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

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

Archive: Jun 2014

  1. Cinematographers and Camera Operators

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    Cinematographer James Van Trees, ASC, enjoyed a career that spanned both silent pictures and “talkies.”

    Is there a difference between a cinematographer and a camera operator/videographer? Absolutely!  The differences go back to the roots of film and video. Even though the lines are blurring between television, film, and commercials, the distinction is more important than ever.  A quick history lesson is helpful to understand what the words have come to mean today.

    Camera operators* (or in the less politically-correct past, cameramen) historically worked for news organizations.   Their objective was objectivity.  This drive to convey information, as opposed to emotion, is the key component of videographers/camera operators/news photogs today.  They typically use cameras mounted at eye level, seeing the world as we see it with our eyes.  They shoot their subject in available light, and capture moments as they happen.

    In the early 20th century, their tool of choice was a rugged 16mm  film camera. The 1960s saw a migration of newsgathering to video, and that trend continues today.  Studio camera operators, once a popular job at local television stations as well as national broadcasters, have become less common as motorized camera systems allow for more automation.  Sports camera operators typically shoot from fixed positions with cameras optimized for live event shooting.  The goal is to be able to get out of the news van, turn on the camera, and capture the story as easily as possible.  Today’s news camera operators use ENG/EFP (Electronic News Gathering/Electronic Field Production) cameras to capture their stories.

    Cinematographers (also called directors of photography) historically worked for film studios.  Their objective is emotion, and they use all the tools and takes they need to get the desired result.  Hiring a cinematographer has become a standard for larger-budget  commercials, narrative television, and music videos.  Today, many members of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) shoot much of their work for television and the internet.


    My friend Brian is a videographer for a Milwaukee TV station by day, and a producer/editor/cinematographer by night.

    Throughout the entire 20th century, cinematographers typically shot on 35mm or larger film cameras.  Technology advances, spurred by advancements in video, meant film’s heyday couldn’t last.  The cameras used by television stations weren’t designed to be used as 35mm film camera replacements, so a new type of camera was born: the digital cinema camera. Digital cinema cameras give cinematographers all the tools in a traditional 35mm film camera, plus the advantages of working in digital.  While most digital cinema camera packages cost upwards of $50,000, there is a growing market for affordable cinema cameras, with entry-level options just a few thousand dollars.

    Today, the lines are blurring between video and digital cinema cameras, and the difference between cinematographers and videographers/camera operators is more nuanced.  The key component is no longer the camera or the crew, but rather the objective.  If you want a video to capture things “as they are,” whether it’s an event, news story, or presentation, you’re probably looking for a camera operator or videographer.  If you’re trying to tell a story with lights, perspective, lens choice, and other cinematic tools, you’re probably looking for a cinematographer.

    Posted by Director of Photography Jon Kline

    *In this case, I don’t mean the term “camera operator” as used on a motion picture set.
  2. DJ Lighting Effect – ADJ Tripleflex

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    The American DJ Tripleflex is an exciting feature light that combines four colors in a moving moonflower effect.  It’s programmable by DMX, or you can set it to sound activated mode for simple operation.  This light looks great at a DJ booth, and with a little fog it can take over a room.

    This is an LED light with low power draw and low heat.  It’s on the big side, so we include a standard pipe clamp for mounting.  We suggest mounting to truss or schedule 80 pipe.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Extension cords, stage lighting, fog machine


  3. Wireless Stereo Speakers

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    This pair of wireless speakers is perfect for when your presentation needs sound, but you don’t want to drag heavy speakers around.  The two 10-watt RMS (20-watt peak) speakers are controlled wirelessly, and can connect to nearly any device with audio outputs.  This wireless speaker rental includes a remote to adjust volume.

    We suggest this speaker system for presentations up to 15 people.  For larger groups, try our PA speaker system.

    Rental Prices

    $29 for 1 day
    $58 for up to 3 days
    $87 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

  4. Camera Vehicle Mount

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    Rent this camera vehicle mount to attach your camera to a car, boat, or other vehicle.  It’s rated for up to 8 pounds, perfect for DSLRs, GoPros, and small handheld cameras.  Dual adjustable suction cups let you mount to uneven surfaces, and the articulating arm lets you get the shot you want, from any angle.

    We’ve had awesome results with this mount. Your results will depend on the camera, attachment surface, and  other factors.  Always use the equipment safely, and secure it with a safety harness. We can’t be responsible for damage to your camera or vehicle.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    Safety chain

  5. PA Speaker System

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    Our 200 watt PA speaker system rental has a 15″ woofer for deep bass and a horn for crisp mids and highs. Each speaker has a built-in mini mixer, letting you easily connect it to media players, smartphones, computers, microphones, and pretty much anything else with audio outputs.  Each speaker includes a power cable and collapsible stand.

    These speakers can be chained together easily using XLR cables to maximize coverage. They are a popular renter for events in banquet halls, movies, and presentations.

    We rent them individually, and suggest renting two for medium sized rooms. In large rooms or outdoors, we suggest renting something more powerful.

    Rental Prices

    $59 for 1 day
    $118 for up to 3 days
    $177 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

  6. Handheld Microphone

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    This simple handheld microphone is popular for events and presentations. It features an on-off switch for simple operation. Moderate isolation helps eliminate feedback while still making the microphone easy for anyone to use. This is a dynamic microphone, which means it does not require phantom power. It connects to any PA system or camera with standard XLR cables.  If you want to go wireless, we can help you with a wireless adapter.

    Looking for an audio system to go with your microphone? Get in touch and we can build an audio rental package to suit your needs.

    Rental Prices

    $12 for 1 day
    $24 for up to 5 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    XLR Cable
    Mic Stand
    PA System

  7. Production Van

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    Our classic 3/4-ton grip van has all that you’ve come to expect in a production van.  It seats the driver plus one.When a three- or five-ton truck is too much, our grip van always fits the bill.  The air conditioning is a must for Milwaukee summers, and you’ll love the factory-installed AM/FM cassette deck.  Various Styx albums are available for an additional charge.

    The first 50 miles are included, miles over 50 are billed at $0.95/mile.  We require a certificate of insurance for vehicles, or you can hire one of our insured, local drivers/grips/gaffers.

    The grip van rental package includes:


    1 4′ 4Bank Kino Flo
    1 Diva 401
    3 1’x1′ F&V LED Panels
    2 2000w Mighty Mole Open Face
    1 2000w Junior Combo Mole Fresnel
    1 1000w Rifa Softbox
    3 1000w Molepars
    2 1000w Mickey Mole Open Face
    3 1000w 407 Baby Mole Fresnel
    4 650w Tweenie Mole Fresnel
    3 200w Strand Fresnel

    Stands & Grip

    8 40″ C-stand with gobo arm
    1 20″ C-stand with gobo arm
    4 Junior Stand
    3 Baby Stand
    2 Apple Box Family
    1 Flatbed Cart (Pneumatic Wheels)
    1 Rock N Roller Cart With Shelf
    2 Mafer Clamp
    2 Platypus
    1 Tree Branch Holder
    4 Scissor Clamp
    5 Baby pin
    2 110cm flexi-fill

    Butterflies & Flags

    1 6’x6′ Overhead with silk, full grid, bleached muslin
    3 24″x36″ Solid
    1 24″x36″ Single Net
    1 24″x36″ Double Net
    1 24″x36″ Silk
    2 18″x24″ Solid
    1 18″x24″ Single Net
    1 18″x24″ Double Net
    1 18″x24″ Silk
    2 4’x4′ Floppy

    Of course, we can customize a grip package for your particular needs, too.

    The default kit leaves enough room on the van for some camera support, and the most popular add-on is probably one of our Dana Dollies.

    We require that one of our pre-approved local drivers goes with the van. We can provide a list of grips/gaffers/PAs you can hire who can also drive.

    Van with Grip Package Starting at $295/day 

    Driver/Grip  Typically $400-450 for a 10-hour day

    Call or email for availability.

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!