A Camera is a Camera

A video camera is a video camera is a video camera. NOT!!!! But, I’m sure you already knew this because you’ve noticed that that the last Tom Cruise movie looked better than your camcorder at your 6-year-old’s kindergarten graduation.

Stands to reason though: there’s a ton more that goes into a movie than a simple dance recital. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on camera and their accessories for a box-office movie.

The Captain is more important than the ship he runs

But, it’s never always about the camera. Jacob and I shot an award-winning short film with less than $1000 worth of camera and audio gear (see the short film here) and most viewers didn’t know the difference. Turn it around to see a local commercial that was produced (not by hamil Bros Studios) on a $50,000+ camera rig that looked like one would expect a $350 camera to look. So, there’s a ton more involved than just the camera. Nevertheless, it’s a substantial part of the equation.


Say Hello to my not-so-little friend

In modern filmmaking, or interview-shooting as our case is here, many production companies have gone away from the big, over-the-shoulder camcorders that most people associate with shooting “professional” video, and are now moving into modular camera systems. This means that there are a number of components that go into making the battle-station fully operational.

You only want me for my body

First, we have the camera body. (WARNING: lots of jargon coming).

The camera body houses the the camera sensor. This is the digital equivalent to the film or tape used in analog cameras. It also, controls the shutter and different settings that will be used to capture your footage. A lot of cameras also include an internal recording unit (for what it’s worth, some cameras won’t actually record footage; they require an external recorder). The body also allows for some audio recording (but, we’ll get to that later).


Prime choice lenses

The second component is the lens, or lenses as the case is here. With modular camera systems, there are two types of lenses: prime lenses and zoom lenses. Basically, zoom lenses zoom in and out and prime lenses don’t. Often times, prime lenses will yield a better result than zoom lenses. I’ll leave that at that for the sake of simplicity. If you want more information, the interwebs will be glad to overwhelm  you with information.



Third, we have to have power to operate the camera because. Most of the time, the battery that comes with the camera SUCKS! There. I said it. It’s the biggest, crippling handicap of most cameras on the market. Never fear though. Wonderful companies, such as Blueshape, make a darn good battery (yes, it’s a shameless plug).


Do you see what I see?

Last, but, certainly not least in our interview setup, are the video monitors. Monitors? Plural? Really, how many video monitors do you need? Well, in the realm of nerdness that Jacob and I currently live in, our answer would be, infinity! I digress. On set, for an interview, Hamil Bros Studios will have anywhere from 2-4 monitors. Let’s say, for this one, we’re using two. One one-camera monitor to assist our camera operator with focusing and one director’s monitor that will help our director with composition and see things in the frame that may be ugly or unflattering.


We’ve covered capturing the image. But, that’s only half the battle. The other half? Sound (although, that percentage will shift depending on who you talk to). So, as you may have guessed, that is what is coming up in our exciting next post!!!!!

You can check out the last post here, and next week’s here, available 12/05/16.

If, at any point you have any questions, please email us at [email protected] or you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Hamil Bros Studios is a high quality video production company based in Lubbock, TX. Their work spreads throughout West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and beyond.


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