I've been working with a few friends in the business for several years, and lately we've been investigating the use of DSLRs to shoot video. Our church uses them extensively to shoot inserts for our services and bought a couple more to cover Beach Retreat this summer for our high-school and jr high kids. The result isn't bad, but when compared to our professional HD video gear it leaves a lot to be desired.
One of the problems is the 4:1:1 chroma sampling format most DSLRs use to keep the video files as small as possible. This can produce washed-out color and a relatively high black level that makes the picture pretty weak. A typical pro 4:2:2 subsampling rate produces much deeper, richer colors and better resolution in shadows or areas of saturated color - overall, a much superior picture.
DSLRs have the great advantage of a quality lens out front - compared to a typical home camcorder using poor quality lenses, even plastic optics, the difference is amazing. Good glass and a quality chip is essential for shooting anything but simple home movies. Now we've found a couple of products that are going to be game changers for the professional video house. Developed in response to the DSLR/video products, they are likely to blow the 35mm video market apart. Why? Look what you get for the price:
One of my shooter friends just came back from a week's shoot in NYC - his equipment? The new Panasonic AG-HMC40
. Shooting full HD at 1980 X 1080, 60i through a 12X Leica
lens, this little three-pound gem produces incredible video for its size/price. Oh, and that price? Available almost everywhere under $2000. A few hundred for a spare battery and a handful of SD cards, and you're in business.
OK, you've got your footage in the can, what are you going to do with it? Well, you can spend something just under a grand for Sony's Vegas pro editing suite - OR you can run over to Blender's site and download the open source Beta product (Blender 2.53
) and get not just the 3D animation suite, but a fully functional professional video editor. Again the price? Free.
I guess I'm going to keep my SD camera rig I paid $18K for a few years ago with my $20K digital deck and my $22K dedicated editing computer under the bed. What is clear is that the cost of producing pretty decent HD video is falling through the floor. If you don't like the current prices, stick around.