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David Taylor
Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 18, 2006 at 1:56:40 pm

Looking for advice on low end broadcast quality camera.
Hope this is the right forum for this:
I've got a client that wants to shoot their own testimonials on the spot when they make a purchase for use in their television commercials. Any sub $1000 DV models have a good enough picture quality for this purpose? Or do I need a three chip camera for broadcast quality(which I know is subjective).



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Del Holford
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 18, 2006 at 2:11:24 pm

Broadcast quality is certainly subjective but the better the image sampling in the camera the better the air quality will be. In the commercials where the testimonials will air, what camera will be used to shoot the paid talent? At around $6000 the Sony HDV camera makes great pictures. At $3000 the image is nearly as good without pro features on the camera (audio input being an important one). At less than $1000 it isn't real likely the images will match up to the rest of the commercial. If these images need to be pristine go with the more expensive camera. If you add filters and effects in post to the testimonials a less expensive camera will do. CSI NY uses DV for flashback scenes which are heavily treated in post so they don't need to match the rest of the show by their nature.

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 18, 2006 at 2:13:00 pm

There are guys in this forum who will approach this question on the basis of technical specifications, and you'd do well to listen to them. My approach is more along the lines of the question, "What do you want to accomplish?"

If you want the resulting audio and video to sound and look polished, the answer is NO! You can't do this for under a thousand bucks!

If you and the client are willing to put up with bad audio, bad lighting, bad composition and bad color -- looking sort of like the old guerilla TV images -- then I'd say go for it.

You have to remember: a camera is only part of the solution. You need a microphone. You need lights. You need someone who knows how to work all three... even if it's only for a couple of minutes during the day. I won't even go into the need for a tripod.

Now, a slightly off-topic question for you: this client wouldn't happen to be a car dealership, would it?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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Doug
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
by
on Aug 18, 2006 at 4:00:56 pm

Another way to go.....

we used to have a client (used car dealership) who wanted his whole spot to be testimonials. We set a date, he contacted some customers who had each bought several cars from him, and ordered several pizzas....he made an event of it. We set up the cameras, taped a LOT of testimonials, and made several good one minute spots out of it.

It was professionally done, everyone had a good time, and he even sold a car while we were taping and got a testimonial from the buyer.

Doug


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Chris Poisson
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 18, 2006 at 4:07:29 pm

David,

The best camera in the world will suck if you don't use it right. If you light your shot correctly any DV camera can work, I used to shoot low-budget car commercials with a little Sony DSR-11 one chip camera, about $1100 6 years ago.

But you also have to make sure all your levels and specs are set correctly in your NLE before you go out to tape.

Understand that a 3 chip DV camera could look a lot better, (see Dave's thoughts about lighting, microphones etc.) and because of all the HDV cameras coming out, there are a slew of used 3 chips on eBay.


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David Taylor
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 25, 2006 at 3:42:47 pm

Thanks for your responses, I guess I should have covered more in my first post. I was actually looking for equipment product ideas, i.e. the sony mini dv cam etc.
I appreciate the advice but I'm well aware of the drawbacks to letting amateurs do the shooting. Certainly audio will be the first thing to address and I made that clear to the client. Even an inexpensive lav is better than even the best built-in shotgun. Anyway, even the worst video can be squeezed down in a box and the "video recorder viewfinder" effect applied to it. This client is a good two and a half hours drive and if they shoot their own and mail it over to me, I'm happy!

So, any ideas about which, if any low end cameras will work better than others? Low end wireless Mic? Azden? How about the sony cams that record onto DVD?




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Dave LaRonde
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 25, 2006 at 4:25:28 pm

[David Taylor] "This client is a good two and a half hours drive and if they shoot their own and mail it over to me, I'm happy!"

I appreciate the bite out of your time. But I think you have many more fundamental questions to ask other than camera models... and if you don't answer them, you won't have a client for very long.

Questions like the following. I've rank-ordered them by importance:
What are the qualifications of the shooter?
How motivated is the shooter to do a good job?
Will there be a standard location where customer comments will be shot?
If not, what accomodations will be made for supplemental lighting?

Let's just assume for a moment that the client is a car dealer, because this whole project smells like something a car dealer would want to do. My experience is that the dealership owner may have said words like, "Well, Salesman Bob's hobby is making home videos... he'd be perfect!"

So the time comes to record the first testimonial, by Salesman Jim's customer. But Salesman Bob's in the middle of negotiating with his own customer. Does Salesman Bob:
1) Blow off his customer (and a potential commission) to carefully shoot the testimonial?
2) Blow off shooting the testimonial, provoking the owner's ire?
3) Shoot the testimonial as fast as he can to get back to his own customer, disregarding such trivia as setting proper audio levels, white balancing, and ignoring the fact that he's shooting the testimonial into the sun, so you can't see the happy customer's face?

If this were my project, I would think long and hard about doing it at all, and then I'd want to establish some good, etched-in-stone ground rules with the owner before I'd even consider the kind of camera to buy.

Because if this whole thing is a bust, who's the owner going to blame? His own staff.... or YOU?

Think about it.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Aug 25, 2006 at 4:25:28 pm

[David Taylor] "This client is a good two and a half hours drive and if they shoot their own and mail it over to me, I'm happy!"

I appreciate the bite out of your time. But I think you have many more fundamental questions to ask other than camera models... and if you don't answer them, you won't have a client for very long.

Questions like the following. I've rank-ordered them by importance:
What are the qualifications of the shooter?
How motivated is the shooter to do a good job?
Will there be a standard location where customer comments will be shot?
If not, what accomodations will be made for supplemental lighting?

Let's just assume for a moment that the client is a car dealer, because this whole project smells like something a car dealer would want to do. My experience is that the dealership owner may have said words like, "Well, Salesman Bob's hobby is making home videos... he'd be perfect!"

So the time comes to record the first testimonial, by Salesman Jim's customer. But Salesman Bob's in the middle of negotiating with his own customer. Does Salesman Bob:
1) Blow off his customer (and a potential commission) to carefully shoot the testimonial?
2) Blow off shooting the testimonial, provoking the owner's ire?
3) Shoot the testimonial as fast as he can to get back to his own customer, disregarding such trivia as setting proper audio levels, white balancing, and ignoring the fact that he's shooting the testimonial into the sun, so you can't see the happy customer's face?

If this were my project, I would think long and hard about doing it at all, and then I'd want to establish some good, etched-in-stone ground rules with the owner before I'd even consider the kind of camera to buy.

Because if this whole thing is a bust, who's the owner going to blame? His own staff.... or YOU?

Think about it.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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dtmpics
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Feb 23, 2007 at 9:04:17 pm

I thought I'd take some time to follow up on the results of my experiences with this request in hopes that it will help anyone else with similar needs and also go to better this forum with some critiquing of the responses I got from my question. Please take this as constructive criticism and not a flame on anyone who responded to my original post.

First off, I'm not a faithful reader of any of these forums, I usually only come here when I'm looking for answers or advice. That said, I was very disappointed in the results of this request last year. I was basically looking for some advice on possible low end camera models to accomplish a specific task. Instead, what I got was questioning of my motives and attention to production values. This was very frustrating, I've worked in broadcast television for over 15 years (albeit on a small market level), and I was well aware of all the production pitfalls of the project. What I really wanted was someone to say, hey camera XYZ from ZYX has a great picture, is easy to use and is only $800. Not a single camera model was proposed.

So, without any direction from this forum, I visited B&H's website and just did a search sorting by price. I came across the Panasonic PV-GS300. A consumer 3-chip camera for around $600! I purchased the kit which came with an extra warranty, extra battery, camera bag and tripod. I also purchased a Sennheiser EK-100 wireless lav system. All delivered for under $1200.

When I received the camera, I set everything up and did a few test shoots. I took my digital still camera and produced a step by step illustrated guide on how everything should be connected. I took this and the equipment to the car dealership and gave the manager a quick run through of how everything worked, which took less than 15 minutes. Then I returned home and waited to see what I'd get.

About a month later I received the first batch of testimonials with fairly good results! Most of the shots were even creatively framed with autos or signage to one side. (Interestingly, this was really the only problem I ran into with the whole system, the auto focus function, of course, focuses on what's in the center and when the subject is framed over to one side they go a little soft. Of course this could easily be remedied by turning off the auto focus function but that's something I didn't want to tackle right out of the gate.)

Personally, I had a good experience with the project and I feel the result is better "than just good enough."

See for yourself and feel free to respond to this thread, I'd love to hear what others think about this project after seeing the final result.



http://www.spotpreview.com/coastal/nissan0611.wmx

http://www.spotpreview.com/coastal/chevy0611.wmx

(note: Jimmie Johnson, of course, was not shot by the dealership :-) )

One other note, this concept was originally produced and, I assume, proposed by a high dollar ad agency in Chicago. I had nothing to do with the creative except to duplicate the idea for the client.

DT Motion Pictures
http://www.davetaylormp.com


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dtmpics
Re: Low end broadcast quality camera
on Mar 5, 2007 at 1:40:11 am

Hmmm, no response from ANYONE?

DT Motion Pictures
http://www.davetaylormp.com


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