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Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?

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Nathan Bayless
Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 24, 2013 at 7:03:23 pm

I work for a mid sized company that wants to beef(ha!) up it's internal training videos. This is a privately owned business, not a corporation, so the dynamics are a little different, but I didn't see a private company video forum ;). In the past, the owner has shot most of the videos with a Canon Vixia hf s20 camcorder and now wants to start working up to a full studio with a professional look over the next two to three years. I have some experience in post production as a colorist and editor, but none behind a camera and I'm not entirely sure what gear to suggest to get started and was hoping to get some suggestions from you guys. Right now, he wants to create internal training videos that don't necessarily need to look professional, but down the road to create social media videos and high quality internal training videos. Part of what will make shooting these videos difficult is that they are going to be at random locations in his branches across the country (USA), often outside at night, or on the fly using fluorescent lighting, or on a cruise ship. I won't always be able to set up lighting or even have time to pull out a reflector and it may include a lot of moving around and following a subject. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what the budget is. I think that it will be between $10,000 and $15,000 for everything based off the conversations I have had with him but I'd prefer to pitch him a lower number. This is the list of the gear I priced out:

Canon C100 - $5500
Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM - $1180
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II - $300
Redrock Ultra Field Cinema Bundle Shouldermount rig w/ follow focus and 4lb weight - $2120
Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x - $375
4x High speed 32 gb memory cards - $250
Benro A2573FS4 tripod - $300
Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic - $1000
Windscreen, cables, carrying case, batteries, cables, reflector, etc - $400

And that totals out to about $11,500

I have a 3TB external drive right now. Should I have another as a backup? I use the Adobe Master Suite for post and I have a 15" Macbook Pro w/ Retina display (8gb ram, 256 gb SSD, 2.4 GHz quad core i7).

Eventually, we will have a small studio set up where I can control lighting and sound, but I was looking at that camera and mic because for the next year or so, I will rarely be shooting in a controllable environment, and I'm hoping that the C100 and MKH-416 would help compensate for that.Any suggestions or tips you have would be VERY appreciated. Thanks!

Nathan


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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 24, 2013 at 8:13:51 pm

Work your way backwards from what the boss's goals are. At first blush, my initial recommendation is to buy as little as possible right now, and instead hire already-equipped freelance shooters to work only as needed, at each of these locations, under your direction. The advantages:

1 They are better shooters than you admit you are. You can watch and learn from them, and also evaluate the gear they bring with them to the job. When you're more confident, you can spec gear you know will work, and you will look like a genius to your boss.

2 Doing it like this initially keeps your sunk costs and depreciating equipment expenses low. The market is over-saturated with talent right now so you can hire great talent with complete gear for cheap. Why duplicate that in the office, only to let it sit around 4 out of 5 days depreciating, not being used? The P/L ratio on any internal communications division, no matter how large or small, is always running, always being examined. You need to show added value for existing every day, and minimize costs without a return on the investment. Make yourself the executive producer and director/editor, and hire out the other jobs as needed.

As to the statement that internal training videos don't need to look great, well, I face-palm and shake my head. Either a job is worth doing right and an audience deserves a good, useable product, or you don't do it at all. In this case the audience, though internal staff, is considered your customer for the message being communicated. I have never been to a staff meeting where a product sucked and was weak, but everybody cheered the guy responsible because he didn't spend a lot of money. The goal is to get VALUE for money. If you give them crap product, whatever change or improvement you sought out of them from watching isn't going to happen, so you've wasted money. Beyond that, if the videos are bad, you'll eventually have to re-do them anyway, DOUBLING the cost. How is that responsible management?


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Nathan Bayless
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 24, 2013 at 8:58:20 pm

Thank you for your recommendations, Mark. I think that sounds like a great way to learn more about the gear and save money.

Let me explain what I meant about the quality of the videos. I didn't mean that we plan on or endorse creating bad content. Eventually, my boss and I agree, that we would like to have a high production video department with a full studio and trained staff. Right now that's just not possible. You just can't compare a one man band to a controlled environment with three or four well trained people. Since I currently don't have experience behind a camera, my boss doesn't know what to expect or plan for, and because we take training very seriously and want to create the best content possible, we plan on spending a year or two doing a trial run of training videos to figure out the best way that we can accomplish effective training. That year or so of figuring how we want the videos to be shot, what content to put on them, how best to relate that content to them employees probably won't ever be released to our staff. For us, it will be used to gain experience and learn how to create better videos. I'm sure you would agree that every brand new venture, regardless of what it's in, doesn't start off flawlessly. We're not trying to cut corners, this is just going to have a large learning curve for the scope of project that we are working on. I assume that no matter how hard I try, after gaining a couple years of experience I'm going to look back at this first round of videos as terrible. Again, I'm apologize for communicating that poorly and thank you for your input.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:34:01 pm

No need to apologize, Nathan, it's just that that particular unfortunate phrasing is sort of a hot button reaction-getter for me, because I believe passionately (as I think you probably also do) in the value of doing the training job right, using principles of instructional design. It has been an uphill battle all my career to talk clients into putting more work and effort into training programs and to avoid the standard mistakes like reading a powerpoint slide show into a lens, and calling that, "training".

Still, don't let that dissuade you from taking my advice on going with freelancers and rentals first, before committing to a large infrastructure and capital outlay in owned gear and studios and etc. You need to walk before you run an Iron Man triathlon.


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Nathan Bayless
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:40:29 pm

Thanks Mark! I think that advice sounds great and I'm definitely going to push that forward.


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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:26:48 am

"Canon C100 - $5500
Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM - $1180
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II - $300
Redrock Ultra Field Cinema Bundle Shouldermount rig w/ follow focus and 4lb weight - $2120
Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x - $375
4x High speed 32 gb memory cards - $250
Benro A2573FS4 tripod - $300
Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic - $1000
Windscreen, cables, carrying case, batteries, cables, reflector, etc - $400

And that totals out to about $11,500

I have a 3TB external drive right now. Should I have another as a backup? I use the Adobe Master Suite for post and I have a 15" Macbook Pro w/ Retina display (8gb ram, 256 gb SSD, 2.4 GHz quad core i7).

Eventually, we will have a small studio set up where I can control lighting and sound, but I was looking at that camera and mic because for the next year or so, I will rarely be shooting in a controllable environment, and I'm hoping that the C100 and MKH-416 would help compensate for that.Any suggestions or tips you have would be VERY appreciated. Thanks!"


I would choose the Sony FS100. Actually, in all seriousness I would recommend a Canon T5i for what you're doing. I would dump the rig and finder (my signature has info). A follow focus system is okay, though, but who's going to pull it? I would get a really good fluid head for your Benro tripod. You need some filters, too. A manual slider is also a good investment. Don't forget a decent monitor, and batteries.

The mic is way too expensive for what you can 'afford'. I would suggest an ME66 and a wireless lav (G3) or a wired lave (Sanken Cos), and accessories.

Don't forget bags, and a million other things. You might have a couple of thousand left over, so get lights.

Regarding backup, read my guide.

What you're setting yourself for is additional purchases. It's not a bad thing, but if you understand that, then you're likely to spend less today. Convince the owner to rent a few cameras and gear for the initial work.

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.


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Nathan Bayless
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:41:36 pm

Thanks for the tips, Sareesh! I will definitely keep them in mind.


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Steve Brame
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 9:18:24 pm

[Nathan Bayless] "or on a cruise ship"

I hate you.

But seriously...

I'd first rethink your camera style. Just on the surface it seems that you might be better off with an ENG style camera rather than a cinematic style - mainly for the ease of being able to pull it out of the case and start shooting with absolutely no setup. If I'm wrong, and your shooting lends to a camera that requires some initial prep to prepare for shooting, then by all means, stick with the cinematic camera such as the C100 of the AF100.

Asus P6X58D Premium * Core i7 950 * 24GB RAM * nVidia Quadro 4000 * Windows 7 Premium 64bit * System Drive - WD Caviar Black 500GB * 2nd Drive(Pagefile, Previews) - WD Velociraptor 10K drive 600GB * Media Drive - 2TB RAID5 (4 - WD Caviar Black 500GB drive) * Matrox MX02 Mini * CS6.x Creative Cloud
-------------------------------------------
"98% of all computer issues can be solved by simply pressing 'F1'."
Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 9:28:21 pm

s and rentalsI agree with Steve on this, but the beauty of using freelancer the first few times out is that you can compare how they work, under your specific conditions, using both kinds of rigs, shooting the same codec.


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Steve Brame
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 25, 2013 at 9:43:52 pm

Oh, I'm in full agreement of using freelancers on this! And I'm totally available, especially for the cruise ship.

Asus P6X58D Premium * Core i7 950 * 24GB RAM * nVidia Quadro 4000 * Windows 7 Premium 64bit * System Drive - WD Caviar Black 500GB * 2nd Drive(Pagefile, Previews) - WD Velociraptor 10K drive 600GB * Media Drive - 2TB RAID5 (4 - WD Caviar Black 500GB drive) * Matrox MX02 Mini * CS6.x Creative Cloud
-------------------------------------------
"98% of all computer issues can be solved by simply pressing 'F1'."
Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 26, 2013 at 2:44:06 pm

Cruise ships gigs sound awesome to people that have never done them.


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Nathan Bayless
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 26, 2013 at 3:52:57 pm

Yeah, for the company cruises, my boss pays for his top hundred or so salesmen from the previous summer to go on the cruise. I assume things would be pretty busy trying to get footage of all the events he does and the little stuff that happen in between.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:50:41 pm

Talk to entertainers that work the cruise circuit. When you work on a cruise ship, you don't live the life of a guest/passenger: you're more like crew... you tend to get the small cabins with no view, you may have to eat apart from the guests, you don't get to do all the same fun stuff they do so much, because you're working, AND, there's no place to get away from it when you're not working. When I did weddings, I could never stop to eat or enjoy anything at the receptions, even when the couple budgeted a seat for me, because I was WORKING and shooting or prepping to shoot the entire time. That's just for a few hours on one night, but on a cruise, it could be like that, day and night, for a week or more. Not always glamorous.

I did do a 2 and a half day seminar taping gig in San Francisco once, long ago, and there, I did get one evening "off the clock" to go see the town from about 7 to 10 on a week night. Enjoyed fresh crab meat and scenery at Aliotto's on the Embarcadero there very much, and rode a cable car and that was it, had to get to bed and be up early for the return flight.


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Nathan Bayless
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Jul 26, 2013 at 3:50:35 pm

Thanks Steve, I'll have to rent one of those soon. I like the IDEA of a cinematic camera look when a tripod can be set up in a little studio, but I'll unfortunately have to be realistic about what would be best for our situation.


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Margot Kelly
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Aug 8, 2013 at 2:11:29 am

There are plenty of web and youtube tutorials you can use to improve the overall look of the videos. But while the equipment is important, the framing and look of the production is what really makes it effective. I agree that getting a professional, light crew in who know a bit more about lighting and the best type of shots to get will help the product and also teach you a fair bit about what to do in the process. Setting up a good relationship with a production company means it becomes very time efficient and you can get more hands on with the process :)

http://www.corporatevideoaustralia.com

http://www.corporatevideoaustralia.com


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Karen Baldwin
Re: Starting internal video production. What camera and gear to use?
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:39:43 am

I got my BMCC I have been inspired to understand the art of cinematography better. I have been doing ENG type stuff for so long that I hadn't had any real good recent practice with proper lighting.


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