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What is most important will be the imagination and sense of vision you bring to projects. If a camera won't do something, assess for yourself just how necessary that something is. Will viewers ever catch on that you wanted to "do that" and couldn't.
Find the limitations and determine how close to that line you are willing to go.
I started out with a VHS camcorder that was rebranded from some Panasonic model. Had to do what we called "assemble" editing. A Sony Digital8 and the first version of Pinnacle Studio. Eventually I moved into HD with an HV20, went tapeless with the HF100, and when Canon video capable DSLRs became affordable took that route. And I'm one of those who became "ensnared" by the Panasonic GH2 and work with GH3's.
But the ultimate finished "motion picture" is a product of your sense of vision and how well you used the equipment you did it with. I'd advise you to check out the GH3, but if you are seriously invested in Nikon glass Nikon may be the best choice for you.
Being unable to change aperture "on the fly" is unlikely to impact on your end result, It's likely to be more of a pain in the "pi gu" (Chinese for "buttocks") than anything else.
Archiving AVCHD footage:
Currently I work with a pair of HF100’s. Make my own training DVD’s to support Defensive Handgun classes I teach, and I try to participate regularly in video challenges (FUN!).
A lot of my outdoor work is in dusty windy environments (West Texas) and I was somewhat worried about fine dust getting into tape transport mechanisms. So the change to flash memory looked like a good idea to me.
When I come back from a shoot I ground out any static charge by holding onto a grounded metal object (computer case or something like that) and then remove the camera media card, put it in a reader and connect the reader to a USB port. At that time I copy the MTS files over to a specific project folder on THREE separate hard drives, the internal C: drive and TWO external USB drives. All are currently 500GB drives but the externals may be replaced with 1TB drives if prices come down some more.
The current project stays on the internal drive while being edited and for as long as I need to make additional copies then ultimately will be deleted to free up working space. External hard drives are fairly inexpensive now and I extend the lives of them by not keeping them running. Generally they are only powered up when I need to transfer files to them or when I need to retrieve files from them.
In addition to the AVCHD files stored on those externals, they also have all of the DV and HDV captures I had to make while using tape so when I need to revisit an old tape based project I have the first captures available on a hard drive.
One improvement on the system I use should be to purchase one more external drive and mirror eveything onto it for “offsite” storage. Someone elses house.
What you have now and what your budget is suggests you are looking at consumer grade. There’s actually some pretty good choices for under $1000.
Canon HV30 does both standard def and hi def on MiniDV tape, and does a very good job of it. A lot of folks doing commercial work with something like the Canon XH-A1 or similar grade “prosumer” cam will have the HV30 to run as a “B” roll or second camera, or just to take with them when they don’t want to play “pack horse” with larger, heavier stuff.
I had the predecessor to it, the HV20 for awhile and liked what it did, I shot 2 projects with it before selling it off to help finance a couple of Canon HF100’s which do AVCHD on flash media. I often work in windy and very dusty environments and felt vulnerable to wind blown dust and sand getting into the tape mechanism.
HDV is best edited on a fairly recent dual core processor based computer as it begins to place some heavier demands on computer resources, AVCHD will require a very fast dual core or a serious quad core machine, and many software packages are just now getting with the program as far as AVCHD editing.
Once you zero in on a camcorder you think you might like, do some serious searching for websites with reviews to get a general idea of what they do, then check out users reviews on B&H listings and on amazon.com. You can learn an awful lot from both the positive comments and the complaints (keeping in mind the latter may be generated more from lack of willingness to learn the product).
Then once somewhat familiar with camera specs start looking for software. Again search the web for reviews and users comments on various forums, then go to the software company’s website and pay attention to the minimum and suggested computer specs for editing HDV and AVCHD with their product.
Then when you make the purchase decision it will an informed one, not what others tell you to get.
I’ve been using Pinnacle Studio from the late ’90s to edit DV, MiniDV, then HDV, and may continue to use it for AVCHD although I’m editing a project on an old fort with Cyberlink PowerDirector. Both of these programs were fairly early adopters of AVCHD when the “big names” weren’t really getting with it. I teach Defensive Handgun Shooting Skills and produce my own training videos primarily as a handout for my students.
Last year I participated in 10 video challenges and even brought home a first place win, as a learning experience this route is highly recommended and is sometimes described as “free film school”.
Good luck in your quest.
There should be no compatibility issues with the PV GS500 and Vista. Any potential problems may be with certain video editing software and Vista. For instance I have a 2 year old HP with dual core 4200+ processor and 2GB Ram and a 4 month old HP with dual core 5000+ processor and 3GB Ram.
Both have the same NVIDIA 6150SE graphics on the motherboard with shared memory of course. The older machine runs XP and the newer one runs Vista.
The older machine with XP, slower processor, and less RAM actually processed video faster and with less glitches than the newer faster machine running Vista.
With the Panasonic PV GS500 this is not much of a problem for me, but I recently acquired a Canon HV20 and the difference in performance editing HDV is much more apparent. I use Pinnacle Studio Plus 11.1.1 on both machines and for music soundtrack I use SonicFire Pro 4.5.5 as well. So for now I’ll be doing all my HDV editing on the older machine.
Another Vista problem I have is with the Samsung 216BW monitor. Vista does not recognize the monitor profile on this model no matter how many times I’ve run the monitor profile software that came with it. I found many references to others with the same problem on the web, Microsoft apparently will not address the problem and Samsung does not understand it. They are sending me a replacement monitor but I can put this monitor on the older computer and it functions perfectly.
So if you’r looking to acquire a Panasonic PV GS500 don’t worry about camcorder compatibility with Vista, the camcorder will do it’s part and is the best standard def miniDV camcorder on the market in it’s price range.
I do recommend 2 accessories for the GS500. An external stereo mic (The Rode StereoVideoMic comes with a Deadcat wind muff and has improved my audio many times over the onboard mic. I use it on a stand just out of the frame and almost never use the onboard mic. The second item is the “screen hoodie30” from http://www.cinetactics.com. It does cost a bit more than the Hoodman product sold through B&H in New York but is MUCH SUPERIOR to the Hoodman. It blocks light from the LCD much better and if possible you should never use the brightness boost on that screen, if you do, you cannot judge exposure by what you see.
Hope you find this info helpful.January 26, 2008 at 8:44 PM in reply to: Inserting ‘placeholder’ for content 2 b added later #192196
I’ve done this before. Put the scrubber at the very beginning of your project and create a blank full screen title there. This will be just a blank black screen, then you can “stretch” it out on the timeline by clicking and dragging on the rightmost edge. I usually do this anyway to have 5-10 seconds of black leader.
Then you can easily insert new clips between the black “leader” and original program material.
The way to combine two edited projects is to highlight everything (including title, music, and voiceover tracks) and go to the edit pulldown and click “copy”. This puts it on Windows clipboard. Then open the second project, place the scrubber where you want to insert and “paste” the clipboard contents there.
Hope this helps
You may be far better off in the long run with the Canon HV20. You can use it in standard def mode, or you can shoot in HD and output to the computer in SD that way you have your tapes in HD for future HD use and the convenience of being able to burn SD DVD’s on the computer for now. It has auto modes with manual overrides, and both external mic and headphone jacks.
All of these features and more are in a very compact lightweight camcorder (this will be important while travelling and working on location).
This will leave you far better prepared for the HD future than used SD gear.