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Ziggy587
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video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Ziggy587 Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:12 pm

Note: This is an old thread. New question posted here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=36463&p=1148229#p1148229

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Hey guys. I have a few questions that will spread over different subjects, but I figured instead of making multiple help threads, I'll just make one and see how that goes. I know we have a few people here with this sort of knowledge.

In short: For those that will be curious about why I'm interested in such things... My brother and I are gonna be making stop motion clips. We've both done, individually, test clips using only what we had at our disposal (Windows Movie Maker, my awesome 5MP Cannon PowerShot, etc). But now we wanna take the plunge into actually making stuff of decent quality.

Budget: A simple Google will tell me what the best is. A $4000 microphone, a million dollar SLR camera, $800 Adobe Premier, etc. The thing is though, our money supply for this is pretty limited. I'm trying to find stuff that will be affordable, but staying away from junk.

Video editing software: I really prefer not to pirate something, I'd rather just buy it if I can. But unfortunately Adobe Premier is like $800 so that's out of the question. Premier Elements is very affordable, but I read something in an Amazon review that really turned me off. The reviewer claimed that an Adobe rep told him on the phone that you have to pay $50 to renew your license every year. If that's true, then Premier is totally out!

I've been looking at Corel VideoStudio Pro X4. It goes for $65-$76 on Amazon (new) depending on the version you get, so it's very affordable. I've looked at a few videos on YouTube, and it seems like a pretty good program. Looks simple and easy to use. I haven't read too many reviews for it yet, but it seems like a solid enough program.

So, is Corel VideoStudio a good buy? Would you recommend something else, and why? Keep in mind that neither my brother nor I are professional video editors, we don't need anything crazy, and a learning curve that isn't too steep would be nice. Basically, all we need to do is be able to load the pictures in and control the time of each "frame", then add voice overs, sound effects and whatnot.

Digital Camera: We're doing stop motion, so I'm not talking about a video camera. I'm not looking for suggestions on a particular model camera (though I'll listen if you tell me) but rather what features to look for. I'd assume the more mega pixels the better, obviously. But I need something that will work well in close up shots. Imagine taking close up shots of a room inside a doll house. That's pretty much what we'll be doing. The shitty camera I have now has no manual focus, so if the auto focus decides not to work then you're screwed. Most annoying. Is this a feature that will even be on any low-mid end digital cameras? Or are they all "point and click" type of stuff.

I really have no knowledge of cameras. I assume an SLR would be my best bet, but they seem too expensive. Are there any digital SLR's that wont break the bank?

I'm thinking something with a wide angle might be better. I was looking at a camera before that could shoot in 16:19 @ 16MP and 4:3 at a lower resolution. Something that can do both wide and normal would be ideal, I would think.

Microphones: This is something I have a little experience with, but again, I don't have the $4000 to run out and get the mics that the pros use. I'm mainly concerned with doing the voice overs. Sound effects I'm really not worried about. I already have a bunch of dynamic mics, mostly shitty ones, but at least one that's halfway decent. I have a vocal condenser that isn't horrible, but really isn't anything of quality. The best mic I have is an SM57, which might be good for some things (maybe sound effects) but I don't know if it's a good choice for voice.

I could get an SM58, the industrial standard vocal mic. I'm actually kinda surprised that I don't have one by now (I always let the vocalist supply their own mic, my mics are just for instruments and speaker cabs). I read in a Google that the MXL R144 is a decent vocal mic on a budget. The reviews for it seem decent enough, but of course, you're not gonna really know until you use it.

Can any one recommend a good mic for recording vocals? And again, something that isn't too expensive...

Audio recording method: Again, I already have a little experience in this department. I just never really owned any recording equipment of decent quality (have used others equipment, but I only own "live" stuff like mixers and amps). Knowing that the best mic in the world will still sound like shit through a crappy preamp, I'm trying to think of the best way to go about this. I mean, I could grab the best mic in the world, the best preamp in the world, then just ruin it all by running the preamp into a computer's on board sound card!

I think for simplicity, and to keep cost down, I'm gonna go with a USB unit. My friend had one like this:

http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i- ... 4MKII-LIST

Though his looked a little different, I'm guessing this is a newer model of the one he had. It was easy to use, and it comes with Cubase. I don't mind using Cubase. I remember using it with my friend's Tascam and being decent. I use Cool Edit/Adobe Audition myself, so it's not like I'm taking a step back with Cubase. And it'll be a good backup in case the unit doesn't wanna work with Audition. But anyways, I noticed that there's another Tascam that comes with Cubase LE5, so I'm guessing it's a newer model...

http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-TAS-US200-LIST

I think that's what I'm gonna go with, unless some one can recommend a better USB interface. But the USB preamp definitely seems like my best bet, taking into the account of the cost. If I got just a regular old preamp, I would have to buy a $100-200 sound card just to make it worth it. So the USB interface really just simplifies everything for me.


Any help/input is greatly appreciated!
Last edited by Ziggy587 on Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by fastbilly1 Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:58 pm

On the audio front, on a budget I suggest just buying a Zoom H4n. Its $300 if you buy via Ebay (unique Squared is who I use), and the stereo mics are more than sufficient. Plus the XLR ports on the bottom means you can upgrade later. I just bought a Shure Super 55 and plan on using it via that Zoom almost exclusively (many people in the movie audio world keep them in their bag for random recording).

If you only want to do stop motion and not video, get Dragonframe (http://www.dragonframe.com/). If you want to do more than that, Id suggest getting Premier elements. You do not have to reup your adobe license for $50 every year.

As for camera, thats where it gets really expensive. I have a Lumix Gh1 with C, an Olympus, and Eclair lens mounts (since I have access to something like $300k worth of lenses for those three types). I do not know of a good one for stop motion specifically, but I will say you want manual focus and a remote shutter release. Why? That way you dont move the camera as you go (even slightly) - well worth the $15 they usually cost.

One thing you forgot are lights. On a budget, I tell most videographers to buy two totas and two dp lights (all Lowel), that set will run you about 2k and can cover most scenarios. For what you are doing, I suggest a couple clamp lights from homedepot/lowes and some bright bulbs (I will try to give you the bulb name my brother uses). Clamp lights should give you enough light for what you are doing. TURN OFF THE FLASH. Even my ring flash doesnt give the exact same light every time. It is best to have set lighting.

I hope that makes some sense. I will comment more later
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Nintendork666 Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:09 pm

^ Great advice with the clamp lights. They're a very affordable alternative, I've been using them for years.

As far as editing software goes, nothing has ever clicked with me more than Sony Vegas. It's the best you can get, as far as I'm concerned.

The latest version also seems to be a bit cheaper than the software you mentioned:

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Vegas-Studio ... 986&sr=8-1

Just my two cents.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by fastbilly1 Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:40 pm

The bulbs are GE Reveals that are PAR 30:
http://www.amazon.com/81862-75-Watt-Rev ... 188&sr=8-2
They are close to daylight balance - no weird points of green spikes.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Ziggy587 Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:45 am

Nintendork666 wrote:As far as editing software goes, nothing has ever clicked with me more than Sony Vegas. It's the best you can get, as far as I'm concerned.


Yeah, I was looking at Vegas too. From the YouTube videos I watched, I thought it looked like Corel's interface was a little more friendly. Heh, it's funny how one person will claim Sony Vegas is the best, another will say get nothing other than Adobe Premier (Elements). I'm sure both of those along with Corel are all capable though, no?

fastbilly1 wrote:If you only want to do stop motion and not video, get Dragonframe


AH, yes! I remember finding this in a Google a while back but I must have disregarded it because of the price. But now that I look at it again, I'm thinking this might be the most ideal thing. Upon reading more, it even says you can activate and use it on two different computers, which is a huge plus for me! I actually forgot to ask if any one knows if I can install Premier, Vegas, or VideoStudio, etc on multiple computers at once. It would be really useful if I can install the software on a desktop and also my laptop.

Just in case I decide against Dragon Frame, does anyone know if I can install Premier Elements, Sony Vegas, or Corel VisualStudio on more than one computer?

But at this point, I'm thinking we're probably gonna go with Dragon Frame. It's a little more than we wanted to spend, but I think it will be worth it. I only watched some basic videos on it so far, but it seems great for stop motion. You can even download a trial, which I'll do soon.

fastbilly1 wrote:One thing you forgot are lights.


I didn't forget... I just didn't ask! :lol: By clamp lights, I assume you're talking about work lamps like this? If so, I have a few of those already.

fastbilly1 wrote:The bulbs are GE Reveals that are PAR 30:
http://www.amazon.com/81862-75-Watt-Rev ... 188&sr=8-2
They are close to daylight balance - no weird points of green spikes.


Ah, cool. I'll definitely be picking some of those bulbs up. Thanks for the suggestion!

fastbilly1 wrote:On the audio front, on a budget I suggest just buying a Zoom H4n.


Hmm, I'm not sure how I feel about that. It looks like a cool little device, and would be awesome for it's portability. But do you think it'll have a better (assume I use an identical mic on both units) raw sound quality than the Tascam I was looking at?

fastbilly1 wrote:I just bought a Shure Super 55


Every time I see that style mic, I think of only one thing... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_L4Rixya64 :lol:

What do you think of the SM58 in more of a studio application? I've only ever heard it used live. Well, of course, I don't have an actual studio, but I'll be doing my best to create that environment.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, much appreciated!
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Jrecee Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:07 pm

As far as stop motion goes, theres a few stop motion websites/coomunities that can give you better advice on that front. For general editing i recommend vegas. With something like corel you're in a bubble. With the basic verdion of vegas theres a pro version to upgrade to. Same with premier. I doubt youll find much of a professional community around that corel software.

I have been recommended the h4n as well but havent used it.

As far as cameras..... Again, youll find lots of general advice on that, but a stop motion community is going to be more in tune with the specific features you're going to need.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by fastbilly1 Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:24 pm

Ive not used the Corel suite. Sorry. As for teh other NLE editors, everyone has their own opinions. I was a hardcore Vegas user for 15 years, but Premier interfaces with After Effects and Photoshop seemlessly so I finally jumped over. The bottom line is this, if it works for you, it is good enough. I know one guy who still edits with a Casablanca. Its 1996 tech, but he is a wizard on it, so all Standard def stuff goes through it.

Adobe is one pc at a time, sorry. Another cool thing about Dragon Frame is if you get a compatible camera, or webcam, you can have it automatically add to your library and possibly timeline. Look up the details on that. I looked into it heavily a couple years ago when we were going to do a stop motion project but it fell through (that and I wanted to add a CG element to it - Ill explain later if you want).

By clamp lights I meant those, they are not the best, but they are very functional. I know a friend who has a webseries that is lit mostly by those. The best part about them is that if they break they are cheap to replace. And if you need to use them somewhere else, just swap the bulb and you are good to go.

The Tascams are good, they will do you very well. I stray from the USB preamps because of my background, but I know others swear by them. The zoom was simply a more mobile version of the big tascam recorders for a fraction of the price. But if you are always going to be working in a "studio" you would be fine with either of the Tascams. Truth be told, I must have missed that you posted them somehow.

Ironically Foo Fighters were playing on my Pandora when you posted that. Im kinda shocked you didnt notice it for the historic figures that used the original of that mic. Little known people like JFK, MLK, FDR, Elvis, and Groucho.

The SM58 is a perfect mic for voice work, for sound effects though you will want something more focused. A super cardioid or shotgun mic of some kind. I dont know of any cheap ones, I am buying an Audio Technica AT-897 today, and with its kit its $600:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/4 ... phone.html

At minimum, you will want a shotgun with a shockmount. You can mount it on a tripod if you want, ie:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/4 ... phone.html

I mean you could do it with the SM58, but it is a cardioid studio mic. It is like swiss army knife of mics. Tell you what, before I ramble too much, what are you recording with the mic?

Just remember, a sound booth can be made from a closet, some LED lights, moving blankets taped to the walls and ceiling, and a Mic.


Edit:
I see you said you own a SM57. That is perfectly fine for your first bit of voice work. I mean it has worked for the last 10 presidents...

Edit 2:
I should add that I have a background in really highend video work and some broadcast radio, so if anything I say doesnt make sense just tell me. I have been trying to piece together a fully portable movie making kit for under 5k for the last few years. The plan is to expand the video section of Racketboy and starting my own video troupe sometime this year. If it all falls through I can go back to doing foley.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Ziggy587 Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:29 pm

fastbilly1 wrote:Another cool thing about Dragon Frame is if you get a compatible camera, or webcam, you can have it automatically add to your library and possibly timeline. Look up the details on that.


Yeah, I've been reading on the Dragon Frame site. It really sounds like my best option considering everything (including price). Now I'm reading on the site what known compatible cameras are, hopefully I can find a model that isn't too expensive (looks like $500 for a Canon DSLR is the cheapest so far).

fastbilly1 wrote:By clamp lights I meant those, they are not the best, but they are very functional. I know a friend who has a webseries that is lit mostly by those. The best part about them is that if they break they are cheap to replace. And if you need to use them somewhere else, just swap the bulb and you are good to go.


Yeah, I've had a couple of those work lamps for a while now. I got them for doing construction (halogen work lamps get annoying inside after a while) but they proved useful for other things as well. For example, I put red lights in them for stage lighting the last time I played live.

fastbilly1 wrote:The Tascams are good, they will do you very well. [...] if you are always going to be working in a "studio" you would be fine with either of the Tascams.


Yeah, I might be biased just because I have experience with them already. So if I go with the Tascam, I can pretty much just plug and play without having to learn anything new. :lol:

fastbilly1 wrote:Ironically Foo Fighters were playing on my Pandora when you posted that. Im kinda shocked you didnt notice it for the historic figures that used the original of that mic. Little known people like JFK, MLK, FDR, Elvis, and Groucho.


Hehe, oh believe me, Elvis is what actually pops into mind. I was just joking around. This iconic image is burned into my brain like an old Pac Man screen:

http://uv201.com/Microphone_Pages/Microphones_Images/elvis_mike.jpg

fastbilly1 wrote:I mean you could do it with the SM58, but it is a cardioid studio mic. It is like swiss army knife of mics. Tell you what, before I ramble too much, what are you recording with the mic?


Well I'm mainly concerned with recording voices, mainly voice overs for the stop motion characters. I'm not too concerned with sound effects for a few reasons. One, some sound effects can be found online or ripped from something, and those will already be "done". Sound effects that we'll be doing ourselves, I'm not really concerned with. If the sound effect comes out slightly different than what I was trying for, then so be it. Who's to say that's not suppose to be how it sounds? You know what I mean? But I know from experience that a voice is a hard thing to capture, especially when you don't have access to a real studio and pro equipment. I just wanna make sure I'm using at least a halfway decent mic for vocals. So I was mainly asking about the SM58 for voices only. Is there a better choice that would be in the same price range?

fastbilly1 wrote:I should add that I have a background in really highend video work and some broadcast radio, so if anything I say doesnt make sense just tell me.


Will do, but so far so good! I have experience working with audio, mostly in a live setting. I know how to setup mics for drums and guitar cabs and whatnot (where my love of the SM57 comes from :D ). And this is where I've heard the SM58 in a live setting. Of course, I know about all the great equipment that I could never afford. :lol: But yeah, as far as audio stuff goes, I wont be lost in that department.

I'm pretty much gonna let my brother do all the video side of things, I'll just kinda take a back seat and help with artistic input. His girlfriend is an amateur photographer, so he knows more about the cameras than me. He's done more test clips then me, so he's kinda got it down how he wants to do it. I'm piecing him an new PC together tomorrow, so I'm gonna have him download the trial of Dragon Frame after that so he can play around with it and see what's what. For any kind of "special effect" we're pretty much just gonna use Photoshop and animate the effect frame by frame. I've learned to use Photoshop pretty good in the last few years, but while I can make a snazzy SNES label, he's an amazing artist that I cannot match. And he's gone to school for Photoshop related stuff. So while I'll let him mostly take care of the video aspect, I will mostly be doing the audio aspect.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by fastbilly1 Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:43 pm

Tell you what, buy the tascam, and play with the SM57 you have. It might have a good enough sound for what you want.

In the price range, you will not get a better mic than the 58.
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Re: video editing software, digital cams, and microphones, ?

by Ziggy587 Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:40 pm

Maybe I'll do some test clips comparing the various mics I have right now. Now that I think about it, I could borrow an SM58 from a friend, and possibly even some better mics (I have some friends in the audio recording field) if he's willing to lend them out. At least, I could borrow them long enough to play with them a little and compare. Being able to test them out before buying.

Thanks for the tips so far, they've been very helpful! We've been wanting to do this for years now but life gets in the way, but hopefully we'll be actually making the videos some time soon.

edit: For example, I have a Samson R11 as one of my "shitty" mics. I just read a couple of reviews here that claim it actually stands up to the SM58. Interesting. I've pretty much only used it to mic a floor tom, maybe once or twice for vocals when I didn't have something better available. I'll have to re-examine it and see how it performs.
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