Film Making, a Basic DSLR Kit in 10 Easy Steps?
I'm planning to take up film "seriously" (I feel video is THE form of media to communicate with in this current age), been looking around heaps for a camera that does video very well. They're quite pricey! (hello the 5D Mark III, D4/D800, or even the GH3! And that is just the DSLRs, anything above that of course can be massively more expensive) & the camera body is just a small fraction of the entire equipment cost :-P Film making is surprisingly expensive even just to cover the basics (but I am a tech gearhead, I think I'll love this), or maybe not so surprisingly! LOL.
Am even going to enroll in a Diploma of Digital Film, so I'd like to build up something close to a "professional" kit (but done on an extreme level budget! It will have a heavy DIY focus whenever possible, largely to keep costs down as low as possible. But also because I expect I'll enjoy making gear from scratch! Am really looking forward to that side of it).
Going to build up my filmmaking kit gradually over time in this order (along with some of my reasoning behind them, and other options):
1) camera body + kit lens, either the Panasonic GH1 or GH2 as I've been very impressed with the value Panasonic's GH series provides when I've looked at tests and what they've also produced. Just debating which of GH1 or GH2 given my limited budget (although of course the GH3 would be nice! ha). Leaning towards the GH1 as once hacked it still even now a very good camera, and picking the GH1 would leave more room in the budget for the many more items yet to come...
2) DIY shoulder rig, a basic simple one is super cheap and easy to build so this is the very next thing on the list as keeping the video steady is important.
3) extra batteries, nothing worse than going to the hassle of organising people and getting to the location only to be short of power half way through! (will get one authentic Panasonic battery, and another additional cheaper no name one. Paying extra for the authentic Panasonic battery as I've heard bad things about if the no name one runs all the way to the end while recording. Better off using just Panasonic and having the cheapie as the absolute last resort, which hopefully will just capture the final pieces of action without going long enough to risk it getting flat during a shoot)
4) couple of prime lenses, glass last longer than camera bodies! Micro Four Thirds mount allows a very nice range of glass, including many cheaper old lenses. I think my plan is buy soon one very inexpensive secondhand prime lens, then pick up another one or two more over time as they pop up on the secondhand market and cash for it becomes available.
5) I know sound is very important, audiences are much less forgiving of bad sound than bad images! I believe the top contenders at the bottom end of the range (because like camera bodies & lenses the sky is the limit in terms of how much you can spend on sound!!!) for DSLR filmmakers is: the Olympus LS-11, Tascam DR-100mkII, Zoom H4n, Olympus LS-5, Zoom H2n, Tascam DR-40, Tascam DR-07mkII, Tascam DR-05, and the Zoom H1. Out of them all I reckon it appears the Zoom H4n is the most popular for DSLR filmmakers. However as I'm certainly not an audiophile (the whole span of audio is mostly uncharted waters to me, feel free to give any kind of suggestions at all on this topic!), it is a mystery to me for now why I'd want anything other than the cheapest one out of what I listed :-P (although I can see the benefit of XLR as that is the standard used by other equipment it might need to work with. However until I am lucky enough to get a paying gig which requires something more than the cheapest recorder from that list I might as well save the money in the budget?)
6) DIY from hardware store a couple of light source set ups (lighting is obviously very important too!).
7) video grade head for tripod (much higher quality is needed than the cheap photography one which I have, as they need to be smoother for when video is being taken).
8) DIY dolly, this is more often useful than a crane and is easier to build so thus it comes before the crane in order of priority.
9) DIY crane.
10) then finally a second camera body (either the GH2 or the GH3 depending on the market at the time) & demote my 1st camera body to bcam which is *very* useful to have.
Will get the first step of a body + kit lens next month (or maybe February, when the course starts). I expect to get to the end of that building up cycle which I described could take approximately 18 months.
Of course after that I'd still have many other important bits to get like an external viewing monitor, extra lights, GoPro Hero 3 (outdoors and sports shots are very important to me, as I'm a sporty guy. But best to get the basics down first before getting a specialised camera such as the GoPro Hero 3), extra lenses, boom mic, & focus puller to add to the shoulder rig... plus more! :-P Is quite mind boggling when you consider all the many different elements which are required....
Ahhh... well.... it still is in total a very cheap kit I've sketched out which should punch well above its weight! As I'm primarily doing this as for documentaries and events coverage which I'd really like to do (for the love of it, as they are many great stories to be told and moments to be captured). Plus to a lesser extent whatever shorts (such as the 48 Hour Film Festival!), music videos, or anything else which catches my fancy or I can help friends out with.
For instance I'd love to produce a "Fat Head" with 10x the production values, as it was a bit shit (if you haven't seen "Fat Head" then please do, it is my favorite documentary! A pity it didn't look prettier). Or make a documentary about any of my many sporting interest. However making any feature length documentaries is very much a longer term goal, for now I'll just be learning (love learning!) and creating shorter pieces.
As I'll be doing it for love, any money I could make would just be a bonus! Recover costs maybe, but not time... $0/hr :-P As this set up wouldn't be for the mega bucks million dollar movies! lol
But I hope it would be appropriate (once the kit is complete! Well, the first stage at least which I gave in detail. In a certain sense it will NEVER be "complete"! lol) to use in low end commercial advertising work, music videos, event coverage (such as weddings), product reviews, documentaries, news reporting, micro budget full length films, & more.
Finally got to the end of this mammoth sized post (thanks for reading!!), as this is a big undertaking and I've been thinking about this for months. Any suggestions or comments feel free to throw them at me! :-) Especially anything NZ specific.