The Gear

What I Have:

  • Canon T3i DSLR (shoots 1080 video) – but sound is terrible.
  • Spare battery for T3i.
  • Spare memory card – 48 gb’s total of space for each day shooting.
  • Canon EF 50mm 1.8 fixed lens – low-cost. Shoots a little closer than I’d like, but don’t have many other options. May borrow a standard kit lens.
  • Canon Telephoto lens – very slow to focus, needs lots of light, but might be workable on the salt with light reflected from every direction.
  • Rode Videomic – Just got this, has lots of five-star reviews and seems to be one of the “go to” mics for the über indie filmmaker. It does make the sound much better, even in just the couple tests I’ve done.
  • Zoom H1n – I actually don’t have this in my hands yet, but again, highly rated and one of the “go to” options for low-budget productions. Should allow me to record high quality interview audio by itself, or pair with the Rode to get longer shots + sound. Also allows live monitoring of sound and a line out to record onto the camera for a scratch track. It’s almost like I’m a pro.
  • Rode Deadcat Mic Cover – looking at pictures of the salt flat is deceptive. It looks immense and dead, because it’s so flat and desolate, but I watched a documentary about it the other night and saw people walking at almost 45 degrees into the wind. After watching that I knew that the ‘fuzzy’ microphone cover was a must. It’s on order now.
  • Sunpak 8001UT tripod – this is a very low-end photo tripod, and honestly I should be looking for another, but the budget hasn’t got room so it will have to do. It should work for locking the camera down when doing interviews.
  • Cowboy Studio 3 lamp portable studio – 3 lamps with umbrellas and tripod stands, zip up into a small bag. Should help for interviews inside hotel rooms.
  • CN-160 LED lamp – hot shoe mountable and dim-able LED panel. Popular with wedding videographers and runs on AA batteries. Should be great in a pinch, though I don’t think there is going to be any lack of light on the Flats. Also includes a couple filters to warm / diffuse the light.
  • iPhone 5 – might work for shooting b-roll. Certainly worth a shot.
  • Studio NEAT Glif – tripod mount for iPhone.
  • 15” MacBook Pro – for pulling and clearing cards at the end of the day.
  • Sony Headphones – large over the ear style headphones for monitoring levels.
  • USB – SD card reader.

What I Still NEED:

  • Microphone extension cable (10’ +) so that the camera (which won’t shoot wide-angle), can be further back than microphone.
  • 1/8” splitter – to split line out from Zoom into headphones and camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Reflectors – large cloth reflector panels to bounce light behind subjects if possible. This really will only work if I get a helper for shooting.
  • Memory card for Zoom – the hand-held recorder only comes with 2GB storage. Need to upgrade to 32 gb so I can record all day.
  • Spring clamps – to position lights and reflectors as needed.
  • Lens hood or matte box – the Flats are going to be some very harsh lighting, need to be able to step it down a bit.
  • Shoulder Harness – to stabilize camera/light/Zoom/Microphone for all day shooting. Debating the merits of a rail system, versus a more ‘fixed’ approached. Will be building this myself, due to cost constraints.
  • Batteries – for everything. 9v for microphone. AAA for Zoom. AA for lights.

Things I’ll build IF there is time:

  • Small portable jib to mount on shoulder or tripod for “crane” shots.
  • Small portable rail slider for that “dolly” look and nice even panning shots.
  • A follow focus knob – this is a big challenge, as the 50mm 1.8 has a tiny manual focus ring and isn’t really easy to interface with.
  • Boom pole for microphone. Only really useful if I have a second pair of hands helping with the shoot, so this is unlikely.

Things I’d LOVE to Buy, but probably won’t:

  • Canon 35mm wide-angle lens – this baby is about $300 on Amazon right now, and would make it a lot easier to do group shots, but it is also $300 – so you see my problem.
  • Final Cut Pro with Motion – I’d love to upgrade video editing suites, as right now I’m just slumming it in iMovie, but since there won’t actually be any visual effects in this film, I should be able to make do where I am.
  • Adobe After Effects – Who am I kidding, I really want to put some sweet ass motion graphics in this, even if it is a documentary. I love nice design in a film.
  • Solar Charger – There is going to be 13+ hours of sunlight out there in August, it would be nice to be able to charge my gear mid-day, as it will probably be some distance to the hotel.

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