Excellent, you guys. Thank you SO much!
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.
For the log and capture process, Erica Ginsburg has a DSR11 deck; maybe you can rent hers!
Wow, Wolfgang posted just before me. I do have a DSR-11, but it's in use right now at my editor's as I plod along on my edit, so not available for rental unfortunately. Plus, it would be much easier for you to find one to rent in New York which is closer to you.
I was going to add that the DSR-11 deck which Chris recommends renting (and which is preferable to using the valuable heads of your camera for logging/capturing) can be used for PAL DV footage, but you will need to make sure your editor has a PAL monitor. As others have said much better than I ever could, you are probably better off picking either PAL or NTSC for shooting (or, if you have to do some of each, get the tapes converted to your preferred editing format before logging so they are all consistent). I produced a project which had both NTSC and PAL footage. We ended up editing and outputting in NTSC, but got the tapes converted BEFORE we started editing.
So you converted how? With your own software or professionally? How did the conversion turn out?
Well we were in a very similar situation to you moneywise, so we could not afford to get them converted at a dub house, which would obviously be the preferred method. This was also in the days when we were just starting to transition from Beta-SP to DV, so the PAL tapes were all Beta PALs and had to be converted to DV NTSC. Our soundguy (who was also a co-producer) knew lots of kooky characters in the industry from his freelance sound work, so he called up a friend who had accumulated dozens and dozens of different decks in his basement and he did the conversion for us at a fairly reasonable rate and a fairly slow turnaround. But the quality was good enough for what we needed.
Contrary to Erica's suggestion (Erica, please forgive me!) I advise you NOT to convert your material BEFORE the edit.
You might have, for example, to convert 20 sixty minute shooting tapes whereas, AFTER the edit, only 52 minutes TOTAL ( if your doc is a one-hour-long format) or even less than that if part of it was shot in NTSC.
Also, if you're only shooting in Italy, it'll all be PAL. If you'll be doing some shooting in US, shoot in PAL (if you can) or shoot NTSC. It won't make any difference as you do a rough cut; convert at the end and splice it all together.
If you check B&H you'll notice that – in a worst case scenario – converters are cheap today.
If you do a search on the B&H website www.bhphotovideo.com using the words "PAL NTSC standards converter" you'll find several models listed including the AV Toolbox CDM-660 Standards Converter that costs only $179.95. There are several other models that cost between $359 and $539.
I don't see why the cheaper one couldn't do the job. In any case, I imagine – as a worst case scenario – that it would be cheaper to buy than convert all the tapes.
I'd advise you – for the moment – not to keep worrying about what comes next. Concentrate on your upcoming shoot in Italy and enjoy yourself.
If you MUST worry about something, worry about finding an excellent editor! :-)
By thye way, if you edit using a MAC laptop or desktop monitor, you can use PAL.
A regular TV monitor needs to be PAL or NTSC or both, but the advantage of using digital video on a computer screen is that PAL or NTSC makes o difference. This is why you can play DVDs originating form video sot in either NTSC or PAL on any computer monitor.
I have edited severa docs on a MAC laptop with a 17 inch screen, so – if you're trying to save money – I don't see why you couldn't do the same.
Excuse the garble in the previous post, I punched post too hastily, about to go to bed (it's 2 AM here).
Corrected version: By the way, if you edit using a MAC laptop or desktop monitor, you can use PAL without any problem.
A regular TV monitor needs to be PAL or NTSC or both, but the advantage of using digital video on a computer screen is that PAL or NTSC makes no difference. This is why you can play DVDs originating from video shot in either NTSC or PAL on any computer monitor.
I have edited several docs on a MAC laptop with a 17 inch screen, so – if you're trying to save money – I don't see why you couldn't do the same.
Thanks, Wolfgang. My DP actually has a convertor, a MAC, FCP. Though, I'm not choosing him for editing, but I know he can help convert if need be.
I'm no longer worried. I think it's people who give me advice like "find another DP" or get an NTSC camera, that get me all worked up. My DP is the one for this film and his equipment is what it is. The whole thing will be shot in Italy and mostly likely with him and his camera (unless something happens to him between trips – the next one won't happen for a while).
Beyond that, I'm going to enjoy for now. I'm about to meet the best cook in all of (the village that I'm shooting in). So I really can't go wrong as far as I'm concerned :)
Good. Since you're shooting everyting in Italy and in PAL, convert at the end, if need be.
Since your DP has a converter I'm certain that you'll be able to find a simple and cheap way to deal with this when you've completed your final cut (by the way, that's where FINAL CUT PRO got the name).
By the way, this talk of the best cook is making me hungry! I feel if your story isn't taking place too far away from Rome you ought to invite me over for lunch!