Let's get it out there. We have an addiction. We are all gear-heads. Out for that next fix on gear news and to read the specs of the latest camera. However, as with all addictions, our personal economic situations play a major role in what we get and in many aspects what we can even rent.
Before Scene Alive was scene alive, haha pun totally intended, we had our own passions and shot with the gear that we owned. Comfortable gear. I personally enjoyed the dslr range and shot on the canon 5DMKII, and still do. Eddie shot on the Panasonic GH2, but his love for gear spans the spectrum. When we became alive, we realized that it's more than the camera. It's everything else.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS
In film school, we were sheltered in that we had whatever gear we needed when we needed it. Then we got done and had to acquire and use our own gear. It is when you have to purchase gear that you realize that you need to look at the whole picture. There are times when the camera will have to take a knock so that people can get paid, locations can be acquired, talent can be fed and grip can have the tools for a smooth shoot, but more on that later.
The main important tools in my opinion would be your lights, sound, camera and tripod, probably in this order. Invest in equipment that will get the job done in an effective manner.
LIGHTS - Your talent needs to see what you want them to see. I have also realized that in lighting something right, even a camera that we all have in our pockets (iPhone ;), yes I'm biased) will have a very appealing image. Light it incorrectly and it becomes unflattering and even ungradable. You could achieve good lighting with popular lights such as Kinos or Arri lights or you could always use the one light that we all have access to--the sun. I suggest investing in a bounce and diffusion kit. This will solve your issues on set by a huge margin.
SOUND - What good is great picture with horrible sound. Unless you want to make a silent film. And don't resort to subtitles due to bad audio. We've noticed that there are tons of videos we shall see watch with not the best image but stellar sound. The message needs to be delivered without interference.
CAMERA - We touched on this earlier, but no harm in a recap. Know what image you want and what camera will work for your preferred shooting situations and the pounce. Try out different ones and see what fits your studio best. There is also another factor that we have to look at...lenses. VERY important.
TRIPOD - Cloverfield was one of the shakiest films I have ever seen and this takes the cake over drunk uncle Joe's brunch footage. But did you know that this was an effect that they wanted in the film and one that actually helped in the story? If you watched it, chances are you were sick...physically. Chances are you are not making a Cloverfield 2 (if Matt Reeves is reading, we await part 2). Get a tripod that you are happy carrying around and one that will hold your camera, especially if you are looking at broadcast cameras. You want a good fluid head ensuring smooth and silky pans and tilts. No one wants to watch shaky footage that is clearly not planned. There are many kinds, from carbon to aluminum and the heads differ vastly as well.
Don't worry about the details, use this time to work on putting together a set of gear that you like. We'll get back to the different tools in more depth. In the words of a wise professor I used to have, "Shoot dirt, edit dirt!" Make sure you have the right gear for the project. It's something we constantly have to remind ourselves as well.
Let us know what you think in the comments and look into the scene alive favorite tools to see what treasure we have found.
By: Calvin Runji