Going Quasi-Pro on Digital Videography

After deciding for a month or two on this, I (read: WebMotif, the company I work for) dropped major dime on a thing I can’t possibly call a toy (it’s too expensive): a Canon GL2 3CCD DVcamcorder. Why did we get this DV camera?

Well, first, I have a job coming up where I will be doing some major promotional videos, with the help of a Vancouver Film School student / assistant, down south of the border. I needed to get this camera now to get familiar with it, and get ready for the job.

Second, I’m working on an upgrade to the CoffeeGeek site that will allow for something that is currently very hard to do – inclusion of video in the product reviews. Also, as I attend more news-related events (trade shows, seminars, shop openings, etc), having the option to videotape is key. All of this is going to be a large part of the CoffeeGeek site (depending on bandwidth usage) down the road.

Many, many moons ago (about 12 years), I was actually really proficient at film and video editing and such. I used to do it “old school” – splicing, editing on a film machine, you name it. I even got as deep as doing overlays, mild effects (fade ins, fade outs) and the like, all on film. Video at the time was pretty limited editing, but Carleton University had some (for the time), state of the art tools.

I also have a solid foundation in things like framing, conceptualization, visualization, story boarding (all craft components of film making), and technical knowledge, includling frame rates, aperture and shutter effects on filming, white balance, colour compensation, sharpness, and the like, mainly from my photography experience.

That stuff doesn’t scare me, per se. What does is how complex this GL2 is. It’s not a consumer camcorder. Some call it a prosumer model, but the title I like for it is ‘documentary camera’, in that it can produce very professional and film-like imaging (thanks to the 3CCDs, one for green, one for blue, one for red; also thanks to the massive CCDs inside, and modes like frame mode vs. normal (video) mode), yet it is very light weight in comparison to true “pro” cameras. At the moment, this camera overwhelms me, but I’m getting a handle on it.

For editing, we have two key tools – iMovie on the Mac (which completely rocks and is very easy to use), and Final Cut Pro, also on the Mac (which is a near-professional level editing program – many independent films that show up at major film festivals are cut together with FCP). I don’t know how to use FCP yet… but my videographer assistant does.

I have a third reason for dropping some $4,300 on this beastie – I wanted something with legs. I didn’t want to buy a $1000 consumer DVcam and be disapointed with it a year or two down the road. I wanted something that is a long term investment, and with the 20x optical zoom (and flourite lens), the 3 CCDs, and the wealth of super advanced and “pro” features, this camera definitely is an investment.

I’m definitely over the sticker shock – I have no regrets about buying the camera. Now I just have to get over my fear of the camera’s super advanced and non-toy-like featureset.

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