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Need help figuring out a Narrative film starter kit for a Noob within $10,000 USD

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  • Need help figuring out a Narrative film starter kit for a Noob within $10,000 USD

    Let me start off by saying that I am an aspiring filmmaker in college and my strengths and what made me pursue this career path was with good story concepts, writing, and just a love for movies inspired by the low budget likes of Rob Rodriguez and Kevin Smith(say what you will, be as a fellow man from Jersey, movies like Clerks first gave me the inclination that 'anyone' can make a movie). The equipment I've used have been pretty bare due to lack of budgeting from the school and low finance from family. I've only used the Canon XF300(outside of the crappy handi-cams used in high school), which is more of a doc style run and gun camera along with very simplistic three point lighting and using a boom.

    With the introduction of the BMC, my thoughts on attending a more intensive film school either through transfer or grad have become less of an importance outside of networking as I can now create shorts and such with a much better cinematic feel and likely better off learning on my own through experience, blogs, forums, etc. I decided to take a year off school and use $10,000 to purchase what I will need for shooting about a 20-30 min short to send to festivals and build a reel with excellent production value. (as well as in the future freelancing for money on the side).

    I already have an editing system and what I lack is experience with technical accessories and intricate camerawork along with *gulp* assembly of such items and mastering such accessories like pulling focus whilst holding a stable shot. I know there are threads about what equipment everyone is buying and all that, but a lot of it can be overwhelming, especially since a lot of starter gear like rails and lenses are owned by much of the community already, and everyone will be using the camera for different reasons. I hope that you guys can help guide me in the right direction as well as learning a thing or two also.

    Here's the list of things I have thought to get so far

    BMC : $3000
    2 SSDs : roughly 500
    Samyang 24mm 1.4 : 700 (declicked is roughly 200 more, is it worth doing so?)
    Tokina 11-16 : 600
    Lighting kit : Not sure what I want, but I don't want to spend more than 800.
    Recorder & boom : Would like suggestions.
    Tripod :suggestions.
    Rail : suggestions.
    EVF : I see a lot of people going with the $1200 Marshall 3G SDI, are there any better options at a lower price?
    Shoulder mount: suggestions
    Stabilizer: Glidecam 2000 HD about 500, I am also thinking about that aviator jib from kickstarter
    Add'l Rigs: What else do you think my budget should be spent on? Suggestions on a follow focus?
    Misc items: ??


    Thank you for ANY following input, I know I wrote quite a bit and tried refraining from a wall of text.

  • #2
    I am also pulling together a starter kit and have settled on :-

    BMC
    SSD's - Intel 520's (Have no idea if they are supported but figure the performance looks right)
    Samyang 24mm 1.4 Declicked - Have already got this, tested it on a Canon today and it's excellent
    Tokina 11-16mm - Is next on my list
    Lighting - Gunna leave that for a while, until I get the hang of the camera
    Recorder - Rode NTG3 Mic and Sound Device Mix Pre D (2 inputs and less expensive) or 302 (3 inputs and more expensive)
    Tripod & Head - This is what I am in the process of chasing down now...still havn't settled on anything

    As for the rest, am waiting for a while as I think there will be a bunch of purpose built kits that we are yet to see. At the moment most of the stuff are mods of rigs designed for other cameras.....will ensure I get a decent follow focus.

    Sorry I am not a massive help but am chasing similar stuff and am keen to hear what others are doing ?
    Last edited by AndrewDeme; 07-31-2012, 01:38 AM.
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    • #3
      If you're building a general kit, you might want to add a longer zoom lens like the Canon 17-55 or Tamron 17-50... especially if you're just getting started.

      There's not a lot of options for SDI evf units now; I like the Alphatron EVF for its ability to use hdmi or sdi (and convert one to the other) but the Cineroid is a little cheaper.

      The best lighting comes from smart use of what you have. An experienced (or well-prepared) shooter with a couple china balls, clamp lights and a worklight or two could probably come up with a nicer look than someone who didn't know as much with an expensive ARRI kit.

      That said, I'm a big fan of highly portable/ easy to use LED lighting. You see litepanels used a lot on modestly budgeted indie productions and I often use a Switronix Torchlight LED bolt (pretty affordable) or Lowell blenders (a little more pricey) to add a little bit of fill. Best thing about these units is that they're compact, generate no heat and can easily change color temperature from tungsten to daylight or in-between.

      You should do the research on your gear before you buy. Check out dedicated blogs that make recommendations (such as... http://wideopencamera.com/gear-we-trust/ ) and figure out what makes the most sense for the way you want to work.

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      • #4
        If you've got $10,000 to spend, set aside $2k of that for a mixture of hard and soft lights (and the basic grip gear to use them) - lights are far more important than most camera support gear. That leaves you $5,000 for the rest of your camera accessories.

        Take away $1,800 for your two lenses and SSDs and you're down to $3200.

        $650 will get you a Rode NTG-2 kit (mic, boom, cables) which you can run directly into the camera.

        $1,000 will get you a Lanparte (or equivalent) Follow-Focus/mattebox/rails/baseplate/shoulder mount setup.

        That leaves you with $1550 for camera support, use $1000 for something like a Miller DS10 or Vinten Vision Blue (or better yet, find something similar used and save some money), $250 for something like the Aviator Jib or IndiSystems AirJibXL, and the remainder should get you a battery solution for the camera.

        That'd give you a pretty comprehensive kit for shooting just about anything.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Grug View Post
          If you've got $10,000 to spend, set aside $2k of that for a mixture of hard and soft lights (and the basic grip gear to use them) - lights are far more important than most camera support gear. That leaves you $5,000 for the rest of your camera accessories.

          Take away $1,800 for your two lenses and SSDs and you're down to $3200.

          $650 will get you a Rode NTG-2 kit (mic, boom, cables) which you can run directly into the camera.

          $1,000 will get you a Lanparte (or equivalent) Follow-Focus/mattebox/rails/baseplate/shoulder mount setup.

          That leaves you with $1550 for camera support, use $1000 for something like a Miller DS10 or Vinten Vision Blue (or better yet, find something similar used and save some money), $250 for something like the Aviator Jib or IndiSystems AirJibXL, and the remainder should get you a battery solution for the camera.

          That'd give you a pretty comprehensive kit for shooting just about anything.
          This is all good but have to say I like the Rode NTG-2 idea....very helpful. Thks
          Lotsa Zeon thingos with thousands of cute cores...enough is never enough

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          (I reserve the right to edit, modify or delete any content I create anywhere at anytime...it probably wasn't that good anyway)

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          • #6
            ... what about a computer and calibrated monitor to edit your masterpiece?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by adam777 View Post
              ... what about a computer and calibrated monitor to edit your masterpiece?
              Any ideas for monitor?

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              • #8
                ... I'm eyeing my fiance's panasonic LCD right now but she's already no ... lol. Still looking.

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                • #9
                  Do you really need to buy 10k worth of gear at least at the start.

                  Why don't you rent what you need for your short, at least at the beginning, and if all goes well and you're getting paying jobs then you can start buying stuff.

                  I don't know where you live so maybe that isn't viable, but you can rent lights and jibs etc pretty cheap where i am, especially if you haggle and then get to know a rental house. Let them know you're a struggling director with no money and generally they're happy to help cut you a deal.

                  I really think you need to put that money on the screen, ESPECIALLY if you're making a 20-30 minute short. For any festival programmer (one of my past jobs) that film will need to be really, really good as it'll generally mean 3 or 4 shorter short films won't be programmed as a result. Use that money to offer pay to actors and crew, and you'll (generally) get better actors and crew even if its not much. Forget buying mics, and find a real sound recordist who has the equipment and knowledge. He might be expensive but damn it makes a difference.

                  For me if i was gonna be making my first short with the aim to making features:

                  BMC Camera
                  Tripod (Libec-LS38-Cheap but very reliable)
                  Rails (So many to choose from )
                  Follow Focus (Redrock F.F)
                  Tokina 11-16mm
                  Three '2nd hand' C stands with grip head and arms
                  China Balls and ceramic lamp holders with plug sockets (plus high wattage photographic bulbs)

                  Then i'd find a D.O.P and from there decide what else is needed and rent it.

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                  • #10
                    One thing missing from these lists are filters/matte box. Unless you're planning on renting them, of course. ND filters are pretty critical for shooting, especially if you're shooting RAW, and are relying on setting the ISO in post. At a native ISO of 800, if you're shooting out in the sun on RAW, you'll probably going to need to use at least an ND/IR 1.2 filter, and likely even higher (1.5 ND/IR, 1.8 ND/IR and of course also .3, .6, .9, etc). You can probably get away with screw-in filters if you really don't want to shell out for a matte box and only have a few lenses of similar size, but in the long run, a matte box and filters is probably the way to go.

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                    • #11
                      Matte boxes and ND filters

                      Do you think that the Chrosziel matte box kit will be good enough? Unfortunately, I haven't seen a price on that one yet.

                      450R2-BMD1KIT_mit_FF_f._Blackmagic_Design_Cinema_1280.jpg

                      Once you get the matte box, are the ND filters separate purchases? If so, what are some suggestions for ND filters that fit matte boxes (as opposed to the screw-in filters you mention)? Thanks for your help! I'm a real newb when it comes to this type of video. Ask me anything you want about audio!


                      Originally posted by Jason M. View Post
                      One thing missing from these lists are filters/matte box. Unless you're planning on renting them, of course. ND filters are pretty critical for shooting, especially if you're shooting RAW, and are relying on setting the ISO in post. At a native ISO of 800, if you're shooting out in the sun on RAW, you'll probably going to need to use at least an ND/IR 1.2 filter, and likely even higher (1.5 ND/IR, 1.8 ND/IR and of course also .3, .6, .9, etc). You can probably get away with screw-in filters if you really don't want to shell out for a matte box and only have a few lenses of similar size, but in the long run, a matte box and filters is probably the way to go.

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                      • #12
                        If you're making the shorts for festivals, keep it under 6 minutes. No festival (notable one) will program a 30 minute short. If a short program is 1 hour long, they want to show 12 different works at 5 minutes than two 30 minute shorts. Sounds like you need to do your research!

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                        • #13
                          ND filters are a separate purchase, and the type you get is dependent on the size of the filter tray in the Matte Box. Standard sizes are 4x4 or sometimes 4x5. The screw on ones just screw onto the front of the lens, but each lens requires a different sized filter size, so you would not be able to switch the screw on between your different lenses. Having a matte box allows you to use filters with any lens size as the ND filter is just a 4x4 piece of glass that sits on front of the lens, a matte box also allows the use of multiple filters, so you could use an ND Filter AND a Polarizer/Skin Tone Warmer. A Good reasonable priced brand is tiffen which charges roughly 150$ for a filter. There are more professional brands such as lee that are more expensive.
                          Carlos Israel
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by barant View Post
                            If you're making the shorts for festivals, keep it under 6 minutes. No festival (notable one) will program a 30 minute short. If a short program is 1 hour long, they want to show 12 different works at 5 minutes than two 30 minute shorts. Sounds like you need to do your research!

                            Sorry I have to disagree, or at least in my experience(I'm from Spain). But here almost all notable festivals pick long shortfilms before those under 10min, also as far I know is done in Cannes, Berlindale, San Sebastian, Sitges, Malaga, Clemont Ferrant and a long etc... I also have been in LA Film festival and all the official selections are at least above 10 min. That doesn't mean doing long shortfilms have no downs, you have less festivals to go for than a 6 min shortfilm, but important festivals have some kind of preference to long short films. Usually because all those festivals have really pro shortfilms with a relative high budget done by production companies(not indie/school style). Probably is because they want more movie oriented plot shorfilms than more "idea/concept" shorfilms.

                            I can also add that here in Spain we have the Goya(is some kind of minioscars for spain), and there almost all shortfilms are above 12min. I think It also depends on what section are you aiming for, but I can swear thats true.

                            However I have to say that if is your first shortfilm, go directly about 3 min no more, start with "the easy".

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                            • #15
                              Are you shooting the film all in wide angles? Personally I'd choose a good 17-55 f2.8 if you are on a budget and stick with that, it will save you time and money on accessories. I shot nearly an entire feature on a 24-70 on a 7D a few years ago, and find it to be the best range, and on BMC, a 17-55 gives approximately the same FOV that a 24-77 would have on a 7D. I have the tokina 11-16 and really don't end up using it that much on S35 due to the distorted perspective of such a wide FOV. I'm sure its more useful on BMC but it is still fairly wide for narrative use in my opinion.

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