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For that budget look at a DV camera and a desktop. No way you can get a workstation for that budget.
Is it possible to build a desktop that can handle HDV editing? Or would it be so expensive that you might as well move up to a workstation?
A desktop with Quad Core processor and RAID HDs will edit HDV nicely.
However, if you are on a tight budget and are doing fairly simple video production for web and SD display, it will be easier, cheaper, and quicker to shoot and edit in standard def DV.
OK, so if SD is the way to go, I'm looking at the Panasonic PV-GS320 as a decent option (again, I know next to nothing about camera choice). Will I get decent enough SD footage out of this, and will it play nicely with PPro?
Looks good enough to me and has an attractive price, leaving you some room for the desktop. The only thing missing is external mic connections.
That should work fine but do not forget about Audio.
I have a client with similar needs to yours and they have a similar camera. Pix are fine but onboard sound is crap in situations such as events/interviews etc
Find an Adaptor for the audio connector on that camera and budget in a decent microphone(s) for your purpose. The adaptor allows connecting better microphones (eg XLR connection)
@harm: could you get around the lack of external sound if you ran a mic and the camera into the computer and recorded with OnLocation? The vast majority of our project will be 1-room, often from a static tripod for the length of the piece.
I also haven't come across any MiniDV cameras in that price range that have a decent feature set other than that one, really. If I read correctly, PPro doesn't work well with HDD camera formats typically, correct?
It would not work with OnLocation in the way you suggested, because the only way OL gets it's data is through firewire. No possibility to add a mic to the PC in synch with OL.
PP does not work happily with HDD camcorders, because of the MPEG compression used in those cameras. Your best bet is a tape based DV camera. Did you have a look at the Panasonic PV-GS500? It is more expensive (around $ 700) but has mic in, is 3 CCD's and has a better feature set than the GS320.
That might be a better option; I'll present both to the higher ups and see whether it's worth it to them to improve sound quality for $350 or so.
Thanks much for the help, all--it's a bit of an information overload trying to do all this the first time through :)
The PV-GS300 preceded the 320 and actually had a near-identical feature set, but it had a 1/8" plug for an external mic or XLR adapter. Hard to find them now, but if you can find it you'll probably like the price and the features (which are, again, very near identical to the 320)
500 is also very good. All are compatible w/ PPro.
The sound quality is probably worth a lot more than $350.
Viewers will forgive all sorts of crapola with the video & editing if there is an excellent soundtrack. And conversly, even with excellent video & editing, if the sound is third rate, viewers will tend to identify the program as "amateur".
IMO, getting the best soundtrack you can is a relatively inexpensive way to significantly boost the production value of your project
Ok, I've hopefully settled on the 500 (need budget approval) and now I'm pricing systems:
PROCESSOR Core 2 Quad Q6600 Processor.
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows Vista® Home Basic, Service Pack 1
MONITOR 22inch E228WFP Wide Flat Panel Monitor.
MEMORY 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz - 2DIMMs
OPTICAL DRIVE DVD BURNER
VIDEO CARD 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3650
HARD DRIVE 160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
SECONDARY HARD DRIVE 160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
FLOPPY OR MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive
MODEM & WIRELESS No Modem Option
FIREWIRE IEEE 1394 Adapter with Cable
SOUND Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
I can build that out for under $900; that should be adequate to run PPro, yes?
I suggest a third hard drive, making the 2-nd and 3-rd ones at least 500 GB.
Would you RAID the 2nd and 3rd then? And is 2gb sufficient?
Not for DV material, one for project/scratch and the other for media and 2 GB is sufficient.
I concur with Harm on his suggestions. One additional thing you might wish to consider is a second DVD multi-drive. I'd go with a different make for the second. I've had great luck with Pioneer, Plextor and LG, as of late. This will allow a possibly wider range of media, that gets handed off to you from the higher-ups. Though they may spec the same, different drives handle the same media differently. As a bonus, should you need to burn more than one DVD of a Project, you can use software that allows multiple burners. These guys are cheap now.
It's good that you are getting the input from the forum, before purchasing a lot of gear, that looks great, but does not work well as a package.