2018 has been an AMAZING year for new additions to our equipment list. We have updated our video cameras, lighting, audio recording tools, monitors, and drones, as well as adding two Gimbals, a Midi Controller Keyboard (to make beautiful music) and a huge variety of other improvements to our production kits.
photo credits: Akai
The latest update to our arsenal of video production tools came late in 2018. The Akai MPK249 Midi Controller Keyboard is an amazing tool for writing, performing, and recording music beds and foley effects. Coupled with Logic Pro X, this is going to streamline the authoring process as well as to provide thousands of new soundscape opportunities. Of all of the updates in 2018, this one is the most fulfilling in what it will enable us to produce. Without good sound and music, a video project falls flat. This keyboard has semi-weighted keys, world class drum pads, and industry-standard Virtual Instruments. It controls major functions of Logic Pro and really streamlines the process and quality of the music we author for our projects.
photo credits: Zoom
Although the list of major new additions in 2018 to our equipment is long (much longer than what we are sharing below), the Zoom F8 audio recorder is arguably the most significant upgrade we have made this year. The F8 is not only portable, versatile, and extremely rugged; the audio quality is absolutely exceptional. For those of us shooters who are accustomed to hearing reasonable audio when recording direct to our cameras, you will be shocked when you hear the difference with the F8. The first time we recorded audio with the F8 as a test, we thought something was wrong. There is no hiss whatsoever (typically referred to as the noise floor). Literally, you can't hear any hiss at all. So not only are we now recording MUCH richer and fuller audio overall, we have less need to fix audio edits when we make cuts in post production. This has been a game changer for us, and really a surprise as to the extent of the impact it has had on the quality we provide.
photo credits: Zoom
The Zoom F-Control FRC-8 is the perfect companion tool to control the Zoom F-8 Digital Audio Recorder. Small enough to fit in the audio kit, this controller gives us quick access to all of the major functions of the Zoom F-8 in an easy-to-use interface.
photo credits: CAME-TV
Of course, what good does it do to have cameras if you don't have light? We already have SO many lighting options (ranging from a 2000 watt tungsten scoop light to 8 portable on-camera LED lights and everything in between.
But what we were missing was the ability to "Throw" light, so 2018 has been the year of the "Fresnel" for us. (Pronounced Frenell). Fresnel lights have a lens over a single light source (in this case, COB LED light source) so that it literally throws the light across the room. The lens is extendable so we can throw light ranging from a wide flood to a tight spot with the simple turn of a knob. We added four new Fresnel lights to our light kit this year. The 100 Watt COB MONSTER of a light, and three smaller 55 watt COB LED Fresnels. All four can run on batteries or AC. All four are fan-less so we can shoot in a critical audio environment. All four include a wide variety of accessories to throw colors, patterns, wide soft light and tight discreet lighting. And all four are Bi-Color so we can match the color of any ambient light on set.
These new lights have made a major impact on the quality of our deliverables this year.
photo credit: DJI
In addition to the corporate workhorse, the DJI Ronin MX, we have now acquired the stealthy Ronin-S Gimbal… Alongside our trusty Easy Rig support system, we now have three amazingly portable and cinema quality mobile stabilization systems. The Ronin-s (pictured top above) allows us to shoot in more congested areas without need for the large ring or handle set of the Ronin-MX (pictured just above) while also offering greater functionality for a single shooter. This is a perfect rig for events, weddings, corporate work, and more. The Ronin-S is so stable that we are even using it to replace many shots that would have previously required a slider. So now we get that cinematic look without having to set up an extra tripod, slider, motors, etc.
photo credit: Hasselblad
Well, if we are going to update our cameras on the ground, we better update our cameras in the air. We are proud to announce an addition of the Mavic 2 Pro aerial camera platform to our "squadron" of Phantom 4 drones.
The Mavic 2 Pro features a startlingly sharp Hasselblad lens, along with all of the other goodies offered with DJI controller software. The Mavic 2 Pro is much smaller and much more easily transported to locations than the larger Phantom Series, but actually offers a higher quality image with better transmission range, better stability, and a MUCH quieter flight. Smaller size and quieter operation allows us to be more discreet and reduce the chance of bothering the neighbors.
photo credit: Matt Abourezk via the iPhone
Our most recent camera update comes with the amazing Panasonic GH5s. Yes, it is small, Yes, it is a DSLR body, but this is an amazing camera. We have already shot more than 30 projects with this camera and it has become an essential "go-to" for much of our work.
In this image, you see the GH5s coupled with a Canon L-Series lens via a Metabones Adapter. This adapter not only allows us to shoot with the Canon L-Series glass, it opens up new cinematic options that go far beyond that of our ENG styled DVX-200. So if we choose to shoot with the Super-sharp Panasonic MFT lenses attached, we can easily match the image quality and color science of the DVX in two-camera shoots, but we can also choose Canon lenses for a more cinematic and selectively focussed look… Incredible combination in a small, ultra-low light camera body.
photo credit: Panasonic
We have made quite a few investments in video recently.
Lets start the conversation with the essential tool for every video production company… a video camera. Not just any video camera though, this is the amazing Panasonic DVX200. We can now shoot 4K (and just about every other lesser format) and the quality is breathtaking.
Why did we choose the DVX200?
Well for starters, the DVX is unlike any other camera on the market and Panasonic hit a home-run. The DVX 200 is a large sensor camera with a fixed lens. This means that although it is a great run-n-gun camera, it can also fit in as a cinema camera. It is a bit more forgiving in the focus range for corporate work, which is essential when you do as much corporate work as we do. This camera is so versatile it nails a great many production environments and workflows.
We really can’t say enough good things about how this camera has instantly improved the quality of our productions, let alone made it possible to shoot long-form projects. For example, we recently shot an 8-hour seminar in 4K and only had to change cards twice, if nothing else, our high-end DSLR video cameras would have overheated at least five or six times. You need the right tool for the job.
We will still use our Canon DSLR video cameras for the super-cinematic projects, but this camera has become the Go-To for the majority of our projects.
photo credit: DJI
Next up, we’re taking 4K off the ground and sending it up… way up. The latest in Drone technologies can be found in the DJI Phantom 4 PRO and DJI Phantom 4 drones. Not only are these drones stable, not only are they fast, not only are they quiet, they shoot 4k video at up to 60 frames per second and full HD up to 240 frames per second for incredible slow motion. In addition, The Phantom 4 Pro will shoot 20 Megapixel still frames for clients in need of aerial photography.
These really are our favorite new toys… errr…. tools. The quality is incredible, the possibilities are endless, and let’s face it, these are a blast to fly.
The reality is, we were going to purchase a much larger drone to fly full sized production cameras, but when we looked closely at our clients needs, we realized that smaller (and quieter) is better. The larger drones LITERALLY sound like a large lawn mower in the sky. We aren’t producing a major motion picture, we are creating premium commercial and corporate content, and often this means shooting events or in (relatively) close proximity of people. The more stealthy the drone is, the better for our clients. Luckily for us, DJI came along with a major leap forward in terms of stability and repeatability. The Phantom 4 PRO sets an all new benchmark for affordable high quality drone footage, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this new tool in our video arsenal.
photo credit: DJI
Keeping the 4K video theme going, we have added a DJI OSMO+ to our arsenal of cameras. This camera includes a three way gimbal to keep the image steady and smooth… even when running. The OSMO is a specific-use camera, not something we will fire up for most shoots. But when it is needed, it is irreplaceable (and extremely cool).
photo credit: ikan Corp
Ok, so what good does it do to shoot in luscious 4K if your CEO can't remember his lines? Well, we have a solution for that… the 12" ikan teleprompter, complete with custom developed software. The script playback is geared toward keeping up with the talent so they can read at THEIR pace rather than trying to match the pace of the prompter. We are lucky enough to work with an incredible software engineer who is customizing the prompter application to fit our needs. Our clients immediately notice the difference and even those who have a legacy of hating prompters are asking us back with our prompter in hand.
photo credit: Kessler Crane
Lets keep the conversation going with a new addition to our 36” Kessler Cineslider…. the incredible Kessler “Second Shooter” motion control system.
What does this mean for you?
1) This immediately increases the production value of your video project. The camera will do a slow crawl while keeping the subject centered in the frame. It really does make a huge difference to the quality of the footage… VERY cinematic.
2) Completely repeatable moves for the slide, pan and tilt axis. This means that we can do sophisticated motion control effects, and affordable multiple takes. No need to miss a shot since the computerized motion control will repeat the move with 100% dependability.
3) Because we invested in several sophisticated system batteries, we can literally keep the slider running for 24 hours on battery power before we need to recharge.
4) AFFORDABLE quality. The slider only takes a few minutes to set up, we can program in extremely complicated moves, then let the slider to its job. The slider with camera can act as a second camera, slowly crawling all day for interview work…. really incredible quality and cost savings.