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KenHuxley
06-27-2005, 05:17 AM
Hi folks,

We're web designers traveling in Asia (now in Malaysia). In two weeks we're heading to India for 6 months and want to begin shooting video for our own projects. Delivery methods will be high bandwidth internet and maybe PC DVD distribution. Since we're inexperienced in video, we've spent a lot of time digging through the boards here looking for info.

After a lot of research the dvx100a seems to be the best investment for quality video and sound on a budget. We will also be ordering Barry Green’s DVX Book to get us up to speed.

I've been on long trips in India and know that traveling there can be pretty difficult. As a result, I need some advice.

Taking care of the camera:

We're going to be shooting in a variety of climates: dusty, hot deserts, monsoon conditions, hot and humid, cold high-altitude mountainous. We've looked into Pelican cases but they're very heavy and in a poor country like India may attract theft or unwanted attention. I think it's crucial that we stay low-key using a method that allows us to bring everything as carry on for any plane flights or bus rides.

Given due care, would placing the camera in a waterproof bag and bubble wrapping it in a backpack do for transport?

As for climate, would wrapping the camera body in heavy plastic for dusty/wet situations be practical?

Is a UV/AV filter available for the lens to protect it from scratches, etc.?

Tape choices:

Our video recording is not intended for broadcast so is there any reason to use a higher quality mini dv tape than consumer grade? We're looking at Sony MEDVM60 Super DLC. Is this the best quality vs price in consumer grade? Is it also best to stick to one type of tape once you start using it?

We plan on doing post-production work after our trip so we'll be carrying 50 tapes for 6 months. Should we have concerns about tape deterioration if kept in sealed bags for months after recording?

Microphone choices:

We’re going to be on a really tight budget for this (under $600 USD). Looks like we’ll require 2 mics (one for voice and one for environmental sound: outdoor and indoor market scenes, cultural performances, etc.) There will only be two of us so using a boom for either mic isn't practical but need to avoid camera handling noise. Since we'll have a dedicated mic for voice, would a surround mic be better than a shotgun for capturing ambient sound?

We’ve been looking at Shure's lavaliere microphones and Rode. Any recommendations?

Also can audio be recorded by two different mics simultaneously utilizing one channel each through the XLR jacks in the dvx100a?

Any and all advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance. :beer:

Ken & Nicci

PDX_DVX
06-27-2005, 06:32 AM
Sounds like you're in for a big trip. Here's my two cents on what you should do

1. Camera Transport: If you really want to stay low key, wrapping your camera in bubble wrap and sticking it in a backpack will work, however, it will be a hassle every time you want to use your camera, plus the bubble wrap won't last for 6 months of taking your camera in and out of it. Chances are if you have a camera, boom mic, travelling gear etc etc, you already won't look low key, so first off I suggest a pelican for travelling, seeing as it's air and water tight. As for walking around and being mobile, try doing a search on this forum for recommended camera backpacks. I know Kata and Porta Brace make good ones. Having a camera backpack will make your life alot easier, not to mention it will protect your investment alot better than bubble wrap. The Kata backpack that fits the DVX is carry-on legal I believe, and should have enough room for your accessories. Make sure to bring some lense cleaning supplies, and a cleaning tape for your camera as well.

2. Camera Cover: I suggest getting a rain cover for your camera, again, do a search on this. I use one made by Kata, and it works pretty well. It beats using a garbage bag for sure, but if you must, a garbage bag, a few rubber bands, and some gaff tape can work wonders.

3. Tape: Get the panasonic MQ tapes. Sony tapes use a wet lube, which means your camera will get dirty alot quicker, possibly causing your footage to be un useable. The MQ tapes will provide you with the most reliable footage. Choose one tape brand, and stick with it. If you don't, you can run into problems. As for storing the tapes, just make sure they don't get near any magnets, and make sure they stay dry and clean and you shouldn't have any problems. Make sure to take the tapes out of your camera at night.

4. Audio: Audio Technica makes some good shotgun mics for relatively cheap, not the best, but it sounds like they will do the trick for you. As for a Lav mic, try looking at sennheisers or countryman lavs, from what I hear they work really well. Yes, audio from 2 seperate mics can be recorded at the same time. Just plug each one into its own XLR port, and use the switches on the camera inside the LCD are to choose channel one and channel two.

Hope this helps, good luck!

galt
06-27-2005, 06:47 AM
Ditto on what PDXDVX said. You might also consider what you are going to be doing before settling on audio choices. Audio is much more important than you suspect. You may want a wirelss setup (Senn G2 ENG kit is a good choice at about $600, including decent but not great lav and a plug to make your other mics wireless.). Countryman makes a nice lav, and you may want to look at an iRiver as well for remote recording.

Don't forget lots of batteries (DVuser batteries are best for price, see link below, allow 3 weeks to get them). as well as a charger for your mic batteries. Take a look at my location kit (http://www.VeniceDigitalVideo.com/locationDVXkit.htm) packed in a Pelican 1600. If you really do not want a hard case, at least get a real camcorder backpack so you don't end up with a dead camera for half of your trip. Ditto on real raincover too, they are about $75.

Definitely get a UV filter, and maybe a polarizing filter too. Lots more issues, but you didn't ask....

KenHuxley
06-27-2005, 08:34 AM
Thanks PDX_DVX and Galt for all the great advice.

>>Lots more issues, but you didn't ask....

With the length of our initial post we were afraid to ask any more questions. At this point the more information we can get the better. We’re as green as can be so please bring it on!

>> You might also consider what you are going to be doing before settling on audio choices.

As for our project, much of it will be like keeping a video/audio sketchbook of our experiences in India (albeit as high quality as possible). Essentially building a stock video/audio library for ourselves which we will be recombining later in an NLE in any number of ways. I’ve been a professional artist for 15 years and 5 more working with my wife Nicci in Internet Development (Photoshop, Flash, programming etc.). There’s huge artistic potential in the tools but we haven’t had the time to use them in a creative way until now. We obviously need to thoroughly educate ourselves, get a lot of hands-on experience and do a lot of work.

Since posting, we’ve spent several more hours surfing the boards, looking for info on sound, lighting, filters and tripods (have one, but it’s not anything to write home about).

Thanks Galt for the link to your kit. That definitely gives us a better overview of the critical components we’ll need.

>>The Kata backpack that fits the DVX is carry-on legal I believe, and should have enough room for your accessories

The Kata Panda is definitely looking like a durable, lightweight option for transport, along with the rain cover. Thanks for the great help here. We’ve already experienced hassles at airports with our current digital gear.

Ditto for the tapes! Had no idea about the “wet” Sony tapes. Will definitely look into the Panasonic MQ tapes but with 6 months in India, we’re probably going to go through a lot of tape ($$). Since this is going to be for personal work do you think we could squeak by on a Panasonic consumer level tape?

We’re assuming that we’ll be shooting 25P in 4:3. Any thoughts?

>>Definitely get a UV filter, and maybe a polarizing filter too.

We’ve been reading that many people have big contrast problems shooting digital in tropical countries, so we’ll definitely invest in these along with a collapsible reflector. Lens and tape head cleaning products will also be going in the bag now.

>> Audio is much more important than you suspect. You may want a wireless setup (Senn G2 ENG kit is a good choice at about $600, including decent but not great lav and a plug to make your other mics wireless.).

Yes, we’re becoming grimly aware of that. After reading sample pages of Producing Great Sound for Digital Video by Jay Rose on Amazon (will be getting it), it brought us down to earth in the audio department. It’s a huge area. Incidentally, he mentioned a number of potential interference problems with wireless lav mics (and workarounds). With that in mind, should we forget about wireless and keep the mics directly connected to the camera using longer XLR cables when required? (Noticed one in your kit, Galt)

Audio level monitoring, interference and sync/lag issues with camera distance from subject are things we keep coming across on the forum as well. At least they’re will be two of us to help stay more organized while shooting.

With a choice between shotgun, surround and a variety of directional mic designs out there for capturing environmental/ambient sound, even if we decide on a manufacturer we really still have no clue which single type of mic would provide the most flexible and professional sound results.

We have Sony studio reference headphones to monitor sound but does the dvx100a allow you to monitor audio levels directly with the camera LCD? My only experience is with controlling levels on audio capture into Soundforge. Does the camera function in a similar way?

The other main area of concern is lighting. I think we have no choice but to travel with either a single small light that could run off of batteries to brighten up the occasional indoor shoot or just go without. Apart from where a single light will do the trick, we’re going to have to limit ourselves to working in natural light with a reflector. Many people have described lighting setups where they’re lugging around car batteries and lighting kits. That’s not an option for us (weight, transport, cost, etc.).

Any info on additional lens filters, audio controls, (especially any other big blind spots you notice) is appreciated.

Thanks a lot guys.:-)

Best,

Ken & Nicci

discs of tron
06-27-2005, 09:45 AM
in my opinion, you shouldn't use wireless unless you really need to use wireless. if a 25 or 50' xlr cable will do the trick, that's the way to go.

if the voice is always going to be one or 2 people, i'd go with a good wired omni lav. i personally use the akg ck77 for this.

if the other mic is going to be truly "ambient", then i'd look at something like the audio technica stereo mic. they have two models- one with an unbalanced output, the other with 2 balanced outs. i'd go balanced. then, if you bring two 25' xlr cables, you can use them to extend that mic's outputs, or the output from your lav.

you can watch levels on the dvx display, though headphones is best since there are other things that can go wrong with your sound besides just the levels.

another thing to throw in your bag- (finally a cheap one)- is those little "dessicant" bags that come in the box when you buy cameras and electronics. humidity is one of your biggest enemies, and these things are handy for sucking some of it up. (i wish they worked on a bigger scale, since it's about 75% humidity in new england right now.)

FatDaddy
06-27-2005, 10:05 AM
Good stuff here. I shot in India for two weeks and brought a mono pod which was helpful. I would get a polarizer filter (pops the colors which are amazing there). I picked up some small scratches on my 4x4 filter, there is a ton of dust and stuff flying around so be carefull cleaning the lense (which will be everynight and during the day!). If I had to do it again, I would try to find a small camera stabilizer (stedicam Merlin?)

galt
06-27-2005, 12:38 PM
To really do a good job, you need to start by changing your thinking. You see video as a visual medium, and it is not. You speak of the artistic potential, but I think that you are/will be thinking only in terms of images. Your time pressure of leaving in two weeks is going to cause you to screw up a lot of things. Ideally you would shoot several hours of stuff and edit it into a completed project of some kind before you start on your trip. Even completing one project thru to editing will let you understand things about how to shoot, what to shoot, and how to shoot for editing that you can't learn any other way. It would be like if you were a metal sculpter and suddenly decided to get into photography. They are fundamentally different.

I would spend the extra $1.50 on good tape (MQ). Cheaper tape has more chance of dropouts, losing recording completely (especially while shlepping around India). I also think that 50 tapes sounds light. That is about 16 minutes of video per day, assuming you use the entire tape each time. At 100 tapes, you can get MQ's for $5 each. I might plan for a tape a day (180 tapes), and have a backup plan if I need more. Consumer-grade tapes might be fine, then again so might a consumer camera. Sinc eyou bought a DVX, I assume you are serious about your end-product. At least buy PQ tapes if the $75 difference means that much to you.

50 watt dimmable Bescor is a relatively affordable on-camera light, complete with barndoors and a 2.5 hour battery for about $300. There are other options too. Just be careful going thru checkpoints with the battery belt, it looks a lot like a suicide bomber belt. You can also use it off-camera for fill or bounce light, and it has a "daylight" filter that can be flipped out of way depending on your situation. You will want some kind of diffusion filter for it also much of the time. A good collapsible reflector is a good idea too, check out the 5-in-1 types. If Bescor is too heavy, maybe a sony 10/20 and some batteries for it will do the trick? OTOH, light is light, so maybe you don't need one at all. Again, it all depends on what you are doing.

Yes wireless has its own issues. It totally depends on your needs. As you saw, I carry a Countryman B3 wired lav for the DVX, an AT897 shotgun, a 25 foot XLR cable (for B3 & 897), an AT825 stereo mic , an iRiver 799, a Giant Squid wired lav for the iRiver, adapter cables for both AT897 and AT825 to connect to DVX or iRiver, a Senn G2 wireless set with its own lav mic, and a Senn G2 buttplug to make the AT897 into a wireless. This covers most situations pretty well, but I definitely get by with less most of the time. My first choice is the wired lav, if it is appropriate. It all depends on what you are shooting.

A good tripod is important, and a monopod is handy. Again, it depends on what you are shooting, what you want to achive, and what your weight considerations are. Monopod can do many things a tripod can't do, and vice-versa. Monopod can also double as a heavy mic boom.

Good luck.

KenHuxley
06-28-2005, 07:45 AM
Hi all,

Thanks for all the amazing advice (reflector kit, monopod, lighting and mic options/setups, etc. etc.) I thought people on software developer boards were helpful but you guys are great! As a result, we understand that we have a lot more research to do.

>>Ideally you would shoot several hours of stuff and edit it into a completed project of some kind before you start on your trip.

We're definitely going to rethink the way we're doing things. The test project makes a lot of sense (thanks for the advice here Galt) and we're carrying a pretty beefy laptop along with all our software ready to roll. From the info we've been gathering, we should be able to augment our gear after getting to India as we need it and it's becoming very clear that a mere 2 weeks is insane for trying to get prepped. We'll take it slow.

>>At least buy PQ tapes if the $75 difference means that much to you.

Also thanks for the advice on the Panasonic MQ tapes. It's a relief to know that buying over 100 of them would only cost about $5 a piece. I was expecting I'd have to pay around $15 each.

>>if the other mic is going to be truly "ambient", then I'd look at something like the audio technica stereo mic. they have two models- one with an unbalanced output, the other with 2 balanced outs. i'd go balanced. then, if you bring two 25' xlr cables, you can use them to extend that mic's outputs, or the output from your lav.

Thanks for the advice on using 2 balanced outs discs_of_tron.

>>I shot in India for two weeks and brought a mono pod which was helpful. I would get a polarizer filter (pops the colors which are amazing there)

FatDaddy:

Just wondering...I've used a polarizer filter before in India on an SLR camera. Looked great when shooting but when I got the film developed the contrast made the lights and mid-tones very rich but had driven all the shadows nearly to black or a harsh deep blue. I got into the habit of shooting in the early morning, dusk and indoors (stopped using the polarizer). Especially with digital having a tendency to increase contrast between shadows and light could a polarizer filter present problems? (I'm also thinking about picking up one for my Nikon D100 D-SLR camera but hesitated because of past experience.)

>>another thing to throw in your bag- (finally a cheap one)- is those little "dessicant" bags that come in the box when you buy cameras and electronics. humidity is one of your biggest enemies

After searching before we left Canada, then in Thailand and Singapore, we've been lucky enough to find them here in Malaysia. Grocery stores stock them in all shapes and sizes. Cheap too! They're "Thirsty Ele" and "Thirsty Hyppo" brands with their respective animals on the bag. Most recently we found a re-usable type. Can dry them out in the microwave/sun and re-use. They're heavy but with the humidity hovering at around 90% here in Malaysia they've been great to have. Sorry I was unable to find a link to these products. :-( I believe they're made in Japan.

Once again thanks for all your patience and guidance for us novices.;-)

Cheers,

Ken & Nicci

discs of tron
06-28-2005, 08:03 AM
oh yeah, shoot lots of stills with your d100. you can do a lot with stills in video. or, pick up a lightly used nikon em or fg. it'll mount all your nikon lenses (but won't be autofocus.) it's light, can work without batteries in a pinch (only 1 shutter speed,) and film is harder to ruin (for me anyhow,) than digital and magnetic media. and you're less bummed if it gets ripped off.

FatDaddy
06-28-2005, 06:19 PM
Hey Ken.
Nice to hear your in Malaysia. I went from India to Malaysia and shot for a week in downtown KL. That is a cool city (not temp. wise- it was hot), also had chinese new years which means we did not go to bed early (firewirks setting off car alarms).

As far as the polarizer goes, I had no problems. The DVX has great controls over color, saturation and blacks. I shot w/4x4 filters with the cinetastics mattebox (which I did not like the way the filters work with it). My black levels were at -1. Hope this helps.

Forgot to add a sample form India. I will post the real thing in a couple of days (1st have the same rest is different).

Check it out:
http://homepage.mac.com/bbcmedia/India/FileSharing11.html

KenHuxley
06-30-2005, 07:17 AM
Hi guys,

Just wanted to take a sec and respond to your replies. Burned a whole day today getting the Indian visa lined up!

>>pick up a lightly used nikon em or fg

Still looking around for a polarizer. Oddly, it's been hard to find here in Kuala Lumpur.

>>Forgot to add a sample form India. I will post the real thing in a couple of days (1st have the same rest is different).

That would be great to check out. Will keep an eye out for it.

Cheers,

Ken & Nicci



Sounds like a great idea. I think I'll sleep better knowing I've got a regular SLR backup that will work with my lenses.

pmark23
06-30-2005, 07:28 PM
You can pick up HUGE re-usable dessicant packs at hobby stores -- they're used to dry flowers.

evolvnyc
07-10-2005, 08:48 PM
I have the Audio Technica AT 897 Shotgun for ambient/dialogue backup (Under $300 and amazing sound quality) IMHO these sound much more natural than the Sennheisers and are much cheaper. For dialogue, you can never go wrong with the trams, they are the industry standard, this is the B&H link, but see if EVS has them first:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=258077&is=REG&addedTroughType=search

Hope this helps!

Rush
07-11-2005, 11:25 PM
Thanks evolv, and yes we do have them instock, with a slightly better deal for DVXusers, since we throw in a Comprehensive cable (2x the value) and a Sennheiser MZSCAM shockmount with a wider stance and better shock protection.:thumbsup:

KingVidiot
07-20-2005, 06:40 PM
Ken,

For prolonged shoots you may want to look-into the Tiffen (Davis & Sanford) SteadyStick. It's only $100, acts like a monopod attached to a belt, and allows lowering and extending up for "above crowd" shots with relative ease. The "human boom or jib" effect is very nice, which is impossible to get with a tripod or monopod. It doesn't allow steadycam shots, but what do you expect for $100? If you attach a neck strap to the top of your camera, you can actually take both hands off of your camera to rest.

I use one with a much heavier camera and it works OK. It is quite light and stores easily.

sainee
06-25-2007, 06:55 AM
Hi I a in virgin beauty area called India's northeast, if you are traveling this side feel free to email me at sainee@gmail.com
sainee


Hi folks,

We're web designers traveling in Asia (now in Malaysia). In two weeks we're heading to India for 6 months and want to begin shooting video for our own projects. Delivery methods will be high bandwidth internet and maybe PC DVD distribution. Since we're inexperienced in video, we've spent a lot of time digging through the boards here looking for info.

After a lot of research the dvx100a seems to be the best investment for quality video and sound on a budget. We will also be ordering Barry Green’s DVX Book to get us up to speed.

I've been on long trips in India and know that traveling there can be pretty difficult. As a result, I need some advice.

Taking care of the camera:

We're going to be shooting in a variety of climates: dusty, hot deserts, monsoon conditions, hot and humid, cold high-altitude mountainous. We've looked into Pelican cases but they're very heavy and in a poor country like India may attract theft or unwanted attention. I think it's crucial that we stay low-key using a method that allows us to bring everything as carry on for any plane flights or bus rides.

Given due care, would placing the camera in a waterproof bag and bubble wrapping it in a backpack do for transport?

As for climate, would wrapping the camera body in heavy plastic for dusty/wet situations be practical?

Is a UV/AV filter available for the lens to protect it from scratches, etc.?

Tape choices:

Our video recording is not intended for broadcast so is there any reason to use a higher quality mini dv tape than consumer grade? We're looking at Sony MEDVM60 Super DLC. Is this the best quality vs price in consumer grade? Is it also best to stick to one type of tape once you start using it?

We plan on doing post-production work after our trip so we'll be carrying 50 tapes for 6 months. Should we have concerns about tape deterioration if kept in sealed bags for months after recording?

Microphone choices:

We’re going to be on a really tight budget for this (under $600 USD). Looks like we’ll require 2 mics (one for voice and one for environmental sound: outdoor and indoor market scenes, cultural performances, etc.) There will only be two of us so using a boom for either mic isn't practical but need to avoid camera handling noise. Since we'll have a dedicated mic for voice, would a surround mic be better than a shotgun for capturing ambient sound?

We’ve been looking at Shure's lavaliere microphones and Rode. Any recommendations?

Also can audio be recorded by two different mics simultaneously utilizing one channel each through the XLR jacks in the dvx100a?

Any and all advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance. :beer:

Ken & Nicci

brucie
06-25-2007, 07:45 AM
One possible (if somewhat unique) suggestion for your audio could be to ask around and see if you could find someone who is a sound engineer and a free spirit and try and sell the idea to them. Possible you could contribute what you were going to spend on buying gear to them. I know it is a big ask, but you never know. Of course then they bring all their sound gear and experience with them!

There are certainly a number of projects that I would have worked on for little money just to be involved!

Good luck!

All the best

Neil