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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.

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Sam Rabeeh
Thu 17 Apr 2008Link

In reply to Boyd McCollum's post on Sat 5 Apr 2008 :

Thanks to everyone for their answers surrounding copyright.

I'm starting my first documentary next week on Egyptian Identity. I plan to start in places familiar to me in Egypt and where I currently have contacts on social development initiatives, clinics etc.

I've found alot of the model release, location etc. forms but curious if I will need Arabic versions? I"m sure they can be translated but perhaps the few in Egypt or been there can shed some light on that.

I'm nervous as hell, with little details floating about, equipment list etc. etc.

I'm leaving on the 22 of April so if you have some advice, slap it to me.

Thanks in advance.


Mark Barroso
Thu 17 Apr 2008Link

The not so dirty secret in the legal world is called exposure, like in, "how likely are you to be sued by subject x?" I doubt someone from Egypt is going to travel to canasa and sue you. In fact, they can't. If it were me, I would just get permission on camera. If you whip out a form, someone is going to want to get paid for their signature.


Mark Barroso
Thu 17 Apr 2008Link

Canada, not canasa. Always preview


Sam Rabeeh
Thu 17 Apr 2008Link

And I thought it was NC lingo for Canada.

Is an on-camera approval (or recorded voice for audio only interview) the equivalent of a release?


Jo-Anne Velin
Thu 17 Apr 2008Link

in news it is. I don't know about audio only, but definitely in video. You might have to have it on each cassette if you are recording to tape.


Monica Williams
Fri 18 Apr 2008Link

Does anyone know where I can find a DVCPro HD codec that will allow me to view/edit footage shot on a Panasonic HVX200 (720 @ 24 native) on a Windows computer?

I want to be able to use either Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas Pro.

Thanks


Robert Goodman
Mon 21 Apr 2008Link

both programs have the codec to play DVCPROHD.


Mark Barroso
Mon 21 Apr 2008Link

Sam:
You need to be realistic about where this film is to going to be seen and conform to the laws of that country. It's folly to ask someone in the States or Germany about releases. If you want a lock-tight, international release because you're making the next $100 million dollar grossing documentary, then yes, get the most airtight release. Otherwise, you're just going to waste time and intimidate interview subjects.

In the US, news people do not need releases. Filmmakers do. On-camera releases are second best to written ones, and generally accepted for non-controversial interviews9"Boy, that show was great!")


Monica Williams
Wed 23 Apr 2008Link

Thank you Robert :-)

Is there a way to find out what networks or distributors pay for documentaries that are similar to mine? Do I need to contact the producers of those films directly or is there an easier way?


Robert Goodman
Wed 23 Apr 2008Link

you can search the trade papers – hollywood reporter and variety – but take the numbers with a grain of a salt. Most docs are sold for very little money.


Sean Riddle
Wed 23 Apr 2008Link

I'm in the education field overseeing students making their films. Occasionally I have students interested in Documentaries and they often have questions about legally using images, people, etc... is there a website or anything that kind of lists when you do and don't need to get release forms on people in your documentary? Or, for example the legality of using images from Scientology, that were shown in public, but using them for your film without approval from Scientology? Or taking images from websites such as YouTube and putting them in your film?


Mark Barroso
Thu 24 Apr 2008Link

Sean, maybe your students will like this comic book written for filmmakers http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/zoomcomic.html.

But the bottom line is, are they likely to sue you? Scientology, yes. Wilma from Walla Walla on you tube, no.


Sam Rabeeh
Mon 28 Apr 2008Link

In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Tue 22 Apr 2008 :
thank you Mark for the additional info. I'm trying to gather as much info as I can so I Can set some realistic boundaries.


Garret Savage
Thu 1 May 2008Link

Mark, that comic book is awesome! Thanks for sharing it.


Ralph Lindsen
Mon 5 May 2008Link

Very good find Mark, best reference to copyright isseus i ever saw.

Anyway, i'm about to make my first big investment in a camera. My budget is around 2000 bucks. For standard def i was thinking about a sony p170 or a panasonic AG-DVX100B. For High def i was thinking about a sony HDR-FX1 or the Canon XH-A1.

It's going to be used for interviews en concert footage. But it's also gonna be used for school assignments and who knows what i'll like in the future.

Advice would be greatly appreciated. Ow, if you have other suggestions, feel free to state them.

And as exchange i have a good tip for everybode > www.vimeo.com a great place to put yr vids/trailers/whatevers online


Robert Goodman
Mon 5 May 2008Link

Standard definition is dead. I'd look at the Canon HV20 and buy a good microphone. It's never just the camera. You need monitoring, batteries, tripod, case, microphones, isolation headphones, etc.


Rob Appleby
Tue 6 May 2008Link

Ralph, you might want to take a look at the Sony A1E. Poor low light focussing, but very useable otherwise. Should be within your budget.


Jarrod Whaley
Tue 6 May 2008Link

In reply to Ralph Lindsen's post on Mon 5 May 2008 :

Ralph, camera choice is a pretty personal thing, and depends as much on your own style of working and/or visual style as it does on your budget. Among the cameras you've suggested though, my own recommendations would be the DVX100B and the XH-A1, because both will give you many more creative options than the PD170 or the FX1 (progressive frame rates, gamma selections, fine picture adjustments, etc.). You may or may not use a lot of those functions now, but it's good to have the option in case you find your style evolving or working on a project that needs those effects.

Again though, it ultimately boils down to which camera is best for you, and I suggest playing around with some (if not all) of those cameras a bit, if you can, before you make a decision.

Good luck!


Joe Moulins
Tue 6 May 2008Link

But don't buy an SD camera.


Peter Brauer
Tue 6 May 2008Link

I am with Joe on that one. If it takes you two years to make a doc, it will be unmarketable in standard definition. Everything will have to be HD by then.


Jarrod Whaley
Tue 6 May 2008Link

In reply to Joe Moulins's post on Tue 6 May 2008 :

I'm not 100% sure I agree with you, Joe. On the surface what you're saying makes sense, but if you look a bit deeper, it's sort of like saying "don't buy a super-8mm camera under any circumstances because 16mm is better." More resolution is not necessarily better--some shooters might be after the look of SD for their own aesthetic reasons, or might find that they can get more manual control for their money in an SD camera than they can get in an SD camera. I'd argue that manual controls and flexibility are a far more important factor than resolution. Flexible HD cameras are becoming more and more affordable, true, but when you factor in the possibilty that people like Ralph might also have to spend $1,000 or more upgrading their computers to be able to handle HD footage, the cost shoots up quite a bit.

I guess what I'm saying is that blanket statements like "don't do such and such" or "do do this and that" are rarely applicable across the board. SD is not "dead," it's just losing popularity as a format. There's a subtle but key distinction to be made here.

Please, no flames. :)


Jarrod Whaley
Tue 6 May 2008Link

In reply to Peter Brauer's post on Tue 6 May 2008 :

No offense, Peter, but people have been saying exactly this for several years and it has yet to come true. :) Yes, things are moving toward HD, but I'll point out that BD sales have barely increased at all since HD-DVD bit the dust, just to give one example. The world at large is not lapping up HD as fervently as camera people are. They will, of course, but it's not as if someone who buys an SD camera right now is necessarily an utter moron, as you guys seem to be suggesting. :)

Edited Tue 6 May 2008 by Jarrod Whaley

Peter Brauer
Tue 6 May 2008Link

This is not about DVDs. This is about theatrical and TV. I know SD can look good. I mean Second Skin is shot on a DVX100a, tons of people ask if it is HD. But for certain markets HD will be mandatory. I think this will especially be the case after the US shifts everything to digital broadcast. I am not saying anyone is a moron. I am saying, I will not buy another SD camera. I am lucky that we already have a good SD camera. When we got our camera several years ago we could make money as a DP with our own camera. Now everyone wants a DP with an HD camera. It just seems to make good business sense to recommend HD over SD any day.


Jarrod Whaley
Tue 6 May 2008Link

I don't really disagree with you as much as you might imagine; I wouldn't buy an SD camera right now either. However, what's good for the goose is not always what's good for the gander, and no sweeping generalization is going to apply in all cases.

Likewise, it may not be about DVD's to you, but someone else might be planning entirely on self-distribution and not at all worried about the needs or requirements of theatrical distributors, broadcasters, etc. And my point with the BD thing was simply meant to illustrate that HD is not exactly being adopted as widely as we might like to believe. And bear in mind that when U.S. broadcasters make the switch to digital broadcasts in 2009, it doesn't necessarily mean that all television will suddenly be in HD--it just means that analog receivers will no longer work. Who knows what the cable channels will be doing?

Again, your situation doesn't apply across the board, and yet it kind of sounds like you're suggesting that it does.

"I would not buy an SD camera right now" is not the same as "YOU should not buy an SD camera right now." That's all I'm saying.

Edited Tue 6 May 2008 by Jarrod Whaley

John Burgan
Tue 6 May 2008Link

But how would you choose between a goose and a gander?


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