the worldwide community of documentary professionals
You are not signed in.
Log in or Register

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.

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?


Jarrod Whaley
Tue 6 May 2008Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Tue 6 May 2008 :

It depends on how hungry I am. :-D


Peter Brauer
Tue 6 May 2008Link

I agree.

Actually I am constantly telling young people seeking my advice to buy a cheapy camera for practice. If you don't have the money to go HD, don't worry about it. Just make a movie. It is the only way to learn. My first video camera was a 3 years out of date DV camera. It looked like crap next to what was good at the time. I still managed to make an award winning instructional video on it. The video quality was low, but the subject spoke for itself in the disability community.


Tony Comstock
Tue 6 May 2008Link

Shoot your concert footage on a K-3. Much better in the high-contrast lighting environment.

Any video camera will work well for interviews if you've got a good DP, good gaffer, and a good make-up artist.


Join this discussion now. You need to log in or register if you want to post.