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

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

Archive: Oct 2014

  1. Using Bounce – Available Light

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    You know lighting has a huge impact on how people look in photos and video.  But sometimes adding lights is complicated, expensive, or just plain impossible.  Using available light isn’t just the “easy” way out, sometimes it’s the most effective.  In this series of posts, we’ll talking available lighting.  Tool number one: bounce light.


    silver reflectorYou’ve probably seen a photo/video reflector (sometimes called 5-in-1s, collapsible circles, flexi-fills, or multi-discs) on a photo or video shoot before.  You may have also seen more professional reflectors, like shiny boards, or budget-friendly options like beadboard, foamcore, or even aluminum foil.  These are all different ways to bounce available light.  Some are expensive, but you can find a basic photo/video reflector for under $20.

    Why to use bounce light

    Bounce light can do a few things very well.  When used as a fill light, it can soften wrinkles and make skin more even.  It can create a catchlight (eyelight) that makes eyes appear more alive.  It can also help control contrast, especially when working in direct sun.  These are all ways to make the subjects of your video and photos look more attractive.

    When to bounce light

    I often use bounce light both outdoors and inside.  When shooting outside, it can be challenging to choose the background you want while still putting the subject in flattering lighting.  Three-point lighting is often the goal, but the sun usually gives us either two-point lighting (the direct sunlight and the sky) or one-point (under clouds, where everything is even and the light is soft, but flat).  Adding a reflector is adding another light source, giving you more tools to flatter your subject and move the lights to where you want them.

    What to bounce with

    There are about seven bounce surfaces I use on a regular basis.  The most basic is a white card or fabric.  This type of bounce is great for the fill side of the face when the key is in direct sunlight.  The diffuse light will soften shadows and reduce contrast.  It’s also the surface I use most often for bouncing artificial lights.

    Another popular white surface is bead board, sometimes called platypus.  This is white styrofoam sheets, often used as building insulation.  Bead board tends to be softer and more flattering than a white card, but the effect is similar.  In my opinion, the greatest advantage of bead board is that it holds up well in water.  I’m not just talking rain, either.  Water rolls right off, but it floats, too.  It’s great for fill when you’re shooting in a small boat or other watercraft.

    Another common bounce surface is silver.  This is a semi-reflective fabric surface that gives some directionality to the light.  If your source is a hard light, it will create shadows, although they will be a bit softer than direct sunlight.  If your light source is very soft, like an overcast sky, the bounce will be very soft as well.  Silver is great as a key light on extremely overcast days, since you can add contrast where there otherwise wouldn’t be.  You’ll need to be very close to your subject.

    Many reflectors include a gold side.  The end result is much like silver, but the color of the light is warmed.  Using the gold side allows you to vary the color temperature of your light sources without needing to use gels or other methods.  Gold is a great tool to have on a mostly overcast day, especially for particular skin tones.  Many people with very light or very dark skin can look great under a warmer-looking key or fill source.

    Some reflectors are gold-silver combo.  They are usually arranged in a fine zebra pattern.  When gold is too warm, but silver is too cold, this is the perfect option.  This usually works great for fair skin and on days when the sun is partially hidden behind haze.

    Shiny boards are a standard 42″ square, and have a flat surface with a foil-like covering.  They bounce light much more directly, and are great for using over longer distances.  If you need a direct light indoors, away from a window, you can set a shiny board outside and direct light down a long hallway or into a deep room.  Shiny boards are also commonly used with an additional bounce or diffusion, and can make it look as if sunlight is coming from 3 or more directions at once.  They are usually mounted on heavy-duty stands.  You can improvise your own shiny board by taping aluminum foil to a hard surface like a foamcore card.

    Mirrors are the ultimate bounce.  I usually don’t use them to light people.  When I want a very precise line of light on my background, or there is simply not enough space to get a light where I want it, a mirror is a useful tool.  Covering a mirror with clear tape and breaking it allows for a nice breakup, throwing random-looking slices of hard light (please be careful when intentionally breaking mirrors).

    Other common bounce surfaces include bleached muslinunbleached muslin, and supersoft bounce. Each has unique strengths, depending on the application.

    Reflector before and after

    Both images were captured on a hazy/overcast day. The sun is over the model’s right shoulder, but in the image on the right, a gold-silver bounce has been placed just out of frame right. It warms the skintones, fills in wrinkles, and can be seen as a reflection in the eyes.


    (Image detail) You can see the reflector as a shiny circle in the subject’s eye. This is often called a catchlight, and helps make people look more alive. It’s even more impactful on very dark eyes.

    How to place your bounce

    Usually, three-point lighting is a good starting objective.  You can use direct sunlight as your key or as your backlight.  If you don’t have direct sunlight, you can use the cloudy sky as your fill and a shiny surface close to the face as your key.  Under haze, you can usually use the sun as key, fill, or backlight, depending on what you need.

    Be conscious of the height of your bounce.  If you are too low, you can create odd shadows, especially when the source is a hard light.  If you are too high, the eyes can be lost to shadow.  The goal is usually to light up the eyes, avoid too much light under the chin, and see the reflector in the iris of the eyes.

    Just like regular lights, moving the bounce toward or away from the subject will increase or decrease the amount of light they receive.  Moving the source closer also has the effect of softening the light, and creating a larger reflection in the eyes (or other specular surfaces).

    Learning by doing

    You can read all about how to bounce light, but the easiest way to learn is to get out there and try it yourself!  Don’t forget, when you’re using a reflector or board, they can turn into a safety hazard if you’re not careful.  They can become sails in high wind and can hurt people if they are mounted improperly.  Always practice safe grip.

    Have a favorite way to use bounce light? Sound off in the comments below!

    Posted by Jon Kline


  2. 8-Channel Audio Mixer

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    This 8-channel 2-bus audio mixer is perfect for small events or desktop studio mixing. The mixer includes XLR, 1/4″, and RCA inputs for connecting microphones, computers, instruments, and more to powered speakers or an amplifier.  It supports phantom power, and each channel has its own 3-band EQ.

    This has a total of four XLR inputs, two 1/4″ stereo TRS jacks, and six 1/4 mono jacks.  Output is over 1/4″ mono jacks or the stereo RCA aux out.  The mixer is not powered, so you’ll need an amplifier or powered speakers.

    This is a popular mixer rental for small corporate events, as well as DJs, weddings, and small bands. If you’d like our help planning audiovisual for your event, give us a call!  One of our AV techs can help you find exactly what you need.


    Rental Prices

    $39 for 1 day
    $78 for up to 3 days
    $117 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Powered PA System, XLR Cable, Microphone

  3. Gay All the Way!

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    Same Sex Marriage

    Congrats Betty and Linsi on tying the knot in Wisconsin!

    Congratulations Wisconsin! We’ve joined with the majority of states in legalizing same-sex marriages. Our friends, our neighbors, and our customers have been waiting too long!

    At MKE Production Rental, we believe that every couple has a right to marry, so we’re celebrating with our 50 for 50 promo. Until all 50 states recognize same-sex marriages, we’re offering 50% off on any equipment rental for a same-sex wedding event. That’s 50% off on PA systems and microphones, DJ lights, uplighting, and even projectors and accessories. Meet with one of our technology experts to help you create your perfect day. But please book early, because this offer only lasts until the USA goes gay all the way!



    Mandatory fine print: This offer can’t be combined with any other offers.  You must mention the 50 for 50 promo when making your reservation.  All rentals are subject to availability.  All rental terms must take place between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015.  We may require a copy of a completed marriage application or marriage certificate to confirm eligibility.  The discount will be applied at the time of rental pickup.  50% off applies to all equipment rentals, but excludes any labor, delivery, late or damaged equipment fees, and taxes.  Rentals are considered booked when the deposit is received.  Offer ends 12/31/2014 or when a same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in each of the 50 United States.


  4. Metabones EF to NEX Speedbooster Ultra

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    The Metabones EF to Sony NEX Speedbooster Ultra allows you to connect EF lenses to E-mount Sony cameras like the FS7, A7s, and FS700.  The adapter reduces the focal length by .71x, increases the aperture by one stop, and allows for electronic control, including aperture adjustments, image stabilization, and EXIF data.  Now, you can use all your Canon and EF mount lenses with your Sony camera.

    The Ultra line of speedboosters is Metabones’ second generation, offering improved sharpness and optical quality, particularly for lenses with short exit pupil distances.  For most users, you won’t notice a difference, but some wide lenses in particular will perform better on Metabones’ Ultra speedboosters. We suggest using 15mm rails for most lenses, especially heavier lenses like CP2s and long zoom lenses.

    This is a fantastic adapter for video, but some photo lenses may autofocus more slowly with the adapter.  Most EF-S and some third-party lenses converted to EF may not work properly. Nearly all native EF lenses are supported, but please check the adapter when you pick up your rental to confirm that it will work for your purposes.

    Rental Prices

    $49 for 1 day
    $98 for up to 3 days
    $147 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:


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