Wednesday, April 20, 2011


With the deadline of the competition quickly approaching, I have to start getting footage. I thought I'd write about the gear I'm going to use and how I come to those selections

Without picking up the phone and begging for favours, I have a choice of gear in my closet from which to choose: A Cannon XL1 mini DV high end 3 chip camcorder, a Sony HD HDR-XR350 handycam Hard Drive camcorder, fluid head tripod, monopod, external mic, couple of lights etc

Some choices are easily made. I love the XL1, I really do. It's an old cam, mini DV tapes are pretty much a dinosaur technology now and it's standard def but I love the image quality. It has three big fat sensors and an absolutely killer lens. Lenses are important, no matter what your recording format, if your "eyes" aren't good, it doesn't matter how fast your brain is. Also, the XL1 has a high end shotgun mic plus XLR audio inputs so it can record very high end audio.

But for this project it has a few issues: It's a big old beast and it is obvious, you really can't so a lot of gonzo guerilla shooting with the thing, you can't catch people unawares. Ambient audio will not be a concern for this project, I'm not recording sound. The soundtrack is provided, I'm not using dialogue etc. Any ambient audio I may want to use, like street sounds, traffic sound etc does can be captured by any mic I have. Finally, the dictates of the competition state that your final output must be in Hi Def. Yes, I could export any footage from the XL1 into an HD project but it still won't be HD

So the Sony it is. I'm actually pretty happy with the quality of this cam though I purchased it mostly for its convenience. It does record in full 1080 HD and it does have three sensors though of course they are teeney tiny. And over all, the lens is pretty good.

It is a handycam and that size works perfectly for me. I can carry it in my pocket, it's ninja-like in it's size and it has a big fat hard drive so I can record a ton of footage in one go. The onboard mic is adequate but as stated, adequate will suffice for my needs.

I have a plan to do some time lapse style images so the tripod will be essential. I have a Slik that is a bit bulky but rock solid with a fluid head. I have a monopod which is light but for time lapse shots not as solid as a tripod. I may consider purchasing a smaller, lighter tripod; if I'm using the Sony and not my beloved beast of a Canon, a light tripod will suffice and Collette and I planning a big trip overseas this summer so a small tripod would suit us in the future

I also have available Collette's Nikon D-90 SLR camera. It does not shoot video but it does shoot extremely high quality stills. I can use it to take stills so big I can bang them into my editing timeline and manipulate them with motion tracking in a way that can replicate motion

I want to do a light of night shooting. I won't be using artificial lighting. I love love love the quality of the city lights at night. I haven't done a town of this kind of shooting with the Sony but it has a lot of manual exposure and focus controls so I think it should work. And I, for one, am not scared of a bit of grain. This is a gonzo project, sort of cinema verite (which is a fancy way to justify handheld camera shake) and I want to use natural light as much as possible. The Sony also has manual white balance controls which is good. I can correct white balance with my editing software but I am an advocate of "getting it right" on the shoot and not relying on it on "fixing it in post" I am the godfather of "fixing" other people's shoots and I know that is really a second best option at best

So my plan (sure Vic like you have a plan) is to carry the Sony with me wherever I go. I actually do have shots I want to capture but I equally like the idea of just having the cam there if some shot presents myself. In this video, the city itself will be my main character and I am more than happy to permit her to ad lib.

No comments:

Post a Comment