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

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

Archive: Aug 2014

  1. Flags, Nets, and Silks

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    Flags, silks and single and double nets help you shape your light on set.  They mount easily to C-stands, or can be held by PAs. Sometimes, flags are also called solids, and nets are sometimes called scrims.

    Standard flag kits include two solids, a single net, a double net, and a silk. Collapsible flag kits include two frames, a solid, a single net, a double net, and a silk.

    We carry them in three sizes, 18″ x 24″ standard, 24″ x 36″ standard, and 24″ x 36″ collapsible. Please specify which size you’d like when you place your rental order.

    Single Flag

    $8 for 1 day
    $16 for up to 3 days
    $24 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Flag Kit

    $16 for 1 day
    $32 for up to 3 days
    $48 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.


    Suggested accessories:

    C-stands with arms

  2. HD Camcorder Panasonic HC-V770

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    Renting a HD camcorder in Milwaukee is fast and easy! The Panasonic HC-V770 is a consumer HD camcorder with superior image quality, a long 20x zoom lens, and plenty of pro-level features in an easy-to-use camcorder body. It’s a good choice for recording events, presentations, and anything else where smartphone video just isn’t going to cut it.

    Not just a camcorder for the everyday, the HC-V770 supports 1080p up to 120 frames per second, for super smooth high definition slow motion. With bit rates up to 50 Mbps, and connections for audio inputs and outputs, the HC-V770 is loaded with professional-level features.

    The rental includes the camcorder, a shoulder bag, two batteries, a charger, AC power adapter, USB cable, Micro HDMI cable, and a 32GB SD card. If you like, we also rent it bundled with a tripod and wireless mic.

    Rental Prices

    $64 for 1 day
    $128 for up to 3 days
    Call or email for availability.


    Suggested accessories:

  3. We’re Moving!

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    Well, Milwaukee, we didn’t expect it would happen so soon, but you’ve helped us outgrow our small office in Westown Milwaukee.   We’re relocating six blocks south, to the Third Ward.  There, we’ll continue to do exactly what we do now, except with four times more space, and a loading dock.  The additional space means we’ll have room for additional inventory, so we can better meet the needs of our customers.

    Starting September 2, 2014, our permanent address will be:

    159 N. Broadway
    Suite 202
    Milwaukee, WI 53202

    Google Maps link

    Customers picking up or returning rentals on or after September 2 will need to use the new address.  Our phone number and other contact information will remain the same.  We look forward to seeing you at our new place!

  4. GH4 Video: Tips and Tricks

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    The Panasonic GH4 is an awesome addition to nearly any video shooter’s bag, especially for those of us who have gotten used to DSLRs like the Canon 5D mark III and 7D.  I’ve had a chance to take the GH4 out on a few shoots so far, and have some tips and tricks for getting great results in your video.

    panasonic-gh4-camera-rental1. Get to know your shooting modes, and assign them to a custom button.  There are HD modes, two 4K modes, an over/undercranking mode, and a crop mode/digital zoom feature.  You don’t want to have to dig through menus to change from one to the next.  I find myself switching between QHDp24 and 1080p variable a lot.  If you’re only using the camera for video, you should assign all your custom buttons to useful video settings, like zebras and peaking, for example.

    2. If you’re mixing and matching cameras on a multi-camera shoot, use the cropped sensor to your advantage.  The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L paired with the 2.3x crop of this camera makes for an incredible close up for live events.  I even tried it with the 1.4x teleconverter and still felt like sharpness in 4K was acceptable at f/4.  There’s no easy way to get IS working, yet [Metabones now has an EF to MFT adapter that supports image stabilization!] but with a solid tripod, you’ll get shots you used to need a 500mm lens for.

    3. Use that ISO!  The GH4 native ISO is 800 according to Panasonic. It’s definitely the best option when shooting V-log. I think a native ISO of 400-640 would be more appropriate for 4K in the other picture settings. For a 1080p delivery I would be comfortable shooting almost everything pushed to 3200, as long as the footage was run through a denoiser. Video caps out at 6400 ISO, which looks significantly cleaner downsampled to 1080p than the Canon 5D mark III at 3200.  Don’t forget to update to the latest firmware to take advantage of intermediate ISO settings, like 640. You’ll want a crazy fast lens or a speedbooster to make this the right camera for nighttime documentaries, bar and club shoots, etc.  If you’re not used to shooting native ISO at 800, remember to bring an ND filter set with you pretty much everywhere.

    4. Stay in 4K whenever you can.  If you don’t need the higher frame rate, you’ll get a significantly better-looking final product than shooting at 1080p.  Downsampling to 1080p in your editor is definitely the way to go.  The other exception to this would be for rolling shutter. Pro tip: if you shoot at 96 FPS, 1/100 shutter in 1080p, and play back your footage at 4x speed in 23.976, rolling shutter is significantly reduced.  You do give up a stop of light and the ability to record sound, though.

    5. Sound is still a pain in the ears.  If you only buy or rent one add-on for the GH4, consider a Rode VideoMic Pro. In my non-scientific testing, the preamps for the GH4 sounded pretty good vs. the 5D mark III, but it’s still nothing amazing. The lowest gain setting on the GH4 is much higher than Canon DSLRs, so you might not use the +20dB setting as much as you’re used to. If you’re using the GH4 in a studio setting and need audio, it’s probably easier to use the YAGH extension unit and record directly into camera, instead of using second system sound.

    6. Focusing isn’t 2.4 times easier vs. a fullframe camera.  You’ll still want a follow focus, and geared lenses, when possible.  Yes, focusing at a specific f-stop is a bit easier, but I found myself shooting wider to better match the “film look” we’ve gotten used to from other cameras.  Plus, 4K is even less forgiving than 1080p.  I spent a lot of time between f/2 and 2.8, which seems like a reasonable aperture for the GH4.

    7. Cinelike-D.  For people who have been shooting on Panasonic, you’ve known about the Cine-D profile for a long time.  It’s really the only picture profile I use for video.  I keep the blacks pushed up slightly (+2) most of the time, except when I’m in murky or overcast lighting.

    Closing thoughts

    As cinematographers, we used to have to carefully choose which camera we bought, and screentest different models to decide which one would best suit our film’s look.  As the bodies continue to get more affordable and portable, we gain the option of keeping more than one in the kit at a time.  I can still see an advantage to keeping a 5D mark III in your bag (far superior stills, and so far no MFT glass equivalent to  the options in the 16-24mm range).  The a7S is a naturally well-paired camera with the GH4 as well, giving you unreal latitude and low light performance.  The GH4’s killer feature, to me, is good-looking 4K in a camera body that’s only a little over a pound.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  5. Equipment to Make an Awesome Kickstarter Video

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    kickstarter-indiegogo-300x225Some of the most popular questions we get are from people who are setting out to make their first Kickstarter, IndieGoGO or other crowdfunding video.  There are lots of tutorials out there about what to say, but not a lot about how to make them.  I’ve worked on multiple Kickstarter videos, both successful and unsuccessful.  In terms of the technical stuff, the key is to make something that is easy to watch and easy to listen to.  You also want to make something that is representative of the quality of your finished product.  If your finished product is a video or film, that can put a lot of pressure on your fundraising video.  My suggestion is to keep the production simple.   A good portion of your video should be a direct appeal, with one or more people talking directly to the camera.

    What kind of camera should we shoot it on?

    To make this work, you’ll obviously need a camera.  For most productions, the quality of a camera doesn’t matter a great deal.  If you’re running a 4-digit campaign, any HD camera you can put on a tripod will do.  You just want to be sure the audience can see you.  If you’re comfortable shooting on a DSLR, you can rent a budget DSLR camera kit.  If you’d rather set-it-and-forget-it with autoexposure and autofocus, you can use a camcorder that can do that for you.

    As long as you’ve got enough light, an affordable camera shouldn’t hold you back.  Most productions don’t need to rent a second camera.  If your appeal is completely scripted, you can easily edit single-camera footage.  If your appeal is not scripted, you may appreciate having an alternate angle to cut to when things get weird and need to be edited out.

    What audio equipment do we need?

    For a Kickstarter video, audio is more important than video.  Your audience needs to hear and understand you clearly, or the whole point of the video will be lost.  The easiest way to get great audio is to use good audio equipment.  If you shoot on a $5,000 camera, you probably have a great audio system built in.  For budget cameras, it’s easy to use a separate audio recorder kit.  You can use a shotgun mic on a boom, or a lav mic, depending on what is easiest for your production and crew.  A basic sound recording kit includes everything you need for clear audio recording.

    Do we need to use lighting?

    In a word, yes.  Good lighting is the difference between looking shifty and looking trustworthy.  Remember, most of the people who will watch this video have never met you.  This is your first impression, and you want to be in your best light.  That doesn’t mean you need to rent a huge lighting package, but you at least need to be conscious of how the available light is affecting your shots.  Shooting indoors is usually easier for sound, but it can be too dark for some cameras to look their best.  That means you probably want to be near windows, and not directly under any lighting fixtures that can cast weird shadows or leave eyes looking dark.

    Adding one flattering, soft light over the camera (working as a key light or eye light) can help make people look their best.  The Kino Flo Diva is my favorite fixture to use for this, but budget filmmakers often get creative.  For under $30, buy a 500-1000 watt painters’ light and sheet of white foamcore.  Bounce the light into the foamcore near your camera and onto your subjects’ faces.

    When you’re mixing light sources, you have to be aware of the different colors from the different types of light.  Pro fluorescent and LED fixtures can match a variety of lighting conditions, but mixing budget lighting with daylight is much more challenging.

    How much should we spend?

    Never spend more than 10% of your fundraising target on your appeal video.  Most of the budget will probably be equipment, but it’s a good idea to borrow what you can from friends and family.  If you have to rent everything, you should still be able to get all equipment in under $250/day for most productions.  Crew time should be donated.  If you do need to rent, we list all our rental rates on our product pages to make budgeting as easy as possible.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  6. 25mm Toy Lens MFT

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    This 25mm c-mount lens with micro four thirds (MFT) adapter mounts easily on MFT cameras like the Panasonic G and GH series.  It lived a previous life on a security camera.  Fast, with a normal focal length on MFT-sized sensors, it has a great stylized look that’s tack-sharp in the center and falls into softness around the edges.  We love it for subtle dream sequences, portraits, and just making things look cooler than real life.

    Rental Prices

    $19 for 1 day
    $38 for up to 3 days
    $57 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  7. Huge Projection Screen 16×9

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    Rent our 144″ indoor/outdoor projection screen for movie nights. That’s twelve feet diagonal!  The 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for movies, including DVD and Blu-ray. This is an excellent screen size for 75 or more people, and transports and sets up easily.  You can use the included frame (which stands about 13 feet tall) or clamp it to a wall or other surface.

    Pick your screen up from our downtown Milwaukee office and have it set up in minutes. For a screen this huge, we strongly recommend at least a 4000 lumen projector and a respectable speaker system.  We can show you how to set up and connect everything when you come to pick up your rental.

    $99 for one day or $198 for up to five days. Call or email for availability and to make your rental reservation.


    Suggested accessories:

    projector, media cart, speaker system, laptop PC, Bluray/DVD player


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!