Video camera and editing software for teen
December 11, 2012 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Relatively inexpensive digital video camera and software for budding pre-teen/teen movie makers?

A search for this topic came up but is from 2006 so I'm requesting updated info. Specifically, my two sons are interested in shooting and editing some movies, and I am wondering what recommendations are for decent affordable cameras (ones with an actual lens and not a phone-style one), and also what everyone's favorite not-crazy-expensive PC-based software/shareware/freeware is for editing, basic effects, etc. (Yes, I know you should have a Mac for this stuff, but Emperor Palpatine Gates has already broken our will so don't go there.)
posted by SinAesthetic to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about getting them a new iPod touch plus enough iTunes credits to buy them iMovie and some other film-focused apps? They could also use a Flip Camera and load the footage onto an iPad or iPod to edit using iMovie for iOS. It'd be an all in one package to a certain extent.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2012

I got my nephews (13 and 8) Flip Ultra HDs and they love 'em. Easy enough for both of them to use, and while they're far from ruggedized, they have so far been kid-proof. They're a PC household, but even with Windows Movie Maker, they found it easy to import, edit, and share their videos. The camera does what they need it to, and it's cheap enough that I won't be too upset when it breaks.

You asked about not-phone-style cameras, but the Flips are cheap enough that you can get 'em started, and if they really go nuts for it and exhaust the Flip's capabilities, you'll know for sure they're ready for something bigger and better. They also take their Flips everywhere and film almost everything. Not sure they'd be quite so gung-ho about lugging around a bigger, heavier camera, especially an expensive one that they'd worry about breaking.

For software, aside from going Adobe (Premiere / After Effects) which is pretty much the standard for Windows, you really can do quite a bit with Windows Movie Maker, which is free (and probably already installed.) Again, if they exhaust its capabilities, you'll be ready to step up. Adobe Premiere Elements ($80) is kind of meh, and really not all that much better than the free Windows Movie Maker. Premiere Pro ($800) is very comprehensive, but for that price tag, you could get 'em a Mac Mini with iMovie, or most of the way to an iMac.

If you're set on going to a camcorder or pro-style camera, would definitely recommend solid state, preferably recording to SD card. Tape (Mini DV) is dead, hard disk-based cameras have lots of storage but are still vulnerable to disk failure and have poorer battery life due to constantly spinning the disc, and you still need to connect a cable to your PC to retrieve the video. With a flash-based camera, you just pop out the SD card, stick it in your computer, and you're set. And SD cards are fast enough and have the capacity now to record plenty of 1080p video. Look for something that will record H.264 natively, for ease of sharing online and with mobile devices.
posted by xedrik at 3:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Windows is fine for editing, windows movie maker is free. If they want to move up to something more, Magix or Adobe Premier Elements are reasonable.
As far as cameras go, Canon, Panasonic, JVC, Toshiba or Samsung would be fine. It should have an optical zoom, ignore the digital zoom. You don't need full HD, 1280 x 720 would be fine for them, and less taxing to edit.
Get one that has an external mic jack, so they have to option of using one.
Make sure you get a class 10 SD card or two, and a tripod.
If they are going to write a script, check out the free program Celtx
posted by Sophont at 3:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll say again, the Hero 3 is crazy-cool and designed to take the type of abuse a teenager is likely to think is fun. There are three versions, depending on needs/wants/budget.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:06 PM on December 11, 2012

I realize I'm running afoul of some of your parameters, but am going to offer up my knowledge here anyway. I run an office where we are constantly putting cameras into the hands of undergraduates for class projects, so we're looking at both rugged, and decent quality. We were purchasing Flip HDs for this purpose, but now that they are out of production, we are switching to Zoom recorders (like this one here: which are not exactly in the same price range, but have pretty incredible audio for their size. I've also used one of the Kodak sport models for my own personal use and been pretty happy with the quality.

For things where we need a bit more quality where these phone type cameras don't quite cut it, we actually are using point & shoot stills with video capability, most notably, a higher-end Nikon Coolpix model.

We also occasionally use ipads with imovie installed. I *think* you could install imovie on ipod touches as well. And there are pretty surprisingly decent add on lenses for idevices available as well.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 8:20 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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