So, now that the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been polished off, I'm finally getting into the Xmas spirit. Well, I'm at least ready to make a list of things I want for Xmas. Those decorations can wait a few days... or years, whatever. As I said in my first post, I am still starting out and didn't have the income going in to purchase any of my own equipment. While I could have filled this list with ridiculous top-of-the-line gear, I instead opted for a list of things that are more 'bare essentials' and less 'in my dreams.' These are things that I consider to be the first steps toward doing more professional work or educational tools to improve my skills.
1. A Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera.
Those of you who know a thing or two about video and DSLRs might be thinking, "But Zack, isn't the Canon 550D a more proven camera with a slightly better image quality and 4 more megapixels?" To which I say, "Yes," so shut up about it. The trouble is that the 550D is around $150 more and would only come with a kit lens. I already have compatible lenses left over from my old D70, so I can cut my costs by just buying the D3100 body. Of course, it would really save me money if a big, jolly home invader left one in my stocking this year.
2. An ARRI Interview Kit
OK. Maybe this one breaks my 'bare bones' criteria a bit. However, lights are one of those things I think you should go the extra mile on. Any DIY production website is going to tell you that Home Depot work lights will get the job done. Theirs nothing wrong with that if you are shooting your own short or green screen stuff in your garage, but something tells me that it wouldn't fly for professional work. I can't tell you how many times I had to pass on jobs that only required me to go and shoot an interview of one or more people in one location. That's easy money out the door because I didn't have a camera or a lighting setup.
3. A Zoom H4n Audio Recorder
They say audio is half of what you see. But they also say to believe none of what you hear and half of what you see. So, by that math, I'd say audio comes in around 25%... of what I have no idea. Anyway, if you are wanting to get quality audio there is no way you can rely on in-camera microphones. You need a field mixer and a various microphone types that allow you the flexibility to get sound for every shot. However, if you are on a budget like me, the next best thing is a handheld recorder and a cheap shotgun mic. The Zoom H4n is a handheld, 4 track recorder that has XLR and Mic inputs for field recording and can also be connected to a computer via USB to be used as a makeshift studio mic and record directly to audio software.
4. A Rode VideoMic
The aforementioned shotgun mic. Having a recorder is great, but no matter how great it's pickup pattern is, I don't think I'd want to stick it on a boom pole and hang it over someone's head. Well, maybe a few people I know...
5. Books, Books, and More Books
Gifted and intelligent as I am, I sadly have to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about video production. That is why I had my good buddy Justin, who already works in the industry and has attended film school, suggest to me a list of reading material. I've already purchased one of his suggestions and it has yet to disappoint me. Hopefully I can get to some of the more technical reading earlier next year.
6. A Slate
OK. File this one under guilty pleasure. It's probably the least important piece of equipment an amateur can own, but... but... I want one.
Well, that's my short list. I know there are a million other things that I want, but I think these are a good starting point for me. Hopefully I will be able to knock a few items off the list and be ready to upgrade them by this time next year.
But enough about me, what about you? Are you looking to buy your first camera or maybe upgrade your current one? Been eying a piece of audio equipment or some software for a while? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.