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Old May 29th, 2013, 01:36 PM   #1
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Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Any hints, tips or piece of equipment/workflow that makes your SPC life easier.

I'll start:
Interview audio
For micing i use a zoom h4n with a 1/8 output decent cheap Audio Technica lav. Turn it on and it defaults to that input > level it > rec > fool proof. I also cut a hole in the clear plastic case it comes in. I keep the recorder in the case and the mic wire has a little access hole. Keeps the buttons from being pressed. This might work for many hand held recorders.


For lugging little pieces of equipment (anything: clamps, batteries, cables etc:
I use various sized zippered mesh bags. I can easily see through the bags, they're durable and they pack well. I have all black bags so I put coloured electrical tape by the zipper to add in identification. It helps greatly in storage as well. White mesh bags might be perfect.

Case light:
I have a bright little led suitcase light that gets put in every kit I use.

Number your equipment:
Depending on the surface colour, use a black permanent marker or a silver coloured paint marker. Mark each side of everything. (Stand 1, 2..., loupe 1, 2...etc.) Really helps me in striking the location setup. Making sure I got all my equipment at quick glance.

Slider use:
- i keep a 30cm slider attached to my tripod at all times now. Besides the obvious tracking use, it gives my camera position one foot of lateral leeway. So useful for making quick adjustments without moving the tripod;
- change the cameras pan center point for spicing up pans
- turn the slider 90 degrees on the tripod plate and use the slider like a jib.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 03:39 PM   #2
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

I have a planning sheet which I developed for use at work. As soon as I know about an event, I start filling it in and bring it when discussing the job requirements with others involved. I find it also helps them to think things through too, especially if the video is an afterthought.

The one I use has various boxes with my usual options preprinted and plenty of room for notes and questions. Just filling it it helps me think out all the problems and the details of of what gear to bring. By the time I have done a setup and rehearsal it's all filled in, and after the event I add comments and keep it on file for the next or a similar gig.

Quite often just knowing the location lets me fill in most of the sheet, but noting everything down means I have a checklist of what to bring (and pack away afterwards).
I won't embarrass myself with how old some of my gear is, but here's some of the box headings:


Event:
Location:
Date/Time:
Performance Details:
Contacts:

Cameras:
Lenses:
Format:
Video Monitoring:
Capture:
Delivery:

Audio requirements: Ch1: Ch 2: Ch3: Ch4:
Inputs: Ch1: Ch 2: Ch3: Ch4:
Audio acquisition: Ch1: Ch 2: Ch3: Ch4:
Mics:
Audio Monitoring:
Audio cables:

Lighting:


Lighting cables:


Power supply:


Camera support:

Other equipment 1
Other equipment 2
Other equipment 3


Notes
Exposure:
Gain:
WB:
Focus:
Audio Gain:
Other
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Old May 29th, 2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Hi Guys

For me it's all about being organised and saving time..if everything has a place then you are far more likely to spot if a piece of gear is missing or not!! I have a case for my batteries and cards so I see instantly if all the batteries are there and I haven't left one in the charger. MY audio case has foam inserts so I can see that I have each transmitter/receiver (2 are permanently on the cameras too) and their rechargeable batteries as well.

Something else I always do is set up each camera ready to shoot before I leave ..battery in, card formatted, battery in mic receiver and I leave my camera in full auto always so if I suddenly need to grab and shoot I just turn it on and push "go" ... much easier than trying to look for the battery, find a card, format it and simply miss the shot ..it's far easier to shoot in auto and then go manual than have a cam setup in manual and have to then check setting while the subject is lost!!

I do also have a neat DIY trolley made from 1" square tube aluminium and it also has foam lined camera trays which sit on top onto locking pins...when I get to the car .. I unclip the trays and tray with camera goes into the trunk and is safely transported and ready to go in seconds....makes my life easier as a solo guy!

Chris
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Old May 30th, 2013, 02:05 PM   #4
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

1. I do not like anything that is sticky so I quit using e-tape long ago. It always moves around or comes off. Instead I use thin colored zip ties. One color goes on the outside of the case and everything that belongs in that case gets the same color. Works great, for example I have two Lowell kits, I always know what case I took something out of. You can also double or triple band the same color for subcategories. I can almost always find a place to band each piece of gear and no one even notices it until I need to say “HEY, wait a minute, that is MINE” if you have worked on sets with more gear than just yours you know what I’m talking about.

2. I am really into bags and cases because I travel so much. I try to avoid any case in black. I want to be able to I.D. my stuff from a distance. Like when someone is walking away from the baggage carousel with it. That happened to me once in France. Luckily there was a security agent near me so he ran over to the guy for me, I would have done it but I don’t speak French. Sure enough it was my bag! He played dumb but he did not stick around to collect another bag that looked like mine. Yae right. Close call!

3. Cable locks with pad locks and lap top locks. There is nothing worse than setting up and then worrying about your gear on a break or trip to the truck. I have three 10 foot cable locks. I thread them through the camera handles or whatever hole I can find on gear and anchor everything together that could walk away. They can be chained together for a 30 foot loop – e-bay. I also have a 25 foot cable from Harbor Freight.

4. I tape business cards to the INSIDE of every case too.

5. I have pictures of packed cases on my phone for reference of where it all goes. If I am not a SPC I can SMS message my assistant the pictures too.

6. Repack everything you can between the set up and the start of the shoot to make the strike easier and keep your set clean.

7. Leatherman tool and flashlight on belt. Gaff tape and pen & paper within reach.

8. Believe it or not my electrical socket tester is a “speed tool”. If something does not fire up the first thing I check is power before I begin trouble shooting the gear. Bingo.

9. Cases with backpack straps even if it is not a backpack. Like my big Porta Brace tripod case with hidden straps. As a SPC we are mules, there is always something on my back.

10. Keep spare parts handy. Lamps, batteries, small tool kit etc.

Lastly, keep my mouth shut….I talk too much….

Steve

Edit: One more thing. The biggest time waster is looking for that "thing" you thought you brought but did not pack!
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Last edited by Steven Digges; May 30th, 2013 at 02:11 PM. Reason: addition
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Old May 30th, 2013, 06:26 PM   #5
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Yes, I agree. For me it is having great cases and tubs for separate situations. I do photo shoots as well as video, so I have separate setups for each. They never get unpacked or used for anything else but their job. So if I am doing a video shoot I grab the video tub which has all of the extension chords, power strips, etc... That way I only have to grab one thing and it is all in there. Packing and re-packing for jobs will get you into trouble.

Also, when I am on a job, I try to only put things on the floor when I am setting up or tearing down. You can see it all on the floor. If you put things on an arm chair or ledge you might overlook it when it is time to leave. I always try to do a look over before rolling out.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 02:50 AM   #6
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Colored zip ties....cheep:

100 Piece 8" Fluorescent Cable Tie Assortment

1000 Piece Assorted Cable Ties

1200 Piece 4", 8"& 11-1/2" Nylon Cable Tie Assortment

I like the 1000 pack in seven colors for $12.0

Steve
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Old May 31st, 2013, 12:05 PM   #7
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

All the suggestions posted were great. I would add a few items that I take on every shoot:
1) Bogen magic arm + clamp with mic holder attatched (can be removed to accommodate any 1/4-20 accessory).
2) Moving blankets-heavy duty (black on one side, white on reverse). This helps with transporting gear (or covering it up when left unattended. It will help quiet a noisy room, cover a too-bright window, dampen the noise coming through the door, act as a large white card (or negative fill) and serve as a blanket when you need to crash on the floor during a marathon shoot session
3) Various mini-clamps (including drop-ceiling, alligator clips, suction cup mount, hydrostatic arm/clamp, spring clamps, c47's, bulldog clips, etc.) These save my bacon on a daily basis.

--- optional for those shooting lots of "chalk-talks"----
4) Bright laser pointer (not the cheap dime-store variety). If you're doing corporate shoots with large screen projections, give one of these to the presenter and you (and the camera) will have a much easier time chasing the dot.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 04:11 PM   #8
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

The blankets are a great idea.
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Old June 5th, 2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Lots of great hints, tips and advice people! Much appreciated!

I love the idea of the different color zip ties. I use them now, but there all white.

Notice most tips are about organisation too! When you're in charge of everything it helps when everything has a place.

I'll add one more tip - keep a spare cloned OS drive that you can pop in, in case your OS goes belly up! Last week my PSU killed/corrupted my OS drive: I just popped in my spare drive and was up and running in minutes.
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Old June 5th, 2013, 02:22 PM   #10
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Here is another one: Since we are talking about efficiency, packing, and cases you can check this out when you have time. Over in the Sony EA50 sub forum someone asked "what case for the EA50?" It is now five pages because all of us that hang out there chipped in with case deals. I am a long time Porta Brace fan. Recently I found out where deals pop up on Amazon for discontinued Kata cases for cheap. I have scored three of them for 25 to 50% of normal price. And I mean OF normal, not OFF normal price. They are killer deals and awesome cases. The link:

Recommend a EA50 camera bag

Steve
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Old June 6th, 2013, 07:06 PM   #11
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

This is a great thread. Picking up a lot of good tips in here. :-)

1. Small LED headlamp - aims the light wherever you look and keeps hands free.
2. Gerber Crucial Multitool - Easy to open quickly, has a carabiner to clip onto belt loop or camera bag strap.
3. Sharpie pen with several feet of gaffer's tape wrapped around it - saves space as opposed to a big roll.
4. Old plastic 35mm film containers - I have 2 of these connected bottom to bottom (and also wrapped with several feet of gaffer's tape) to form one long 2-compartment tube with caps on both ends. I can store small items like lavalier windscreens, mic clips, etc.
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Old June 7th, 2013, 07:15 AM   #12
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

You guys are way too organised!

I have a large equipment bag that everything gets thrown into. When I need something, I root around in the bag until I find what I need.

Wireless mike? Check.
Batteries? If I remembered to buy some, check.
Zip ties? Huh?
SD cards? Hold on, I have some in here somewhere ...
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Old June 7th, 2013, 09:09 AM   #13
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Glen,
I think it has something to do with our OCD. At least it does for me. ;-)
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Old June 8th, 2013, 03:07 AM   #14
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

Green velcro ( sort of ) trellis ties for tomatos. Your hardware or garden centre should have them. It comes on a roll which you can rip with determined thumbs or fold and cut with a blade if thumbs not strong enough. Not quite as grippy as proper Velcro but very handy to be able to cut to length for quick fixes.

Last edited by Bob Hart; June 8th, 2013 at 03:08 AM. Reason: error
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Old June 12th, 2013, 05:36 PM   #15
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Re: Any hints, piece of equipment that makes your SPC life easier

An assistant.

Ba-dum ching!
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