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Create Your Video Kit: Audio, Rigs, Tripods, Lights

Before we all left for the Thanksgiving holiday, we published part one of this video essentials kit series by Slavik Boyechko of Alaska Public Media, where he gave the rundown on the best cameras and lenses to use at your station. In this installment, find out which microphones, rigs, tripods, and lights he recommends.

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

Audio

The camera's internal mic is not good. So you'll want a shotgun mic for B-roll, and a LAV for interviews and on-camera subjects or hosts. With the Canon 60D, you can monitor and record audio directly into the camera, or use a separate audio recorder for better quality.

  • Rode VideoMic Pro - get this and keep it on your camera at all times, except when you've got a LAV recording to the camera.
  • Sennheiser G3 Wireless Lav - it's expensive but worth it. You'll need a set of two for an interview.
  • Sony ECM-44 Wired Lav - we use this wired mic for interviews, rather than the Sennheiser wireless mic, whenever we have our Tascam 60D audio recorder attached. If your station already has some Marantz recorders, you may not need the Tascam, but it's convenient in that it attaches to the back of the camera when the 70-200 is attached to the tripod.
  • Are there other audio options? Yes, preamps, different audio recorders, boom mics, and Lavs that record to iPhones (for syncing in post)…but the above setup is simple and dependable.

Rigs

If you really want to look cool, there are some crazy-looking shoulder rigs (with names like "Enforcer" and "Marauder"), with matte boxes, follow focuses, rails, several handles (in case you have 4 hands). But after trying a bunch of them out, we've settled on the simplest, most functional shoulder support.

  • Opteka CXS-1 Shoulder Rig is what we use, with a counterweight that we've attached via a door hinge for optimum shoulder hugging. There are other versions out there, like one by Revo and by Habbycam.
  • Believe it or not, the $30 CowboyStudio shoulder rig is pretty good. You won't look as cool as you would with an "Enforcer," but it works.

Tripod/Monopod

The tripod you choose is not as important as the video fluid head, but if you don't have any at your station yet, the Manfrotto 055XPROB is affordable and good for traveling, as is the Sachler Ace M. We use both. The Manfrotto will need a camera leveler like the Manfrotto 438. You can also go with some of the expensive (but light weight) carbon versions of popular tripods. There are many.

  • The Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopod is a staple among DSLR filmmakers. Some use it exclusively instead of a shoulder rig.
  • There are lots of fluid heads out there. The nice thing about the Sachler Ace is it comes with one. For our other cameras we went with the budget filmmaker favorite - the 717AH from various Chinese manufacturers. It's smooth but only allows slow movement. Manfrotto makes the 500AH now that's pretty affordable.
LED photography lamp

Lights

  • Also a ton of options out there. But the go to are LED lights like the 900 LEDs (you'll also need Sony V-mount batteries if your station doesn't already have them).
  • If your station can afford them, Litepanels 1x1 bicolor lights are awesome.
  • Recently we bought a couple Westcott Ice Lights (and battery packs) for interview lights. They're so small and really nice for talking head interviews.
  • You'll also need some light stands, white umbrellas for the LEDs, and optional light clamps like the cardellini.




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