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Steve Parry

Advice on getting started with U/W video

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I would to be able to make underwater digital films. However, I do not own a camcorder and am considering my first purchase.

 

My thoughts are that I need a camcorder that writes images to a memory for later down loading and editing on a PC before burning a DVD.

 

Can anyone suggest a good mid-range camcorder, housing, lighting, lens configuration and PC software ?

I don't want to purchase basic entry-level kit, more mid-range quality.

 

The equipment will be used in UK and tropical waters to a maximum depth of 50-60 metres.

 

Also, any links to editorial/ kit reviews that would be of benefit to a newbie such as myself would be welcome, along with any recommended books on the subject.

 

Thanks

 

Steve Parry

:rolleyes:

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Hey Steve

 

I think your best bet is to get a camera that writes to tape as opposed to an HDD if you want to keep a lot of your footage. Trying to back everything up on HDD gets to be a pain down the road if you ask me (my opinion only...) as HDDs are a lot more expensive than tapes...

 

With tapes you simply use a firewire connection out of the camera and into the PC.

 

As you are probably aware there are two popular formats these days. HDV and DV, HDV has great benefits of resolution and quality but lacks popular end support such as the fact HD DVD players are only now coming out so it is difficult to share the actual quality of your HDV stuff with others. There are ways around this but if you typically send DVDs etc to friends/family you will end up downgrading your HD stuff to standard DV but this will probably be of higher quality as well.

 

I will give a Sony bias here as i am not familiar with the Canon line up that Drew knows well so he can wade in with info on those later.

 

So, depending on your budget and needs you can probably find some really good deals on used mid range DV packages of camera and housings around. Popular ones to look for would be the Sony VX2000 or VX2100, Sony PD150 or PD170 and the Sony TRV950 and PDX10. Popular housings for these cameras include Amphibico, Gates, Light and Motion, and Sea and Sea among others.

 

I think any of those camera/housing combos would be a great deal for you.

 

IF you want to go with HDV then you have a few options in ither entry level or top level but not a lot in mid range at the moment. The first mid range product is now out, the Sony FX7 but housings are not available as of yet. There is a great thread about this camera here: http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=15081

 

This may end up being the camera that fits your needs, but you will have a few months to wait for the housings to become available and get some useful feedback on them.

 

As for software, some to think of are Sony Vegas, Pinnacle Studio, Premiere Elements, and Canopus Edius. I believe all are available as a 30 day trial so you might want to use a few trials to see which interface you like the best and is most intuitive to your style.

 

 

A website that give reviews on cameras is:

 

www.camcorderinfo.com

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Hi

 

Not into U/W video YET ! (can't afford the housing) :D

 

BUT i use a Sony HVR-A1 (HDR HC-1 with added shotgun mic and lens hood) on land for work. I can'r recommed it highly enough. I was looking for a Sony PD110 or PD150 when I bought it but they are discontinued and a pro friendrecommended the HVR-A1. The BBC have started using them for some of their documentry stuff (the type of things where the people film it them self).

 

The camera is very small but so small it's difficult to handle, the battery life is quite good, BUT the picture quality you get is unbeleiveble for such cheap small peice of kit. I know not many people use the HD yet but when you convert to DVD the quality is much better than a standard miniDV camera and it won't be long before HD is the norm so you won't be left behind.

 

I know Ikelite do a housing but don't know abot anybody else.

 

As for editing I use a Mac and iMovie for basic stuff or FinalCutPro for most of my work. I also sometimes use Premer Elements on a PC but not very often as I'v got access to a full on Mac editing suite. I know a few people who've also ha som good results with pinnicle.

 

I'd second the advice above about sticking to tape instead of HDD. Apart from tape being cheaper it's easier to take a few tapes with you on a divign holiday than a load of HDD and a laptop!!

 

As I said I haven't got into U/W video yet but from my experience of U/W still and Dry video that's my 2p worth. :D Hope it helps.

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Warrerj

 

I may have a A1 housing that will soon be 'for sale' .. :D

 

Drop me a PM for details if your interested.

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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Hi Steve,

You might want to keep a look out for an older 3ccd camera like a sony vx1000 with an amphibico housing. You can buy an nice one on ebay for about $1500 from someone who took good care of it and it will probably come with 9 batteries, 3 chargers, 5 different corective filters, every wire and cable you will ever need, a bag for the camera, a pelican case.....you get the idea . The quality is excellent for the money, and at this point you really don't need anything more if you just want to share with your family and friends video of whats swimming around with you underwater. It was a work horse in the industry for many years and lots of TV shows were shot on that camera. Not to mention it is a good rig to practice gear maintainance on. I have one that used to be my primary setup and now I use it as a loaner rig for when I teach underwater video classes. After you swim around with that for a season or two and you decide that you like it (underwater video that is), then jump straight to HD.

 

However, with that said, the sony pd150 pd170 idea was also a good one if you have got a couple of extra bucks in you pocket. All of these cameras are also a very good size to start out with. You don't want anything too big when you first start out because you will have a lot of other things to think about other than managing a housing the size of a beer cooler. Nor do you want anything too small because they are harder to hold steady. The problem with the pd's is that a lot of pros are still out there using them. People don't want to get rid of them for under $3000 and that is a lot of money to start out.

 

Now for the computer: buy the best one you can afford. "Money is time" in this case. The more computing power that you have (processor and RAM) the less time it will take you to do the stuff you would like to do and that makes it way more enjoyable.

 

And finally, practice you buoyancy underwater. Your shots will be infinately better.

 

Hope that helps

 

Chris

 

 

 

Oh yeh. Tapes, I agree.

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Hi Guys,

 

Thanks for the feedback- I did not realise there was a separate forum for video and editing.

 

Having considered all I have read on this site I think I will be going HD. I won't be making the purchase until later in the year and once I get established with the cam under water, I hope to develop and sell

my script concepts via a media company I am in the process of setting up and to supplement the stills photography and writing I am already involved in.

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