What should a student VJ pack for their every day use? I’m going on the theory that your school is like mine, and you don’t have all the money in the world to spend. Here is what I consider the minimum to shoot good video.
–Canon ZR800 Mini DV Camcorder: For under $300 the price is right and the camera has a good viewfinder, decent zoom and most importantly a microphone jack.
–Canon Deluxe Tripod: At $40 it is a great value for the money. I’ve tried a lot of tripods and most that are cheap, break. Canon tripods take a lot of abuse. The price is good and it has a quick release head. It pans and tilts fairly smoothly and does not become overly loose with long term wear.
-Handheld Mic: We buy most of our mics from Radio Shack or Walmart for less than $20 and then buy a 1/4″ to mini converter. In the field your students need something reliable, easy to use and unpowered. Powered mics fail and without an audio monitor, you will never know. We buy cheap mics because expensive ones will get damaged too easy and because it is very difficult to hook up an XLR to mini adapter without it having problems. You can get pretty good audio from a $20 mic. Save the quality mics for your studio.
–Firewire Cable: You will need a quality 4 pin to 6 pin Firewire cable to connect your camera to the computer.
–iMac 20 in.: You need a great computer for video. The new Intel Duo iMacs rock with 1GB RAM, 150 GB hard disks, large screen area and iMovie for Free. At $1000 it is a lot of bang for your buck. You can get away with the Mac mini for about $600, but you lose a lot of processor speed.
-Plastic Storage Bin w/lid: $2 each at Big Lots, Dollar Store, etc.
My kit is $1,387 per student. Now of course, I usually only have about 8 kits total, so they have to share. And it helps that you try to keep a camera working for 2-3 years, so you can build up your equipment before replacing it.
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