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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Catma" project 2011: Finding the Gear for the New Feature Film

So, the story we are shooting is being called What's the Use for now. Jorge and I have bought some of the essentials we need for creating another film. This has been a challenge as neither of us make a lot of money, and by following the goals of "Catma," are trying to be resourceful with the small sum we have.

HARD DRIVE:  As this is a digital project, not to be shot on film (although I'd love to try this someday), we have to have a place to store the footage.  I refuse to skimp on the working drive because if this baby blows, there goes all the work. I've had great luck with CalDigit.  They were really supportive of us back in 2008 when we went to Puerto Rico to shoot In the Shadow, and arranged a very nice protracted payment plan for the drive. As our villas were without air conditioning, and the editing "suite" was a corner near the bathroom in one of the villas, the drive had to endure a lot.  The 8TB HDOne endured the heat, salty sea air, humidity, being on 24 hours a day for 6 weeks, plus traveling from the US, to a tiny Caribbean island, then back to the US. It's a tough hardworking drive.  I've also always found their support staff great to work with.  So, I went with CalDigit again and purchased a 6TB VR drive.

The space on this MIGHT be a bit of overkill after the DP and I did the math, but as this is largely an improv-based project, I know my shooting ratio is going to be higher than normal.  I usually average around 5:1 shooting ratio.

SOUND:  We had to get some good but essential sound recording equipment as we had none. This has been the hardest aspect of gear selection for Jorge and I.  After asking a lot of sound recordists out there, we chose to go with a Zoom H4n from Sweetwater Sound. Learning about lavalier microphones has been a bit of a mind boggler.  If we had all the money in the world, we'd obviously buy the absolute best.  But we don't.  So we purchased a Sennheiser ME4.  As we are trying to keep the crew small, Jorge and the writer, Jason Tremblay, will be taking a crash course in location sound recording from Martin Pedersen who did sound for my first feature, In the Shadow.  

Because it is cheaper than buying, we will be renting a boom pole (with Zeppelin/deadcat/etc) and a Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic instead of buying them.  Note that buying the Zoom was cheaper for us than renting.

CAMERA: Since one of the primary drawbacks for poor filmmakers out there is accessing equipment, we've structured "Catma" to encourage filmmakers to use whatever camera they have free access to. As I mentioned in a previous post, we were toying with the Canon Vixia which is just a consumer HD camera, or a Canon 7D, a far superior unit. These were the units we had access to. Of course, when one chooses a better camera, one has to think through other requirements needed. Better camera = larger file sizes for footage = larger hard drive = more back ups = more cash spent.  When it comes down to this, we had to just look at the far superior film we would have using the Canon 7D and accept the relatively small amount of extra cash we would have to fork out for this.

So, Michael Pugliese, the DP, will be using this Canon 7D, which he just purchased a "cage" for.  I have never used this camera and we'll be doing lots of tests at locations as I scout about Austin the next few weeks.  We also will be needing to acquire a shoulder mount for this.

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