Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Never Go Out with New Gear

My travel video dreams are crushed… well, sort of for the time being.  I was planning on shooting a bunch of short videos while travelling. I thought “how hard could it be?  How come no one out there is doing cool shit with their amateur travel videos?”

Well, it turns out the limiting factor isn’t just creativity, but file types and money.  I bought a Sony HD camcorder which recorded in AVCHD file format.  When I played it on my iMac my Mac was sluuuuuggish.  While the file type is friendly for the average family home video maker, who likes to burn straight to DVD and Blue Ray, it’s very resource intensive on your computer.  It plays slightly better on my PC laptop, but it’s still resource heavy to edit.  Considering I’m going to be travelling for months at a time I’d also need terabytes of storage for editing files, raw files, and my final output.  I can’t afford to buy and carry all that storage with me, even if I was to ship back external hard drives every few weeks.  Nor can I afford to buy a pimped out Macbook Pro to edit on the field… not that it would actually help.  They’re just not powerful enough and I’d spend far too much time rendering.

Here’s a great blog post on the AVCHD issue you should read:

Sadly I decided to return my camcorder and decided to limit the scope of my creative projects.  I’m going to have to work within the limits of the video on my Nikon D90 SLR.  I still have a long way to improve on my still photography anyways.  I did however by a Zoom H2 digital audio recorder.  It will supplement my slideshows, help me record ambient sounds, I can use it as a USB mic for web conferences, etc.  Check it out: http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2/

A great piece of advice from pro photographers is: never go to the field with new gear.  Always test it first and become familiar so you know what to expect.  I’m glad I tested early.