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Comments Ideas re Video Production On the Cheap
As a very small church, we hesitate long and hard before spending $500+ on another wireless mic - and we're looking to start doing video production (aside from webcasting services) on the cheap: witnesses, brief reports/documentaries on church activities (we are very focused on social action - a important question for all proposals is "will it help feed the hungry and keep us from falling into goat-dom?")
We are using 2 digi-cams, a Canon Vixia and a Sony, and also a Canon Rebel.
We need to regularize/improve sound quality, and are looking at 2 options:
A lavaliere wireless feed to the Canon (which we use for A roll) or a lavaliere feed to a digital recorder (likely a Zoom H1 or H2) with synchronization in post.
Wireless - the the Audio-Technica ATR288W VHF TwinMic System is in our price range, but I am leery of its quality and limitations.
I can't find anything else wireless that I'd consider (and fits in the budget, the budget is 1 step up from "as cheap as possible!").
For a mic and digi-recorder system, I'm looking at a Zoom H1 or H2 -
And for the mic the Audio-Technica ATR3350 is cheap but I'm concerned about signal noise (especially that 20' unshielded cord) as well as low signal output.
I'm also looking at the Giant Squid Omnidirectional Mono Microphone.
Any and all comments and suggestions will be appreciated.
My first thought is when you do things cheap somewhere down the line, its going to bite you in the butt, especially on mics.
Also, you start having compatibility issues - and creating so much work in post, it starts making the projects difficult.
This industry is getting so complex with all its different formats, etc it will drive you insane.
The typical scenario is a church will go through 3 rounds of purchasing. The first time, they try to do everything cheap and it backfires. I'm going through this now with my church.
I'm a sound designer for an equity theatre as well as the media minister for my church. My theatre listens to me and buys the proper equipment the first time out, my church goes cheap. The theatre never has issues, the church is always having issues.
Your better off buying used equipment on ebay and going up to a pro level then new equipment cheap. Sennheiser EW300's are reasonable and solid units. The Zoom is fine, I know professional videographers that use them.
The problem with the Canon, is you can do live zooms because the focusing works different then regular video cameras.
Never go unbalanced wiring for mics. To many issues with ground loops and interference.
Ny quick thoughts....
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rjwalker (Wednesday, August 15th, 2012)
At this point, until we prove the effectiveness of this video work, we simply cannot justify getting the really good stuff.
So the options right now are go cheap now or go home. If we can do some decent work with the cheap, we'll have grounds to upgrade, and throw the cheap stuff in the locker for backup.
My experience has (unfortunately) been that many in church leadership will not invest in better technology if you have already proven to them that you can produce an acceptable product with lesser technology. My experience has unfortunately been that most churches do not have long term or multi-phase plans regarding technology. Many in church leadership naively assume that technology purchases are “life-long” or will at least last ten, fifteen or twenty years.
To their defense, it is somewhat logical to believe the same human resources x the same technology resources x the same time will equal the same results. If you are “making do” with inadequate resources then you can make do for a longer period of time with inadequate resources. If you have a church leader who understands the sacrifices his team is making by using inadequate technology, inadequate team size or inadequate training or if you have a church leader who understands the benefit to the end-product which will be achieved by improving the technology, I would say you have an exceptionally rare leader.
My suggestion for you (or any church for that matter) is do not engage in any project requiring technology unless you have the minimum required human, technology and time resources secured to achieve the immediate goals. To embark on a project without these resources in place is like planting a garden without first pulling out the weeds, tilling the soil, applying fertilizer and top soil (Luke 14:28 ).
I realize that my comments above stand in contrast to what many consultants and integrators may encourage you to do, however please note that I have no vested interest in seeing you involved in production where others may.
Now with all above said, there is room for mistakes and growth. As you develop you will refine your plans and processes based on what works best for your organization. You will not and cannot start-off batting a thousand and that is OK.
What I would encourage you to do however is avoid making and disallow distributing bad product. Set your standards high enough that nothing you produce will be dishonoring to the Lord and Savior that you serve.
New York City by day & Monmouth County, NJ by night
In our case, the factors leading up to it were leadership/people related. We have adequate technical resources to make pretty good video, and with a little more investment we would have the technology to make excellent video. And one day I would like to see us make good video again, but it's not in the cards at the moment.
First problem: not enough trained crew who wanted to make good video. We used students for several years, but then they would flake out as youth tend to do, and nobody else stepped forward who wanted to help and wanted to do it well.
Second problem: space. We have a small space (250 seats), and camera positions "took up too much valuable room" that should be given to audience seating, even though we're rarely at 2/3 capacity. We dropped from 2 manned cameras to one manned camera to one unmanned locked-down camera to one handheld on a ultra-wide POV shot.
Final problem: vision/value. In the end, my value for good video was in conflict with the minimal value leadership placed on simply "having video". The last couple of years of video we did were terribly embarrassing, but that didn't translate into a value for better video. The bare minimum was the goal, and no amount of effort on my part seemed to have any effect. Until there is value for quality from the top, which I hope does come in the coming years, it's better that we not do video.
Set big-picture goals with leadership about, among other things, quality. Keep your standards high and work to translate that to the leadership. When you embark on the project, make sure there's an investment from the top for both budget and vision: if it doesn't cost anything (even if it's the best stuff), many times it's worth nothing to them.
There's an abundance of bad church video, especially now with the internet. Don't let yours become one of them. I know mine was for far too long.
In production, we all do three kinds of work: quick, cheap and good.
From that menu, select any two.
I warned our executive pastor from the beginning that, if we went down the technology road, all I would ever ask him to do is spend money. It is part of a calling to embrace technology in ministry.
The good news is, if it is in fact what God wants for your ministry, He will provide! Don't worry about doing all this under your own strength - you can't.
Instead bring this to the God who created the universe. Bring it to Him daily. And praise Him in advance for what He is going to do!
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