Camera, Light, Projector and Sound Rental in Milwaukee & Chicago

            Renting cameras, audio, lighting & grip for Milwaukee, Chicago, and the surrounding area.

Archive: Nov 2013

  1. Upgrading to the Red Epic Camera

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    We added the Red Epic camera to our rental lineup to meet the growing needs of our customers in Milwaukee.  It’s our most expensive rental body, and one of the most popular, but it’s not the perfect camera for every job.  Since many of our renters are more experienced with DSLRs like the Canon 5D mark III, we wanted to mention some of the big differences between DSLRs and shooting on the Epic.

    1) You’ll really, really want an Assistant Camera Operator.  Changing lenses is more difficult on a cinema camera than a DSLR, and you’ll probably have multiple accessories attached to the body.  Plus, you’ll have an extra set of eyes on equipment and someone to help you with the new menu.  If you’re shooting full days, we suggest at least two assistants, or one assistant and a DIT.  If you’re renting a Red Epic and need an operator, assistant camera, or tech, we’re more than happy to recommend someone.

    2) Budget more time (and money) for post production.  Redcode Raw is great, but any raw workflow is slower than a traditional video workflow.  You’ll also need lots more storage than you’re used to.

    3) It’s bigger and kludgier.  Of course, compared to a Betacam, it’s actually pretty small, but if you’re used to DSLRs, it’s not nearly as easy to move around.  One of the great advantages of a DSLR is how easy it is to “shoot from the hip.”  It’s hard to get that spontaneous feeling from a larger camera like the Epic.

    4) It can be a bit loud sometimes.  On long takes, the fan may kick in depending on the camera’s temperature reading.  The computer will do what it can to avoid running the fan on high speed during takes, but be prepared for glares from the sound department if you’re only a few feet from the talent and running takes longer than a few minutes.  The second generation of fans has addressed this problem somewhat, but you’ll need to check with the rental house to find out which fans your Red Epic is using.

    5) Almost all DSLR accessories and support are either too small, too consumer, or simply outclassed.  At a minimum, you’ll want the Red touchscreen monitor and some respectable camera support.  If you’re on a tight budget, you might find some cost savings with photo primes that have been cine-modded.  Our Nikon lens set won’t compete with a set of Cooke S4s, but will still be able to get crisp images, even shooting 5K.  You won’t need to triple your insurance coverage, either.

    6) You’ll attract more attention.  Set up a 5D mark III in the middle of downtown Milwaukee and no one will even notice.  Bring a Red Epic and suddenly people stare.  If you’re shooting doc style and trying to be unintimidating, I suggest you tape over the logo and keep your rig as small as possible.  If you’re working on something narrative, this probably isn’t an issue.

    If you’re used to a DSLR, the Red Epic will seem like a huge leap forward.  Just make sure you’re ready for it!

    Posted by Jon Kline


  2. Bad Batches of Lamps – FVL, FTK

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    bad-ftk-fvlWe’d been having a lot of issues with our Lowel DV44 kits lately, especially with the Lowel Omni and the Lowel Pro lights.  It took a lot of troubleshooting, and in one case we had a failing socket on our Omni fixture. But the real surprise was when we tested all of our lamps on the shelf.  More than half of our FTK and FVL lamps were non-functioning, even though they are new in the box.

    Our most recent batch of FTK lamps was “Divine Lighting” brand, made in China.  We think about 75% of them were DOA and the remaining 25% had shortened life (some of them just a few minutes).  And no, this isn’t thumbprint-on-the-glass issues, but some kind of internal wiring problem.  The filaments appear fine, the bulb looks perfect, but the lamp fails a basic continuity test.

    All of our bad FVL lamps are made by Osram in Mexico.  The three we still had on the shelf were all dead in the box.  They also look brand new, but fail the continuity test.

    In the interest of being scientific, we also tested our lamps for our Arri lights and other stage fixtures, and they all passed the test just fine.

    Our theory is that it’s just a bad batch, or maybe someone has been returning used lamps in new boxes.  We’ve sent a message to our vendors and we’ll update you here if we hear more.

    The upshot is, starting today, all our customers will get lamps that are fully tested in-house with their Lowel kits, even when they’re new.  And if you own a Lowel Omni or Lowel Pro and you’re wondering why you’re having problems, double-check the lamp before you blame the fixture!  We suggest that any grip or set electrician have one in their bag all the time.

    Have you experienced multiple bad lamps in a single order?  Sound off in the comments!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  3. Tripod Basics

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    If you’re new to photography or video, chances are you have some questions about tripods.  Maybe you have an old tripod that came with your camera, or a hand-me-down from family.  Here’s what you need to know about tripods before you trade in those old sticks for a fancy Sachtler.

    First, let’s figure out if you’re looking at a photo tripod or a video tripod.  If your tripod allows you to roll your camera 90 degrees, it’s almost certainly a photo tripod.  Some photo tripods have ball heads.  Others have a simple 90 degree flip up plate to allow you to shoot in the portrait orientation.

    Most photography tripods have a center column, but some budget video tripods have one also.  This adds extra height at the expense of stability.

    If your tripod has a fluid head, which lets you make smooth moves side-to-side and up-and-down, it’s probably a video tripod.  Photographers don’t care as much about smooth moves, they just want a steady shot.  Video shooters need to be able to adjust without jerking the camera around, and this means paying extra for a fluid drag system inside the tripod head.

    Ball head

    Ball heads let you get creative with angles, but aren’t for video.

    A small number of tripods are hybrids, designed to work with both photo and video.  These are usually the $40 bargain-bin tripods, which are unstable and all around a bad idea.  Don’t trust an expensive piece of equipment to a few plastic tubes that wobble when you touch them.  If you’re looking for a good starter video tripod and head, expect to spend at least $300.

    Nearly all tripods offer a quick release plate system.  This lets you easily remove and reattach the camera, without having to screw everything back on.  If you buy all matching equipment, you can use the same plates interchangeably.  Most plates are different, depending on the manufacturer and the size of the tripod head.  If you’re going for one matching standard for small to medium video equipment, we like the Manfrotto 501/701 size plate system.

    Most consumer cameras have a 1/4″ hole on the bottom for mounting.  Some professional cameras have a 3/8″ hole, or even a series of 3/8″ holes.  If your camera and your tripod aren’t connecting, chances are you need an adapter, or a different mounting screw.  It’s okay to put a little camera on a big tripod, but avoid going the other way around.  Most broadcast and ENG style cameras are too heavy for consumer tripods.

    Some video tripod legs offer a bowl at the top.  This allows the camera to be leveled even when the legs are at different lengths, and it’s much easier to fine-tune than tweaking leg lengths while your camera is on top of your tripod. Almost all legs have a smooth bottom for indoor use, but some also offer spikes for more reliable traction outdoors.  Just be careful not to leave them out when you’re done!

    Most of the weight of the tripod is in the legs.  Modern materials like carbon fiber offer a lightweight sturdy option, but steel or aluminum legs work very well if you don’t mind carrying the extra weight.

    The center column on this tripod is underslung, allowing the camera to get very close to ground level.

    The center column on this tripod is underslung, allowing the camera to get very close to ground level.

    Most tripod legs have two or more stages.  This lets you adjust the height as needed.  The important measurements are minimum and maximum height.  We suggest that for most applications, you don’t even consider a tripod shorter than 6′ (70″) maximum height.  You want to be able to look a standing person in the eye (or sometimes, shoot over a standing person’s head).

    When video professionals need a shot lower than the minimum height, they use a hi hat or low hat, which are much shorter tripod legs that accept the same tripod head.  Some prosumer video and professional film tripods will let you “undersling” or reverse-mount the center column, so you can lower the camera all the way to the ground.  Of course, your image will be inverted, but this is usually not a problem.

    A tripod and head is a very personal choice for each shooter and each project.  I have at least five tripods I use regularly, depending on the project and the camera.  I recommend trying a few leg and head combinations out, before you make the choice on which one suits you best.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  4. Teleprompter – 17″ Proline

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    Our 17″ teleprompter is large enough to read easily from more than 20 feet away, perfect for studio setups and long lenses.  It sets up quickly without tools for a camera of any size, using the variable height riser and adjustable mirror height. It mounts to the 1/4″ or 3/8″ tripod screw on your tripod, or to a separate 1/4″ or 3/8″ mount.

    This teleprompter rental uses AC power. The prompter connects via VGA or composite cables for versatility.  Computer, tripod, and camera are not included, but we can provide them separately. This teleprompter does not support mirroring in hardware, so you’ll need to use teleprompter software that supports software mirroring. We rent a compatible laptop with teleprompter software for $24/day.

    A teleprompter is a relatively technical piece of equipment, and we strongly suggest hiring a dedicated teleprompter operator. Please request our list of trained teleprompter operators if you’d like to hire someone with your teleprompter rental.

    If you need something smaller or want a prompter for use in the field, consider our 10″ Teleprompter package.


    Rental Prices

    $99 for 1 day
    $198 for up to 3 days
    $297 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Prompter laptop
    video camera

  5. Projector Rental in Milwaukee: What You Need to Know

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    Anyone can say they’re the best place to rent a projector in Milwaukee, but we want to back it up with facts.  Here are some things to consider before booking your projector rental.


    Our projectors start as low as $64 for a day

    1) Is the projector rental company really local?  What if they send the wrong projector, forget the remote, or the lamp burns out?  What if there are technical problems, or the box is damaged in transit?  Lots of companies pretend to be local, but some companies send your rental from as far away as Los Angeles!  When you pick up from a local business in Milwaukee, you can test the projector right there, and make sure you have the adapters and cables to connect it to your system.  Plus, you support a local business.  It’s a win-win!

    2) Are you getting the right projector?  You can look at a catalog of projectors online, but that’s not the same as having a professional help you choose your projector rental over the phone, in email, or even in person. Your amazing presentation or video won’t matter if your audience can’t see it.

    3) Are you renting new technology?  Lots of rental houses have projectors in inventory from 3, 5, or even 8 years ago!  Remember what your TV looked like eight years ago?  We replace every video projector in our rental inventory every two years.  Every one of our projectors are easy to use, with modern connections and a bright, sharp projection.  We have HD and 16×9 projectors and screens, too!

    4) Are you paying the right price? Most companies don’t publish their rates, and expect you to haggle over the phone with one of their sales reps. We believe that publishing prices is better for our customer.  We’re also pretty sure we have the most affordable projectors in Milwaukee.  If you find a better deal on a projector rental, please let us know!  We even offer a $10 discount if you combine a projector rental with a screen rental, making our low prices even better.

    Are you ready to rent a projector or screen? Send us an email, give us a call, or choose from our online catalog.  You can even pick up your projector from our downtown Milwaukee office the same day!

    (414) 939-3653 or [email protected]

    Posted by Jon Kline

  6. Dance Club Light Kit

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    You can think of this dance floor, DJ, or performance kit as our party-in-a-box.  We include enough lights and effects to make any dance floor look inviting.  And they’re easy to configure, so your lights can change with the beat of the music.  The best part is these are all new lights with LED technology, so they don’t take much power and are cooler and safer than older stage lights.If you need to rent party lights for a wedding, small concert, DJ booth, or event in or around Milwaukee, this is a great starter kit.

    Two Mini 4-Bar fixtures give you eight lights to cover a large area.  They can be mounted on the included stands or on the ground.  One 2′ LED Bar is great for the DJ table or back wall. One LED moonflower effect casts fun patterns on the dance floor.   We can also include some extension cords so you’re ready to go.

    If you’re having trouble picking which light kit you should use, give us a call and we can make some suggestions based on the size of your event and the number of guests.  This kit is usually recommended for small events under 75 people, or for lighting a small indoor stage with three or fewer performers.

    We also have plenty of other LED lights in stock, including LED uplighting to set the mood in the whole room.

    Rental Prices

    $88 for 1 day
    $176 for up to 3 days
    $264 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  7. ATSC HDTV Tuner

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    This ATSC HDTV tuner allows you to play over-the-air live television on a projector or other device with an HDMI or component video input.  We include a remote and an HDTV antenna, so you have everything you need.  It also functions as a digital media recorder and player, playing avi, mov, mp4, and mkv files from a USB device connected to the USB port.

    If you need help choosing components for your audiovisual presentation, get in touch and we’ll help you figure out what components you need.  We also offer delivery and setup services for all of our AV equipment.

    Rental Prices

    $39 for 1 day
    $78 for up to 5 days
    Call or email for availability.


    Suggested accessories:

    projector system, speaker system

Can’t Find It?

If you haven't found what you're looking for, try the search box above, or call (414) 939-3653. We have way too many clamps, cables, and widgets to list everything. And we have new stuff coming all the time, too!