The Low Cost 3-Camera Production Recipe

The NewTek Team

Low-Cost-3-Camera-Shoot-1The most basic online video production is a lecture or webinar – one guy in front of a camera, perhaps with slides or graphics. Universities, hospitals, corporations and even garage mechanics are making these shows and many are making money. But audiences are starting to demand more quality. Soon, multi-cameras, animated graphics and remote video reporting – the domain of network TV, not YouTube or Vimeo – will be the benchmark that will define success in online video.

All of this might sound far beyond your financial capability to achieve, but not so. You can easily surf this new wave simply by drastically downsizing the equipment. And that’s just what TV networks did after decades of monopolizing the business. Here’s how you can be big – by getting small.

The Crew

Visit a TV studio in a big city – say back when we were partying like it was 1999 – and you’d have found a virtual factory full of big, expensive gear and dozens of union craftsmen. Cameramen (yes, male gender), lighting engineers, grips, electricians, technical directors, yada, yada. Go back to that studio now and despite the unions griping about the grips, it looks like Terminator II. Robotic cameras dance around the set, tally lights replace floor managers, one guy directs and switches – it’s nearly empty! But even the big networks are downsizing with technology. And so will you.

We’re talking here about a one-man, multi-camera remote shoot here! No can do? Think again. And if I’m wrong, it’s because you decided to bring your babe or bro for moral support. Go solo. You can do this. And just to cover the quality vs. budget issue, I’ll develop a low-cost inventory for you and then a super-low-cost inventory – so that you can do this thing for as little as $7,500!

Basic Toolset – Cameras

The tools you need fit into three categories; cameras, lights and switcher. For low cost, we’re going to use cameras that you would normally use for events, sports, news gathering – something like three Canon XA10 HD camcorders ($1,700 each x 3 = $5,100). For super-low-cost, consider the Nabi Square HD ($80 each x 3 = $240) to replace any or all of the Canons, depending on how low cost you want to go. Both cameras feature HDMI jacks with embedded sound. Plug up to a 50′ long HDMI cable ($30 each x 3 = $90) from each camera to carry the signals back to a switcher (more on that later). Each camera has onboard chips for recording an isolated (“iso”) version of your show. These chips can be used to enhance your online, “switched” program in post. read more...

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