.

      I have more questions…

      But I’ll start with this.

      Thanks if you can help, or give me advice.

    • #172933

      You’d have to ask your local news station what cameras they use. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to tell you. I think one time I saw cameraman in Philly with a Panasonic HPX500 though. I’m sure any news station will be using shoulder mount camcorders.

      I dunno if the XL2 has 24p, but I know the GL2 doesn’t. I know neither really shoots a true 24p though.

      You don’t HAVE to go for 24p just because you’re doing a documentary. Choosing one frame rate over another doesn’t make your video any better or worse.

    • #172934

      Yes, the xl2 does have 24p. It was one of the first wave prosumer cameras to have it. Why canon went with 24f for it’s next gen cameras is a ‘proprietary mystery’ I didn’t bother to purchase.

      Your first efforts should have been to do as Rob suggested and asked the ‘newsies’ what they use. Unless you have access to a serious bankroll, you’re probably not going to be able to afford exactly what they use. Now some local tv news outlets have gone solid state and use panasonic’s latest small rigs in conjunction with heavy duty ENG (electronic news gathering) rigs like you see them use on tv. If the station has digital capability (they better!), they will easily be able to accept mini-dv, hdv and solid-state cards like P2 and UDMA to name a few. If you don’t know what any of that stuff is, you’re way behind the power curve. However, through the wonderous ‘internet machine’ you can keyword those things and get some fine info which will bring you up to speed.

      As I seem to be mentioning over and over to folks coming to these forums, before you get ‘gassed up’ to start buying stuff ask yourself these questions first:

      What accessories are required for my choice of camera? (without doubt, you will need a sturdy tripod, extra batteries, a lavalier microphone, a sturdy camera bag with enough room for accessories, tapes/solid-state cards etc., UV filter for your lens and a cleaning kit just for starters.)

      What is my ultimate goal for this footage? (you said news and docs, so you’re on track)

      What are my potential distribution points for my footage/projects? (again you said tv news, but there’s also the internet, film festivals for your docs and DVD just to name a few.)

      What options do I have tocomplete my projects? ( as a news ‘stringer’ you can just hand over the footage to the station, with documentaries you’ll need an editor or edit it yourself.)

      If I choose to complete my own projects, how will I do it? (again, easy but more expensive way is to hire or shanghai an editor, harder but long-term cheaper way is topurchase or build your own non-linear editing computer. Either is a good choice, both have built-in advantages and headaches. Do your research to make sure whatever you decide, the nle will work compatably with your camera.

      With all of those basics in mind, what can I afford and or what resources do I have available to supplement this line of work? (this is the toughest question. Ideas and enthusiasm are much needed in this biz, but cash and resources are king. Until you have that initial chat with those newsies you’re ‘in’ with, you won’t be able to truly assess where you currently stand. Even at the cheapest level, you stand to spend a significant amount of money to just be ‘functional’ in this biz as a freelancer. Functional means being able to go out and shoot with the bare essentials and still do a professional job. I would suggest asking them for an internship or an apprenticeship (if they have them) so you can get your hands on a rig (without spending any money) and do some shooting. Your other options are to hookup with another cameraman and grip for him/her to get similar training. Last option and most expensive, is to go to school. If you don’t want to do the 4-year thing, the Sony Training Institute has regular courses that last up to a week and you’ll get your hands good and dirty. The classes are held around the country during the year(if you’re in the US) so there may be one near you. Far less expensive than college, but you get certified and good hands-on experience. Another option is tradeschool, less expensive than a 4-year but you’ll still have to fork over some ‘credits’. There are tons of tradeschools around the US, so you’ll have to dig to find them.

      So before your start sweatin’ the load about ‘frame rates’ and all that other junk, take some time and walk yourself through the previous questions. It will save you time and a crapload of money in the long-run.

      Get to it!

    • #172935

      “Yes, the xl2 does have 24p. It was one of the first wave prosumer cameras to have it. Why canon went with 24f for it’s next gen cameras is a ‘proprietary mystery’ I didn’t bother to purchase.”

      Really? Interesting. I thought it was like the DVX where you shoot “24pA” and capture with the 2:3:3:2 pulldown. Oh well, I stand corrected.

    • #172936

      No biggie. When it came out, I was already to write the check to get one to support our XL1S (which we still use.) Problem was Canon in their ‘infinite wisdom’ redesigned the XL2 with two xlr audio inputs at the back of the cam (which the XLH1 inherited.) I hated the redesign because though the XL cameras are awesome, they suck because of the ‘buzzsaw effect’ of them being front heavy with no offset weight in the rear. You could completely get around that with the XL1S by attaching the MA-200 audio adapter which turned the camera into a completely ‘shoulder’ and tripod friendly camera. Not to mention the ease of putting a dual battery pack, wireless receiver or harddrive on the handy brackets located at the back of the 200. And on those rare occasions you needed more than two audio channels, you had 4 xlr inputs (@ 32Khz that would need resampling in post) to do the job. But nooooooooooo! Canon changed the design and put forth that lame MA-300 audio ‘acrapter’ that you had to put in the shoe mount on top of the camera! Long live the buzzsaw.

      That was a rant. Sorry about that. However, it is something you should consider when considering the high-end Canon rigs.

    • #172937

      In the past, The Panasonic DVC Pro format and equipment was very popular in the news industry, but I haven’t been involved in news broadcastfor about 7 years and things have changed drasticallysince HD. News stations used to be very particular aboutformat and quality particilarly for compatibility andeffiency issues in a stressful-deadline driven news enviornment. However, nowadays it is easier for videographers to achieve solid broadcast quality and it’s not particularly a problem/inconvenience to work withan array of formats instead of just higher end equipment like DVCProHD.

      If you have a good story and visuals (HD perfered) it’s likely a news staion can use it, but as others have suggested, it is best to talk with your “Ins” to see what would be the best workflow for you particular situation.

      Also, if you’re in a larger market, it is not unusual for news stations to be boundby union contracts, thus limiting what they can accept from freelance photographers.

      Just an added tip – I know Sundays are the least active day for news materialso stations are more willing to acceptstories from “outsiders”

      In regards to your film transfer question….24p and 60i are the recommended frame rates for film transfer.

    • #172938


      Here’s the info on the Canon XL2’s 24p frame rate pulled from their site:

      “24p with 2:3 pulldown produces video with the look and motion of film. (24p, used in conjunction with a cine gamma curve on the XL2, produces images that have similar tonal characteristics as film.) This mode is used when the finished video is to be converted to 60i so that video can be viewed on a television. 24p with 2:3:3:2 pulldown is used when the video is to be transferred to film. The 2:3:3:2 pulldown allows editing software to extract true 24 frames a second.”

    • #172939

      Thanks Composite1.

      I read your rant above too, by the way. It was quite humorous. I completely understand what you mean though. I’ve been thinking about those issues with Sony’s EX3. Im sure it shoots an amazing picture, and the ability to mount a broadcast lens in front of it’s 1/2″ sensors is awesome, but I’m wondering how front heavy that camcorder is. I used an XL2 before and my arm go tired pretty quickly. I’m not a sissy either… It would be a shame it the EX3 is the same way.

    • #172940


      You’re welcome. As for the EX3, I got to play with the EX1-3 and the Z7U demos at NAB last year. Far as the X’s go, they were light enough to make the front heaviness less of an issue as the canon rigs. However, once you get away from the stock lens and start putting on broadcast quality HD lenses, fuggeddaboutit! I dig the sony rigs (got my start with handycams and Betacam-SP), but they have a nasty habit of ‘flipping’ on formats at the drop of a hat. Jeez, right now they have HDCAM, XDCAM, DigiBeta, DVCAM and now they’re almost tapeless with their more ‘affordable’ procams mentioned previously. I just don’t want to fork over a wheelbarrow worth of cash on camera gear just so the next year it will be obsolete! I love sony gear as it is high-quality, but don’t let it break! That and it seems that sony has ‘attention deficit disorder’ with their constant changing of formats. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some crotchety old dude that complains about ‘the good old days’. However, the tech changes every 5 minutes now and it’s not because they’ve gotten better ideas, they’re just keeping us on the ‘mouse wheel’ jumping to spend money on the latest gear.

      How this relates to the original question is; with all that in mind, you have to really do solid research on what gear and software you plan to purchase. This stuff is expensive and is an investment in your career. It’s just like you’re getting married, courtship part is great. Once you say the words and ‘do the deed’ you’re going to have to find the best way to work with what you have. If things don’t work out, it’s going to cost you some money.

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