Guide to Using Mini DV Digital Camcorders for TV Production

With the proliferation of numerous digital DV camcorders and many video based websites like DailyMotion, YouTube and MetaCafe, a lot of film makers are stepping into make short films to showcase their talents to pitch for a TV production job or a movie making career. You will generally need to use mini digital DV camcorders to get the job done.

Setting Specifications

You will need to set the “Frames per second” (also referred to as FPS) to at least 24FPS for a TV grade production. Also, not all camera equipment manufacturers support this specification. You will need to search around for the appropriate equipment. Generally, both Canon and Panasonic cameras support 24FPS. Set the resolution to a minimum of 640 x 480. This minimum setting is needed to approximate the quality of a TV production. You may also choose to go high definition, because almost all TV and movie production houses have gone digital. HD recording is essential to produce great picture on an HDTV.

You can also choose the built-in effects to achieve a particular look for your production. These include black and white effects, sepia tones, and grainy or noise effects to achieve a stylized look. Additionally, you may use the camcorders built-in filters to create customized effects. Also, configure the image stabilization to automatically compensate for the annoying hand movements while filming.

The Auxilliary Equipment

You will almost always need to use a tripod to still you shots and provide the right transitions and movements. You may also need to use specialized lenses like the fish eye lens and a wide-angle lens to cater to shot requirements. It will be wise to invest in some good lighting equipment because natural light is not suitable to all production requirements. This can really affect the tone and the mood of your production. Lighting often turns out to be the single largest impact on the quality of the finished product.

Also, your camcorder will almost always come with a built in mic but it will never achieve professional TV or cinema quality results. It is essential that you use wireless collar mics or boom mics to capture the sound properly.

Scene Setup

You should try to use the one third's rule while creating the scene composition to achieve a balanced appearance. Try to setup the camcorder at different angles and gauge the best shot location. Do not zoom in too much as this will create a shaky shot. Actually being closer to the subject, rather than zooming, will provide much more natural, vivid and vibrant colors.

Also, try to listen while setting up the shot through the viewfinder. A lot of shots are ruined because the videographer was too far away from the sound source. Using a camcorder mic will cause a wide range of audio to be picked up and louder sounds will dominate the audio. Try to locate a quiet spot or use better mics.