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Old 06-04-2012, 11:48 AM   #1
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What should I buy to Start Off?

I want to shoot documentary films (mostly just short-range interviews with people I know, my teachers, people in the community) to get some stories out there, and because I've always had an unexplored passion for filmmaking.

Here's what I think I am going to need from my rudimentary research:

- Tripod - Lavalier Mic (because I want to get people to talk! sound quality is important to me)

- A Good Camera (even though I am just starting out, quality is very important to me in general, but this doesn't have to be high end, just as good as some decent youtube videos). Someone recommended this Canon. I don't want to start off with a camera that's too low-end because I won't have money to buy another one for a long time.

- Good software (I've never really used video-editing software, but I'm generally very computer savvy, good at programming, good with photoshop, etc, so I'm willing to take on something complicated but ultimately worthwhile)

- Anything else?

My budget: capped off at $2000, but realistically, I want to stay under $1200 (I'm a student, and a science student, so I don't have too much of an economic justification for buying all this, since it doesn't really obviously go towards my career or anything).

I also don't know much about films, but I plan on buying some books, and mostly learning by doing.

I appreciate any advice at all. I'm a little lost, and I could do a lot of research, but sometimes I feel like it's best to ask someone more experienced in spite of that, because people who sell cameras just want to sell them, and specs don't always translate into a good product.

Sorry if this was already asked; I couldn't find a thread where it was.

Thank you very much!
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:53 AM   #2
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:16 PM   #3
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I was in the same place you were about 6 years ago. I would definitely get the best software you can. I ended up going with FCP. Also some filters like the magic bullet stuff and you can always color correct and make decent video look incredible. Here's a cool behind the scense of a film using magic bullets.

As far as a camera. Anything out now is better that most stuff out 2 years ago. And anything 2years from now will be better than what's out now usually. So if it were me I would get the best you can but don't go crazy. I have the 7d and highly recommend it but it has it's downsides. Not so great onboard audio but by no means unusable, but you will probably need to record separate sound and sync in post. It can only shoot around 12 min on a single take which is fine for film but not great for say a wedding or other live event. I'd just way out the pros and cons. Even a cheap canon hd video camera can look great. Here's an article about "Bombay Beach" a great doc where the filmmaker used a $600 dollar canon vixia and made an incredible looking film. There's a trailer at the bottom.


The big thing that got me was worrying about not having the right gear and letting people tell you "why even make a film if you don't have a (expensive camera name)" or something like that. Just shoot and worry about the story and do the best you can. There have been great films that were made with the dvx100 which is standard def and is about $500 buck on ebay right now. It used to be about 4 grand a few years ago. So keep that in mind.
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Raza View Post
Lavalier Mic (because I want to get people to talk! sound quality is important to me)
You don't need a lav to get people to talk - all they have to do is open their mouths...

A lav is the worst thing to get, besides the fact that one good wireless lav system will set you back $700, and you'll need at least two - and you still don't have an audio recorder. You've already used up your $2,000 budget.

To get the best sound quality you hire someone who knows all about sound and has all of the equipment and experience to capture quality sound. The very absolute basics of great sound are

1. Get the mic in as close as possible.

2. Have the mic aimed properly.

3. Do everything possible to eliminate external noises.

4. Do a complete audio post.

#1 & #2 (which are very different) comes down to proper boom technique. #3 is selecting quiet locations and set prep plus #1 & #2. #4 is what I do for a living; this is where 95% of great film sound comes from.

There are many, many threads about these topics hear on IndieTalk, even one or two (thousand) by yours truly. Once you've read them and the subsequent very interesting and informative discussions come back with your questions.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:44 PM   #5
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all you need right now is Pencil and paper (pc and keyboard)

Get a solid Idea down. Do some investigative research first, uncover the interesting story you'll want to tell with video.

Create a shooting schedule for two days
Hire a cam op and sound recordists for two days (alternate rent gear)
Edit with free software
Post on the web.

You should still have most your money. And know more about what you want in gear.
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