Equipment Software for Rich Media

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Equipment and Software for Rich Media

Start-Up Video Equipment/Software — $3,700 minimum + computer/Final Cut Pro

1. Camcorders

Princeton uses Canon GL-2s (under $2K street). Turn them on total auto and you get fine results, and there's all the manual settings you have need of when you want more control. Sony and Panasonic have equivalent offerings. Now that YouTube is accepting high-definition video (HD), HD will probably become the norm. But good-enough prosumer HD camcorders are available now in the $2-3K range.

In a documentary, David Lynch recommends (and used to shoot "Inland Empire") the Sony DSR-PD150, which at $3,900 street would give you Hollywood-grade DV (not HD) if you felt you needed it.

At the 2009 AAUP meeting, the company shooting the proceedings was using and said they'd recommend, a Canon XHA1, which retails for around $3,800.

You can also go fairly entry-level with a Canon Vixia HF S10 HD camcorder (about $800).


2. Microphones

For interviewing, you want lavaliers: Audio Technica, Sony, and others have serviceable ones for under $200, or $400 if you want wireless (which is a convenience). I cable my mics into my camcorders so I can watch the levels on the camcorder meters. Earphones are advisable to ensure the sound is clean.

You can go the minimal-quality route using a two-channel WMS-Pro Wireless Mics plugged into a little WMS-Pro Mixer (costs about $200) that is plugged into HD camcorder (using the 1/8" mini jack). Make sure the camera offers the ability to plug in an external microphone and to set and watch audio levels (such as the Canon Vixia series).

3. Lights

Recommend getting two three-light & -stand kits in a suitcase for convenience when working on location. Lowel is the market leader, especially for tungsten (hot) focused lights, with nice offerings in the $500-$700 range. You should consider looking at fluorescent (cool) lights with easy-to-open softboxes for extremely cool and diffuse light. You might try the EZ Open SoftBox Flo System on the ImageWest web site, which includes three easy-to-open softboxes, 12 cool flourescent daylight-balanced lamps, two regular light stands and one boom light stand, and lightweight duffle bag to tote things around in -- $569 as of 9/2010.

4. Tripods

Tripods are very important. The market leader is Bogen/Manfrotto. You want the so-called "fluid head" (smooth motion). Don't spend less than $300. Make sure it's big enough to carry the weight you are going to put on it. You need one for each camera.

5. A "Beachtek

This is a kind of junction box for camcorders that do not have XLR audio imputs. It fastens between the tripodand the camera. The XLR cables plug into the box and the box plugs into the camcorder. The box has various controls. Beachtek is a brand name. There are other manufacturers, notably Studio One. These units cost around $200.

6. Field monitors (optional)

Field monitors help you to see what you are getting, on more than one camera at a time. Seven-inch screen is adequate, again $500-$700 and you want at least two, and rugged enough to take wear and tear.

7. A fast computer

Computer hardware with lots of RAM and disk space is a must to get in the video game, not unlike what you would get for a demanding designer running the Adobe suite.

8. Software

The Final Cut Pro Studio package for Mac, or one of the Adobe Creative Suite packages for PC, whichever platform you are more comfortable with. You can get deep-discount academic pricing by going to the Adobe Website and establishing your credentials.

That's really all you need.

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