First, the pro estimate doesn


First, the pro estimate doesn't make sense.  Is this just for editing your clips and stills?  Then you still need a good camera; and excellent technique.  Or, do you take the twins in for regular sessions, then they edit in a year?  That lacks the day to day stuff.  Surely a pro isn't going to follow your family around for a year, then edit, for less than $50+K.  It really sounds like they will edit the raw material you give them.

Next – you want high quality.  That's very dependent on your editing, even if you have the best clips in the world.  Are you ready to spend hundreds of hours editing?  Learning how to do this can take years.  The standard by which home video is judged is commercial television and movies.  Just watch the credits one time to see how many people were involved in a simple, non-blockbuster 30 minute production.  Lots, like 30 or more.  And you want to match their quality by yourself?  Can be done, but most cannot.  

Today the hardware and software should be your least consideration.  The quality of your shooting and editing skills is primary.  Most any modern camcorder, SLR or mirrorless, or even advanced smart phone will give you excellent images.  How stable they are is dependent on your shooting skills.  Angles, lighting, sound (and sound is 70% of a "video" production), and esp whether the shots are shaky.  Most any editing software from $60 to $130 will do what you want.  Get free trial downloads of any software and try before you buy.  CyberLink Power Director is one of the best, fastest rendering, bang for the buck today (I don't use it – too much learning time for me to switch.)  Don't pay any attention to the fancy transitions – watch the pros – they use simple cuts and fades.  Do the same.  Rule is – if your content is junk, use the fancy stuff.  If your content is good, tell a story with just cuts or crossfades.  You can choose one transition (like a page turn or clock wind) as a "signature" transition for this production.  But don't throw the kitchen sink at it.  That's distracting rather than complementing.  For cameras, look at Canon Vixia series (HR-R50, R500), or a Panasonic (include lens for cost).  Or most any good camera at Costco will shoot excellent video. I like the Vixia because it has super zoom with excellent quality.  I have 7 prosumer and consumer HD cameras and go back to my Canon HF200 with 15x optical zoom, but can 4X digital and get 60X zoom with excellent quality.  Most cameras won't have good quality with any digital zoom.  Add required accessories – LED video light, plug-in microphone (be sure camera has a mic input), and a bracket to hold them.  A tripod is required, but much of family stuff is handheld, so sharpen your skills at holding camera steady.  And for this, larger or heavier is easier to hold steady, up to a point.  A small camera or phone is very difficult to hold steady.  Whatever camera, you'll need practice holding your breath, leaning on something, putting your elbow on the table or ?? to be stable.  If there's one single factor that separates the pros from obvious amateur, its stability of the shots (then sound, then lighting, then ….and creativity of the angles and composition).  But tripods are bulky and inconvenient for family, unless it is constantly stowed in the corner and becomes a fixture (most all come with quick connect adapters).  Any major brand camrera will give you excellent images.  They vary on low light without noise capability, zoom, ease of use, lens quality.  Look at Mbps (megabits per second) for video.  24 Mbps is minimum, 27 is now a standard.  I use Panasonic GH2 hacked from 27 to over 150 Mbps most of the time, then HF200 when I want a small set-up.  Add a very good quality SD card to your list, and 32 MB should be minimum, and very fast (600X, or 90Mbps) is required.  Be careful of counterfeits in this area.  B&H and Adorama are excellent sources, plus your local camera shop, even at a slight price premium.  I do buy on ebay a lot, but am very careful and know what I'm doing.  My bracket, mic, and LED lights are from ebay.  Not super high quality, but good enough for my non-pro work, and cheap.  Tell a story – edit with a hook in first 4 or 10 seconds, then have a beginning, middle, and end.  Use all 3 shots – wide angle to establish, some medium, but mostly close-ups.  Fill the frame with faces from ear to ear.  Close brings your audience emotionally closer into your production.  Even sports productions get in those super close-up shots of faces to show their determination, concentration, and emotions.  That's why stability and zoom are so important.  But zoom TO the shot, don't make the zoom THE shot (exceptions to every rule, but know the rules first). 199 out of 200 people don't have the (skill, attention to detail, ability to concentrate, interest – choose one or all) to spend the time editing.  This forum is filled with those 1 out 200's.  Find out fast if you are one also – or get out your $1,500.


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