Gear List: Top 10 Must Haves That Won't Break The Bank

Christmas is just around the corner. Yikes! Doesn't it seems like 2015 had just arrive? To get into the holiday spirit, I thought I'd write a post about the Top 10 Most Important Items that's in our gear bag and why they're so crucial.

1. Leatherman - $90.85

 
 

This is by far the most used tool on our productions. Leatherman is the swiss army knife of film. From screwdrivers to cable cutters, it has pretty much every tool that you'll possibly need on set. And, if you work with RED Cameras, RED's Sidewinder is a must have!

I remember when I first started working on set, everyone, I mean everyone, had a Leatherman. Yes, even the crafties. There's nothing more embarrassing than asking the crafty guy to borrow his Leatherman.

But it does much more than just butter your croissant on set.

Why is it a must have?

Simple.

From screwing in baseplates, cutting gels to custom installing lens mounts, our trusty Leatherman gets the job done for us and it will do the same for you.

2. Lens Cloth / Lens Cleaners - $5.00

 
Micro Fiber Lens Cloth

Micro Fiber Lens Cloth

 

On the night before a shoot, we inspect every single lens to make sure it is absolutely free from dust or finger prints. And when we arrive on set / location, our AC inspects every lens, front and back for a second time. Finally when we're ready to mount the lens onto the camera, we inspect it for a final time.

Having a lens cloth and a cleaner with you at all times ensures that you have a clean lens before you call action.

Here's something to be mindful of:

Only use a cleaner solution if it's absolutely necessary. Your expensive glass comes with a *T coating solution to prevent flares and the more you use a liquid solution to clean the glass, the more that solution will begin to wear off.

Why is it a must have?

If you consider having a clean lens a must, and we do, then you need to keep a microfiber lens cloth in your kit.

3. Rocket Blower - $9.75

 
Rocket Blower

Rocket Blower

 

You may think that I'm a bit OCD but there's nothing worse than going into the edit room and realizing the shot you thought you nailed on set is filled with dust spots. Having a clean lens is not only a it is a duty to your clients.

We use the rocket blower to knock out all the dust and hair that may have fallen onto the lens or sensor and use a lens cloth to wipe off any remaining finger prints or water marks that's left on the lens.

If you're cleaning your sensor, make sure to use a dedicated sensor cleaner only. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the sensor.

Why is it a must have?

Having just a lens cloth is not enough to get rid of that stubborn dust particle from your lens element. A rocket blower will do the job.

4. Xrite ColorChecker Passport for Video - $149.00

 
Xrite ColorChecker Passport for Video

Xrite ColorChecker Passport for Video

 

If you haven't checked out our post on HOW TO CREATE A LUT IN UNDER 5 MINUTES, check it out now! It's a great piece on how to use the ColorChecker Passport to create custom looks for monitors like the SmallHD 502 or Zacuto's Gratical EVF.

Since we implemented the ColorChecker Passport into our workflow, we've saved tremendous time in post and our colors have never looked better!

Why is it a must have?

It saves you time in post and helps you with matching multiple cameras. The sooner you can deliver your final product to your clients, the better you'll look, not to mention you'll more likely to earn their repeat business.

5. Pelican SD / CF Card Holder - $17.25

 
Pelican SD Card Holder

Pelican SD Card Holder

 

Before we purchased these small cases for our SD cards, we were constantly losing cards or forgetting where we placed them. The Pelican 0915 SD Card Holder is an incredible solution to that problem.

Why is it a must have?

There are plenty of other card holders out there but why we love this so much is because it is small and waterproof. If you forget it in your back pocket and accidentally throw your laundry in, you'll rest knowing that your footage is safe in its case.

6. Bongo Ties - $5.49

 
Bongo Ties

Bongo Ties

 

If you haven't used a Bongo Tie yet you should definitely try it on your next shoot. But be warned, you will be hooked.

We use bongo ties for all sorts of things. From securing our sound recorder to a rail, mounting a GoPro to a tree branch, you can safely say we've put these ties through its paces.

Bongo Ties are glorified rubber bands with incredible strength.

Why is it a must have?

From tying cables to basic rigging, Bongo Ties are a lifesaver on set. Once you use it, you'll never go back.

7. Black Wrap - $25.60

 
Black Wrap

Black Wrap

 

Black wrap is basically black aluminum foil. In fact, they are black aluminum foil, only way stronger.

Why is it a must have?

Use it to control light spills from your fixtures or create custom light patterns on a wall.

8. Duvetyne - $39.95

 
Duvetyne

Duvetyne

 

Duvetyne, a.k.a. commando cloth, is a flame retardant black material that suppresses light leaks. It is essentially the same material Matthews uses for their cutters and floppies.

We use duvetyne to mask out windows and create makeshift "softbox" like containers for our china lantern to control the light spill.

Why is it a must have?

As a cinematographer your primary job is the control and shape the light according to the scene. Duvetyne does just that.

Order in large quantities and cut out smaller portions to save money.

9. Gaff Tape - $5.95

 
Gaffer's Tape

Gaffer's Tape

 

Gaffer's tape is a super strong tape that can hold just about anything. It comes in all different shapes and colors so that you can stay organized on set. From setting marks, taping down cables to holding up duvetyne against a window, it's like having an extra hand on set.

Why is it a must have?

Gaffer's tape makes you look good. Clients may not notice your tape job but they will notice the messy cables hanging all around when you don't. Actors love it when you help them with a mark too.

10. Rode iXY-L Stereo Mic for iPhone - $199.00

 
Rode iXY-L

Rode iXY-L

 

Audio is probably the single most overlooked aspect of any film production and at Matchstix Studios, we're guilty of this as well. But since we purchased the Rode iXY-L for our iPhones, we've been recording insanely high quality audio wild sounds on our productions.

The Rode iXY-L comes with a small case and carabiner that you can hook on to the back of your belt loop or backpack. It doesn't require a large setup, just your iPhone. Combined with the Rode REC app, it allows you to capture some immersive sounds on the go.

At $199, it's not the cheapest mobile mic but it definitely is one of the best we've used.

Why is it a must have?

Size and Functionality.

It's so small, we bring it on all our shoots and because of how easy it is to use, it allows us to capture high quality audio, fast.

These tools may not be as sexy as the latest camera or stabilizer, they are tools we use every day. We can't imagine doing our work without them. If you have any essentials in your tool kit, please comment below. We'd love to hear what you are using on your sets!

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