Some New Gear

hc20Over the past few months I have been doing some freelance video work for some folks. So, a few paychecks and a good tax refund later, I am finally getting some new video gear. I started video blogging partly because I got an ibook for Christmas in 2004. Shortly after that I was enrolled in a television production class at Calvin. I was allowed to take out video equipment whenever I wanted. I always checked out the tiny HC20 Sony Handycam that was available. That is what I started video blogging with. I borrowed it for all my videos until May 2005 when class ended and I bought my own HC20.

imovieI always edited my videos using iMovie. I tried to push the software to the limits. I utilized free plugins to do some picture in picture stuff and over time gained an extensive of the software’s quirks. But over the past two years, there were always some things that really irked me about iMovie’s limitations. I wanted to edit my brother’s wedding video. He had three cameras covering the event, but with one video track, it was a big pain to do, so I haven’t edited it yet even though they got married in the summer of 2005. The other thing that really bugged me was the limitations of titles. The lower thirds were unimpressive, and placement of titles was really limited. So even though I had used iMovie for hundreds of videos, I finally decided it was time for an upgrade.

In addition to iMovie I was starting to realize that while my HC20 is small and easy to use, it is limited in it’s low-light performance. It wasn’t as sharp as a nice 3ccd camera. I wasn’t able to do analog pass through and I couldn’t monitor the audio with headphones. I needed an upgrade with my camera too!

ibookg4But with these two changes in my brain, I started to think that it might be a good idea to get a new computer too. My 1.33ghz 512mb RAM iBook G4 served me fine for the past 2 years but if I was going to have fancy editing software and a fancy camera, I would probably need a computer that could handle all the complex edits and loads of video I was going to be working with. So I decided on a computer upgrade.

After much research, I have decided on the following: Final Cut studio 2, the Canon hv20, and a 24 inch iMac.

final cut studio 2Final Cut Studio 2:
I learned first how to edit with iMovie. Then in my college courses, we used Avid. I never really liked avid all that much, because iMovie was so easy to use. I am excited to use Final Cut Studio to make more advanced videos but I am also intimidated by all the features that I will have to learn to use. I worry that my patience for learning will make me resort back to iMovie to make my videos unless it is a really complicated video. I am most looking forward to having some new visual effects using Motion and have the option to edit multiple tracks of video for once!

canon hv20Canon HV20
I didn’t want to spend a crazy amount of money on a camera, but wanted something that wouldn’t be completely obsolete and make me want to get a new camera in 2 years. I wanted something that did really well in low-light, had a mic-in and audio-out ports, could handle some advanced accessories, and was small enough to hold at arm’s length. I did some research reading lots of reviews and then decided on an HD camera. I figure that over the next couple of years everything is gonna go HD so I might as well get in now and not have to change again later. The Canon hv20 got some good reviews, had what I wanted and was in the right price range, so I went for it. The camera should be arriving on my doorstep this week.

24 inch iMac24 inch iMac
I love my iBook, it is a big reason I am a videoblogger. But video is an information-rich medium and it takes a lot of processing power and memory to deal with it all. I have a good iBook, but If I am going to continue to push myself and my video production, it was inevitable that I would need a more powerful machine. I like having a lapop, but I also like having a large visual workspace to edit on. I needed a big monitor, but I can’t afford a powermac with a cinema display, so I decided on an iMac. I figure I will upgrade a few things like the memory to 2 gigs and the hard drive to 500 just so It won’t be obsolete in 2 months. I am going for the 24 inch version, that way I have enough work space without having to do the dual monitor thing.

Do any of you have any of these three things? If so, what has been your experience with them?