Crew of 2

My buddy and I are shooting a no budget, run and gun movie with a Canon 7D and a zoom H4N. One of us will do sound and the other's working the camera and we'll both be editing on FCP.

My first question: on a super low budget (under 10G) production like this, if you only get to use one lens to shoot a feature, which one would it be? (yeah, I know most of you are cringing)
We're looking at the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens? Any suggestions?

Second question: We just got the H4N and we're pouring over the manual. Our boom is an Azden SGM-1000 shotgun Mic which we used on a shoot with an HVX, but we're wondering if we need something like an AZDEN CAM-3 On-Camcorder Mini Audio Mixer for the H4N and a better sound rig (Senheiser?) boom or lavs for this situation? Any recommendations for sound gear for a 2 man crew? Again, no budget but willing to learn anything.

Thanks!
 
Sounds exciting. My debut feature was shot with the same setup. $5K production budget, T2i, 17-55. If you only have one lens, I'd strongly recommend that one. You simply NEED the capability to go wide.

With that budget, though, you don't necessarily have to limit yourself to one lens. You can get a nice 50mm prime for $100. Might seem weird to get a 50mm, when you've got a zoom that goes as far as 55mm, but there might be times when you'll want the low f-stop (and thus shallow depth of field) that the prime would allow. Alternately, you might instead want to look for an inexpensive 100mm.

Also, we have a regular on here, wheatgrinder, who is continually finding ridiculously inexpensive lenses at his local pawn shop. Don't know if he's really lucky, or super-vigilant, but it's worth checking out in your own area.

As for audio, you'd be well-advised to get the best you can afford. I'm not well-versed, so I can't comment on specifics, but I will share a story. On my micro-budget feature, it is problems with audio that is the #1 issue I truly wish I could go back and fix. You're wise to be focusing on this matter.

Best of luck!
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
For one lens on an APS-C DSLR, I'd probably go with the 17-55. It might also be nice to go a bit longer, but something like a 24-70mm f/2.8 might leave you a little lacking on the wide end. It's a matter of personal taste as much as anything, as well as the locations and feel of the film. A 24-70 might be better suited for outdoors, for example, whereas the 17-55 would allow you to get some relatively wide shots even in cramped interiors.

Cracker: You have the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, the OP is talking about the 17-55mm f/2.8, which costs about eight times more and has a constant aperture. Although you won't be able to get the super shallow depth of field you could with a 50mm prime, it's still two stops faster at 55mm than the kit lens (lets in four times more light).
 
Cracker: You have the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, the OP is talking about the 17-55mm f/2.8, which costs about eight times more and has a constant aperture. Although you won't be able to get the super shallow depth of field you could with a 50mm prime, it's still two stops faster at 55mm than the kit lens (lets in four times more light).
Oh, I see. I read 17-55 and made a big assumption. Also, I agree with your comments about locations. Indiefilming, if you have a lot of inside-shooting planned, the difference between 17 and 24 is significant. If shooting mostly outside, 24 is plenty wide.
 
Oh, something else I just thought of. So, the lens being considered is fixed aperture, at f2.8? Indiefilming, with a two-person crew, constantly shallow depth of field (relatively speaking) is a major logistical problem. You're going to have so many things to focus on that I personally think it's wise to keep a wide depth of field (most of the time), simply for logistical reasons.

Don't put too many things on your shoulders. Make the actual shooting as easy as you can. I think you'd be wise to give yourself the option of going shallow or wide (DOF), whenever you so please.
 
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Oh, something else I just thought of. So, the lens being considered is fixed aperture, at f2.8? Indiefilming, with a two-person crew, constantly shallow depth of field (relatively speaking) is a major logistical problem.
Constant aperture means the aperture won't be forced to change while zooming in, unlike the 18-55mm you have. It still has the ability to change aperture.
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
What SinEater said. I don't even know if there's such a thing as a fixed aperture lens for SLRs.
 
I did buy a $15 plastic "toy" lens do my camera. It's truly fixed at f/8 :)

If I were shooting this way, I'd opt for 3 of the midrange prime lenses. Like the EF 28 1.8, 50 1.4 and 85 1.8. And if you're cool with other brands, the Rokinon 85mm 1.4 is AWESOME and only $279. Quality wise I'd stick it inbeteeen. The canon 85 1.8 and the 85 1.2 L.

The faster apertures will really help a lot indoors, especially a smaller crew. Since you don't have all the help setting up lights you'll be able to take advantage of a lot more natural light.
 
I'm normally not one to talk down any specific manufacturer or product, but Azden tends to be a fairly inferior product; they are considered "disposable" and are aimed at consumers rather than professionals. BTW, the Cam-3 is a high impedance device, and the SGM-1000 is a low impedance device, so you would need convertors, and a mixer of such low quality would be worse than connecting directly to the H4n. Another BTW - I prefer the Tascam DR-100; at least it has physical volume knobs and the build is more solid.

I have made hundreds of posts about ultra-low budget sound packages, so a quick search of them will provide you with a lot of information. You should also check out my blog; I haven't updated it in a while, but most of it is still pertinent.

http://www.myspace.com/alcoveaudio/blog
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Second question: We just got the H4N and we're pouring over the manual. Our boom is an Azden SGM-1000 shotgun Mic which we used on a shoot with an HVX, but we're wondering if we need something like an AZDEN CAM-3 On-Camcorder Mini Audio Mixer for the H4N and a better sound rig (Senheiser?) boom or lavs for this situation? Any recommendations for sound gear for a 2 man crew? Again, no budget but willing to learn anything.
A good shotgun mic on a DIY boom and the H4N will be usable - not
the best, but with a lot of hard work from your sound person you
should be able to get some excellent dialogue tracks.

With one relatively inexperienced person recording dialogue on set, I'm
thinking you do not need a mixer. Do the best you can with a mic and
recorder.
 
I had a question, your saying this is your first film and you got a budget just under 10g? and crackerfunk said his first was at 5g? Are yall in film school and someone is fronting this money? It just seems like a lot of money to me unless yall were experienced filmmakers. I'm assuming yall have lots of experience.

I know its a newb question, thanks in advance.
 
Super super cool. This is some great advice. Thank you. I'm in the middle of doing a ton of research based on your feedback and will be posting soon with a couple specific questions to your responses but I just wanted to jump on here and thank Cracker, GuerrillaAngel, directorik, Alcove Audio (agreed re Azden), PaulGriffith (we're now talking over 3 primes), chilipie, SinEater.

First time on here and wasn't expecting informed, actually helpful response (wasn't sure I'd get any responses.) Seriously. Thanks!
 
I had a question, your saying this is your first film and you got a budget just under 10g? and crackerfunk said his first was at 5g? Are yall in film school and someone is fronting this money? It just seems like a lot of money to me unless yall were experienced filmmakers. I'm assuming yall have lots of experience.

I know its a newb question, thanks in advance.
My first FEATURE film had a PRODUCTION budget of $5K. I spent another $3K in post. Indiefilming is also talking about making a FEATURE film. I seriously doubt this is his/her first film, and it's definitely not my first film.

Mine was self-funded. I'd be willing to bet that Indiefilming's is too, or perhaps he/she has someone very close to them that is willing to fund it.

Also, these dollar-amounts are actually a very TINY amount of money to spend on a feature film. But, yes, that would be a lot to spend on your actual first film of any sort.
 
I had a question, your saying this is your first film and you got a budget just under 10g? and crackerfunk said his first was at 5g? Are yall in film school and someone is fronting this money? It just seems like a lot of money to me unless yall were experienced filmmakers. I'm assuming yall have lots of experience.

I know its a newb question, thanks in advance.
zackleazer, you just go out and shoot whatever you can with whatever you got. That's how this dude got started as a director- as a receptionist using construction paper and a webcam at his desk:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbaMQtb66Cc&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL5A7171186BAA02EA

He now does horror/comedy features and has a pretty big cult following.

Knock em dead.
 
Above post made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. All this technical jargon sometimes overwhelms me and I think "there is no way I can do this!"

But after seeing that I keep telling myself just write the best script you can and let your story overcome any lack of technical expertise you have. THANKS!
 
Alcove Audio I found your blog very helpful!

Unfortunately Cracker Funk, our 10,000 budget can't all go towards gear - only about half (and we want to buy because we have a a number of projects in the future where we won't even have the budget to rent.)

This is going to sound like a stupid question... We're considering the Sennheiser Wireless Microphone System which is somewhere around $700. Is it $700 for each lav? or is it $700 for the system and you can buy additional lavs for less? Also, how frequently and under what circumstances are Lav's usually required? I know they're used in wide shots, though in a wide shot I would be tempted to cheat the actors faces so we can't see their lips from a distance and then record the dialog wild.

Also chilipie, we decided on one Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens for now. Thanks for the advice!!
 
Unfortunately Cracker Funk, our 10,000 budget can't all go towards gear - only about half (and we want to buy because we have a a number of projects in the future where we won't even have the budget to rent.)
Huh? I think we crossed streams, or something. My budget included zero gear. I don't count that as production cost (unless it's something unique for that production). My budget went entirely to cast/crew/props/music/transportation/stuff/and-more-stuff. I assumed the same would be true for you.
 
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