What else should I be thinking about?

Anonymous (not verified)

Hello all!

First, I just posted the following on another forum here, but in case you haven't already seen it, I would be GRATEFUL for your answers to any of the following:

I've seen enough posts to know that specifics can help to get the right answer, so I'll quickly lay out the specifics of my situation. I would be grateful for any help you can provide!

I'm trying to find out what camera I should buy. I'd like to get the least expensive thing I can find that truly does what is needed, if that makes sense.

-I am looking to create instructional videos having to do with playing piano, that will be sold online (streaming and/or downloads) AND in physical form, such as DVD.

-I want it to look as professional as possible, so I would like to be able to shoot in 1080p/60. (At least I think I do: thoughts?) I realize that not everything is produced in such high-quality, but I also know that more and more people are getting closer and closer to HD, so it seems prudent to aim high in quality if possible. At the very least, though, I don't want something that would be of such low quality that it would give the viewer a bad impression of the content of the video.

-Everything will be shot indoors. Most shots will be either "waist-up" shots of me speaking, or close-up shots of my hands (mixed with screen shots done on my computer). I've seen some scary reviews of some cameras that say they perform poorly in low-light situations. I don't have any need to shoot in "low" light per se, but it will not be outdoors. I'm not really sure whether my situation qualifies as "low-light," so I don't know whether these reviews should concern me or not.

-I think a wide-angle lens would be good for what I'm doing, but it may not be crucial. (I'm not trying to be secretive, just trying not to clutter this with extraneous details). I can elaborate if needed.

-I have separate audio equipment, so the quality of the camera's microphone isn't a big issue. A mic input jack would obviously be helpful, but I could record a separate track into my computer and sync the audio afterwards, if need be.

-It would be IDEAL to find something in the $300-$500 range, but I have no idea whether this is feasible.

Second, as I am looking to produce educational videos, I wanted to ask on this forum, specifically: what are some other things to be concerned about? What are some potential pitfalls, or what has your experience taught you? Any thoughts?

Thanks so much!

James


H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

James,

Wow, you're about as 'fresh out the box' as they come! Right off I have to
tell you there's a lot to making instructional videos or videos at all. Despite
your newness to it all, I can say it's not impossible to do. Right now, you've
got much bigger issues than just 'what camera to buy'. You say 'you want a
professional look' but it's not your camera that's going to make that happen.
In the hands of someone with some training and experience, a 'crap' camera can
produce some good if not great results depending on the user.

Videos of all types depend on a lot of factors to get completed and be
'viewable' (meaning being watchable without wanting to scream.) Camera quality
does count, but use of lighting, sound and editing the final product are just as critical. You have a potential plan of action, but none of the tools or knowledge to currently pull it off. If you want to make something that's marketable beyond a 'YouTube Special', you've only got two options:

Option 1 - Link up with a professional.

This is a viable option in that the pro will already have the gear and know-how to get your project going. Your main role will be as a producer who will supply funding, talent and or resources to get the project made. You'll collaborate with the pro on writing the training materials for the video format and in the process learn the technical side of production. That will be of great assistance when it comes time to make follow-up videos. You'll either have to pay the pro outright or cut a deal for monies on the back-end depending on how enthusiastic the pro you negotiate with is about your project's potential.

Option 2: Do it all yourself. The much, much harder 'row to hoe', but not impossible to do. Before you spend a dime on camera gear, use as many free resources to learn how training videos are made. Contrary to what people try to make you think on the 'Tube', good training videos take time and effort to plan, write, produce and edit. Then there's that whole nasty 'Distribution' thing to deal with once you've got the work done! Check out the many free video tutorials and forums on making training videos here at VM. Then start digging through the mountains of material on the subject posted throughout the web. Do your research first before spending any money!

Now, don't think that I'm trying to discourage you from your dream. What I am doing is trying to spare you the fate of millions who came before you. Those who with glistening eyes filled with enthusiasm ran out to Best Buy and the late Circuit City and spent their hard-earned money only to fall terribly short of their goals. The vast majority of those who've failed, did not take the time to really put eyeballs on what it really takes to do this stuff beyond the hobby stage. Just like it's nearly impossible to become a pro-ball player with no training or skill, it's the same with getting into video.

However, armed with good info and a better understanding of the basic process it's highly probable you can achieve your goal of making piano training videos. Don't be hard-headed and jump into the shark tank without at least knowing how to swim!

Good luck!

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

James, I agree with composite about doing your home work as much as possible before jumping into the 'shark tank'. If you do your homework and decide for Option 2-Do it all yourself, then I have a couple more specifics tht might help others and myself with our suggestions for a camcorder. Are you locked in to buying a new cam or would you consider a used one? Do you have lighting equipment or access to some? You mentioned the reviews of some camcorders having problems in low light. If you are shooting indoors, I would suggest that additional lighting is a necessity. Withenough lighting you can shoot with just about any camcorder and get great results. Relatively inexpensive work lights that can fill the bill are available at Q Depot/Mart types of stores.


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

James, buying new at below $500 severly limits the field, especially if you want the ability to shoot HD. This price range contains only mid-low level consumer grade camcorders. By going into the used market you can up your features and quality. Stick with top level brands and get others' input about any used model that you consider. I use Sony HDR-Sr11( have 2, bought second after experience with first). This is no longer available new but can be had used for around your price range. It has a 1/3" imager, shoots HD, mic input, has available wide angle add on lens( Sony HQ used for reasonalble price) and has other features that would be hard to find in this price range. Ebay, craigslist or going to a site like BHphoto which has used stuff without the question about who you are buying from. Hope this helps.


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 4 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

I second vid's suggestion. A good used high end consumer camera will give you a better overall experience.

I also shoot with a SR11 and love the results. It has prosumer features and you can get them on Craig's List or eBay for around $500 - I was seriously considering getting a second one myself.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

James,

No worries mate. However, Vid and 'Cat have brought up some notable points about the type of camera your purchase limitations will get you. Another thing is; you don't have to have HD for your project to look good. A solid 3CCD chip camera in standard Definition DV will do just fine. Any used Canon from the XL or Gl series, Sony, Panasonic or JVC video camcorder will produce excellent picture quality. Since you plan on going straight to DVD anyway, then that eliminates the step of converting the video from HD to SD. You can use whatever profits you make to upgrade your gear later.

You can purchase used or refurbed camera gear from B&H Photo-Video, Adorama and many other reputable outlets online. I recommend those before going to E-bay or Craigslist as you get a better return policy if the gear's worse than expected.

Lastly, again I must stress that there's a lot more to this than just the camera. You'll need camera support accessories like batteries, recording media, audio gear, tripods, camera bags, lens filters, cleaning kits, headphones, lighting, background materials and the means to pack all that stuff up and transport it from place to place. All that comes before you work your way through the maze of choices for editing platforms, editing software, hardware and support gear. My suggestion for you is a combo of Options 1 and 2.

Eventually, you're going to need an extra set of hands to help get the work done. Video Production is a fully collaborative industry, so you don't necessarily have to go it alone.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

every version is bound to get better and or cheaper, so I cannot say, no first hand experience with that model... but the sr11 (I do have the sr12) should be able to write straight to memory stick... my sr 12 certianly does.... good to know the camera will still work if the hard drive fails... and there in lies the secrete to negotiating a fair price on a used one... hard drives do wear out, and so a hard drive based camera has a more limited lifespan than say.. solid state..... just make sure whatever you do buy has a mic jack and manual controls that are easy to use.


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 4 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

Apples to Elephants - They are not really close.

Look at the specs for the XR160 (click here) and compare to the specs for the SR11 (click here).

Specifically, look at the Inputs/Outputs section. Also the SR11 is a 1/3" imager, the XR160 is 1/4". Lots of other things missing or lacking.

EDIT - I misspoke somewhat - The XR160 inputs/outputs are listed under Interface. What I still find lacking is an assignable manual control wheel (I have used for focus and exposure at various times) and a headphone jack.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 4 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

For me, minimum specs are:

HD of some sort (1080p is preferred but 1080i is acceptable to me)
Mic jack for external mic
Headphone Jack
Manual focus capabilities
Manual exposure capabilities
Manual white balance ability
Tapeless (flash memory cards or hard drive)
OPTICAL image stabilization
Minimum 10x optical zoom (digital zoom is irrelevant and should never be used)
Good low light performance
Largest imager possible for your budget
Three imaging chips if possible (not necessary but it helps if your budget allows for it - SR11 only has one)

These are just a start for my needs - Yours may vary

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com