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

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




Blog

  1. 2016 Summer Internship

    video-intern

    Matt, our intern last year, got to learn a lot about video production, work with producers, and get on set for multiple productions.

    MKE Production Rental is looking for an intern for Summer 2016. Students must be receiving school credit to be eligible for the internship.

    An internship with MKE Production Rental is an opportunity to get your hands on the latest gear, meet the professionals working in Milwaukee, and learn from experts at a growing company. You’ll also be able to sit in on workshops, use equipment for your personal projects, and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.

    The intern will spend some time in the MKE Production Rental office, assisting with rental orders, and maintaining equipment. The rest of their time will be spent on location or in studio, as a production assistant on various video shoots.

    An ideal candidate will:

    • Be reliable and punctual
    • Have a passion for video and technology
    • Be comfortable with audio and video equipment
    • Be detail-oriented and attentive
    • Be comfortable with basic audio video troubleshooting
    • Have a flexible schedule
    • Be enrolled at an institution providing academic credit for internships

    Responsibilities include:

    • Assembling equipment orders
    • Testing and maintaining rental equipment
    • Answering customer phone calls and emails
    • Receiving rental drop offs and performing return inspection
    • Production Assistant on set
    • Other miscellaneous duties

    Summer is our busiest time of the year, and you will be expected to learn quickly, with direct supervision from the rental manager. For students successfully completing at least 100 internship hours for credit before September 10, 2016, a $400 stipend will be provided.

    Please submit your resume, as well as information about your college’s internship program and your summer availability, to [email protected] before April 30, 2016. No phone calls, please!

    Download a printable PDF of this internship posting

     

  2. Five Steps to Your First Gig in Video Production

    first-freelance-gigWorking in film and video production is a fantastic career, but a lot of the available “jobs” aren’t really jobs at all. They’re freelance gigs. Getting hired as a video production contractor takes some effort, but follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to filling your calendar and starting a successful career in freelance video production.

    1. Get a respectable picture of yourself. This means you’re dressed like a professional and not holding a drink. Ask a friend to take one for you, because selfies are not how you want to introduce yourself to future clients.

    2. List yourself in directories. You’ll want to find the websites where people go to find video production freelancers. Some of them are national, some are based around states or cities. A lot of these sites will let you post a profile for free, and some sites that charge may be worth the cost if they get you new contacts. The best way to find these sites is to pretend you’re a producer looking for your next hire. You might search for “Production Assistant Milwaukee” or “Film Grips in Chicago.” The directory sites that turn up in a search like that are probably the ones you want to be listed in. Complete your profile and use that snappy new picture of yourself.

    3. Start a page (or an entire web site) that’s about you as a professional. When you’re just starting out, it’s okay to have something small. A listing on about.me, for example, is free and easy to update. Post production freelancers might use a site like Behance. You can mention your work or your volunteer activities, collegiate accomplishments, and anything else that might make a producer remember you and want to hire you. A page that’s all about you as a professional sends the message that you’re passionate about video production. If you want producers to find it, you might add a link to it at the bottom of your email signature. As you start to post more about yourself online, you can add links to your YouTube channel, Vimeo page, or your own dot com page, too.

    4. Meet some people that do what you want to do. Remember those directories that you listed yourself in? Who else is listed in them? Send a nice email offering free coffee, and 50% of strangers will be more than willing to meet another freelance video production professional. You might find out where they get their gigs, what mistakes they’ve made, and what they’ve learned. All for under five bucks. Since freelancers are sometimes too busy to accept new gigs, they may even send a producer your way from time to time.

    5. Meet people that hire and recommend crews for film and video production. This means getting to know the local stages and rental houses (even a small city like Milwaukee has about a dozen different companies that support film crews), and also video producers at production companies and ad agencies.  You might find these people on LinkedIn, Twitter, or through your own network. An email introduction can sometimes work, but the best way to get hired is to get yourself in front of these decision-makers.

    Be professional, be nice, and follow these tips and you’ll be filling your calendar up in no time!

    posted by Jon Kline

  3. Production Assistance

    mke_production-assistance

    At MKE Production Rental, we’re more than just equipment rental. We also provide production assistance for film, video, and photography shoots in Milwaukee and the surrounding area. We can connect you with specialized crew, casting services, location scouting and locations, and everything else you need to make the most from your production.

    Sometimes, production assistance means providing tables, chairs, tents, walkie talkies, and other production support. Other times, production assistance means getting help to navigate the resources available in the Milwaukee area.

    Milwaukee has multiple production studios, hundreds of freelance crew, and many competitors for audio, editing, graphics, and post-production. We’re here as your partner, helping you choose the best options for your unique project requirements. Our extensive list of crew, from directors and DPs to grips and production assistants, can get your shoot staffed quickly. Our years of experience working in Milwaukee makes us uniquely suited to assist with all your production needs.

    To us, “production assistance” means more than just getting you your equipment. We want you to be as excited as we are to shoot in Milwaukee! Contact our office to connect with a production specialist for all your production needs.

    414.939.3653
    [email protected]

  4. Throwback Thursday: Super 8 Edition

    Occasionally, we take a big look back to see old technology in our new context. We call it “Throwback Thursday.” This week: the Elmo Super 8 Sound film camera.elmo-super8mm-camera

    Meet the Elmo Super 8 Sound 612s-XL Macro. This super 8mm film camera was first released in 1978, and offered a ton of features for a consumer camera. Adjusting for inflation to today’s dollars, it would be about $3300, making it quite pricey for the average mom or dad’s home movies. Those parents today are probably buying a Canon 5D mark III, with 24-105mm f/4L lens.

    Mic and auxillary inputs, plus a headphone output. Most DSLRs didn't get features like that until 2012.

    Mic and auxillary inputs, plus a headphone output. Most DSLRs didn’t get features like that until 2012.

    As film cameras go, it was loaded with features. Sound, of course, was the most notable. The camera, like all consumer super 8 cameras with sound, recorded audio to a magnetic strip opposite the film perforations. It also included both 18 and 24 fps shooting, a motorized servo zoom, and “good” low light performance. The f/1.2 lens made exposures possible even in interiors (assuming they are well-lit). The camera also included a tungsten/daylight switch, making it much easier to use the same film cartridge both indoors and outside.

    By today’s standards, the sound was terrible. It’s scratchy, noisy, and film and shutter sounds creep into every recording. The motorized zoom was loud. You definitely couldn’t sneak up on anyone with this camera.

    Super 8mm cartridges were much easier to load than 16mm reels, because the cartridge kept sunlight from exposing the film during the loading process.

    Super 8mm cartridges were much easier to load than 16mm reels, because the cartridge kept sunlight from exposing the film during the loading process.

    Super 8mm film exposes an area about 7.5mm diagonal, making it most comparable to 1/2″ sensors (like found in a modern Sony EX3 camera, for example). The 4:3 aspect ratio is similar to standard definition cameras, and the ability to resolve detail is above any standard definition camera ever made. It would be nearly two decades before video could compete with the quality of super 8mm film (assuming it was exposed, processed, and stored carefully).

    With apertures as wide as f/1.2, focus required a bit of effort. Autofocus wouldn’t become popular in still cameras for a few years, and many more advancements would be needed before autofocus for moving pictures was a reality. Auto exposure, however, was old news, and this super 8 camera was designed to use autoexposure full-time.

    This Elmo 612S-XL was released as the baby brother to the 1012s-XL. The camera with magazine weighed about 3.5 pounds, half a pound lighter than the 1012S. This is about double what most high-end consumer camcorders weigh today, and in-line with most professional broadcast HD and 4K cameras.

    Anyone in Milwaukee looking to check out the Elmo 612-S XL is welcome to see the working model in our antique camera collection. The camera is retired from service, and not available to rent.

  5. You’re Worth More Than $100 a Day

    make-moneyThe best part about a career in film, video, or television production isn’t the pay. We have a great job that makes other people jealous. Many of us get to travel, work with celebrities, and have our work seen by thousands or even millions. We get to express our creativity, and when we’re done, the things we’ve worked on can make an audience feel something. That’s a perk that doesn’t come with every job. (more…)

  6. Plan a Backyard Movie Night

    backyard-movie-nightA perfect backyard movie night just takes a little planning and a nice summer evening. Here’s how to bring together a movie night that makes you the coolest neighbor on the block.

    Start with invitations. As with anything that has the potential to be loud, you’ll want to invite the neighbors! Invite anyone you think might be interested and encourage them to bring outdoor movie necessities, including a blanket and bug spray. If your party is open to the public, or you’re charging admission, you’ll need to license your movie from the movie studio.

    Pick the right spot. You’ll want to be away from streetlights and other bright lights, ideally in a space with some open grass for viewing. Or you can set up the screen above the pool and host a “dive-in” movie!

    Plan enough food and drinks. Since your screening won’t start until after dark, you probably won’t need to provide a meal. No snack screams “movie night” more than popcorn, and you can serve it in classic paper popcorn bags for just a few dollars. Don’t forget, you’ll want to provide a trash and recycle bin, too, so your guests can clean up after themselves.

    Start after dark. It’s tempting on late summer nights with kids to try to start the movie early, but the projection won’t be very visible until after sunset. Using a brighter projector can help, but no projector is going to work well while the sun is still up. At least you’ll have an excuse to use your glow bracelets. They’re for the kids, right?

    host-outdoor-movie-night Pick a spot where the lights won’t shine on the screen, to help keep the image easy to see.

    Choose the right screen size for your group. Most backyard movies look best on a 16:9 screen that’s between 10 and 12 feet diagonal (usually for crowds between 20 and 120). You can build your own budget screen from a large sheet or project on a plain white wall, or you can get much nicer results from an affordable outdoor screen rental.

    Use a bright enough projector. Projector brightness is measured in lumens. Here’s our suggested brightness chart for a good-looking projection on a typical summer night outside:

    Screen Size
    (Diagonal)
    Suggested
    Lumens
    80” 2000
    100” 2700
    120” 3000
    144” 4000

    Good sound is really important. Most digital projectors include some kind of speaker, but it’s not designed for large groups outdoors. For the outdoor movie experience, it’s best to use powerful speakers with good sound quality. For safety, you can add wireless audio to connect your speakers without running cables through your audience.

    If you don’t want to worry about getting all the right av equipment and cables, we offer a backyard movie night package that has all the equipment you need. We can even have an AV tech come set it up if you like!

  7. Sony FS7 updated tips and tricks

    fs7-tips

    You’ll want to use a lens support when mounting heavier lenses to the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra.

    I’ve been shooting with the Sony PXW-FS7 and Metabones Ultra Speedbooster EF for about six months, yikes, about four years! For some of my earlier notes, check out my first post on the FS7. This post is updated and current as of October 8, 2017, and covers some of the updates available in the FS7 mark II as well.

    The FS7 and the C300 mark II have definitely squared off as direct competitors. Excluding a few fanboys on either side, most operators and producers will say both cameras perform relatively equally. The cost to buy, cost of ownership, and flexibility all tilt in Sony’s favor. Canon appears to have the edge in durability and name recognition.

    The battery options have gotten a lot better, and most modern BP-U series batteries have been updated to work with the FS7 and FS7 mark II. I’ve had great results from BP-U90 batteries made by Vivitar, with two of them lasting all day. If you’re running on a gimbal/stabilizer, you’ll probably want to scale down to multiple BP-U30 batteries.

    The XDCA-FS7 really brings the camera close to the features and functionality of the much pricier F5 and F55. If you’re using the camera professionally, it’s a no-brainer to buy one. Of course, everyone who has one isn’t looking to sell it, so they are pretty rare to find used.

    After beating an FS7 up for four years, a few parts are going to break or fall off. In particular, consider reinforcing the connection between the EVF and camera body. Also, be aware the shotgun mount is a target for abuse, and the EVF mount is less than ideal. If you’re able to swap for the mark II version of the EVF mount, I strongly suggest it. At a minimum, you’ll want to trade out the short rod for a longer one to better position the EVF for shoulder work. Be careful, as the screws strip out easily if you’re heavy-handed.

    The stream of constant firmware updates has ended, and the latest version is probably the right choice for anyone who is not in the middle of a project. You don’t want to brick your rig halfway through a week’s shooting, or find out that highlight handling or something was changed halfway through your shoot. There are still some weird things about the way the FS7 handles settings, in particular if you’re setting general settings like framerate and resolution. More than once, I’ve gone through all my settings from top to bottom, and then realized that by changing some value, I’ve reset other values as well. And then there’s the menu items that end up grayed out without explanation. I suggest writing your most commonly used settings to an SD card, so you can recall them quickly, rather than spending 10+ minutes making sure every last setting is right or doing a factory reset every shoot.

    My key reason for preferring the FS7 over the Canon Cx00 series is the NEX/E mount. The extra flange depth leaves room for optical tricks like speedboosters. There are two big things to know about the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra. First, it needs to be adjusted before you can get infinity focus with most lenses, particularly wide lenses.

    speedbooster-infinity

    Terrible English aside, this is how Metabones suggests you adjust infinity focus on the Speedbooster.

    I’ve seen this issue with two different EF Speedbooster Ultras, and have heard about the same problem on the F-mount Nikon version. I needed to rotate each one between 2/3 and 7/8 of a turn counterclockwise before I could get infinity focus on a Zeiss CP2 21mm or a Rokinon 14mm. This seemed to pull the focus witness marks a little closer to accurate, as well. It’s tempting to rotate until you can get past infinity, but I suggest tweaking just enough to get your widest lens happy. Sloppy third-party wide lenses like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 are probably best avoided completely.

    Second, sometimes things just don’t work. If you disconnect and reconnect, this will usually fix the problem, but occasionally, I’ve needed to reset the camera before I could get electrical functions on my lenses using a Speedbooster.

    sony-fs7-tricks

    With wide lenses, the arm sometimes needs to come off or be flipped back to stay out of the shot.

    LUT handling is limited in the camera, and I don’t expect a firmware update that enables preview in one LUT while recording in another. I was using the Gratical HD for awhile, but lately have preferred the Atomos Shogun Flame to help manage LUTs (as well as anamorphic desqueeze and a few other features).  Having the EVF set up to view log and the medium-sized monitor for a “normal” color is quite useful.

    What are your experiences with the Sony FS7? Let us know in the comments below.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  8. Transferring SD Cards with Problems

    sd-card-recovery

    SD cards are in almost everything, including most digital cameras, audio recorders, and even cell phones. They store images, videos, and more. They are so popular, because they are affordable. Because of this, they are also not very reliable. This means you’ll get card errors, corrupted data, lost and partial files, and other issues from time to time.  Here’s my guide for what to do when you can’t get data off of your SD card.

    If you need to recover data from your SD card and you can’t get in on to your computer, the first thing to try is changing the way you read the card. You should be using a modern card reader that supports SDXC cards and USB 3.0. You can get them for just a few bucks from stores like Amazon. Many older card readers (SD and SDHC) won’t read or recognize newer SDXC cards. You’ll also get the benefit of much faster transfer times with a new reader that supports USB 3.0 and UHS transfers.

    Make sure your reader isn’t using a USB extension cable or a hub. These can sometimes cause problems with data transfers. You should be plugging the reader directly into the computer. If you’re still having problems, try a different USB port. Sometimes USB ports fail, or get unreliable for large file transfers.

    Make sure your operating system supports the file format the card is using. SDXC cards use exFAT, which means you’ll need OSX 10.6.5 or later if you’re on a Mac. On Windows, as long as you are running XP or newer, you should be just fine.

    If you’re still having problems reading your card, you may want to try using a completely different computer. This can eliminate many variables at once.

    If you are able to see your files on the disk, but unable to play them, there is probably corruption of the data on the card. I’ve had about a dozen corrupt MOV files on Canon DSLRs, and for all but one of them, I was able to recover at least some of the video using Grau’s Video Repair software. Unfortunately, it’s not free. Corrupt JPG and RAW files are nearly impossible to recover, because of the way the data is encoded.

    If you still can’t read your files, your card may have failed, or it may have a corrupted file table. This could be a memory controller or other failure. Your options at this point are limited and expensive. If it’s worth a few hundred dollars to recover the files, you can contact a company like DriveSavers or Datatech Labs to attempt to save your files. Typically, they will perform “surgery” on your card, swapping failed components out for working ones. This is obviously a tedious and delicate process, and one you can’t do at home. These companies usually have excellent save rates, and can usually give you an estimate before you even send your SD card in for repair.

    If you accidentally deleted files from a card or formatted the card, you can try a free program like Recuva for Windows to restore them. The first thing you should do is STOP using the card for anything else. You risk overwriting the files. A file recovery program may be able to recover some, or even all, of the files, as long as you haven’t overwritten them with new ones.

    If you rented the device and SD card from us, we would be happy to attempt to transfer and recover any files for you, for a $49 fee. You will also need to provide an external drive with adequate space. If we are unable to recover any files, we will refund the fee and refer you to a data recovery company.

    Want a more reliable workflow for your video camera? We suggest either a dual-recording solution, or using media like SxS or P2 cards. These are more durable and have built-in error correction cababilities.

    Posted by Jon Kline

     
  9. Time Machine

    time-machinehadron-time-machine

    Fix problems you didn’t see coming, and create new paradoxes with this time machine rental. We actually wrote this description next year, but it’s just as relevant today. Dazzle your friends, witness your own birth, and then realize that things were perfect before you traveled back in time to fix them.

    This time machine uses subatomic wormhole recombination to facilitate large-object time travel. Objects with as much as 300Kg of mass can pass through with only a few hundred petajoules of energy. Of course, time travel is dangerous, and should only be attempted by trained personnel. Side effects include headaches and spontaneous molecular distortion.

    Please use with caution. We require insurance for this rental. Protective eyewear is recommended.

    Rental Prices

    $7995 for 1 day
    $10995 up to 700 years
    $795 return before rental starts
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    Large Hadron Collider
    Speedbooster
    Aspirin

     
  10. The Dress

    thedress

    By now, you’ve seen the pictures of “the dress”… the black and blue or gold and white dress, all over social media. Of course, what’s interesting about this isn’t the way you see it, but actually trying to understand what everyone else sees. This is all about the biology of image perception.

    As a cinematographer, it’s something I deal with every day. If we look at the image from a purely scientific standpoint, the photograph of the dress has these two colors in it (give or take a few shades on each side).

    photoshop

    Which are, in approximate human terms, a steely blue and a medium brown.  But the interesting part is not what color is there, but what color we see. Our eyes are correcting images all the time, it’s why a white sheet of paper looks white, whether we’re in sunlight or candlelight. Our brains make a correction automatically. We also correct for overexposure and underexposure, using the rest of the image to make assumptions about what things look like, depending on our expectations.

    Grey_square_optical_illusion

    In the checkerboard above, the squares marked “A” and “B” are the same color. Yet “B” clearly looks brighter. That’s because our mind is cancelling out the effect of the “shadow.” The dress picture is doing a similar thing to our minds, but because the image is really mis-exposed, we can’t agree on which way the correction should go. It’s also playing with our expectations of color a little bit.

    checkerboard-illusion-color

    Let’s make the “white” squares a bit yellow and the dark squares just a touch bluer. Then imply the light that is coming from the right side is golden sunlight and the ambient light is cool blue light from the sky. Now we’ve taken this illusion that was previously just brightness and added a color component. A and B are not only the same brightness, they are the same color!

    To see a yellow and white dress: imagine staring at a white and gold dress, on a sunny day. The sun is in front of you. The shadows cast by the sun tend to be a little blue. So white things in the sun are golden, and white things in the shade are blue.  When the camera takes an underexposed picture in this case, it could look just like that image.

    To see a blue and black dress: imagine you’re indoors. The lighting all around is very yellow, and behind the dress the room is very bright.  When you take a picture, the camera is overexposing, making the image far too bright. This is what the people who see the black and blue dress see.

    Photographers often use photoshop tools to correct exposure and color balance errors in their photos. Using just basic curves and color balance tools, it’s easier to see how people might be see the dress “the other way.”

    blue-black-vs-white-gold

    Personally, I assumed white and gold dress when I saw it. Of course, I assumed wrong! But, if you only learn one lesson here, I hope it’s that camera settings and lighting matter!

    Posted by Jon Kline