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Create Your Video Kit: Steadicams, Editing, Misc

For the final post in the Create Your Video Kit series, Slavik Boyeckho from Alaska Public Media gives his recommendations on the sliders, editing software, and extra miscellaneous items to round out your kit.

Photo courtesy of Slavik Boyechko
By Slavik Boyechko, Alaska Public Media Digital Media Director

Slider / Steadicam

  • One of the quintessential cinema-like shots is the dolly or slide shot. It's awesome as a bonus shot for docs, and essential for any slick TV spot or underwriter credit. We have a Konova slider, but I also recently got the Cinevate Duzi, which is smaller but really lightweight and portable. Kessler also makes great sliders.
  • It will kill your wrist for a few days, but a steadicam like the Glidecam HD 2000 is really cool for walking shots. Use your Tokina 11-16mm and set it to as high an F-stop as possible, because you won't be able to shift focus while handling this thing.

MISC.

  • You'll need a Variable ND filter to block light for outdoor shooting, so you can still preserve
    cinematic depth of field. Get the 77mm and step-up filters for any lenses that have a smaller filter diameter.
  • Get a handful of Manfrotto 394 Quick Release Plates and put them on your rig, tripod, slider, steadicam, and camera.
  • Extra Canon 60D batteries, several 32GB SD cards, a lens microfiber wipe, XLR cable for the wired Lav mic, stereo cable for the Tascam-to-Camera connection, lens hood for the Canon 17-55mm (it doesn't come with one, for some reason), UV filters for your lenses, and moleskin to hide the Lav mic under people's shirts (you can get this at any pharmacy, just cut up into 1-inch squares).
  • Hopefully your station already has some indestructible Portabrace bags. If not, there are lots of bags out there. You'll want a long one for your tripod, monopod, and light stands.
  • If you don't dig the LCD screen on the 60D (and focus peaking with Magic Lantern), many DSLR filmmakers trust their life with a Zacuto Z-finder viewfinder, which magnifies the screen and serves as another contact point for camera stability. On occasion, we actually shoot purely handheld (no shoulder rig), with the z-finder.
  • Don't get caught up in the external monitor thing. It's nice for narrative filmmaking, locked on tripods, with multiple people reviewing the footage…but is way too cumbersome for run-and-gun documentary shooting, in my opinion.
  • If you want your host to read a script, you can use an iPad teleprompter controlled by an iPhone or iPod Touch. We still use our cheap $99 teleprompters from ebay, but they can be a bit unruly and unstable in the field, so I'd recommend the PadPrompter. We use the Teleprompt+ app.

Editing

I think the most important part of our DSLR kit is actually not in the camera bag at all. It's a 15" Macbook Pro Retina (with 16GB ram), editing off a 2TB Western Digital Passport USB3 drive, with an Apple Magic Mouse, all edited on Final Cut Pro X. It will change your life.

And that's it! Do you need all of this to get started? No. Often we shoot with just a handful of this gear. But this list is the product of several years of pairing down our kit to the bare essentials. But again, I recommend you quit your hobbies and dedicate all your free time to browsing DSLR blogs and forums for gear reviews and how-to's…because hey, it's fun, and guess what, you're a filmmaker now, so go out and join the filmmaking community.

Missed the first two posts?

Camera & Lenses
Audio, Rigs, Tripods, Lights