People don't post here enough...
I'm starting pre-production for a documentary (psudo) and I'm pondering over a couple of options and choices.
We'll be going out with 4-6 crews, at the same time, shooting around our College town. While we have a lot of Camcorders, none seem to fit the bill for this style of shooting? We will be doing a couple of ride alongs with the PD at night. Plus some MOS (man on the street) stuff, a couple of pre-planing meetings and possible indoor parties.
So a cornucopia of locations and environments. We have a SDX900-to bulky for the ride alongs, one GL2-too few for a complete set, XL-2s a little hard to keep up in the manual mode. So I think I'll be renting DVX-100, small, LCD screen, 24p, and Cinegamma.
Since we 'probably' won't be editing/broadcasting in HiDef, didn't seem much reason to rent the Sony FX or new Panny. How's my reasoning so far?
Also, as far as the Police ride alongs, how do they usualy mic that? I believe for shows like Cops they lav the main Police guy and shotgun the rest of the audio?? I doubt they go out with a boom op? It would make it too crowded. As far as lighting for the ride alongs, probably need an on camera light too.
Altough we do get a pretty good deal with rentals, it will be the single biggest expense...
Todd at UCSB
Funny you should be looking at this - I'm doing a ride-a-long tomorrow night with local cops re: Student Drinking.
I also have an SDX900 which I'll be using - bulk and all - because of it's flexability. I have a DVX100 too, and would love to use it, but the iris ring - or lack thereof - makes it too slow to react to changing lighting situations.
The SDX900 is obviously heavier and larger than the little DV camera, but it (SDX900) is much lighter that a similarily rigged betacam. The lenses on the little cameras leave a lot to be desired as well. The zoom servos are neither smooth nor quick enough, and the little cameras can't handle low light situations or high contrast situations.
For me, in the final analysis, it's about the images - and there's no way those little cameras can compete: one looks broadcast, the other industrial.
Good luck with your project,
If it was just me going out, I would take the SDX900. But some of the other crews will be less experenced and would need too much training. Also renting 4 SDX packages would be cost prohibitive.
So I'm kind of stuck with the Pro-sumer camcorder for size and easy of use.
Todd at UCSB
1. A 900 is way too big. You should have a small (dsr-300/500) or other camera with a very short / wide lens. You'll never have to zoom in on any distant item. I like the DSRs because of their 3 hour tape load.
2. COPS uses 2 lavs and a boom with a Shure 3 input mixer and a boom pole with a shotgun.
3. At this time. I think that the Panny DVX100A would work OK. It has a wide lens and an adapter that makes it wider.
4. Wouldn't 3 audio channels on the camera be a very nice thing to have? 1 inch had three channels. (Please don't write back about portable 1" machines)
Sony's XDCAM is the real answer. This is the perfect format for news.
By the way, this is a Cinematography forum, so, MOS means "with out sound". In news, it's now "Triple A", as in "Any Assholes Answer".
Have to take issue with you about a couple of things.
The weights of the two cameras you mentioned (Sony DSR 400 vs. Panasonic SDX 900) are virtually identical. The Sony weighs 14.3 ibs. with lens, viewfinder, microphone and battery, and the Panasonic weighs 8.6 lbs. w/o anything. Fully loaded, the Panasonic might weigh 15 lbs. - not a hell of a lot of difference.
In the run-and-gun world of following Police units at night, the lighting is anything but constant.
There's no way you can trust the camera's auto-iris function, and without an iris ring to finesse, your never going to be able to seamlessly adjust your stop.
Thought your "Triple A" reference was funny.
Thanks Ken and Steve.
Unfortuatly any larger camcorder BetaCam style probably won't be an option. As I said in the first post, since I only have 1 SDX, but I'll have multiple crews it will be better to stick with one format. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll shoot a lot with the SDX, just not the stuff that has multiple crews along.
I didn't really think about the iris ring....that's a good point. Do any of the 4k-8k camcorders have a iris ring? Probably not
Also, I'm a little surprise that Cops would go out with 2 man crews? There's no room left in the car?
MOS-mit out sound. From the Germans directors that couldn't say 'with' That's why I said, Man on the street. But I've never hear the Triple A before?
Todd at UCSB
Exactly where was it that I mentioned the Sony DSR 400? The 300/500 is smaller in length by about 2" and it's 1 1/2 lbs. lighter. Every inch counts inside a car. I also mentioned short lenses. Canon and Fuji sell lenses that are half as long as what normally comes on a camera when you buy a kit.
As someone who has watched the show from it's opening episode, I can say that there have been a number of times when the 2 person crew has been "on camera", through a reflection in a window of a car or storefront or shot by a second crew. They also did a segment where they showed the Barbour/Langley offices and staff as well as their edit suite or shall I say cubicle?
I wrote to someone at their office and asked that they join us on-line. I would like to know how their equipment has evelved over the 13 years that they have been on the air, also.
Shooting cars for 23 years
Maybe I'm mistaken - I thought the DSR 400 had replaced what used to be the DSR 370.
Not a big deal really, but I still think the Panasonic DVCPro cameras and the Sony DVCam cameras are very similar in dimension and weight. It's like comaring two loaves of bread.
If you want to be right, that's OK with me.
[ken Zukin] "If you want to be right, that's OK with me."
Thank you very much. Too bad that you actually missed the point that I was making. 1 inch can make a big difference when shooting in very tight quarters. When I shoot vertical from the back seat of a Bell Ranger helicopter, I have to actually remove my Anton Bauer adapter plate so that I can maneuver. The plate is 3/8" thick. We then get power with a right angle 4 pin adapter and cable in order to make things happen. As you get older and more experienced, you'll learn two things: Learn from those who have way more experience and quit trying to be a wise a--.
You've assumed that you are more experienced than I. Maybe, but I've made a living as a cameraman since 1981 - so if you've outlasted me, more power to you.
The only issue I've had with this thread is a simple one. In my opinion, Sony's DSR 300 & 500 series DV Cams are similar in weight, dimension, whatever, to Panasonic's SDX900 DVCPro50 camera. I speak from experience on this, as I've owned both cameras. If you felt insulted, sorry.
Can't you post anything without being a complete smart ass?
I don't know you but I have enjoyed the information that you freely give out on the Cow, but I do know Ken Zukin and he does have a lot of experience as a shooter. If you wouldn't shoot with a SDX-900 in a car, that is your opinion, but if Ken would that's his option.
But calling him a smart ass for defending his background/experience after you question his experience is wrong.
This is one factor that your not considering. You may be a big guy, I know that Ken is not. He would be able to fit into the front of a car with an SDX-900. I wouldn't, I am 6'5". I have shot in a compact car with a Sony HDW700a though. To each his own.
Let someone have an opinion besides your own.
Steve if you are referring to the F900 then yes it is large and heavy for this type of shoot.
But if you were referring to the SDX-900 this camera would be no problem for a ride along.
The show "Cops" way back in the beginning used BVP-550 betacam sp rigs (BVP-50 camera with BVV-5 vtr) later switching to BVW-400 and 600 camcorders. The SDX is no heavier than a 600 and is close in size.
Another idea would be to install a lipstick camera in the squad car and record to a dsr-50 or dv clam shell.
The DVX-100A would be the most ideal for the inexperienced camera operator due to the ease of operation and small size.
Sound crews on "Cops" transmit back the boom or 2nd wireless lav feed back to the camera. The camera usually also has ch 1 reserved for camera mic in the event the camera operator and soundman are separated.
Years ago I did a ride along with LAPD and used a bvw-35 to record 4 tracks of audio (ch 1 camera mic, Ch 2 boom, Ch 3 wireless lav on cop, Ch 4 radio scanner). Today I would do it with a hard drive recorder.
Hey there Tony,
The F-900 is truly meant to be mounted on something other than a shoulder. A dolly or crane would be up to the task. I was thinking about replacing my 900's shoulder pad with something more comfortable, like a bag of cinder rock or a pad made of barbed wire. Besides the unbearable weight, the shoulder pad feels like a brick. My DSRs have cell filled pads.
As for 4 channels of sound, the only present candidate in small cameras is the Canon XL stuff. True, the old Betas had 4 channels in the BVV5 but what a monster. We used a BVW 50 for our field deck and studio source. My poor wife carried that deck for miles. I should build a monument to her for it.
Side note for Tony: 10 years ago, we were shooting interviews at an IRL race at Phoenix International Raceway. As we were interviewing the crew chief of the lead car, an accident happened about 100 feet away in turn 4. All I knew was that the people in my VF were ducking and running. Of course, a shooter is going to immediately run in the direction of the wreck. When the network switched to the wide shot, you can see me running toward the accident, until I ran out of cable that is. My poor wife was trying to keep up but no dice. The slack ran out and I just about landed on my butt. It looked hilarious on TV but we did get to the wall before the cars finished spinning. And to listen to some of today's shooters complaining about their 6 pound unit being a bit heavy...
Anything to get the shot!