Bit of a broad question here, but I'll try to be as specific as possible.
Basically there are a group of us talking about doing a round-table chat-show style webcast. Cracked.com's After Hours show is an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about (quite different in terms of content, but a similar physical setup in terms of there being 4 people sat around a table).
We're on a super low budget (read: almost no budget at all), as this is more of a proof-of-concept than anything more than that. I may be back here again if we decide that it's entertaining enough to be worth pursuing, but that's not just yet.
We have access to quite a broad range of cheapo cameras, between phones that can record in 1080P and compact cameras that can do decent-ish video. What we don't have is any specialist audio recording equipment (nothing beyond built-in mics in cameras), or any lighting equipment. We also have a small bit of experience between us in editing/post-production, and access to at least some level of editing software on semi-decent hardware.
My question is this: say you were going to spend $100 to make the proof-of-concept just a little but more professional, what would you do? Or $200? I know we'll be a long, long way from a professional feel, but just to take the edge off the amateur-ness.
I feel that sound quality is going to be a bigger issue than camera quality (visuals are mostly to have problems caused by bad lighting, given that this will be recorded in a kitchen or living room somewhere). I've heard mention of a pressure zone microphone being a good way of recording a group of people sat around a table? Good ones seem to go for $150ish, I'm sure a second hand one can be had for less than this. Not sure what we'd actually record onto to - is straight to a PC line-in port a viable option?
I know there's no "correct" answer to this, but I'm curious to see if anyone has any feelings on what can be done with almost no money at all, to improve on the base-line of 3 or 4 cameras on tripods around the table, with sound from built in mics.
(Or indeed any must-read articles on any of this - obviously I'm googling around as well as posting here, but if anyone has anything in particular they feel I should read then post away).