Class 1 - Week 7 - Choosing a Camcorder
The first thing we did before choosing a camcorder, just as
in animation, is to plan ahead and ask ourselves a few questions.
What is my budget?
Let's face it, not all of us have a Batman-like budget. Luckily,
even a low end, point and shoot camera is more than sufficient
nowadays. When calculating your budget, don't forget to take
into account any accessories as well.
What do I want to use it for?
Will this camera be used solely for reference purposes,
filming family events, or shooting some short films?
What are the most important qualities to look for?
Since you'll be using this camera to capture lots of movement,
you'll want one that has a good frame rate and motion
performance to keep fast movements from blurring. High def
resolutions aren't really a top priority for reference. While it
does help to see the smaller details, it isn't a must.
Do I really need a camcorder?
Camcorders can be quite an investment so why get one if you
don't need to. If you have a smartphone, like an Iphone for
example, many of the newer models come with pretty decent
cameras. Or, if you have a laptop, with either a built-in or
external webcam, there is usually some form of recording
software bundled with it that can be used for your reference.
While the quality of the video in either case won't compare to a
camcorder, it should be more than enough for reference purposes.
1 or 2?
This is a question I wish we had asked ourselves when we were
looking for our camcorder. While it is nice to get the best
camera for your budget, buying two that are half the price can
be even more helpful. Being able to shoot your reference from
multiple angles at the same time will give a ton of information
on how the action happens and will be invaluable for the more
subtle motions. If you have a smartphone or laptop, this isn't
such a big issue as those can always be used as a second camera.
Now that you've asked yourself what it is you are looking for,
it's time to find the camera. But there are so many places to look!
One resource I find to be quite reliable is CamcorderInfo.com.
They have information on a huge amount of camcorders and their
reviews are quite in-depth, going from basic functionality to
more complex aspects such as color and sharpness performance.
As you are shopping around, there are quite a few terms that
may sound like a just a bunch of gobbledygook, such as CCD, EIS
or LUX. Here is a glossary of terms if you come across something
you don't quite understand HDcameraGuide.com.
Once you have the camera picked out, it's time to start
thinking about accessories. For the most part, cameras will
come with everything you need to get started, but there are
some things that I find are a must:
Extra battery: If the camera runs on AA or AAA
batteries, this is not such a big issue, but if it requires a
special Lithium-Ion battery, as many do nowadays, it's a good
idea to grab an extra one. Going out to film reference only to
find that the battery is already dead is never a fun experience.
Unless you have somebody
with a steady hand to hold your camera,
this is a must. While you could always
prop the camera on a shelf or table while
at home, once you're out and about, it can
be hard to find a place to put the camera.
If you're looking for something easily
portable and versatile, I would highly
recommend looking at Gorilla Tripods.
They are super handy as you can wrap
them around nearly any object or place
them on uneven terrain easily. The one
drawback is that they are small and if
there is nothing to place them on, the
angle can be a bit low.
Cleaning supplies: A camcorder is quite an investment,
so it pays to take care of it and make sure it lasts as long as
possible. Luckily all you really need is a can of compressed
air to blow off any dust, a good lens cloth and some lens
cleaner. Camcorder lenses are not made of regular glass so you
should never use a regular cleaner like Windex as it can
permanently damage the lens.
Extra Memory Card: Like the battery, it's no picnic to
go out to shoot reference, only to find out that your memory
card is full. Having a spare is great and can be interchanged
between other digital devices.
I hope that this was helpful and makes choosing a camcorder
somewhat easier. If you have any questions or comments,
feel free to send us a PM or comment.
Ramblings of Beau Pratt