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    Okay AF100 users, I need your expertise and opinions.
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    First of all, let me say this:
    Yes, this is one of "those threads" where an inexperienced shooter asks questions.
    If you are too busy to help, I understand! No need to face palm and get aggressive. Before anyone suggests it, I want to make it clear:I have sought the answers to these questions by searching through this and other forums/sites for years. No exaggeration. Also, Barry Green's DVDs. I have them. I've taken notes on them. I enjoyed them. No need to suggest I purchase them.


    If you're still with me, thank you!
    I'll cut right to the chase:
    I am 24. I promised myself at the age of 10 that I would shoot a feature film. I pursued a medical career with the dual purpose of funding such endeavors as well as my love of healing/helping etc.

    I'm at the point in my life where I need to take a stab at a feature, so I'm here asking some opinions about particulars; everything from specific equipment questions to workflow. The film is a comedy, to be shot in my hometown of Wichita, KS. It will largely involve indoor shots with as many scenes occurring outside at local landmarks as I can muster. This is my dream, and I want to say thank you for any help in advance. It means a lot.


    First off, I own an Af100. Shooting in 1080p seems like plenty of resolution for my needs, and I believe that the pictures this machine makes will be more than adequate for what I want it for. I have no delusions of hollywood; my ultimate goal is to host a screening at a local historic theatre among some friends. A digital projection of a 1080p film should be fine.

    That said, would my money be most effectively used by utilizing this camera, or a rental? If so, would my money be most effectively used by purchasing an external recorder? I know that AVCHD is a lossy codec, so would the difference an external recorder makes be worth it? The VFX work should be fairly light, but I understand capturing externally could aid the final product after color correction/stylizing.

    I do not currently own an external recorder, and am interested in purchasing a combination recorder/monitor, as I'm currently using the AF100 LCD/EVF to shoot. Products like the Samurai Blade by Atmos (http://www.atomos.com/samurai-blade/) are very appealing to me, because they would cover two major functions in single device, which helps the form-factor of my camera a lot. Will this or a similar device be an effective use of funds? How about upgradeability? Will I be glad I bought these products in the future, when my camera is upgraded (assuming to another compatible camera)?

    Another question I have is regarding audio. My specific question is this: If the vast majority of my shots are close 1-2s/ conversations, should I bother acquiring a more expensive shotgun microphone, or try to get away with just a condenser? I currently have a RODE NTG2 and Oktava mk 012 at my disposal. Will the little Oktava give me a sound quality that will fit my needs, or will purchasing a better condenser be the most effective use of funds?


    I know the above is scattered and long, and I want to thank anyone who has read this far. I have millions of other questions, but before I type them all out I'd like to hear from other shooters regarding the above (this forum has slowed down considerably as the af100 has aged, which is to be expected). I know a lot of these questions aren't "right way, wrong way" issues, but I am specifically asking for opinions. I have e-stalked* some of the users here, and I really enjoy their work. I respect these opinions.

    Thanks again!

    -Drew



    *


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    I shot with af100 this week, great images. Even though I work with other camera's that output more resolution, the camera still produces very nice colors and overal image quality. The oktava is great for indoors where there is very little noise going on. I would not rent if I were you. Good luck, cool to work on a project like that. Start, and don't forget to finish it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by yohenk View Post
    I shot with af100 this week, great images. Even though I work with other camera's that output more resolution, the camera still produces very nice colors and overal image quality. The oktava is great for indoors where there is very little noise going on. I would not rent if I were you. Good luck, cool to work on a project like that. Start, and don't forget to finish it.
    Thanks for the reply! I WILL finish it, there is no doubt about that.

    Any thoughts on AVCHD vs. external recording?


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    I'll start by saying I love the AF100 for most of the work I do: mostly documentaries and quick setup interviews.

    That said, I wouldn't currently pick the AF100. A new GH4 can be had for even money with a used AF100 and bests it in just about every situation (internal NDs are it's major advantage, and a non-issue in scripted narrative shooting). Recording internal 4k will give you high quality, gradability, and reframing and post stabilizing opportunities. You would likely be best served by recording sound externally (heck, hire your sound guy with gear).

    As as a reference, see Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color," an award-winning feature film shot in a GH2 with some Korean prime lenses.

    The AF100 is nice, but better is available for less for this application.


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    If this is your first feature and you own a camera, go with that. Save your dough. You can do so much worse that the AF100. If you wanted a film career, already shot two features on your own, and finally landed financing, that's when you get the best camera you can get.

    I've done lots of VFX on lots of good and bad footage, IMO the advantage in recording externally with the AF100 is negligible at best. I've shot plenty of green with AF100 to the cards and to a Hyperdeck 2 uncompressed and prores and the keys are no better or worse either way. If you're shooting green, just light it right, that will save you more trouble than any amount of hardware. Recorders won't improve your footage or solve your problems. And just visually speaking, I can't personally see the difference between these footage samples from the AF100, even A/Bing them. Barely, sometimes, in the darks. The jump between 8 and 10 bit is a lot more obvious.

    If you have a small crew, tight shooting schedule, or experienced sound guys, I recommend you get a short shotgun like a Senn me64. Reason being, if you've got a lot of dialogue and not a lot of coverage, a longer shotgun might cause problems (too directional, off camera voice always differs unless your boom op is a genius) and an omni or cardioid is going to pick up a lot of room noise that you don't want. With a short shotgun, you can split the difference in range between two talkers, the signal will be good, the voices will be roughly the same on or off cam, and you'll end up with a lot more useable audio.


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    I don't think another recorder is a help. Your best bet is to get it as close to what you want in camera and grade lightly. You need a monitor to zoom to make critical focus, unless you have the new one. The mics are fine, get a mixer.

    I didn't see in your post that you've shot anything else. Shooting a feature is a lot of work and requires a sizable investment, and not just in a camera. If you haven't shot any shorts, do that. Get your chops straight before trying a feature.

    There are many great features shot by people on this forum on the AF100.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jsolterbeck View Post
    If this is your first feature and you own a camera, go with that. Save your dough. You can do so much worse that the AF100. If you wanted a film career, already shot two features on your own, and finally landed financing, that's when you get the best camera you can get.

    I've done lots of VFX on lots of good and bad footage, IMO the advantage in recording externally with the AF100 is negligible at best. I've shot plenty of green with AF100 to the cards and to a Hyperdeck 2 uncompressed and prores and the keys are no better or worse either way. If you're shooting green, just light it right, that will save you more trouble than any amount of hardware. Recorders won't improve your footage or solve your problems. And just visually speaking, I can't personally see the difference between these footage samples from the AF100, even A/Bing them. Barely, sometimes, in the darks. The jump between 8 and 10 bit is a lot more obvious.

    If you have a small crew, tight shooting schedule, or experienced sound guys, I recommend you get a short shotgun like a Senn me64. Reason being, if you've got a lot of dialogue and not a lot of coverage, a longer shotgun might cause problems (too directional, off camera voice always differs unless your boom op is a genius) and an omni or cardioid is going to pick up a lot of room noise that you don't want. With a short shotgun, you can split the difference in range between two talkers, the signal will be good, the voices will be roughly the same on or off cam, and you'll end up with a lot more useable audio.
    Thanks for the advice, this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. I'm not great at working with low-light on the af100, and I wondered if the compression was playing a big role in my noise/colorization. If you don't think an external recorder makes a huge difference I'm wondering if I ought to take a good look at some really fast glass. Here is where I ask about speed boosters.... Worth it? Mandatory for my needs, or just a useful gadget?

    I like the idea of a shorter shotgun. That makes a lot of sense; a lot of my shots are of two or three people sitting at a table talking etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcbob View Post
    I'll start by saying I love the AF100 for most of the work I do: mostly documentaries and quick setup interviews.

    That said, I wouldn't currently pick the AF100. A new GH4 can be had for even money with a used AF100 and bests it in just about every situation (internal NDs are it's major advantage, and a non-issue in scripted narrative shooting). Recording internal 4k will give you high quality, gradability, and reframing and post stabilizing opportunities. You would likely be best served by recording sound externally (heck, hire your sound guy with gear).

    As as a reference, see Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color," an award-winning feature film shot in a GH2 with some Korean prime lenses.

    The AF100 is nice, but better is available for less for this application.
    How is the 4K workflow going to change my editing process? Will I be dealing with massive files? I'm working with a network specialist to set up a local server with a large amount of redundant memory for backup/end-of-day dumping, but when I think of 4K I think of huge file sizes. Will my 6 Terabyte HDDs suffice?

    That is one thought that I've had, but the other is that I don't think I need 4k to tell the kind of story I'm trying to tell. Remember, this is a comedy. Sure, I want the best image quality my budget can muster, but do I want to sacrifice my budget making the jump from my Af100 (which I own) to a rental when I could spend this money renting a nice set of cine primes for my af100? These are the questions I'm sorting.

    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    I don't think another recorder is a help. Your best bet is to get it as close to what you want in camera and grade lightly. You need a monitor to zoom to make critical focus, unless you have the new one. The mics are fine, get a mixer.

    I didn't see in your post that you've shot anything else. Shooting a feature is a lot of work and requires a sizable investment, and not just in a camera. If you haven't shot any shorts, do that. Get your chops straight before trying a feature.

    There are many great features shot by people on this forum on the AF100.
    I've shot weddings, shorts, and recently did some freelance for a large production company from LA following around some celebrities. It isn't that I haven't done any shooting, it's that I haven't shot anything where I felt 100% about all aspects... Lighting/exposure, focus, sound... I need practice, and I feel like narrative work is a much better chance to practice and work hard than when I'm at a wedding and I have one shot to get the "first look."

    I'm in talks to do some web series stuff first, so I'll be practicing in studio first, hopefully.

    Would the best workflow be to record through a mixer to an audio recorder, or to feed back to my camera channels? I'm not sure if re-sync is an issue anymore or if it is easy... Might be fun to break out the clapper, though. Make my actors feel a little more eclectic, right?


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    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    I don't think another recorder is a help. Your best bet is to get it as close to what you want in camera and grade lightly.
    Dead right. If you already own an AF100, then stick with that. If you have money to spend, then spend it on rental - your goal is to make this one shoot as good is it can be. Forget buying loads of kit, that can come later. IMO, first look for one amazingly good prime lens to do most of your set up work on - something like a 25mm CP2 at the least (unless you have access to the Nokton 25mm which is great). Then make sure your lighting is right - rent a good kit and be sure to get it right in camera - with or without an external recorder, the AF doesn't have enough DR to go wild in post, the best approach is to make sure you shoot it properly. Next sound - if you're not sure about gathering sound correctly then hire an operator with a mixer and his own kit, that will make a huge difference. On that, your money is best spent on people who can help you, not kit. They'll have expertise, probably their own kit; the process will be vastly more enjoyable and the end product will be immeasurably improved.


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    Senior Member hscully's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreoftheblue View Post

    Would the best workflow be to record through a mixer to an audio recorder, or to feed back to my camera channels? I'm not sure if re-sync is an issue anymore or if it is easy... Might be fun to break out the clapper, though. Make my actors feel a little more eclectic, right?
    It depends. I tether to the camera usually panning the lavs to one side and the boom to the other. This would work with a stereo recorder as well. If you use a stedicam you can't tether. I think it's a PIA to sync sound in post but it's not hard. Wavelength syncing with Plural Eyes works fine, if you can jam sync, that's even better. The strong case for recording on a separate recorder is if it can record each mic on an individual channel which is invaluable in post.

    Slating is important in any case. It will really help you organize your edit, providing a shot/take name on the first frame. It's also important to settle everyone around the coming shot and slating is the ritual for that.
    Last edited by hscully; 06-14-2014 at 05:02 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by TomLenham View Post
    Dead right. If you already own an AF100, then stick with that. If you have money to spend, then spend it on rental - your goal is to make this one shoot as good is it can be. Forget buying loads of kit, that can come later. IMO, first look for one amazingly good prime lens to do most of your set up work on - something like a 25mm CP2 at the least (unless you have access to the Nokton 25mm which is great). Then make sure your lighting is right - rent a good kit and be sure to get it right in camera - with or without an external recorder, the AF doesn't have enough DR to go wild in post, the best approach is to make sure you shoot it properly. Next sound - if you're not sure about gathering sound correctly then hire an operator with a mixer and his own kit, that will make a huge difference. On that, your money is best spent on people who can help you, not kit. They'll have expertise, probably their own kit; the process will be vastly more enjoyable and the end product will be immeasurably improved.
    I am leaning more towards hiring an audio guy for this reason... It will be a very "talky" picture, and while a screwy shot won't ruin the story missing a key piece of audio easily could. I think prioritizing audio is the way to go.

    That said, would you suggest renting or owning a lens? I have a pool of peers who I borrow from, and they have a couple decent Nikon lenses that I use with a dummy adapter. The shoot will likely span 6 months, so I'm not sure how much of a pita renting will be... I'm not terrified of buying kit, I'd just prefer it to be things that will be completely useful when I'm filming the much-improved sequel. (So maybe I should get a PL mount adapter and pick up a really slick PL mount cine prime?)

    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    It depends. I tether to the camera usually panning the lavs to one side and the boom to the other. This would work with a stereo recorder as well. If you use a stedicam you can't tether. I think it's a PIA to sync sound in post but it's not hard. Wavelength syncing with Plural Eyes works fine, if you can jam sync, that's even better. The strong case for recording on a separate recorder is if it can record each mic on an individual channel which is invaluable in post.

    Slating is important in any case. It will really help you organize your edit, providing a shot/take name on the first frame. It's also important to settle everyone around the coming shot and slating is the ritual for that.
    I'm not planning a bunch of complicated camera moves, and steadicam+operator is likely not worth it to tell the story I'm telling. The af100 has 2 distinct channels, so do you believe I'd need more? 2 lavs+boom? I was planning on relying on boom and just running background pickup before or after.

    If I'm hiring a sound person I'm sure he'll record to his own stuff anyway, but I'm here to learn!


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