Mar 16, 2011

Sony HDR-FX1 Video Camera

When I was on the verge of nearly winning the National Film Board of Canada Citizenshift contest with A Chill in the Air, I got into a conversation with my parents about my camera. In university at the time, I had sent them an email about how I dropped and broke my (photo) camera, which they read as me breaking my video camera.

When I discovered on the day of my 22nd birthday that I'd lost the NFB contest and a trip to France in the final round of voting, my parents surprised me by saying that they'd been looking at cameras for me as an early university graduation present. After several weeks of back and forth the order was placed for a Sony HDR-FX1.  

When I got home from university that spring it came in the mail - and I can't explain how awesome it was. It felt like a real step up, that all my early experience compounded to say, 'you've finally earned this' - that staying determined really does payoff.   I'd purchased three cheaper video cameras since the age of 12, and this fourth one is the one my parents footed the bill for.

No question my parents have always believed in me, but this was a huge show of support from my folks who seemed just as proud and confident that not only did I know what I wanted to do as a career, but that I had the chops to succeed.

This camera has really marked my transition from student to independent and corporate filmmaker. From Educated Detours, to my Rushmore travelog, to Elliot, the Buick Series, Give it Time, Gizmo Tree and beyond, this camera has allowed me the means to truly play - and get paid for it.

I think it feels twice as good to have this camera after all these years because it feels like I've really worked my way up to it. Receiving it as a gift from my folks felt like I'd proved something to them and to myself - that my approach was more than just a part-time hobby, that this was an investment in the beginning of my career.

It's still an amazing and very flexible piece of equipment. I've used it when hired as an independent videographer, for festival submissions, for personal experiments, and most anything else I possibly can.  The production company I work for has even rented it from me on numerous occasions.

What I love most about the camera is the rich cinematic look it delivers.  Of some of the other high end digital video cameras that I've used, I often feel like their captures are too crisp or overly harsh, sometimes robbing the subject matter of subtleties in light and color.  The Sony HDR-FX1 strikes a nice balance, and despite room for improvement, in general I'd say there's a strong base and range of features for the avid videographer to build on. 

Equipment is all about options after all, and at this point I feel able to achieve the majority of what I want to do within my own personal studio. It's been a long road to feel this sufficient regarding my productions, but lots of small steps have resulted in quite a journey. 

My appetite for new equipment and software will no doubt continue to grow as my projects do, but after 5 years of using this camera I think I've learned some important lessons.  Perhaps the most important of which being that it's not the fanciest equipment that makes the most interesting projects, it's the filmmaker who is willing to push himself to create them that does.  


Angry Charlie said...

I like this post. The relationship a filmmaker can have with their camera needs to be strong, be it a camera like yours or any smaller one somebody uses - its all about the message and the effort. I for one still really need a camera like yours, because it will add that final touch to projects I want to work on or revamp and will allow me to use certain features like manual focus to further enhance my story. But, one day I will get one and then nobody can stop me from creating a Pagemaster remake!

Editing Luke said...

I think you'd benefit having a more elaborate camera with more manual features Tyler, and there are a lot of options to explore. You should make some new videos or experiments in any case though to keep yourself fresh. Where's that next Thoughts in Motion!? :)