The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros
This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.
Thanks Doug and Riley,
I think we're moving away from the RED. Anyone with experience on the Sony FS100? That's a camera system we're looking at. Seems to have everything we need. Any pros cons and using that camera?
i haven't used it – my big concern would be ergonomics. i'd make sure i tried it before committing.
Yes – you certainly can't hand hold it without some sort of stabilization (which I'm still working on). I think you can get used to the buttons – although in cold weather, I'd probably find it impossible to use. Just like with the DSLRs you'll need to transcode the footage, which is a pain. You'll need ND filters since there isn't one built in. I'd also probably (and am planning to buy) the Atimos recorder – so you can record in Prores and or have a back up to those flimsy cards.
Compared to the cameras you guys have been talking about, I feel foolish asking about the ones I'm looking at.... but I'm going to do it anyway.
I am going to start my first Feature Doc this fall if not sooner, but I honestly only have about $5000 in my bank account and have no car, need to pay for food, rent, etc. so I'm looking at most in the range of the Canon 5D Mark II or the Pentax k-5... Snapsort helped me narrow it down to those two, but something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. I know it's my first doc but I feel like these cameras are just unprofessional. I don't want to be seen as a student making a movie, but I also don't have a car so getting my gear from place t place needs to be a compact operation and I can't afford anything nicer... any suggestions?
Ps. here's the Snapsort comparison: http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EOS_5D_Mark_II-vs-Pentax_K-5
In reply to Kevin Hallagan's post on Wed 2 May 2012 :
If price is a constraint and you want to use a dslr, I would suggest one of the cheaper dslr's. I love my 5D Mark II, but something like a 60D or t3i would work just fine (and have an adjustable lcd screen). Also, the Panasonic GH2 can produce a wonderful image – you have to take the crop factor into account, but it's a nice doc camera as well. For all of these you'll need an external audio recorder – Zoom H4n is great.
I would recommend a shift in thinking over whether a camera is professional or unprofessional. They are tools – if you can get something cheaper that helps you do what you need to, get it. People take cues from how you conduct yourself. And often times, using a dslr helps on a doc shoot because you are hassled less from police, guards, etc because it's unassuming...
What Kevin says is right on. I shoot a 7D and love it most of the time. But the 60D and t3i is nearly as good as the 7d. Spend your money on audio. Get a good mic. Good sound is probably more important to seeming professional. Ultimately its not the camera that will make things look and sound good. Its you. Good luck.
thank you, Kevin and Peter. time for me to redirect my camera research.
I shoot with the 60D and vintage Soviet lenses w/adapter (which are not the most versatile, and not image stabilized, but all I could afford). The camera is great. Like you, I have no funding at the time and largely shoot/edit/produce alone. You will have to put the most thought into stabilization and audio recording.
For sound, I wear a small 4-channel field mixer around my waist where I can run a shotgun mic (mounted to the camera hotshoe) and wireless lav, then output via stereo cable to the camera input. It'd be better if I had a separate sound person but I usually don't, and after a lot of trial and error this seems to be working best for me.
As soon as I have a spare $600 or so I will get an image stabilized lens, but I have no idea when that will actually happen. Get one of those if you can. I rely on a combination of tripod, monopod w/feet, gorillapod, and rail system shoulder mount (which causes so much pain after using for a couple of hours that I rarely use it).
Also I found with the 60D it's much better to work with one of those magnification mounts you clip on to the LCD screen, this helps you see much easier if you are in focus. I guess you could also use one of those small LCD field monitors if you have somewhere to mount it.
Get a 60D instead of 5D and invest the savings into the other things you'll need.
Get some credit cards. Buy the camera you want used. Make your movie. Sell camera. Pay off card. Thats what I've done for 10 years. Will be worth having a camera with XLR inputs – I synced 100 hours of 7d footage. It sucked. Bad.
so what are everyone's thoughts on a Pentax K-5 with a BeachTek adapter for XLR inputs?
I had a Beachtek for a while. I never found the monitoring level to be very good, nor the level indicators to really work. The right channel blew out not too long after I got it. I get much better results using a 4 channel field mixer in a shoulder bag.
On the topic of price constraint equipment I was wondering if you guys would have a mic suggestion. I am currently using a 60D and need to buy a mic to accompany it. I do not want to have to sync audio :( and do not have a huge budget (but a semi flexible one). I will be doing almost entirely interviews both indoor and street interviews.
A friend suggested the MKE400 but I thought you guys might have some thoughts as well.
In reply to Matt Dubuque's post on Fri 2 Mar 2012 :
Your mindset is on the right track. There is nothing harder than patiently soaking criticism from your peers. Tears flow inside my helpless smiles when somebody bashes my works. However, what you're doing is the best way to deal with the harshness. All the confidence you need comes from you and your loved ones.
I'll watch the short film later on and give my comments soon. Keep that philosophy in check bro!
In reply to John Burgan's post on Sun 18 Sep 2011 :
Aside from the informative "THE CUTTING EDGE" documentary, there is also a film made my Gabriele Voss titled "Cuts in Space and Time". It's in German with English Subtitles.
The DVD is the link
It's great for both narrative and documentary editing! The director Gabriele Voss (along with her husband, Christoph Hubner) have been doing amazing cinema verite works. And they are also exceptional mentors!
In reply to Raymund Gerard C. Cruz's post on Mon 21 May 2012 :
Raymund, I confess I don't always read this topic but was v. glad I did today when I saw your glorious turn of phrase, "tears flow inside my helpless smiles." It inspired me to write a poem.
Apology Not Accepted
by Mrs. Wm. Carlos Wms.
When I opened
In reply to Margot Roth's post on Mon 21 May 2012 :
I didn't know my anxiety could produce such deep poetry. haha! Thanks for sharing. That energized up my day.
In reply to Doug Block's post on Tue 22 May 2012 :
She turned a simple phrase from my reply to Matt, and turned it into a poignant poem. Brilliant!
lol. Doug was refering to the hidden section of my post, Raymund. We're happy to have you. :) (Altho your selfless read of his comment further seals your reputation as the kindest, most sympathetic D-Worder of the incoming class of 2012. Congratulations!)
In reply to Margot Roth's post on Tue 22 May 2012 :
Haha! thank you for selecting me in the All-Rookie team. :) I will avoid these hyperlink turnovers soon.
Great poem by the way.
Hi, I'm a documentary filmmaker working on a business plan for the first time. I'm trying to find some good sources for finding out the marketing research data on the documentary film industry (and ideally broken down further to the LGBTQ documentary film industry). I'm trying to answer questions such as size of the market, demands in the market, trends in the target market etc. Does anyone know of any good resources?
In reply to Matt Dubuque's post on Fri 2 Mar 2012 :
I'm confused. I watched your short, "Twitter Time" on Youtube (about 7 min 45 sec). It has excellent production values: camera technique, sound, color, sountrack, editing, mixing, credits, etc. I saw close to three minutes of text crawls around and across a black screen, with an engaging drum sound track. This was followed by a series of colorful and well shot stills mixed with video of people planting small evergreen trees in a forest, and a large oriental (Buddha?) mask, without any dialogue and with the same engaging drum track. This was followedby about a minute of very nice credits rolling. I didn't see anything remotely connected to singularity or Ray Kurzweil or Twitter.