So with NAB just ending and my gear lust furthering, I'm left wondering how much gear is too much?
I mean there was this video from last year. Where several artist claim that you don't need this stuff.
You know it's such a cliche now for filmmakers to say that it's not about the gear, it's about the person behind the gear. But that's not always true. You know sometimes gear can hold your production back. Something breaks. Your fluid head isn't really fluid and ruins the pan shot. You need more light because of your slow lens, ect. So gear can be very important. But how much do you need. Well here's what I think that you need for gear.
Cameras are obviously one of the most popular things for filmmakers to drool over. However I think that there are only 3 levels of quality for video cameras.
So Tier Three, the lowest quality, is comprised of small sensor, fixed lens cameras. For example, your parent's handycam, Sony EX1, ect. Now these cameras can be very useful and although I consider them the "Lowest Quality", they can be very good. However for Film Productions, the difficulty to get a Shallow Depth of Field can really hold your production back. So I would suggest reserving them for event/videography and documentary.
I would consider Tier Two the DSLR Tier. Now not every DSLR exists in the DSLR Tier. You can decide for yourself whether a DSLR is in this category or in Tier One. But for me, all of Canon's (excluding 1DC) and Panasonic's (excluding GH4) DSLRs are in this Tier. They are in this tier because despite having a large sensor and interchangeable lenses like the Tier Three cameras. They lack overall detail (despite being 1080p), lack professional features (xlr,log picture profile, headphone jack, ac power adapter, peaking). Now Magic Lantern can solve some problems.... It doesn't solve the lack of resolution or high bitrate.
Tier One of course includes Arri Alexas, Reds and Canon's Cinema Line but it also includes all of Blackmagic Cameras, the A7s, GH4, the Sony FS100, FS700, FS7, F3, F5, F55, F65, ect. As far as image quality, these cameras are almost indistinguishable. You can pixel peep. Find flaws. Be 4k exclusive. But in my mind. They are all good enough to shoot on. Anything on. The only difference between them is the ease that you have on your production. For example, You may have some audio problems with the Blackmagic if your doing in camera sound. But with the FS700 or C100, you will have problems if you try to push the image in post too much. (#AVCHDProblems) But if you spend more you will have less problems for example the FS7 has 4k Raw and XLR audio. Less problems on set or in post.
So pick what you want for a camera. But I would suggest something in Tier One. I use a Blackmagic Pocket. Honestly the image won't get much better but production might get easier with some XLRs. (URSA mini?)
Honestly... Rokinon Primes if you need declick. Sigma Art Line (Mmmm). If you want zooms- Canon L. Don't cheap out on lenses because cheap lenses break. Put in some cash. But you don't need Zeiss CP.2s. If you want to use Zeiss CP.2s. Please rent.
A good starting point is a Canon 24-105 f/4L. $500 used. You'll use it the rest of your life. (or until you can afford the $2K 24-70 f/2.8L)
If you have money to rent expensive cinema lenses. I would suggest Canon's Cine Zooms (15.5-47mm T2.8 & 30-105mm T2.8) or Zeiss CP.2 Primes
The gear that nobody gives enough attention. But as a gaffer would say, there's nothing to shoot if you don't have light.
Get enough to light an interview. Most video work will be interviews. So just a simple three light set works.Clamp lights are nice but try to at least get something with stands. I have an Impact Scoop Light Kit from B&H. It's nice. Another option is "Pro Fresnel" on ebay. They're cheap Arri knock off Fresnel lights.
You can get LEDs or whatever. Unless you start booking bigger jobs, I wouldn't really worry about high power lights like HMIs, ect. But remember most big projects will want to just rent those lights so they can have insurance.
Oh, and be sure to get dimmers for tungsten fixtures and plenty of Stingers (extension chords).
Lav and Shotgun.
H1 and $3 lav mic will work. Shotgun mics - rode vid mic, NTG 2 or 3. Depends on Budget. Don't buy H4n, buy the H5. Much better preamps.
Bags and Acessiories
Make sure you protect your gear. You can cut corners and get some cheap gear like $20 ND filters instead of Tiffen.
Sliders are nice.
So there we have it. That's all the gear you need. Maybe just a one more thing. Or two.
Zachary Will is an Award-Winning Filmmaker creating short films and content for the Internet as the owner of Riverside Studios. He has a Bachelor's in Film from Full Sail University. He has worked on productions for companies like Webmd, Sears, Home Depot, Six Flags and more!
"the trick is to never give up... I think the secret of success is not how little you get knocked down but how often you get back up." - Gareth Edwards