internal production setup
Very broad question I could use your help on. I am charged with starting a production dept for my company. The post side is taken care of by me already but could use some advice for actual production materials.
For the camera I was think an EX-1. Audio, tripod, lights and backdrop I am not too sure on. This is mostly talking head type stuff. We need good equipment but we're not shooting blockbusters here.
I have experience with the Ex1/3, HVX200 and Canon DSLR's. I also know a bit about field recorders. I have done a bunch of lighting but have zero idea of what I have used and I also don't know anything about lavalier systems or boom shotgun setups.
If I could get any recommendations that would be great. And don't sweat the money, we need good stuff and can scale back if needed.
Also, is this even where I should be posting this?
You are fine posting here, you might also ask the business and marketing forum for their take, there's some overlap.
I'm going to say to you, in this economic climate, unless you really are sure you'll be shooting something every day, your best bet is to outsource the shooting and camera ownership to a cadre of freelancers on an only-as-we-need-it basis, and you concentrate on having a nice editing/encoding/authoring/uploading facility, a quiet, well-lit or lightable area for conducting interviews or making speeches, (doesn't need to be a real studio, just a desgnated spot with the right features) and running everything like the company's chief producer. That means, the only tools you really need are a phone and a working line of credit. Run a lean, mean media machine.
This should make your accounting dept. happy because you're not depreciating camera gear and accessories and you only pay for what you actually use. The gear will always be recent vintage this way, too, and only as much or as little as the individual project needs. You be the expert everybody consults, who coordinates all the other aspects of the production on a custom case-by-case basis.
The best way to asses this is to ask yourself the following question.
If instead of making videos, the job in question was painting the building that your offices occupy, what would you say to the boss?
You could certainly go out and buy paint sprayers, ladders, scaffolding, brushes, tarps, et al.
And let's face it. Painting isn't rocket science.
And video making isn't either. However, I don't think it would surprise anyone (even your boss) if the first dozen or two building painting jobs you did, you got pretty substandard results and made much more of a mess than a qualified professional painter.
Same thing with making videos.
Buying a camera and lights and microphones and editing software is no different than buying paint sprayers, ladders and tarps.
Oh, and that stuff, while necessary, has nearly nothing to do with picking COLORS or deciding whether to paint the trim the same or a contrasting shade. That stuff is pretty important too if you don't want the people judging your company on the quality of the building to drive by and furrow their brows!
"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor
Of course, if you were planning to paint the building twice a week and you were only going to have 48hrs notice (tougher to find a good painter who's not already booked) and the paint color selection was going to get changed 4-5 times before the painting's done... Just to tweak the metaphor a little. My first couple of paint jobs had lots of bubbles and drips, but after four years of practice, I'm now starting to question the color choices of the stuff we hire out.
Just to defend in-house production, there is value in having somebody with their own equipment on staff. For us, the on camera talent is often upper level management so you get jerked around all day waiting for them to have time to record. That would cost a fortune to have a freelance crew sitting around for 4hrs. I find it helps to have an integral knowledge of the company and products so that I can edit down the crazy ramblings of management to something the viewer can easily swallow. Also, I'm able to work very closely with the rest of the creative services department to make sure all that I do is on brand and cohesive with our other messaging.
As far as equipment, "take only what you need to survive." A bare bones sort of basic setup leaves money for editing equipment and we rent or hire for needs like dollies and extra mics. I'm not an equipment expert but here's my best attempt:
2x DSLRs (whatever you like to shoot on, with zoom lenses [don't zoom whilst shooting])
1 basic set of sticks and a basic hand held rig for B-roll (Basic, not crappy)
2X wired lav mics, 1 wireless, a shotgun and one of them Zoom recording things. I can't think of the model numbers off hand, but my wireds are ATs and my wireless is a Senheiser (sp, I know).
Believe it or not, my lighting is all shoplights and DIY flourscent fixtures. The real trick is learning how to modify your lights anyway, using foam core, screens, whatever to make it attractive. I'm a still photographer by trade so I had lighting experience moving in to this.
Having lots of gear in-house is smart when it is almost certain to get used every day, or for long periods of time like many dyas in a row, or if it has to be used on really short notice, or if there are security concerns about keeping the subject a secret.
But in a big market city, particularlry if you take the time to set up accounts with several vendors, you can pick up a phone and hire someone on an hour or two's notice to shoot something for you. With just a *little* bit of advance planning and cooperation on internal corproate projects and their scheduling, you can achieve a lot of savings over the mentality of staffing your own complete firehouse, just in case you ever burn the toast.
I'd rather see the money spent on the in-house edit suite, which will see more days of use, than on too much elaborate shooting gear. Owning the camera doesn't make you a shooter; ask the guys that rent from Panavision.:-)