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At the end of the day, it all comes down to KNOWING your gear
I am often asked what is the minimum gear necessary to start out in video as a serious hobby as against just for shooting holidays say.
Obviously a video camera is required and as to which one, that could be an essay all by itself, but in as much of a nutshell as I can make it, for the long term it is best if you get one that has a bundle of manual controls as well as being fully automatic (for when you start out).
It is also highly recommended that you have a model with a mic input, headphone output, HDMI, USB and AV ports, and if at all possible, a remote (LANC) port. An on-board light is also useful. To my mind, a proper viewfinder is mandatory.
For accessories, a good mic is essential; such as those from RODE and Sennheiser, and a tripod with a fluid head is a must. An adjunct to the main tripod is one of the Joby miniature, flexible tripods.
A small cleaning come tool kit should be accessible at all times and mine has a lens blower, cleaning tissues, tweezers and a jeweller's screwdriver set. Another thing that should stay with the camera at all times are spare cables and a battery charger. I also keep an inverter in the car under the passenger seat that I can plug into the 12v power source and gives me 240v AC.
All this stuff should be kept safe in a good strong case, or a dedicated back pack. Cases can be expensive, especially if you get something like a Pelican which are airtight and waterproof and can probably survive a tank driving over them, so at a pinch, one of the aluminium types from JayCar can work too. Just bear in mind these are not "airline baggage handling proof" as I found out once to my dismay (thanks Jetstar!).
A dedicated backpack made by folk such as Lowepro is very good, waterproof and strong. Make sure there are lots of pockets.
In terms of software, of course this depends on what platform is your poison (Mac or PC) to a large extent, although high end apps such as those from Adobe and AVID can be had for both. Others worth a look are Sony Vegas, Grass Valley Edius, Cyberlink, VideoStudio and Magix are all very good in general.
Handy add-ons / plugins include Pixelan Spicemaster, BluffTitler and the suite of packages from ProDAD (including ProDRENALIN if you are a GoPro fan.
Don't forget though at the end of the day, it all comes down to KNOWING your gear, how to use it to its very best, and looking at what you are shooting with a critical eye. I remember reading somewhere once that an interesting movie / composition shows a subject in a way that people don't generally see it.
Finally, you can never have too many SD cards ore spare batteries!
David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.
Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.
David can be contacted via [email protected]