What’s Your Poison?

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    • #40147

      Everyone who has stepped into the independent professional video services provider ring and spent enough time now acquiring equipment, shooting video, editing, producing and selling product and/or services has his/her happy medium or sad experience.

      Would it be interesting to Videomaker Forum posters/readers to start a topic that talks about what they’re using, equipment wise from acquisition to delivery, their primary video business focus, and their starting budget/client base, overall general experience.

      What you’d do differently, equipment wise, for shooting, computer platform and editing/software. Why?

      Perhaps this is too general or broad, seems a few participants could help narrow it down or further define through their responses. I will start with another post in response to what I’ve written here.

    • #172633

      As I said in my introductory post about learning a lot in my early days through my subscription to Videomaker magazine, I devoured every article trying to gain some insight into what was/is possible, how to pursue business and finding/affording the right kind of equipment to do it on.

      Over the years I was continually frustrated in my initial platform, equipment/software and camera purchases, spending money I didn’t really have for technology that really didn’t make me feel competitive quality-wise. Out of financial/budgetary (no budget) necessity, I initially went with consumer stuff right off the shelf.

      I got a gig through my volunteer position with an area hospital, convincing them I could, in fact, produce a viable volunteer recruitment/training video. They allowed for a budget that allowed me to purchase an early dedicated stacked-black-box-with-videotape-based-software, and a VHS camera from the late Montgomery Ward story, allegedly made by Panasonic, but with another consumer brand stamp.

      The production worked, in spite of my equipment limitations. It suited and satisfied the powers that be to the point that they once again had me generate another video, this time with a budget that allowed for microphones, lighting, and many of the other essentials needed to create a better quality product.

      I have gone through so many systems and cameras over the years I cannot begin to keep it brief if I name them all. Suffice it to say that each and every time I made a purchase, it wasn’t good enough to me, to do what I was seeing others accomplish. If only, I thought, I could afford the half-million or more in professional equipment. That wasn’t going to happen, even though over the years I am sure I’ve invested that much, maybe more in video related stuff. Well, maybe a quarter-million.

      Cameras didn’t have the quality of glass. VHS didn’t have the quality of storage, and I couldn’t afford Sony BetaCam, or even the U-Matic stuff. Then came S-VHS, and an affordable consumer Panasonic. I purchased a pair – still low quality lenses. Then came enough budget/resources for purchase of a pair of AG-460 cameras. I was now rolling, but still not satisfied with the overall image quality. Dropouts! Yikes! The days of pre-blanking, linear editing. If only…

      Then came the Panasonic digital slomo decks, and I went into hock for these pro decks (after using AG-1960/1970 decks – at the time the only satisfying equipment I’d yet purchased) and even these were a disappointment – AG-DS840 feeder/player and its big brother with player/recording capabilities. They were finicky, persnickity and more fragile than I thought pro decks should be.

      I invested thousands into the Amiga & NewTek’s Toaster, then Toaster/Flyer system, purchasing a LOT of 3rd party hardware & software. Was on a roll, let me tell you, but Amiga went AWOL and my system had problems from day one. Countless trips to the last Amiga serviceman standing, in San Diego area, and thousands of dollars in repairs, I salvaged what would have been a banner year by investing in the GREAT new dedicated black box called Casablanca. Still use it, bye the way.

      It even imploded on me initially and I had service issues and other stuff, but finally I got one that has proven a work horse (though S-L-O-W) and to this day makes an emergency backup editor I prefer to keep on hand. I even purchased a second “shell” Casablanca as a rendering machine, allowing me to continue working on new projects – I had also purchased 10 sleds with whatever the maximum capacity drive of the day was. More since.

      Then came digital. Purchased the first Canon XL cameras – two of them. (didn’t you know they’d have issues with direct sunlight into the viewfinders and other engineering goofs?) But, still use them, in conjunction with a GL2 a couple of years later. They work, in spite of occasional problems and one having the entire transport system, heads and drum, etc. replaced three times. And I’ve ALWAYS babied those things – maybe they never got a chance to develop an immune system, due to the pampering.

      Today. Final Cut Pro and related software such as Photoshop, DVD burners/duplicators, Firewire, and a Mac G4 dual 1-Gig processor box, and a boatload of internal and external hard drives.

      I’ve found what I want in acquisition for standard definition, but now am looking toward entering the high def arena. My first step on the path to high def will be purchase of the current entry level Mac Pro with dual quad processors, the latest iteration of FCP, and probably an upgrade to the basic/premium CF software for imaging and other graphics creation/manipulation.

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