Well, this is a loaded topic! Of course every video production is different and this list will be quite subjective to our own personal preferences and shooting style but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from it!
One of our favorites by far! You see these things everywhere from low budget shorts, weddings, corporate videos, and big hollywood film productions. There is literally a stabilizer for every budget when it comes to these things. For us, we’ve always been a big fan of Glidecam. We use their HD-2000 and HD-4000 series depending on the camera payload that we’re operating. These stabilizers tend to come with the option to mount them to an articulating arm that attaches to a vest that you then strap on. It’s great to be able to operate this way as it gives you the most stability, but at the same time restricts your camera movement somewhat. For us, we’re always on the move when it comes to video production so it’s important for us to have a rig that is versatile. We will often only use the stabilizer/sled portion of the Glidecam. By doing this, we’re able to shoot in low mode, de-rig quicker for stealth shooting, and have more camera movement options overall.
Where would a video production company be these days without a drone? With the ease of use and the price being so affordable, it’s hard to justify not having one. The popularity is so high that we often get requests from our Vancouver clients to include aerials in their video productions. We love the production value that aerials add and are always trying to think of new ways in which we can use them for our video productions. We fly a DJI Phantom 3 Professional. For us, it’s just the right amount of quality we need when it comes to aerials. If you’re wanting to spend a bit more money and opt for something with better specs, we would suggest looking into the DJI Inspire 1 with the Zenmuse X5R. 4k Raw video with interchangeable lenses!? YES PLEASE. However, there are so many options out there nowadays and the technology on these things keep changing. Don’t feel bad when you drop the cash on one of these bad boys and something bigger, better, and cheaper comes out a few months later.
Ah the slider – it’s like having a mini dolly that stores easily away. You can get these things in so many different shapes and sizes. There are a lot of different models out in the market. Some good and some bad, so make sure to do your research on which one will work for you best. Kessler, Cinevate, Edelkrone all make pretty decent rigs.
We own and operate the Pocket Dolly from Kessler Crane. It works perfectly for video productions as it runs on a belt system with a motor. This allows us to dial in the ideal speed of our camera motion. We can feather in the beginning of the slide and then feather down the speed at the end. We can also recreate the same motion multiple times which allows us to get funky in post-production when we want to composite shots. Through the remote we’re also able to do motion controlled time lapses. We would recommend something with a belt driven system to get the most out of your slider.
We’ve all seen that Ronin work it’s magic on set. Motorized gimbals are a great resource to have on any video production. We were one of the first Vancouver video production companies to actually own a MoVi M5 from Freefly. Freefly was the original innovator of the handheld gimbals and blew everyone away when they first announced the technology. Although DJI is making fantastic strides with their Ronin series gimbals, we’ve found that the software that Freefly operates under is much more intuitive. Either way, there are a ton of other brand options out there but please note that not all gimbals are created equal!
We love using our Movi for very specific shots. Whether we’re filming out of the back of a van while driving down a busy Vancouver street or we’re flying in a helicopter capturing aerials – our Movi comes along with us on just about every shoot. We’ve been able to mount it on a jib and have used it as a remote head while having the remote control opening up a whole range of options in dual operator mode.
So simple, yet so important. Having a shoulder rig is the most quintessential piece of gear you’ll ever own. Every rig is fairly unique in their own way coming right down to the specifics of how it feels and how it configures with your camera. Most manufactures design rigs for very specific cameras which are designed to fit its ergonomics. We’ve found that even the best rigs are never perfect and most times you’re left to create your own “frankin rig” comprised of different components from different systems. Some of the key components you should consider when looking at a rig are the overall size, counterbalance option, rail circumference and length, and offset mounting options. Ideally, you want a rig that is flexible and that fits your current camera setup comfortably while still allowing for upgrades and interchangeability with other systems.