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Someone gives you £12.5k ($18,800) to buy filming equipment. What would you do?


Oliver Daniel
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C100 looking good! How you finding it Aaron? 

I think the JVC has its purpose - they said themselves it's a camera designed for educational video. Very specific, but i think they just mean low end corporate. Looks absolutely fine for that. 

No news what my pal is doing with the money other than an iMac 5k purchase. 

Off Topic (or not): Aaron, give us a small review on the C100II when you get the time, just the little things. It's getting more tempting and tempting after hearing ALL users falling in love with the mkII, I mean ALL. 

​So far so good. I've only had it a few days. The main selling points to me were the Dual Pixel AF, low light, and ergonomics. The resolution and sharpness is a step back from the GH4, but it's okay I think for most stuff. Not to derail the thread but anything you want to see? I can post it in a new thread.

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What kind of work is he doing?

What kind of budgets is he working with?

My suggestion is lenses, lighting and grip equipment - for two reasons:

1) because they don't depreciate anywhere near as quickly as camera bodys do

2) Because if you light something properly and use great lenses, then almost any camera body can give you great results. 

From the sound of it, your friend is hiring cameras based on the jobs that come his way - that's good. What happens if he invests all his money in an FS7 kit and then a job comes his way that really needs to be shot on an Amira? Or Alexa? Or RED? Or Film?

IMO, big camera bodies are pretty bad investments unless you're a rental house, or simply have money to blow and don't care about your ROI. I'm even friends with a DP who spent quite a lot of money on vintage Anamorphics, but has only used them himself once or twice as each project he's been on since has had different needs.

If you're going to invest in one big expensive item (whether that's a camera kit or lens set etc) you need to either be happy using that item in everything you do in order to justify your purchase - or be able to rent it out when you're not using it.

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Budgets..... I'm guessing from £1.5k to £15k. 

I think he's decided NOT to buy the big camera body and follow my advice by getting in his lighting, lenses and CPU power upto scratch. I think that's the right thing to do. 

If he makes lots of money then a bigger camera body down the road won't be an issue.

No one away from the Internet has advised him to buy a big camera body. 

 

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Buy a proper tripod with a good head.

Buy a B Cam  - Sony A7s or a pre-owned C100 (Get rid of the existing bodies)

Buy a Odyssey 7Q+ . It comes bundled with 512gb of media. 

Start building a set of lenses. This way on smaller projects you don't need to rely on rentals.

Buy the new Ronin-M

Buy a Mac Pro (personally wouldn't do this but since your friend doesn't want a PC let him burn some cash on a Mac) IMHO iMac's aren't cut out for serious post work once the going get's tough.

 

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Buy a proper tripod with a good head.

Buy a B Cam  - Sony A7s or a pre-owned C100 (Get rid of the existing bodies)

Buy a Odyssey 7Q+ . It comes bundled with 512gb of media. 

Start building a set of lenses. This way on smaller projects you don't need to rely on rentals.

Buy the new Ronin-M

Buy a Mac Pro (personally wouldn't do this but since your friend doesn't want a PC let him burn some cash on a Mac) IMHO iMac's aren't cut out for serious post work once the going get's tough.

I think he's going iMac 5k top spec. Gets a 17% discount too. In what way do you think this model isn't good enough for post work? 

He already has a gimbal. Ronin-M is an insane price though!

A7s being bought for sure... not sure on the other stuff though. 

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I think he's going iMac 5k top spec. Gets a 17% discount too. In what way do you think this model isn't good enough for post work? 

He already has a gimbal. Ronin-M is an insane price though!

A7s being bought for sure... not sure on the other stuff though. 

​I should have been more specific. It should be fine for normal editing, but the minute you start using things like After Effects, more video streams, etc it will slow down. I personally feel spending $4500 odd on an iMac ridiculous for the performance one gets but its sooo pretty. Also, that thing gets hot and noisy as it has smallish fans. I don't want to turn this into a MAC vs PC debate, but in $4500 you can build a super souped up rig that will lap up all those 4K files without breaking a sweat. We focus a lot on cameras, lenses, etc but a majority of our time is spent on post production so one might as well invest well there.

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​I should have been more specific. It should be fine for normal editing, but the minute you start using things like After Effects, more video streams, etc it will slow down. I personally feel spending $4500 odd on an iMac ridiculous for the performance one gets but its sooo pretty. Also, that thing gets hot and noisy as it has smallish fans. I don't want to turn this into a MAC vs PC debate, but in $4500 you can build a super souped up rig that will lap up all those 4K files without breaking a sweat. We focus a lot on cameras, lenses, etc but a majority of our time is spent on post production so one might as well invest well there.

 

Like him, I have to use Mac OSX. All my programs work on this. I don't own any PC software at all. Plus being a 95% FCPX user. 

I understand there is a Hackintosh route, I don't know much about it. I'd feel very nervous building one of these that my business relies on as it could go wrong. With a maxed out iMsc 5k - you get everything and it just works. Isnt that security and reliability worth the extra money? 

 

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Like him, I have to use Mac OSX. All my programs work on this. I don't own any PC software at all. Plus being a 95% FCPX user. 

I understand there is a Hackintosh route, I don't know much about it. I'd feel very nervous building one of these that my business relies on as it could go wrong. With a maxed out iMsc 5k - you get everything and it just works. Isnt that security and reliability worth the extra money? 

 

​I didn't know you relied so heavily on FCPX. Hackintosh is not worth it. It's hit and miss. How soon does he want to buy this? If he wants it know then I guess the iMac should be fine. Apple is meant to update the MacPros around WWDC but you never know with them.

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​I should have been more specific. It should be fine for normal editing, but the minute you start using things like After Effects, more video streams, etc it will slow down. I personally feel spending $4500 odd on an iMac ridiculous for the performance one gets but its sooo pretty. Also, that thing gets hot and noisy as it has smallish fans. I don't want to turn this into a MAC vs PC debate, but in $4500 you can build a super souped up rig that will lap up all those 4K files without breaking a sweat. We focus a lot on cameras, lenses, etc but a majority of our time is spent on post production so one might as well invest well there.

​iMac will retain value over ANY Pc  you can build for years to come.....

iMac Retina is no slouch at 4.0GHZ i7 (4.4GHZ Turbo Boost) , Fusion or Flash Storage and basically one of the fastest 4Gb Mobile graphic cards to push the AMAZING 5120 x 2880 res screen. I mean even any monitor remotely close to the iMac quality will easily cost you close to $2000 alone.......

 

The ONLY reason I would not buy the iMac Retina is because we should be seeing a revision update later this summer, but even still it's a near perfection of a computer that will last many years to come..... 

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The iMac has been bought already. I think the Hackintosh is interesting but there is no way I'd run a business on one. I'm going to get an iMac Retina myself with a beastly external - should be great for years. 

Also he's waiting for the BM URSA Mini and spending his dosh on lighting, lenses (Sigma ARTs), A7S and er..... a new computer chair. Lovely. 

 

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I like what you suggested.

A good hazer can make a bigger difference in your look than a new camera if you know how to use the hazer correctly.

 

What about some camera movement?  3 axis gimbal is great but what about a crane?  I have really liked the Came TV 33 ft. crane.  Comes with a pan/tilt head, fairly easy to set up, and is surprisingly cheap.

 

Drone?  I know they are bordering on cliche at this point but the customer/clients still "ooh" and "ahh" when they see a full production.  Aerials still go a long ways in rounding out what you bring to the table.  

 

I would go for the Inspire 1 with dual remotes.

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You can put as much lipstick and expensive dresses on a pig but the quality of lighting, story, and acting is more important. My advice is instead of spending more money on gear spend that money on making a short film or a feature film. The two of you should collaborate and come up with something cool. Don't wait until you buy the most expensive gear possible. The cameras you guys have are better than the ones filmed on the Star Wars Prequels. Spielberg doesn't even need a drone to make a good film, the majority of his films are made with dollies, tripods, and over-the-shoulder shots. You have enough gear, make something. Too much of the time I see test videos and test videos are only good to show the potential of a product or your skills now. Get a scriptwriter with that money. Buy a trip to India and film what the poor are going through there. 

 

I know it sounds harsh and I sound like a complete jerk, but the truth is is that your friend has to focus more on story. The Greeks put story on the top and spectacle on the bottom for a good reason. Also changing cameras should only be done when used to the fullest and then if it doesn't go any farther get a new camera. Story is important, story is what made a guys film shot on a VHS camcorder better than the guy who shot on a Red Dragon. Story is also free. Now I don't know from the perspective of a freelancer, I'm more of a guerrilla movie filmmaker, but I use what I got and to its fullest advantage so that I don't waste money on what is unnecessary and instead on what is.

​Did you read this entire thread? His friend wants to invest in his production company. The story argument is totally lame. the friend is already working on different projects.

Oh yeah, and we don't need poverty tourism in India...

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You can put as much lipstick and expensive dresses on a pig but the quality of lighting, story, and acting is more important. My advice is instead of spending more money on gear spend that money on making a short film or a feature film. The two of you should collaborate and come up with something cool. Don't wait until you buy the most expensive gear possible. The cameras you guys have are better than the ones filmed on the Star Wars Prequels. Spielberg doesn't even need a drone to make a good film, the majority of his films are made with dollies, tripods, and over-the-shoulder shots. You have enough gear, make something. Too much of the time I see test videos and test videos are only good to show the potential of a product or your skills now. Get a scriptwriter with that money. Buy a trip to India and film what the poor are going through there. 

 

I know it sounds harsh and I sound like a complete jerk, but the truth is is that your friend has to focus more on story. The Greeks put story on the top and spectacle on the bottom for a good reason. Also changing cameras should only be done when used to the fullest and then if it doesn't go any farther get a new camera. Story is important, story is what made a guys film shot on a VHS camcorder better than the guy who shot on a Red Dragon. Story is also free. Now I don't know from the perspective of a freelancer, I'm more of a guerrilla movie filmmaker, but I use what I got and to its fullest advantage so that I don't waste money on what is unnecessary and instead on what is.

​If he's starting building a company this is a bad idea for a 2 reasons.

1. No disrespect to him, but the chances of a first time film being a hit is slim to none.

2. His bread and butter is corporate, music videos, and events. With good equipment he'd be able to book jobs and make bank on simple projects. Work some events and make back that $18,000 in no time. After some capital is built, then maybe shoot a short/feature.

 

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I like what you suggested.

A good hazer can make a bigger difference in your look than a new camera if you know how to use the hazer correctly.

 

What about some camera movement?  3 axis gimbal is great but what about a crane?  I have really liked the Came TV 33 ft. crane.  Comes with a pan/tilt head, fairly easy to set up, and is surprisingly cheap.

 

Drone?  I know they are bordering on cliche at this point but the customer/clients still "ooh" and "ahh" when they see a full production.  Aerials still go a long ways in rounding out what you bring to the table.  

 

I would go for the Inspire 1 with dual remotes.

 

The guy has a 7ft jib, not the biggest. I've got a Kessler Pocket Jib and I find it pretty useless. Love big jibs, as long as they don't weight a ton and takes years to setup. 

Drones are great - common to us but to the client, they love this stuff. 

Personally I've enjoyed helping out with this and gathering opinions, it's inspired me to have another look at my gear, which is currently doing the job but getting absolutely battered to shreds! 

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In that case get some good lights, a xlr mic, xlr cable, C100 Mark II, shoulder rig, business cards, a website, the Sigma Art 18-35 f/1.8, a planner, notebook, an Alienware laptop, Adobe products, and Dark Matter. That saves time and money. That is what I think you can get. Blackmagic's not going to work because of the dynamic range, Arri's have the black hole sun issue like Blackmagic, Reds are too expensive to use and in some places you can not have a drone. It's just my opinion. I think your clients are going to care more about lighting, noise, and time than anything or simplicity, quality of work, and people skills. In my opinion you should not be the guy that holds up everything to get a retarded slider shot of the inanimate objects set to hipster music. No if you are doing my wedding or filming my event you show the story of what it is so that 20 years later I can remember it entirely. That pretentious stuff gets boring to people and is probably why some weddings do not have videographers. For music videos, that musician has shows to go to so the best way to handle it is to use as less time as possible. Oh and the corporate world would be pissed if you hold up their time for annoying shots of inanimate objects and not just shot their story continuously. I would even go as far as saying that automatic settings would have to be used.

 

Cheers for making some suggestions Zach. I'm always one of the first to say that creativity/story/pre-production/lighting is far more important than the gear, but the gear is part of these creative choices and also part of a business model which wants success. 

A bit of history about myself - I've made over 250 music videos and 20+ corporates through my own production company. We are small, but doing it every day. We focus mainly on creative development and ideas. Gear comes 2nd - but we wouldn't of got anywhere if we didn't buy anything and invest.

We don't have the capital to invest in more staff, so we invest in the content we produce, the right tools and hire someone if we need them. 

The guy I'm helping out wants to basically do what I am doing, sort of. Different boats. Same principle. He needs the gear to start-up and storytelling will quickly become centre stage. The reason why we are not joining forces is because we are too different with what we want to achieve. 

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