Cameras, Formats & Editors.

Greetings all! This might be a bit late for asking this question, but now is as good a time as any. For the last few years I have been dabbling with HitFilm and making my little movies etc. I started off with a little CamCorder which produced .AVIs. Then as time went on I found it easier simply to shoot video with my iPad and Phone....always roughly 1920 x 1080 and 29.97fps. The results were (and still are) more than adequate for my own personal little needs,

However, I want to ask all you pros out there, what formats are best for you, and what is undoubtedly better? Right now I just use HitFilm's editor and it does a great job for me. But if I evolve into into something better/more...........would another editor best suit me? I have joined a place called Star Now where they seek out VFX artists (and actors etc) to help with their own projects around the world, and I would like to give them the best quality results.

So......what do you guys use? Cameras, video formats...editors....etc. I'm all ears! Time to advance myself :)

Many thanks!


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    For editors, try Resolve, which is free. Sony Vegas is my editor of choice and works well alongside Hitfilm Pro. 

    Cameras you'll get a million answers, so what's your price range, and what features are most important to you of 4K, image quality, low light, speed of operation (something you have to kit out, or something self contained as a run and gun?). Pick two. 

    Formats depend on Mac/PC. If you're still on2 Ultimate, DNxHD for Windows. If you upgrade to Pro 2017, then. Cineform on Windows. Mac, Pro Res. 

  • Hey thanks for that! Cameras........definitely 4K and low light.

    Editors.....I actually have Sony Vegas somewhere, though probably 7 years old :). I don't really have any problems editing with HitFilm, I think it's wonderful. But I'll have a look at Resolve too. I'm up for experimentation :)

    As for formats..........well, my goal is to be able to meet other filmmakers requirements when they ask me to do some VFX for them. I always feel the quality of what I do now isn't up to par with the rest of them. So whatever "film festival filmmakers" use...then that is what I want to strive for.

    Thanks for the response :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    For passing files back and forth to other artists, I still recommend ProRes on Mac and Cineform on Windows. Both are good intermediate codecs and easily readable in most NLEs. 

    4k and low light? The Sony a7sii shoots 4k and is basically the best lowlight camera out there. 

  • Many thanks for the Triem!

    Shall investigate them both shortly. Appreciated :)

  • IMO you can achieve professional quality work with HitFilm; it just takes practice and experience, getting familiar with your tools.

    VFX and compositing also require quite a bit of planning and prep to get the best results.

    Before you jump into investing in a camera, you definitely should stop to consider how you want to use it. If you're looking for something that you can use for VFX shots, an A7sii is probably not your best choice.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited May 2017

    @WhiteCranePhoto is correct in that the A7sii uses an XAVC codec that is not necessarily optimized for green screen. 

    WhiteCrane if you haven't  seen WedgeOz's "Invasion"  series, right now he's completed three installments, working on a 4th, and, yes it's heavy greenscreen and virtual set work (and massive space battles, fully CG characters, heavy cloning of actors, etc) . Till now he's shot on an iPad and is still editing in Hitfilm Ultimate 2. The series is a lot of cheesy fun, and is (visually) among the most elaborate efforts coming from the community. 

    The A7sii is a step up in quality from the iPad. Previous episodes have been in 1080p, and because the producer/director is also the co-star, a lot of it is shot on a static tripod. My feelings here are that this is a good show to shoot 4k to allow for 1080p reframes in post. This downsize would take care of some of the jaggies. 

    I should do some more codec comparisons for cameras in that price range. I think the BMPCC might work well also as the codecs allow better/cleaner keys, but its got poor low light response, and the crop factor makes it hard to get wide when I am assuming a lot of shots are taken in a small room. 

    Paul, can you verify if my guesses on how you shoot are correct? WhiteCrane really knows his cameras and probably would suggest different cameras than I. He'll make excellent suggestions for specific reasons. 

  • A more significant limitation for detailed mattes and such is that the A7sii only outputs 8 bits per channel. Honestly, I think you'd be better off with a GH5 for VFX work, even though the sensor is smaller and it doesn't do as well in low light... but also if you're planning on doing VFX work, you'd be better of spending the difference on lighting gear.

    Remember that the biggest determining factor in image quality is lighting, and good lighting will also facilitate mattes and keys; even if you're shooting on a Helium, lighting will make a hug difference.

    You can do great work with an A7sii... but there are easier options for VFX, including Black Magic.

    You can make up a lot for the low color depth by scaling down to HD; that method is a major reason that a lot of Hollywood features use Epics for VFX shots; it's the combination of resolution and 16-bit color depth.

    That said, 4K is still overrated for much else... hardly any movies are finished in bigger than 2K. HDR is IMO a bigger deal, but until you've seen properly presented and properly color graded HDR footage, you don't know what you're missing. See my article on Red Shark News about Christie from last year's NAB to get a sense of what HDR is REALLY about.


  • Hey guys...thanks for all this info :) Yes Triem, you are quite correct that I film that way. And are quite correct about my need to get better lighting equipment. As Triem pointed out.....99% of my projects are indoors with green screens, and I'm admittedly struggling getting clean keys with this new project (and is what slows down my production the most).

    I will definitely investigate all of what both of you have said, and definitely work out better lighting techniques. I really appreciate both of your inputs :)

  • edited May 2017

    You can pick up Green Screen kits with Lights for around the $100 mark, if you have the space they can be great, but SPACE (see what I did there @WedgeOz ) is the issue, having somewhere big enough to get you subject, props, light gear and green screen all postioned is key to a successful key.

  • You so got that right Andy001z! I actually have one of those kits. Green screen, lights, umbrellas, stands's great! And yes......"space", that's the killer. When I need full body shots, I go to this office building which has a huge blue However.......about a thousand cars drive by there, so always feel a bit awkward dressed as an alien there :)

    Might have to buy a studio ;)

  • What you need is one of these YouTube spaces near you, then you get all you need from what I have seen.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Andy001z except you have to be "big time" with something like 10k subscribers to get in the door.....

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @Andy001z @Triem23 Yep 10k subscribers is the price of entry. I think @WedgeOz 's work deserves more than 10k subscribers but what do I know.......

    Here's something for you to think about if you have a DIY attitude @WedgeOz LED panels like the ones this guy makes can be pretty handy and cut down on the space needed for lighting because you can tack them to walls with push pins if you need to.

  • Haha...thanks for that Aladdin4d. I'll seriously look into that LED paneling :) If nothing will help eliminate those annoying shadows I struggle with!!

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