Best gear for making a small documentary

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    • #85490

      My boyfriend and I are going to Guatemala to help a charity/organisation make a documentary (volunteering). They have no equipment, so whatever we bring is how we can make it happen. We are a bit stumped as to what would be the best camera/editing program to use.


      An overview:

      The documentary will be filmed in many different locations/situations, outdoors, indoors, group shots, interviews.

      I imagine it will be only about 5 minutes long and its purpose is to better explain what the charity does/how they help. It will be played on their website, probably vimeo or youtube (so ideally 1920 x1080 format). 


      What we already have:

      I have a mac book pro , OS X Yosemite, 1.8 GHz intel Core i5, 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3.

      Rode microphones haev sponsored us with a VideoMic Pro microphone (

      We also have a GoPro which we plan to use to strap to the front of a chicken bus etc for effect/movement betweens shots.

      A leica D-Lux 5 camera. It has filming capabilities, but not sure if it is suitable/what esiting programs are needed etc. 


      What we need help with:

      Suggestions on the best type of camera. We want to find someone to sponsor us with a camera, or use a crowdfunding site to help us get a camera. So we need something affordable and easily accessible/easy to carry. Before we ask anyone I want to have an idea and understanding of the best type of camera for our needs. 

      The best editing program. One that will work with the above camera and on my mac. I have had experience using iMovie (..I know), but have also used Final cut 7 slightly (I would need to do some training).

      I imagine that the file type would need to be converted before being ingested into the editing program, so any suggestions on a converting program would also be great. 


      Thanks in advance, any help in understanding the best solution is much appreciated!! 



    • #212242

           The best camera is the one you can afford.  Your use of the camera is more important than the type of camera you use.  That said, you can go with a mirrorless camera like the Panasonic GH3.  You'll need to purchase a lens for it, of course, but you can probably pick up a Panasonic 14-42 mm lens for less than $200.  This camera is small, but produces great video.  Do some research on it.

           If you would rather go with a camcorder, the Sony HXR-NX30u is very portable, while sporting any of the pro features that you would need.  It also comes with an external audio block that will give you more control of your audio, as well as give you more options for connecting microphones.

           As for editing programs, on a Mac you're somewhat limited.  Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere are the most widely used NLEs.  Adobe products have kind of a high learning curve.  If you've used Final Cut before, you might want to stick with that.  Any NLE will be able to import video from just about any camera you buy.

           Hope this helps.

    • #212704

      The ‘best’ camera may well be a simple one appropriate to your lack of skills? The often quoted better cameras need surprising levels of skill to use properly. Things like your Rode mic. It will do somethings very well, and do other things pretty badly. Will you be able to tell which? Even battery power needs some planning and understanding. Do any of you have any video making skills?

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