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  1. #1
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    Utter newbie tasked w/huge job

    I'm so grateful to have found this site, because I'm in trouble. I read over all the relevant tutorials (I think) but I'm still confused and I hope you all can guide me.

    I work for a charity, and as you'll know if you have ever worked with a nonprofit, that means I wear many hats. Among my many responsibilities, I am the event photographer, the webmaster, and I record audio versions of our publications, using a very simple set up with a microphone and preamp, a laptop, and Sound Forge. Somehow, this makes me the only candidate to carry out the new idea of The Powers That Be: our own streaming video interview show for our website. The only problem? I've never really done video!

    I've been piecing it together. We have an old Sony Handycam with USB streaming, and I have some dorky bit of software that came with our laptop that allows me to merge the sound from the standing mic and preamp with the streaming video. That would work, if we didn't mind the poor picture quality and the kung-fu movie sound, where the lips are moving before the sound comes out.

    So we know we need to get a more professional camera, and preferably something that we could hook up with a couple lavalier mics, but I have no experience with that kind of equipment and no idea what features to look for. My boss suggested that we rent it before we invest the money just to make sure we can make it work, but I haven't even any idea what I'd need to rent.

    Can someone PLEASE point me in the right direction? Any advice at all will be warmly appreciated.

  2. #2
    budget id go with the gl2, its cheap with xlr inputs and has pretty good picture and sound quality

  3. #3
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    Budget is definitely a factor! Thanks for thinking of it.

    I just looked up that camera's specs and from what little I know, it looks terrific. But I didn't see anything about XLR inputs. This is probably a silly question, but are you saying that you can plug a mic with an XLR connector directly to the camera? More than one?

  4. #4
    ... post
    Last edited by rackdude; 27th Jul 2007 at 18:37. Reason: accidently posted twice

  5. #5
    actually, lookin at the specs, the gl2 doesnt have xlr i think, correct me if im wrong, again. Ya, if it has xlr inputs, you can plug the microphone directly to the camera. You can get a converter for 100 bucks so you can have xlr in's that r pretty good quality for what your doing. That would make the whole set up around $2000, and I really don't think you should go any lower than that. I've seen the GL2 used on some great track and field footages, everywhere from polevaulting to being attached on a crane over the sprinters, it has really fine quality with good audio a good mic for it.

    If you can hit the $3000 range, your dameras are the panasonic AG-DVC20, Canon XL-2, and the XH-A1, with the XH-A1 being a HD camera. You probubly wont need this great of cameras if you are just streaming online because you are going to be compressing the video so much, the quality will only be ok, so a $2000 set up will work fine.


    Other than that, the only cameras like the GL2 ar the JVC GR-HD1 (HD, which you would have to down compress anyways) and the Panasonic AG-DVC20. I think from seeing the Panasonic and the GL2, the GL2 is nice and bright, with plentyful more color than the dvc. The JVC camera I haven't ever seen, but from use, I know the GL2 is fine for what your doing because u will have to down convert image quality anyways, and I think canon has the best autofocus and color.


    For mics, if your doing interviews, the sm58 is a standerd vocal mic used in live music performances that sounds vary natural, and would give your video that look of an interview if you use a more micish looking mic. Its a $100 mic and its one of the best in the music industry, just not used in film much because its noticeable, but if being able to see the mic is part of ur video, than thats a perfect affordable mic to have (also great for live performances if you ever need a mic for that). Other than that, if you want mics in the $300 range, go with a lav because I really don't like the sound quality of any shotgun in that range. The lowest shotgun I would pay for would be a AT 4073a, which is $600. Lavs would be cheaper and if you are indoors, better sound quality anyways. How many people do you need to mic at once? Some pretty decent lavs by sennhieser i think go for around $150, so 3 lavs or a shotgun really unless you got more money. 5 or more ppl id say ud really want a shotgun unless ur going to divy out a lot on lavs, and the lower end lavs start to get stacky if you use too many because they all try to run off uhf frequencies, and you dont have much choice on what frequencies to use if you are using lower end lavs.


    thats my take on this.

    interview look? With a gl2 and a sm58 its prolly $2,100

    Microphone cant be seen and there is a max of 4 ppl? gl2 and 4 lavs is about $2,600

    Microphone cant be seen and 5 or more ppl? Gl2 and at 4073a is about $2,600

    so... matters what your trying to do

    remember to get the xlr to 1/8' though, thats the main thing. for my calcualations i added it to the gl2's price.


    heres a youtube video my friend did with the gl2. Its really compressed to go on youtube because they only let up to 100 megabytes for your video, so dont pay attension to how choppy the footage is, thats not how it always looks. Pay attension to the color that it picks up tho, and be in awe.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om8YzOcY6EQ

  6. #6
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    What we're planning is to stage it like a TV show. Basically, an interviewer and one (or possibly on rare occasions, two) guest(s), seated. I think that TPTB prefer the lav mikes because that's what their used to when they've been the interviewee rather than the interviewer.

    I will keep that in mind about the converter. That's a really useful bit of information! And I'll check out the other equipment you recommended right now. Thanks so much!

  7. #7
    Hi Kasey

    Renting is a good idea to see what's available before paying thousands and discovering that you have the wrong gear. As an absolute "el-cheapo" budget you WILL need a DV camera (sounds like your handycam is analogue!!) You can get good results even with the little ones!! Just make sure the camera you rent or buy is digital (using MiniDV tapes) and has a "firewire" output to the computer so your captured footage is in DV-AVI format. USB capture is worse than useless!!! The quality is awful and yes, you quickly lose audio sync too...don't even consider that option!!!
    You will find that if this is just a "one off" job hiring radio mikes is better. Just make sure that you hire a set that allow multiple transmitters and one single receiver (I personally use Azden's but any will work OK)
    If you happen to buy a used or new camera they usually supply the capture and edit software in the package, otherwise you are going to need a fair bit of software too to edit the footage.
    I use Dave's Media Player for my online videos and it really is a classy bit of software, but you will also need a package to get your video files into Flash FLV files (the best IMHO is Flix Pro)
    To see the sort of quality look at the link below and play the first clip...(that's standard digital video rendered in Flix as an FLV file at 512K)

    http://www.diyvideo.biz

    Hope this all helps

    Chris

  8. #8
    i would reccomend the best version of sony vegas your money can buy with this too. It will get you good titling, great sound editing, good quality rendering, and is cheaper than premire and final cut pro by far.

    and vegas seems to have a lot more capabilities than premire, and only loses to final cut pro because of one ability that is esacaping me rite now... but ull see it if u check forums deep enough. But, if your pc, you can't use final cut pro.

    Vegas is the best on pc if your not going avid, ppl will debate premire, but im not talking about ease of use (and lots of people say vegas is the quickest), im talking what can it possibly do, and vegas has the most possiblites and can use 3rd party plug ins

    and its the cheapest of the 3, just make sure u get the pro edition.

    i think its about $400

  9. #9
    Hi kasey, allow me to offer something a little more controversial specifically for your application here..

    Understanding your need (so far as you've revealed), you really don't have to buy a GL2 or any of those prosumer, midranged camera. Besides taking Chris' idea to rent, which I think is a good way to test out a system, yes, a DV (digital video) camera using miniDV tapes is good. Otherwise consider the HDD (hard disc drive) cameras? All you need is one of those with a MIC jack (1/8", the small ones you have on your ipod and mp3 players). Then go check out a relevant Beachtek adapter to input XLRs. (http://www.beachtek.com/)

    As for lavaliers, you might want to consider Audio-Technica ones?

    You will have a very affordable and relatively good quality setup. Throw in a reasonably good tripod. The whole thing's (minus the mics) gonna cost less than 1.5k.

    What kind of software you will use depends on what kind of streaming quality you need. And also making more sense, is there a need to convert a higher quality one for archiving?

    Okie enough said. Your call
    There's no bad camera, just a bad user
    Loong . Singapore

  10. #10
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    Quoting Chris Harding: Just make sure the camera you rent or buy is digital (using MiniDV tapes) and has a "firewire" output to the computer so your captured footage is in DV-AVI format. USB capture is worse than useless!!!
    Yes, we're definitely going to rent first, but until now I was at a loss as to what to rent. You folks have been infinitely helpful!

    I'm very interested by what you said about firewire vs. USB! The camera we have is a mini-DV cam, albeit a very old one (it's a Sony DCR-PC101). Is it possible that if I connect it to the PC via firewire or s-video that I'd get the kind of picture quality I'd need? If that's the case, then I could simply get a converter for the XLR mics I already have and be good to go.

    Thanks so much for the advice! I will check out that link and those software packages now.
    Last edited by kasey; 30th Jul 2007 at 15:04. Reason: to include quote

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