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While I’ll abstain from my opinions about your choice of "subject matter", I will say that for that price, you’re not going to get much of anything for overall quality.
You mentioned SD, Hard Drives, and Mini DVD’s. I wouldn’t use any of these formats. They’re all going to be compressed, and as soon as you edit them the quality will degrade to blurred, crappy images. Stick to MiniDV, the tape format. It’s digital quality, you lose very little image in repeated playback, and it’s better for editing and converting into computer formats.
On the Sub-$1000 MiniDV market, you’re going to need to pick a camera based off your specific needs. If you plan on filming in low light (standard daytime home lighting is just above the "low light" border, any less is definitely low lighting, and even this is probably considered low light to many) you’re going to have trouble with pretty much every camera out there in your budget. IF you can spend $2000, Sony has some exceptional cameras. I have a Consumer grade Sony handycam, and it’s okay in low light, but the overall picture quality can’t hold a candle to even my GL-2, which isn’t the best low-light performer in the prosumer market.
For your budget, I’d suggest either a nice Sony or JVC. SPend as much as you can, get as low of a "true" Lux rating you can find. I highly doubt you can find a 3CCD camera with the features you need in your budget, but if you can, go for it. 3CCD is far better picture.