As technology prices plummet, more and more students come to film school armed with their own Dv cameras and computer editing systems. But that's not required. In fact, there are only a few technology items we require of our film production students.
The first is a firewire 400 hard drive, which is used to stored your media and files. We recommend the firewire drives from ProMax.com, as they've been the only manufacturer/vendor who promise their drives are capable of running DV video live (read product claims carefully - most drives say they're perfect for video storage, but they never mention live playback).
The benefit of owning a hard drive is that you're not tied down to one editing system. You can carry your media to whatever system is available. In the old days (ie: two years ago), students would capture media to one system's internal drives and then be stuck there all semester. The result -- some machines were very crowded while others were empty. Now the demand is spread among all the systems.
Even those who own a home editing system can benefit from owning a hard drive. While home editing systems are common, most people don't own a DV deck (the cheapest of which - the Sony DSR11 - costs about $1800). With a portable firewire hard drive, those folks can capture media using the school systems, then carry the media home to cut there. We can that SneakerNet.
For moments when a 160 gig drive is overkill, we recommend carrying one of those new fangle mini USB drives, such as the Sandisk Cruzer, pictured here. Offered in capacities ranging from 32 Meg to 512 Meg (probably more by now), these itsey bitsey drives are sometimes disguised as keychains, necklaces and even watchbands. They take the place of floppy drives and zip discs, which are vanishing fast. These drives are no good for huge video files, but they're perfect for text, photos and that song you want to bring from home and add to your video project.
We don't yet require the purchase of mini USB drives, but considering they're priced as low as $20, I suggest you pick one up pronto. You'll use it everywhere you access a computer - home, in the film department and all over campus.
Other items to consider are all the expendibles you'll need for editing and shooting. The most important of these are headphones, which are strongly recommended in the editing bullpen (gets loud in there, ya know?). Make sure you buy a traditional, closed back style of headphones. Take a look at these phones available from Sony. The basic, cheapest model is fine, they don't need to be wireless or anything fancy. Just avoid the lightweight Walkman or iPod-style phones or ear buds. And make sure you keep the mini-plug adapter, as that's what you'll need most of the time.
Other expendibles include gels and diffusion (for lights), DV tapes, blank DVD-Rs, clothespins and more. No need to worry much about these now, especially if you're an incoming freshman straight from High School (your production classes are a year away). I suggest you come and get the lay of the land and then buy this stuff from a local vendor. We have recommendations of who to deal with in Orlando.
Finally, I like to suggest that students own a digital still camera and a cheap DV camera. These items could even be combined in a single model. You won't make movies with these, but you'll use both for casting sessions and location scouting. In those situations, it's very handy to own your own gear.