Fledgling DP needs advice

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Greetings, I am a commercial photographer with a unique perspective and extensive expertise in lighting and still camera work. I have, in the past, been hired by Ad agencies as a quasi DP/creative consultant for direction of lighting and camera work for local spots. Due to the success of these projects, I have been asked to be the DP for a documentary that has a decent budget (I should make enough to buy an XL-1), and some international travel. I really need some general advice and tips on how to prepare for, and what to expect with this undertaking. I would also appreciate any specifics on Beta cam vs. DV. The production company owns a beta cam sp, but they are open to suggestions. I would feel much more comfortable using equipment I am, or will be, used to using. Any web resources that you know of to help fledgling DP's would also be greatly appreciated. MDLJ DLP

-- Michael D-L Jordan (dlpphoto@shianet.org), November 26, 1999


Beta SP will look better than DV at the end of the day (sharper, more colour resolution) but the cameras are lots bulkier - Nikon F5 with a flash vs Canon Ixus type comparison. Sony Beta is the industry standard and most broadcast cameras look, feel and operate like it. RTFM (Read The Manual) & have a play before D-Day. I find broadcast cameras easier to use but I'm used to them - I like their manual controllability and stability on the shoulder (which will ache after no time)

The Digi-Beta is the best at the moment (except HDTV..). Use the Beta SP if it is for broadcast unless portability is an overwhelming factor. Shooting Beta is a heavy-going affair. Even Carbon tripods are cumbersome.

Video is contrastier than film & you'll need to pay attention to the way shots will cut together (the director's job but surprisingly often not their strong suit).

You can never have too many batteries & tapes. Watch for environmental problems (condensation due to temperature changes is the classic). Corner a camera operator & quiz them - they will tell you anything for beer.

:-) Ewen

-- Ewen Wallace (ewenw@optusnet.com.au), November 30, 1999.

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