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“Yeah, I was planning on getting a used one on Ebay. So it seems like I can get a lot nicer camera for my money. I definitly want to go with HD as I’m going to try and make a full 60-90 minute video I can package and sell. Do you have any other suggestions? What do you shoot? What makes the biggest difference between video looking like some home video and a quality product. I notice some of our local commercials are NBC looking quality and others look like a bad junior high school project.” – ff8
Well, to tell you the truth ff8, there are consistently excellent articles and columns in Videomaker magazine regarding your general questions about creating “quality” productions.
That being said…
…regarding the camera – you CAN find something new from $399 and up, but the more usable units so far as professional/commercial/entertainment production go, will cost you upwards of $4K or better. There are several decent choices in the HDV and AVCHD camera formats, using tapes, hard drives, or SD/SDHC cards, well worth sampling (if you can) before purchasing. As stated, the XL/GL models are standard definition, though you can produce wide angle with them, and the glass (lenses) is great, but you also record to MiniDV (not a bad thing necessarily, but does take time to digitize into most NLEs).
The thing about shooting SD with good cameras (tools) is that most of your DVD players and even many of the current crowd of high definition (720 or 1080) will upscale from SD DVD input and the images can look pretty darn good. So, do you HAVE to produce product using high def, not necessarily.
I am still in SD with Canon XL1 and GL2 cameras. The demand for my diversified services… WARNING, shameless self promotion follows: (see http://www.eccomeecgo.blogspot.com for my ongoing blog about diversifying and making money in video, and marketing), end of SSP …has not yet called for shooting or providing HD product. I think that is coming sooner rather than later, and am seriously looking for ways to upgrade to some facet of HD – be it HDV, AVCHD or HD. I really, REALLY like the sound of the new Panasonic AG-HMC150 using SD/SDHC cards. So, sometime in 2009 I will be producing and editing in an HD format. What I use camera-wise, other than a current Mac Pro and current FCP upgrade for editing, leans heavily on how well I finish out the year, and how good bookings look first quarter ’09. So far, things look promising. But I am talking about upwards of $15K total investment and that worries me.
What makes the biggest difference between home/quality or highschool/NBC? Actually, I have to say I have seen some so-called high school productions that will literally knock your socks off, make you green with envy, and cause you to reconsider getting into video production.
But, in response to your general question (I get the point) I’d have to say solid, steady camera work, multiple angles and points of view, quality lighting, quality audio, good glass (lens) and an eye for the story. Also, tight editing, helped when the shooter gives you clean ins and outs (recording several seconds before the shot, and several seconds afte), no zoom-zooms, Dutch angles are cliche now so don’t tilt the camera sideways much, if at all. Also, when the shooter knows to stay wide and move in, or out to get close to, or farther away from, your subject(s).And, when the shooter gets you a solid set of B-roll stuff and a bunch of cutaways that can be used when things didn’t turn out right in the main camera work. And, when whomever captures your audio gets you some consistent audio of ambient sound that you can use to fill in silent spots that WILL occur during editing. When you edit, get your colors from camera to camera to match, even angles of allegedly perfectly matched camera pairs can initiate subtle color changes between the two, becoming really obvious in editing, or if left in the final production without color correction/matching.
White balance ALL THE TIME, with ALL cameras, using the current lighting and a white background, or some people use a light blue shade to shift the temperatures a bit.
OK, there’s your mini-seminar. Hope I helped a bit. But seriously, get a subscription to Videomaker magazine and read it cover-to-cover.
I don’t anymore, but I pobably should, even though I now KNOW IT ALL 🙂