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Prioritize my wish list

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Jeff Mueller
Prioritize my wish list
on Nov 18, 2009 at 4:27:20 am


I have a new Event Video business, not strictly limited to events but my three gigs so far have all been weddings. I've actually been in the Film/Video industry for a long time but am new to this side of the business and every time I turn around I see something that either I think I should buy or something someone (on the COW perhaps) is telling me I should buy. Obviously my current jobs are not paying big bucks, so what would you buy, in what order?

My current setup:

Canon XL-H1, standard 20x lens, 2 high capacity batts, various (standard) filters.
Sachtler Video 14 tripod
Kobold 200watt dimmable HMI lamp with Chimera softbox.
Open face 250 watt lamp, gels.
Sennheiser wireless lav system
Sony (Pro level) wired lav.
Audio cable, lightstands, sandbags.

iMac 2.16 Core 2 Duo, 3GB ram (maxed)
Final Cut Studio 2 (with Neat Video plug in).
Adobe CS2 (I use Photoshop a lot).
Epson Artisan 800 (to print on DVDs, new purchase)

Wishlist (kind of in order):


LED camera light or similar
Third battery (just in case)
Tiffen Black Magic 1/8 and 1/4 filters
Century wide angle lens adapter
Baby sticks or high hat
Sennheiser ME66 or ME88 Cardiod/short shotgun

Dream-On: (Production)
Second camera (Canon XH-A1 or Canon 5D Mk II)
Canon 3x wide angle lens
Sennheiser 416 shotgun
4 channel field mixer
Second wireless mic
Steadicam Pilot or similar (yeah right)
Second 200-400 watt HMI


Final Cut Studio 3
Used 2.66ghz Quad Core Mac Pro, ATI graphics and at least 8 gb Ram, 23/24 inch Cinema Display
OR iMac 3.06 ghz Dual Core (maybe 2.66 ghz Quad core), 8 GB Ram, ATI card
Kona Card
Cheap broadcast monitor such as:

Adobe Creative Suite 4 (Encore)
Toast 10 Pro
Blu-Ray burner
More Ram
More Plug-ins

I won't even go into the dream-on list for Post.

But, seriously, I want to make this a success, which means delivering the right quality at the right price, so where would you spend your money? I can probably spend a couple thousand dollars right now, everything else will have to be paid fpr out of revenue as it comes in.



Jeff Mueller
Santa Barbara, CA

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Mark Suszko
Re: Prioritize my wish list
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:56:55 pm

I'll tell you one of the reasons I got out of the wedding/event business was that I did not feel I could keep up the pace of investment in new gear as the camera technology changed and I didn't want to spend what I thought I needed to spend up-front to have the security of redundant back-up capcity in key areas, and still have a sutable profit margin. I got a lot of incipient ulcers working without a net back in the day, in the sense that I didn't have back-up gear for single-point failures in the wireless mic or camera.

And it is not a question of "if" something key like a camera or hard drive or power supply or battery will fail, but WHEN. You NEED spare cameras, even if you plan to shoot single-camera. One hour before the gig, when the camera goes "Tango Uniform" during final check-out and set-up at the location is not the time to go scrambling to find a spare rental. And what if you are heavily booked and you have an accident happen to the gear? So if you are serious about staying in the business, seriously back-up all the critical gear with spares, and get insurance, before you think about other "nice to have" expansions. It is not sexy, but it is smart business.

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Jeff Mueller
Re: Prioritize my wish list
on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:33:57 pm

Hi Mark:

Those are good points, although as you say it's a tough position. I think if I had a second camera I'd probably be putting it to work so I'd still have a back-up problem, although not as bad. The XH-A1 is probably a good back-up camera, although I'd rather get the Canon 5D MkII for the things it can do that my current camera won't.


Jeff Mueller
Santa Barbara, CA

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Jim Watt
Re: Prioritize my wish list
on Nov 19, 2009 at 11:42:12 pm


Don't let mark frighten you. In my opinion the situation is not so desperate. i've produced and shot high end television shows for 45 years and camera failure is about the last thing you need to worry about. Quite frankly i've never had a camera go bad on a shoot and have only dropped two in 45 years.

A good camera or a better camera is always nice. The HMI is about the last thing you need. You should have a little Lite Panels portable light for when things get too dar, but the portable HMI is way overkill for your work and budget

a decent computer with FCP is definitely a must have. you might be able to struggle thru with Final cut Express for awhile, but Final cut studio is where you want to set your sights. Don't worry about all the plugins for now.

Acquire lights as you go. Check used lighting equipment, it's amazing what you can find.

Good luck and you can stop by our website at http://WWW.bennett-Watt-HD-Stock-Footage-Library to see what using only one camera with no spare can do for you. We of course have more than one now, but much of this was shot with only one camera on the road. The ireland series was shot when there were only two of our HD cameras in the entire US.


Producer/DP, HD series, "Discoveries...America", "Discoveries...Ireland", "Discoveries...Spain",
"Discoveries...Argentina", Discoveries...India", "Discoveries...Asia", "Discoveries...Africa"

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Jeff Mueller
Re: Prioritize my wish list
on Nov 20, 2009 at 1:56:51 am

Thanks for your words of encouragement, Jim. Your stuff looks nice, what do you shoot with?

I've felt like the second camera wasn't a top priority because it is possible to rent. Maybe not day of, but certainly with a little notice. And I'd really like to rent the Canon 5D Mk II and see how I might incorporate that or a 7D.

I am running FCS2, but it's Academic so I can't upgrade. Sounds like FCS3 runs smoother and particularly Color takes less horsepower (it crashes on me occasionally and always takes inordinate renders) plus you can run Compressor in the background so I could keep editing in FCP (which when I hit upon a 70 hour render time is a big deal). But maybe the better computer is more important. I keep reading about the wondrous Kona cards, which obviously require a Mac Pro, but the Konas cost $3,000 so that's not happening soon, makes me think a stopgap second (better) iMac might make sense while I try to get to sustainable profitability. I wasn't really serious about the HMI although I love the one I have. Weddings seem pretty tricky lighting wise, as the receptions so far have been in large dark spaces.

Thanks again for the input.

Jeff Mueller
Santa Barbara, CA

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