Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Professional Camcorders › deciding between xf100, AC90 and Mark III for first low budget feature
- November 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM #71153dswiftocParticipantFirst post but been reading threads for a while and really appreciate the wealth of information a lot of you guys freely share with newcomers such as myself. I am going to shoot a low budget horror feature next year. I have complete control over the locations so I can light as I like and there are no exterior night shots. Anyways I was looking at different camera options and wanted to get tap the wealth of experience and expertise here.Right now I have a Canon T4 which I use for in a real estate company I own with my wife. I shoot real estate videos (virtual tours), client testimonials, about us type corporate videos and will be shooting 2 commercials for digital distribution one this month one next. I like the image out of the T4, LOVE its ease of use and the workflow into Final Cut Pro X makes my life easy but I wonder if it will be good enough to shoot a feature with a distribution plan that include VOD, festivals and at least one theater screening (even if we have to rent the theater ourselves)? If I have to have the footage color graded or corrected (which I would most like outsource) will I be shooting myself in the foot with this type of footage. Our film is self funded with a budget of 50k, the locations are all free for me to use, and all the equipment will be bought via the other company I own so nothing will roll down to the film balance sheet, the film budget will be mainly comprised of cast, effects (main are backend loaded), wardrobe, small crew (PAs hair, makeup), travel, food , formatting, marketing and misc. So my thoughts were:Canon XF 100 – this seems like a great camera in the right price range for me, wondering about the workflow, ease of use and the image quality for distribution, and how will it cut with the T4 assuming I use the T4 for some shots?Canon Mark III – seems like a good upgrade from the T4 with a familiar form factor, but is that upgrade enough to justify the price and passing on a dedicated video camera with an easier sound capture system? Images from the Mark III can look amazing but I know it takes a lot of work to make them look so, and I would rather focus efforts on making the story good then getting a camera to perform.Panasonic AC90 – really this one came up through reading forums, seems like a lot of people really like this camera, was wondering though how would it cut with the T4 and regardless of price is the XF 100 a better camera for my goal?Ideally this camera would serve two purposes: used on this film and then used in commercial shoots (digital distribution). My main concerns are image quality, ease of use, and the workflow into FCPX. Are there other concerns I should have? Are there other camera's I should be considering?My “want” list in order of importance would be:Ease of use (this is my first real shoot and I want it to be as easy from a technical standpoint as possible so I can focus on the million other things, I also want to handle the shooting myself, part of that childhood dream thing)Workflow to FCPXImage Quality – obviously I want it to look good and not like a home made movieFinal Image issues – I want the final product to be good for VOD as well as a theater screen (as I mentioned we would just rent a theater to show it if necessary for the hell of it)Budget – want to stay under 5k for the camera setupWhy not Black Magic – from what I read the workflow is very demandingAny thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciatedThanks,Dan
I can't comment on your camera choice as I've never used any of them.
What I would like to adrdress is something that I feel you overlooked and that is the importance of good sound.
Viewers are willing to overlook inferior video from time to time (most of what's on TV these days will support me on this) but bad sound is a definite no no.
If you can, consider hiring a professional sound person as they're worth their weight in gold. Not only do the good ones have a great kit with lots of mic choices, they know how to use it to get great sound.
Great point. I am going to have to do some research to see what a good sound person would cost and see if I can get it in the budget. My first thought was to record sound seperately despite the convenience of recording sound on camera I fear that could create to many possible problems.
Poor sound recording would be a horrible way to ruin a first attempt at making a film!
Recording sound separately has always been the recommended method. A scratch track can be sent to your camera(s) for helping to sync things in post. I don't think any of the cameras you're considering support time code input so you'll have to use an old fashioned clapper slte. Sound can be synced in post using a tool such as Plural Eyes which seems to be the tool of choice these days for doing this.
I don't want to scare you but you could be looking at around $500/day for a pro sound person. Can you get him/her cheaper? Absolutely. Craig's List and Mandy are full of people looking for a pro sound person who is willing to work for around $100/day. The problem is that you get what you pay for and this is often is someone who thinks they know what they're doing. The sad reality is that they don't and your sound track will suffer for it. A pro sound mixer has anywhere from $50K to $100K invested in their gear and, more importantly, knows what tools to use and when and how to use them to get the best sound possible. Gear rental is around $250/day and the sound op is another $250/day (typically for a 10 hr. day). If you live near a major city, see if you have a pro sound shop such as Trew Audio or Pro Sound as they will be able to help you find a good person for the job. The other site to check out is JW Soundgroup at http://jwsoundgroup.net/ This is a forum for pro sound mixers and they have a sub forum called "Work Available – Available for Work". Don't go here unless you're serious as these are pro sound people who can be somewhat sarcastic if you're not willing to pay a decent rate. As I said, most of them have a lot of money invested and don't take kindly to people not willing to pay them what they're worth.
Good luck with your project.
So Dan, you 've decided to take the Red Pill… 🙂
I used to work in television news and had done so for many years, so I knew my way around a camera, editing, audio and other basic production skills pretty well. I was (and still am) a rabid movie buff and actor. I was the guy who actually watched all those behind the scenes making of extra features.
So, my wife and I developed a script for a featur length film, started a production company and ran headlong into producing it. In the end we lost tens of thousands and never did finish that film due to situations beyond our control. (One of which was a main actor joining the military three quarters of the way through the project.)
I don't tell you this to scare you away from your project, but you should really take an honest look at whether you're ready to leap down that rabbit hole head first…
If you aren't already making commercials, music videos or short films I would encourage you stop and seriously assess whether or not you're prepared to jump into one of the most complex time and money consuming projects I can think of.
With all due respect, if you are on Videomaker's forum asking us which camera you should use, you may not be ready to shoot a feature film.
Now, I know you're going to do this anyway. 🙂 So, here's my advice to help you succeed…
Make friends with other professional and amateur video producers in your community. Work on a couple of their projects… and they'll work on yours. Pick people that KNOW their positions. Blow one thing and the whole movie can be ruined.
Find yourself a GOOD, somewhat experienced director of photography and/or director before you drop a dime on a camera. (They may even have the gear already.) Decide what exactly you want to put on screen and what it will look like – then pick out your camera.
Make sure you have someone who can properly light your shots. It's not as easy as a little three point lighting.
Use really solid actors who are made for the part. Bad acting will ruin your movie as easy as anything else. Releases for actors, locations, etc. Make sure you keep it all legal – otherwise you've got a very expensive home video sitting on your shelf that you can't do anything with.
Speaking of legal, study up on copyright law. This is especially important for music. Music plays such a major role in mood and tone, don't neglect it. And don't violate copyright laws.
I double what everyone said about audio. Here's the catch – recording audio seperately adds time and complicaiton in post production. It WILL give you better audio, though. Minimum, get a solid wireless lav for one channel and a good boom mic/boom for the other channel. (Your editor will make sense of the two channels in post.) Make it one person's job to due nothing but give you the sweetest audio possible. Check out a Zoom recorder – it may do the job with XLR inputs and get good room sound. Make sure you slate properly, keep good records and practice good data management – especially with seperate audio.
Editor – this is a tough and under-appreciated gig. Editors craft your film every bit as much as directors, DPs and actors. Make sure you get one with experience and shares your vision for crafting the story.
Craft services – volunteers volunteer a whole lot better when their stomachs are full, their bladders are empty and they're neither too hot nor too cold.
I could go on and on, seriously. There's so much to think about when it comes to making a feature that it boggles the mind. Consider making yourself a producer and finding skilled people to do the production heavy lifting. Believe me, you can keep your hands plenty full just being a producer. Producers are, after all, the owners of the finished product responsible for making it happen.
Good luck – I don't want to scare you too badly but making a feature is a LOT of work. Just make sure you're ready for it.
I'd echo dellwovideo's comments, and add a couple more. First, an old joke in film school is, "I've got a script, let's shoot a movie!" It's not that simple. A script needs to be broken down into sets, props, actor calls, and so on. And the shoot needs to be budgeted, along with the post, and production.
If you are serious about doing a film, look into film classes first. Here in Southern California, we have a half-dozen outstanding film schools, and one of them is at a local community college. Now, obviously, that's probably not going to be the case everywhere, but check out your local college, and see if they have a film program–not a 'film appreciation' program, but a program to teach people how to make films. You'd be surprised how good some of these local programs can be.
Second, if you are serious about making a film, make a short film first–something ten minutes or so in length. It will give you an idea of the amount of work involved. And don't plan on doing everything yourself. As dellwovideo said, find a good shooter to act as your Director of Cinematography. Cinema shots make up a language of their own, and the language has to be learned.
And that goes double for editing; a good editor can make an average film look great, and a bad one can make a great film look crappy. I saw a documentary last night that was well-written and had great source footage. Unfortunately, bad editing made it long, tedious, and boring. Editing cuts are as much a language and cinema shots, and it's another language that must be learned.
All of this is not to say you shouldn't pursue your dream. Go for it, but do so with your eyes open. The story that dellwovideo tells a pretty common story about investing tens of thousands of dollars in a movie project that fails. It can, and does, happen to the best of us pretty regularly.
Robert Rodriguez wrote a great little book called 'Rebel Without a Crew', and I's recommend it. Rodriguez is one of those rare characters who can do it all–write, direct, shoot, and cut. But before you decide to go out and make a movie, watch one on TV, and ask yourself: Can I really shoot like that? Can I really edit like that? Rodriguez may not need a crew, but I know that I do.