New Video Camera Time…Again

I’ve been at Lakeshore for just over a week now. It’s interesting to step into a job where I get to create my own job description. As I’m starting to see the direction we want the video production to go I’m realizing our current equipment is not going to get us there. I’m basically starting from scratch.

At my last job it was about a year ago I started looking at a new camera. I wrote about the cameras I was looking at, my process for choosing a camera and the camera I ended up with, the HVX-200a. I wrote about it here and here.

First off I don’t have a budget yet or a timeframe. The immediate video production projects are going to be:
1) Weekly video announcements. Primarily shot on green screen
2) Sermon videos. My pastor has the personality and style and wants to pull of object lessons similar to what Craig Grochell does at LifeChurch.tv.

I like tapeless workflows and don’t want to work with HDV. So here’s the cameras I’m looking at and what I’m thinking so far:

HMC-150 around $3,500
Pros:
-Cheapest camera I’m looking at with a price tag around $3,500
-Records to SDHC cards. Most cost effective. Most minutes per gigabyte.
-Records full frame image
Cons:
-AVCHD. Most compressed and lowest bitrate. GOP based format

Panasonic HPX170 around $5,000
Pros:
-Highest bit rate
-4:2:2 color depth
-DVCProHD codec is easy for computers to handle
-Intraframe Codec
-Variable frame rates
-HD-SDI output

Cons:
-P2 highest cost per GB
-Lowest minutes per GB
-Not full frame. Loose 25% of horizontal image

Sony EX-1 about $6,000
Pros:
-1/2″ chips
-Best optics
-Variable frame rates
-Sharpest picture
-Full frame images
-Can record to sdhc with adapter bit can’t do extreme over cranking.
-HD-SDI output

Cons:
-Most expensive
-CMOS sensor can run into rolling shutter problems.

I think all cameras can produce good results 90% of the time. The final destination is going to be projected during services and/or on the web. As much as I’d like the EX-1 I wonder if it’s overkill. But it’s optics are great and it produces the sharpest image of the group. The 170 shoots DVCProHD which is easy to work with and keys great. The 150 looks great on paper and the budget but is it too good to be true? It’s almost $2k cheaper than the 170 and almost $3k cheaper than the EX-1.

The budget comes up because I need so other items as well:
-Tripod. I’m looking at the Caroni HiDV System. I was very impressed with this tripod at a trade show but decided on a cheaper tripod at my last job that I was never really happy with.
-ENG Wireless Kit. Leaning towards Sennheiser G2 100 kit
-Raid. I like G-Tech’s G-Speed eS set up as RAID 5
-Light Kit. I’m up in the air but I’ve been a fan of Lowell lights as a good bang for the buck. I’m looking at the DV Pro 55 Kit

If you guys have any input on anything I’m looking at or other suggestions I’d appreciate it!

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April 27, 2009. Tech Stuff, Video. Leave a comment.

First Week At Lakeshore…

So I just wrapped up my first week at Lakeshore. I’m enjoying my first full day off in um…18 days as I count. Change and transitions are not always easy but I’m really excited to be a part of the team at Lakeshore.

Most of this week has been me just getting settled in, meeting people, learning the ropes, etc… Oh yeah and setting up my toys… I mean tools to work with.

They set me up with a MacPro. It’s the 8 core 2.26 GHz with 16 GB of Ram. To say the least it’s fast. At Grace I was working on a 2007 MacPro Quad (2.66 GHz I think) with 8GB of RAM. And this new MacPro blows it away. I created some basic countdowns this week but just to push the machine a little bit I decided to make some templates in 1080p and 720p and this machine tears it up.

One odd thing is what activity monitor shows.
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If you count it’s showing 16 cores and they’re pegged while compressor was encoding. I don’t know if it’s supposed to show 16 cores or if it’s actually showing something else. But this machine is fast.

To go along with the MacPro I got setup with some Blue Sky Exo monitors. Blue Sky has a good reputation in the studio and these are their budget/ entry level system. For the type of work I do they work great. They give me a full range sound at a decent price.

For a display I’m using a 24″ Dell. I’d love an Apple Cinema Display but I just can’t justify the price.

April 24, 2009. Tech Stuff. 1 comment.

My Lent Without TV….Well Not Really…Just Less TV

I didn’t grow up in a religious home. When we did go we were holiday Lutherans. When we did go to church I was more interested in the cute girls that were there than anything else. When I started going to church it was not within a traditional denomination and for the last 10 years I’ve been working at a non-denomination church. I’m not used to liturgy and the more formal church traditions.

But Twitter and other social networks has allowed me to meet people from different religious backgrounds. And for a lot of Christians they find meaning and personal growth in liturgy and other traditions. I heard a lot of talk on Twitter about Lent so I thought I’d give it a try.

First off I started late. I was about 3 days behind the start of Lent when I started. But I was realizing that I was spending way too much time watching TV. On an average week I was spending 14-24 hours a week watching TV. While I was watching that much TV I felt like I never had enough time to tackle projects around the house, to read as much as I’d like, to grow professionally and creatively. But I had enough time to spend 1 to 2 working days watching TV a week.

So I decided no TV for Lent. Then I talked to my wife and we decided less TV a week. Knowing me I didn’t think I could just go without TV at all. Even though during my last year of college and for a year or two afterward I didn’t have a TV in my apartment. So we decided on less TV.

We record the few shows or so we want to watch a week and that’s what we watch. In case you’re wondering the shows I’ll watch most weeks are: Heros, Top Gear, How I Met Your Mother, Lost and The Office. I’ve cut my TV down to about 3 hours a week now. I’m not perfect and we’ve deviated from time to time. We had 1-2 weeks where everyone took turns getting sick. And days we just want to veg and escape. But most nights now the TV stays off.

But I have to say reducing the amount of TV we watch has changed our lives. My wife and I spend a lot more time talking and really connecting with each other. We’re more patient with the kids. The house is calmer, well as calm as it gets with a 2 and 4 year old running around. And we’ve been reading. Taking the time to read and then process through with my wife what we’re reading and how it applies to our lives has been huge!

I don’t know if we’ll get rid of the TV all together. I know boxee.tv, hulu.com and netflix.com streaming is pretty cool. But for now I’m happy to have more time to grow in my relationships. With my wife, my kids and spending more time with God.

I’m planning on writing about some of the books that I’ve read that I think would be helpful to those in the church/tech/media world.

April 17, 2009. Personal Growth. Leave a comment.

FXPHD.com April 09 Term

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. FXPHD.com has the best training on motion graphics and post production that I’ve ever been through. If you’re wanting to raise your video production game this is the place for it.

I’ve been going through classes for about a year. Unfortunately, I tend to get behind on my classes so I tend to take one semester on then one semester off. I’m only half way through last semester’s classes but I wanted to share what’s coming up this term.

If you do decided to join, I’d appreciate you listing me as the referring member. My user name at fxphd.com is dave.smith

April 15, 2009. Video. Leave a comment.

Sermon GFX: Under The Hood

These are from the week before Easter but I haven’t been posting much lately. A big reason for my lack of posts was my job changing that happening.

The idea was simple enough but I struggled to find the right graphics. I wanted the front grill of an older car and I could not find the angle or look that I liked. Here’s what I ended up with:

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April 14, 2009. Graphic Design. Leave a comment.

New Changes In My Life

For almost 10 years I’ve been part of the staff at Grace Outreach Center in Plano, TX. I came on as part of the youth staff and to run a “sports ministry”. Yeah it was a tough job in the beginning. Since then I’ve been the junior high pastor, ran “creative arts/ programing” for the youth until about 5 years ago I became the tech director/ tech arts for the whole church. Over those 10 years I’ve worked with some great friends, have had lots of great memories and have learned valuable lessons and grown as a follower of Christ.

We have great respect for the leadership at Grace and our church family for the last 10 years. But we felt like it was time for a change for us personally. A few weeks ago I let the leadership team at Grace know that I’m stepping down from my position at Grace and will be coming on staff at Lakeshore Church in Rockwall.

I’m taking on the job as a media director. It’s a great team that I’m glad to be joining. My main responsibility is going to be creating videos. What I’m most passionate about! It’s a smaller church, less services and small groups my wife and I can get involved in!

It’s been tough to say good bye to our friends at Grace but we’re excited about what’s ahead. This weekend, April 18 & 19 is going to be my last weekend at Grace before I start at Lakeshore

April 13, 2009. Personal Growth. 1 comment.