What would be a good video camera and software for my movie?
Canon HV30 $770
It's the only camcorder I'd recommend under $2,000. It's an HDV camcorder, which means it records to miniDV cassette tapes which go for about $2 a piece. Don't let anyone tell you any different: HDV is sooo much better than Hard Drive, miniDVD, or SD card camcorders:
-easier to store: miniDV is cheap
-best quality: least compression
-miniDV is compatible with virtually any NLE system
Regarding the HV30: the Canon HV30 has excellent picture quality. It produces extremely sharp HD footage. It also has excellent color saturation on it's suprisingly impressive single 1/2.7" CMOS chip. It also has an excellent automatic mode, meaning it's super easy to use. I'm more of a manual guy myself, but I shoot with the HV30 in auto because it's so good; it has the fastest autofocus I have ever seen.
It also has a 24p mode, which is excellent for movies, short films and documentaries. 24p makes your digital video look more like celluloid film. It's not perfect, but still.
Several problems with the HV30:
it's a consumer camera so it's manual controls suck, but it's good enough to keep in auto. All it's manual functions are hidden in its menu, except for focus, which merits a flimsy focus dial near the lens.
Software: the best is Avid Media Composer, but it only works on Macs and very powerful PCs. Next best is Final Cut Studio, but it only works on Macs. Final Cut Studio (FCS) is actually my favorite cuz it comes with Final Cut Pro (for editing), Soundtrack Pro (for music composing) Color (for color correction) Motion (for 3D effects) Compresser (for professional compression) and DVD Studio Pro (for making DVDs). Next best is Adobe Premiere Pro.
The problem is, Adobe, Avid and FCS are extremely expensive. However, if you are a student, or know a student you could use, you could get them for huge discounts!!!
AVID MEDIA COMPOSER $295 (regular price:$2,500)
FINAL CUT STUDIO $700 (regular price $1,200)
ADOBE PREMIERE PRO $350 (regular price $700)
Both Avid and FCS have pretty hefty computer requirements, but Adobe is pretty lax. I have a PC with 1GHz processor and 1GB RAM, and Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 worked fine (but I wasn't editing HD)
Assuming you get a $780 camcorder and a $700 program, you have about $500 to spend on accessories. Here are some things you may need to make your movie:
1) Microphone: probably a shotgun: RODE VideoMic $150 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/363083-REG/Rode_VIDEOMIC_VideoMic_Camera_Mounted.html
2) Lighting Equipment: don't spend $2,000 on a light kit. Just get a high wattage lamp at Home Depot or something.Two or Three 200W lights should be fine.
3) Tripod: don't get anything fancy. Just get something to hold up the camera. Getting a nice tripod will only encourage you to keep in on the tripod for the whole movie= boring. Take it off the tripod. Borrow a Wheelchair and use it as a dolly!
That should be under $2,000. So, anyways, I hope that helps, and happy moviemaking!
PS: for your added moviemaking pleasure: