With the release of the new semi-professional camcorders, I have experienced a new level of video anxiety. I bought a consumer video camera in 2005 because I wanted to at least own a video camera. It feels strange saying that you are a filmmaker yet, you don’t have any video equipment. The video camera that I previously owned got broken when I was in college. Although I needed a new camera, I kept procrastinating on the purchasing one. It wasn’t until I wanted to finish a 25 minute short that I decided to buy a camera. Up until then, I borrowed video cameras from others to produce videos.
I could not afford to buy a $4,000 semi-professional video camera. Therefore, I spent a few hundred dollars on a regular Sony Hi-8 Handycam camcorder. It isn’t the cream of the crop. However, could hold me over until I was able to either maker enough money to buy a more expensive one or won a better one from a film festival. I have been interested in purchasing the Canon XL1, a $2,000 mini-dv camcorder that produces a really good video image. When the Canon GL1 and XL1 camcorders were released a few years ago, they were very popular among independent producers. In recent years, newer video cameras have been released, including the Canon XL2 and the Sony VX2100.
While I have yet to purchase a new video camera, I have been considering moving up to a more professional camcorder such as the Sony VX2100. However, I still need to be able to afford the $3,000 camera. I have read so many articles and books that tell independent filmmakers to make their movies using whatever they have. This includes consumer grade videos cameras, super 8 film cameras and even still cameras. I have adopted that mindset for some time. Now, I am looking to increase the quality of my movies with the use of better cameras. It has been said that a good independent film will overcome its visual imperfections. That can be true. However, I have wanted my short movies to look like an actual movie rather than the home video of the Nintendo 64 kid on Youtube.
Surprisingly, I have recently come to a crossroads regarding what I will use to shoot my movies. Numerous headaches have come out of trying to decide which video camera to purchase. I have been worrisome of what would happen if I bought the Canon XL2. The camera will become ancient the moment that new cameras are put on the market. These realities make it tough to decide on a camera like the Sony VX2100 or another high quality video camera.
The introduction of new HD camcorders makes this decision even tougher. Therefore, I have been considering shooting on film. New film cameras are expensive to obtain. However, used film cameras that are in good shape are pretty easy to find in numerous places. Shooting an processing16mm film stock may not be cheap either, but I may be better off shooting on film for numerous reasons. The selection of camcorders such as the Panasonic AG-HVX200, the Sony VX2100 and the Canon XL2 make it difficult to choose the best camcorder to purchase. They are all good video cameras and they are all expensive. These video cameras are also part of a medium that constantly progresses in little time.
Before you know it, there will be another camera that is more popular and has a higher quality than the Sony VX2100 that is purchased today. What should be done when that happens? I have no interest in spending thousands of dollars every 3 years or so, just to be able to maintain the highest possible level of video quality. Shooting on 16mm film may be the better choice in the long run. New film stock may be introduced frequently, just like semi-professional video cameras. However, film will always look like film. It will have the same quality for lifetimes to come. Video on the other hand, changes so rapidly that the latest high quality video image will look like a cheap home video over time.
I would like to have good looking images for my independent films. While video cameras can offer a less expensive way to make movies, the difficulty of choosing the right camcorder makes the video medium less attractive. After spending thousands of dollars on a camera, every image that is captured should exhibit high quality above and beyond the average episode of Cops or Court TV. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Therefore, I may have to remove my headaches from deciding on a video camera and replace them with thoughts on the best places to buy film stock.