Lowest cost HD Broadcast quality Camera?
Wow, what a GREAT community you folks have here!!
I was hoping I might get advice on what is the lowest cost HD video camera that meets "broadcast quality" standards.
We are going to produce an informercial using a professional TV production house in their studio.
However, *I* will also be doing short 30-60 second (as edited) customer interviews at their homes and business'. I will be travelling solo to meet with these people and getting a quick interview.
Think America's Funniest Home Video's studio combined with the viewer submitted material. Then we want to go out and interview them/
While the character of our commercial is such that high production values will take away from our message, I understand there are tech standards that the TV stations/networks/broadcasters require the finished product to adhere to. And most "prosumer" HD camcorders don't meet them. I understand it is primarily for reasons related to use of compressed recording formats. And audio.
I also understand that there are ratio's of "good" versus "substandard" footage , ie: in a 30 minute spot, there may be say up to 10 minutes of material that does not meet the full technical standards.
I was recommended two cameras (which model names escape me at this moment), but they were around $8k. Sony and Panasonic brands.
Is there any equipment that can record in HD uncompressed (video camcorder type or even DSLR) that is around the sub $2,000 mark?
Any help would be sincerely appreciated.
I get the feeling that you are a beginner at production and that you feel that you can contributes to the credibility of your location interviews by shooting them yourself. That is a major mistake. Your smarter move would be to hire a couple of guys from the production company who is doing your studio work. Let them supply the needed equipment and direct them to shoot "run-and-gun" style. They should be able to give you the spontaneity you are looking for. . . and it will be broadcast-acceptable.
However if you are looking for an excuse to go out and buy a camera, well, that's a different story.
Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.
Indeed I know enough to know I don't know enough!
The hiring of a crew from the production house would work fine locally, but a lot of the field interviews are going to be spontaneous and incidental to my normal day to day business over the period of a year. And all over the US and Canada.
For known shots I would certainly use my local crew. If I know in advance or an important spot out of town I'd find a local house to provide me with a crew for a couple hours.
But I have a reasonably solid background in photography and to a lesser extent videography such that I can compose, light and get the sound pretty close that I would be more than comfortable on less important stuff that may or may not be used. My friend owns the production company and has invited me to hang out on shoots to get some observational experience and learn a bit.
And yes, it is an excuse to buy a cool toy!
So, to my question... any suggestions of the best machine around $2k? Maybe used?
I have to agree with Ken, you have quite a few challenges.
1. 'Broadcast quality'. This is a moving target. There are several different accepted formats depending on the broadcaster. It isn't like the old NTSC days with just one frame size and format.
2. How are you going to post this? Does the platform your using work well with both your field camera and the format from the studio output. And does it output in the desired format for your broadcaster.
3. I don't want to get into a DSLR bashing thread, but you need to do some serious research on the post production forum that matches the platform your using to see what the post workflow and the pitfalls of the DSLR. One of the first problems your going to have is cameras like the 5/7D records in a compressed format, that is not edit friendly for many NLE's. So this may need to be converted to an editable format. And there are other problems with these cams, such as line skipping artifacts, non-standard frame rates on some models, file transfer issues, and audio complications, just to name a few. And will the frame size match your studio footage? Most NLE's say you can mix and match codecs and frame sizes on the timeline, but it rarely works as well (if at all) as they claim. What I'm saying is do your homework.
4. You want to record uncompressed HD for 2 grand? Not happening. It's not happening for your 8 grand price either. And it sounds like your going to acquire a lot of footage. Do you know how much storage space you will need to store all this uncompressed HD footage? If you shoot DSLR (which isn't uncompressed), the only place your footage will live is on the HD once you transfer it. How are you going to back this up?
5. IMHO, from what I have read in your initial post, and follow up, it doesn't sound like you have sufficient experience to pull this off successfully. To produce, direct, shoot and edit (or at least shoot for a successful edit for someone else) a long format, long term project, mixing formats, and not having purchased or used your field cam, with only having basic knowledge of lighting and composition is not enough.
Not trying to be a jerk, just trying to save you a year of grief and wasted money. From a business and career perspective, you are entry level experience wise and this doesn't sound like a entry level project.
Do yourself a favor and look at this objectively from an outside point of view, as if you were going to hire 'you' for this job, and work up a business plan before you do anything. You might want to consider hiring an experienced producer to oversee this project. If the budget is so tight that you have to 'one man band' the project, that is a warning sign. If you have to proceed without an experienced producer, consider hiring a producer to at least help you get started.
Good luck on your project, whatever you decide to do.
SST Digital Media
Eric, I have just come across this thread in my search, also, for a low-cost broadcast quality (50 Bp/s) camcorder...it is 2014, so four years later, but I hope that you ignored all of the negative gits who responded to your request and just went ahead and went for it! All the best indie film-makers / documentary-makers, are "one-men-bands" ...Don't ever let someone tell you that you cannot or should not give it a go.. It is not rocket-science and, the only way you will improve, is by diving in and doing it. I hoe your project was successful.
Trying not to gang up you here - anybody that knows me knows that I advocate hiring professional specialists whenever possible. But after carefully reading you first email, it sounds like you are just trying to shoot some quick interviews at various locations by yourself. And there is not a budget for any other way. Is that true? And it also sounds like it doesn't need to look that good, and indeed you want it to look a little rough. So you need to travel with a high-end consumer level camera (I don't know this world but you can probably find one) that will shoot in HD (720p or 1080i) and be easy to transfer to your computer (think SD cards.) You also want to buy or rent a high quality lav mic, and figure out a way to get that into your camera (most high quality audio gets into high quality professional cameras with XLR's, but the kind of camera in your budget will probably have RCA into it for audio, or worse force you to use the camera mic.)This is all doable, but I'm not sure where to lead you with the equipment. Maybe someone out there can.
As far as broadcast v non-broadcast, Scott is right in saying that this is very much a moving target. We sometimes supplement our primary camera footage with a $300 GoPro Hero, which makes TV on a regular basis. But don't use one of these for what you are trying to do, it's a specialty camera for sure!
I would NOT recommend going the DSLR route, these are harder, not easier to use alone. These are best left in the capable hands of professionals, and are WAY overkill for what you are trying to do.
Just buy a $1000 to $2,000 consumer camera. They all shoot on HD now, and it will look like you want it to look - amateur video.
OR consider this - you will be playing the roll of Producer/Director, DP and Sound Mixer - usually three distinct jobs. The Director deals with the asking of the questions and the content of the interviews, the DP worries about the camera and the lighting, and the Sound Person handles the mic-ing of the subject and seeing to it the camera records great sound.
You might want to play the producer/director roll only, use the money you would spend to buy the camera to find capable and equipped crews in each location. Maybe you can find a good camera person who will do a half day rate and go one man band (meaning he or she will do audio). You will also save money not traveling with any equipment. And then you get to concentrate on being the director!You can find professionals to do this from many sources, agencies and directories. Let me know if you need a few resources.
Just a couple of ideas!
Big Pictures Media
I forgot to add one additional idea. Secure professional teams at each of your locations who will do it all for you. Then you save a ton of money on air travel, AND the camera, which can then be applied to the production.
Here's how that works: Find a team who will shoot and ask the questions for you. You will usually want to hire at least a 2-person crew. (A Director/DP and Sound Person) We're doing this here in Denver on Monday for a client from Canada. They just sent us the questions and the contact info of the subject, and we're taking care of the rest. In this case we're shooting onto P2, so we'll just send them a drive filled with footage ready to edit. They get high quality footage from professional people and equipment, save the time and money of flying, and don't have to deal with owning, insuring and traveling the gear.
Their costs: Our dayrate, a Lacie rugged drive, and Fed-X charges. Done!
Now this will require research on your part to find capable crews wherever you are shooting, as well as a bit of coordination. But in my opinion, this is a small price to pay to get what you're looking for.
Good luck, and please report back what you end up doing!
Big Pictures Media
"Think America's Funniest Home Video's studio combined with the viewer submitted material. Then we want to go out and interview them/"
Well that lowers the bar a lot! Why toe the mark of uncompressed HD?
and a couple of china ball fixtures with 100w bulbs.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Eric - I didn't mean to sound flippant earlier. It is just that we daily hear, "I've always wanted to be in the movie business". Or the old classic, "Yesterday I couldn't even spell producer and now I are one".
To get the GIRLS GONE WILD look I would suggest going to a WalMart, buy a $500-600 camera, put a self contained LED light on top of it, hand hold it and shoot away with close-ups while capturing the audio from the built-in mike. You'll encounter post cost for converting you footage to an editable codec but your budget should cover that.
Sincerely, good luck.
This is a great community... One thing to remember here, is you get the full spectrum of professionals, low and high end budgets with all of our bias's. I use a Sony EX1 (or EX3). Great camera for our budget and I'd recommend it, always. Is it compressed? Yes, but a good compression, I think. If you use the BNC cable output you can connect it to a deck and record uncompressed but I've yet to find a time to need that, and I don't have a deck (nor can I afford one) that records uncompressed. EX1 or EX3's are great, but they will be somewhere around 7K to 11K(?). That doesn't include mics, media (which are expensive), ingestion, tripod, anything else which you WILL need. Straight economics, you will not find a 3CMO/CCD prosumer/professional camera (NON-HDV) for less than 5K. 5K to 15K is scraping the bottom of the barrel regarding "prosumer/professional" cameras. To get into uncompressed, you're looking at serious money. Haven't looked at cost in a long time, but I'd say MINIMUM 20K and on up to 70-80K. To start with the EX1/EX3, budget 10K to 15K to start purchasing a camera and all the peripherals.
"When you've got family, everything else is extra"
Eric, the reason you got answers originally specing in at the 8k level, is that to assure "broadcast quality" they are right. Most 'broadcast' folks I've dealt with shoot with the 4:2:2 specs and throughput that mean that the "safest" thing to do is buy into the stuff that the broadcasters buy. That means Sony and Panasonic in the $7 and up level. Can you broadcast from lower end Panasonic or Sony HD gear, damn right, but if they ask "what did you shoot on" or "we only accept xxx format" then you are going to do more work, or get shut out.
So buy what you can afford. Given your ideas, if you really have the business to do this, go buy the $8k gear. It likely will be the cheapest of your costs... (G). And both are solid performers.
Thanks very VERY much guys!
While at first I didn't appreciate the recommendations discouraging purchasing equipment I have come to appreciate the wisdom.
I am not in the business of being a videographer.
The cheapest camera at $8k will likely buy me more professional crew half days than I will need. And the end product will be of way better quality than I could ever produce.
It will be enough for me to coordinate the interviews and have them go off smoothly and quickly without me fiddling with strange buttons on a sophisticated professional camera.
So thanks for setting me straight!
To that end, perhaps you pros can advise on what rates I might expect for half and full day crews (video and audio vs one man band) from local outfits.
Also, any advice on selecting the right people and what to look for both good and bad.
Thanks. I can't answer the questions on cost. That is a local issue you need to investigate. How many interviews are you going to do? Where are you located? where will the interviews be located? Depending on exactly what you are trying to achieve, and how many locations, etc you are liable to be all over the map. I guess we have no idea of your budget, so that limits the discussion, eh? And you said you were going to shoot in a professional studio but without their gear and people. Why not ask them for a quote? It's a good starting place!
As to what to ask, just be very clear about what you need, and any good video producer or cameraman should be able to ask questions specific to your project. You should have either a script, or an outline of what you are looking to achieve. There are more details on this at various web sites. Try Google. (not being flip, but the questions you ask are pretty large to answer in a forum like this.
Expect to deposit perhaps a 3rd or half down in advance in good faith, since you apparently don't have a track record with these folks.
Lighting is also another possible cost. So is traveling with a person who knows how to get quality sound. That's not trivial. If you video tape something and blow the sound, you are back at square one.
Anyway, best of luck.
Eric, sounds like a very good decision! I have a pretty good handle on rates for professional crews - as that is exactly what we do. My best recommendation for what you are looking for is to ask for a 2-person crew (DP and audio person) shooting on P2HD or SxS. You are looking for an HPX170, or HVX200, or HPX300/370 package. Or on the Sony side maybe an EX1 or EX3. You don't need to get in the world of HDX900 or Varicams for what you are trying to do. But many of those that own the higher end cameras, also own these smaller ones. These will in most cases be your best crews. Lean towards the broadcast TV crews that also do corporate productions, rather than the wedding videographer side. But this is a broad recommendation, as local markets may vary in terms of skill sets.
Expect to pay $1350-$1650 for a 2-person P2HD or SxS Crew for a full day rate (8 to 12 hours or less). Some crews will also do half day rates (5 hours or less portal to portal0 for about 2/3 of the full day rate. So that range is $900-$1100.
For one man bands, you are looking at less of course, but I think a 2-person crew would be appropriate if you have the budget for it.
By the way, these rates should include everything, lighting, and all. You might need to send them a drive for the footage download, or fly out with one.
As I mentioned before, often times the best crews can also serve as a field producer roll if you don't want to or can't make it to the location. We do that all the time.
As far as finding crews, check out ProductionHub.com, or Mandy.com, where you can search by location. Be wary of just googling, as some who are masters of making themselves show up on Google are not necessarily the greatest talent. Every state also has a local film commission with local crew listed in a production guide. Check out their credits and reels.
Another excellent way to go is to employ the services of an agency like Crews Control, or Crew Connection. You explain to them just once what you need, they will help you refine it, and then they will find the best professional crews for you at each location. They take their cut from us, not from you, so it costs you nothing. Call Cricket at Crews Control and tell her I sent you - (800) 545-2739.
Hope this helps, and let me know if you make it out to Colorado!
Big Pictures Media
You have a lot of guys on here who are giving you information that
1. Your not going to understand
2. Isnt of use in this situation
3. Doesnt answer the question asked.
When looking for a camera that is broadcast ready you need to have information on the standards that your post production or final product is going to have to match up to. When it comes to regular definition and HD quality cameras your lower end is obviously the lower definition. How ever once you put forth money into a durable HD camera you now have access to a marketing tool not many consider as well.
You are shooting interviews which isnt very complex but still complex enough that a camcorder isnt going to cut it. Most of the interviews my company does in terms of sports, and music festivals we tend to use a medium sized production grade sony P2 with a ribbon mic NOT a Lavalier.
You are looking to save money and i get that. However your budget is too low for what your specifications are. You need to go up to about $4,000 you want a camera with HD capability, find out what ratios your production company prefers in post. This include bit rates and sample rates for audio aswell. If you go to the right supplier some P2 cameras come with a built in mic ussualy its a standard condensor mic. However if you want good quality shots you also want good quality audio so purchasing a lapell mic which are also condensors is your best bet.
What you buy will be based of of what the production company can work with in terms of compatability. Most production grade cameras dont record on an inclosed hard drive most are relayed through to a P2 recorder or AJA system.
Find out what the company uses in terms of outboard gear auch as
- recorders and designated drives
- editing programs ( some can allow you more leniance with lower end cameras )
- prefered bit rate and sample rate
- quality preferences and standards for the production companies affiliated partners.
Out here in Canada the CRTC standards are that audio levels have to be consistant, eith minimal interuption and should not go above -18 DB
In terms of visual comtent it is more leniant however as long as the aspect ratio and fram rates are met you shouldnt have a problem.
Your main issue is deciding who will be airing it and then finding out what their standards are from there you can figure out your budget.
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