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Advice on DSLR for film making!

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Paul Pap
Advice on DSLR for film making!
on May 3, 2012 at 4:24:11 pm

Hi
I am new to this site and seek advice on a project that I am about to embark on. I aim to make a travel documentary for TV. The doc will be made in Africa and will cover 12 countries from South Africa along the east coast all the way up to Egypt. Filming will be in a range of environments from savanna to snow.

This is an open call to anyone willing to offer any insight, advice and info on such a project from a filming perspective. I also have numerous questions (listed) and I would welcome any input:

1. What is the recommended quality that footage needs to be in order to be able to played by a TV station?
Based on preliminary research I am leaning on a DSLR type of camera (probably Canon EOS 7D). My main reasoning is price for the quality that it gives. I have some basic media training about 10 years ago but I feel this isn’t enough to go on. So my main concerns are:

2. Is a DSLR relatively easy to learn in order to be able to film “decent” footage?

3. What lenses (if any) would be advisable for shooting in environments like desert and rainforest?

4. For DSLR format what memory cards would be advisable? I have read that the speed of the memory card makes a big difference on the final product.

5. On the Canon 7D I believe the max for filming is 12-13m which takes up around 4GB. Realistically speaking for filming shots of 6-7m would it take up half the memory (is that how it works?)

6. Is overheating a realistic problem on DSLR’s? As I will be filming animals will I have to wait for the Canon to cool down? Furthermore I am hoping that with the 2 memory slots I will be able to film continuously longer. Is this correct? (if one runs out the other will kick in)

7. Any advice on comparable cameras like Nikon / Sony etc?

8. Can I get a similar quality result by a camcorder type of device? I have looked into the Sony HDR-CX700V but some youtube footage seems to indicate DSLR is better. Any advice on this?

9. Are there any other cameras that I should consider?
My budget is around 1500USD for the camera and still undecided on lenses.

Thanks for any responses.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Advice on DSLR for film making!
on May 4, 2012 at 4:24:30 pm

Paul, most major TV stations do not accept 7D footage out of hand. Check out the "Red Books" at PBS or the BBC standards. You may find that you want to look into the Canon xf300, Panny AF100, Sony Camcorders, or some other "broadcast accepted" camera. There are many upsides to those cameras, but if you find that the web is your real delivery mechanism, then there is no reason not to use a 7D. Also, if you have TV stations on board already, or have talked to them, find out if they will accept 7D footage.

That said, if you still want to do a film with a HDSLR, or find that you can shoot with it for the tv stations you are working with, then the 7D is excellent, when paired with lenses that are environmentally protected, like the 70-200 zoom from Canon. It will hold up to any weather you throw at it. Do some research on that issue. The 7D is probably the best for really nasty outside conditions, but pro shooters shoot with many camcorders all over the world.

There are a huge number of discussions in the last two years over these issues, so do more searching first on this rather than expect a huge discussion on this often discussed topic.

I think you need to really look at your budget carefully, and decide whether for your 'run and gun' style, that a camcorder, once you have bought a bunch of lenses, audio gear, etc. won't be the same or less. I have a full complement of 7D, and XF300 gear, and let me tell you, the final price between those two kits are almost identical! They are two tools that do similar but different jobs. I would only take the 7D worldwide for convenience, not for what you describe. I would take the xf300 for that. While someone like Philip Bloom usually shoots on HDSLR, his delivery for his work is usually the web, and he also makes money training folks like you and me. He has traditionally shot commercial work with an EX from Sony, and currently seems to be favoring the C300 from Canon. (I took one of his excellent day workshops, well worth the price).

I would add that you should practice a *lot* with your camera before leaving. You don't want to miss a once in a lifetime shot because you didn't know how to properly expose it!

Best of luck!


Hi
I am new to this site and seek advice on a project that I am about to embark on. I aim to make a travel documentary for TV. The doc will be made in Africa and will cover 12 countries from South Africa along the east coast all the way up to Egypt. Filming will be in a range of environments from savanna to snow.

This is an open call to anyone willing to offer any insight, advice and info on such a project from a filming perspective. I also have numerous questions (listed) and I would welcome any input:

1. What is the recommended quality that footage needs to be in order to be able to played by a TV station?
Based on preliminary research I am leaning on a DSLR type of camera (probably Canon EOS 7D). My main reasoning is price for the quality that it gives. I have some basic media training about 10 years ago but I feel this isn’t enough to go on. So my main concerns are:

2. Is a DSLR relatively easy to learn in order to be able to film “decent” footage?

3. What lenses (if any) would be advisable for shooting in environments like desert and rainforest?

4. For DSLR format what memory cards would be advisable? I have read that the speed of the memory card makes a big difference on the final product.

5. On the Canon 7D I believe the max for filming is 12-13m which takes up around 4GB. Realistically speaking for filming shots of 6-7m would it take up half the memory (is that how it works?)

6. Is overheating a realistic problem on DSLR’s? As I will be filming animals will I have to wait for the Canon to cool down? Furthermore I am hoping that with the 2 memory slots I will be able to film continuously longer. Is this correct? (if one runs out the other will kick in)

7. Any advice on comparable cameras like Nikon / Sony etc?

8. Can I get a similar quality result by a camcorder type of device? I have looked into the Sony HDR-CX700V but some youtube footage seems to indicate DSLR is better. Any advice on this?

9. Are there any other cameras that I should consider?
My budget is around 1500USD for the camera and still undecided on lenses.

Al


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Paul Pap
Re: Advice on DSLR for film making!
on May 5, 2012 at 1:21:37 am

“Paul, most major TV stations do not accept 7D footage out of hand. Check out the "Red Books" at PBS or the BBC standards. You may find that you want to look into the Canon xf300, Panny AF100, Sony Camcorders, or some other "broadcast accepted" camera. There are many upsides to those cameras, but if you find that the web is your real delivery mechanism, then there is no reason not to use a 7D. Also, if you have TV stations on board already, or have talked to them, find out if they will accept 7D footage. “

Hi Al,

Thank you very much for the info it is very helpful. In the past couple of days my research is also telling me that my current level of knowledge would make filming with a DSLR tricky as I feel I don't have enough knowledge to film properly on that medium.

Thus I am leaning more towards the “camcorder” medium which may be a little more user friendly.

I will check out your advice on cameras but looking at the XF 300 (which looks great) I would say it’s out of my budget. I am starting to do some research into the Sony camcorders , mainly the HDR-CX700V and the NEX-VG20. Do you have any knowledge/advice on these/such level cameras?

From what I have gathered so far it seems that I must be able to record at an above HD 1080/60p in order to be able to use it for TV broadcasting purposes. Any advice on this?

Further more I have discovered a new challenge on the way while looking into these camcorders. The documentary I aim to produce (I don't have any stations on board yet) is for a country that uses the SECAM system. I have lived in Japan (NTSC) for 10 years but the Doc is for Greek TV and based on my research if I shoot on PAL it should be convertible. Do you know anything about such matters?

Al, thank you for taking the time to help so far I am very grateful for your info. I wish you a nice day and hope to hear more great advice if you have the time to give it.

BR Paul


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Al Bergstein
Re: Advice on DSLR for film making!
on May 5, 2012 at 5:07:35 am

Paul, while I don't personally have experience with these cameras, what I would say is that they are both in the range of "consumer" or "prosumer" cameras, not broadcast. You need to spend time researching what it is that makes a camera "broadcast capable". There are certain models, that tend to be starting in the $5k range (USD) that seem to be able to produce broadcast quality, and they are from all the major manufacturers. I would save up to get to the threshold rather than risk not getting the output. Obviously, some footage is compelling enough that it might be used dispite not making the grade, but without a buyer in advance, you risk spending a lot of time and money and getting unique footage that might be unusable for your expected clients. There are people who do sell non bc footage to these outlets, but it is a tricky business and you should explore this more. For my sake, I simply decided to upgrade the camera rather than risk not having the right footage. The camera is a small portion of the budget you will be spending to make a film. Too many people get hung up on the gear, it seems to me. If this was for the web, it really would be much easier.

I am unfamiliar with the needs of SECAM. Perhaps others on the board are.

Al


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Peter Burger
Re: Advice on DSLR for film making!
on May 10, 2012 at 10:21:15 am

[Paul Pap] "2. Is a DSLR relatively easy to learn in order to be able to film “decent” footage?"

As harsh as it may sound: No!

You might want to check out the DSLR Video forum here on the COW and this brilliant podcast (http://podcasts.creativecow.net/dslr-video-podcast) to get a sense of how these cameras work and what is needed to get decent footage out of them

[Paul Pap] "5. On the Canon 7D I believe the max for filming is 12-13m which takes up around 4GB. Realistically speaking for filming shots of 6-7m would it take up half the memory (is that how it works?)"
Jup. That's how it works :)
The Canon DSLRs are limited to clips of 4GB and/or 29:59 min. That means: In 1080p or 720p the 4GB limit is reached at about 12min. If you're shooting SD, filming will be stopped at 29:59min.
You can record as many clips as you want until the card is full. A 16GB card holds about 50min of 1080p or 720p footage.

[Paul Pap] "6. Is overheating a realistic problem on DSLR’s? As I will be filming animals will I have to wait for the Canon to cool down?"

I personally never experienced overheating problems with my 2Ti but heard a lot of that subject. I've been to Kenya last year but didn't film there. But I'd guess there will be overheating problems since the camera gets very warm.

[Paul Pap] "Furthermore I am hoping that with the 2 memory slots I will be able to film continuously longer. Is this correct? (if one runs out the other will kick in)"

Not with DSLRs natively. On any VDSLR other than the 7D you can use Magic Lantern (a "firmware hack") that enables automatic clip restarting (and a couple of other very cool features)

Hope this helps a bit.

------------------------------------------
"Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot." - Buster Keaton

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http://twitter.com/FastFoodVideo

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http://fastfoodvideo.de


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