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

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


  1. Get a Great Deal on Camera, Lighting and Grip Rental (No Matter Where You Rent it From)


    Here’s a question that doesn’t get asked often enough: What’s the best way to get a great deal on the equipment rental for my short film, pilot, web series, or other low-budget project?  The answer isn’t complicated.  It also might surprise you just how much you can save!  Here’s where I suggest you start when you’re looking for a great deal renting cameras, lighting, and grip.

    1. Be insured.  You may only be spending $500 on rentals, but you could still have $10,000 in gear. Having insurance in place before you call sends the message that you take your responsibility and your job seriously. You may be able to “piggyback” on someone else’s policy, if they’re willing to sponsor you and take on the risks of your production. Otherwise, you can usually get some short term rental insurance starting around a few hundred dollars.

    2. Try to keep your large grip/camera/lighting/etc. order with just one or two companies. That includes a production van. It may seem like you’re saving money buy renting a $19.95 U-Haul van instead of a grip van, but the bigger your order with one rental company, the bigger a discount you should be able to get.  If your order is split between the rental companies with the cheapest prices on each item, none of them will want to give you a discount, and you’ll spend all day collecting gear.

    3. Establish a track record with the rental company. Show that you’re reliable, punctual, organized, and responsible. A lot of the cost of managing an order is due to the little things, like chasing down missing parts, staying late for customers that can’t show up on time, etc. If you’re the easy customer, the discounts come easier, too.

    4. Follow, interact, and show appreciation for the company in social media. The person running those accounts might throw you a discount or promo.  Want the people in the rental shop to know your name? Write a nice review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, mention their names, and you can be sure they’ll hear about it. Word gets around, after all. If you’re their friend, it’s easy to get the friend prices!

    5. Be up front when you’re shopping around. If someone at a different company quotes you a better price, mention it. They may match the price, or let you know that the competition isn’t including the same things with the rental.  Being honest about shopping around also helps us help you, since we’re often borrowing inventory from other shops to fill out your order. And we’ll know if you cancel your order at the last minute because “the shoot was cancelled” and then take your business to another vendor. Film communities are close-knit, and we hear about that kind of behavior. That’s an easy way to get your name on the secret list of people we never give discounts to.

    The best way to get a discount is to ask for one! If you’re ordering more than a few items, or you’ll be renting for more than a week or so, it’s never inappropriate to ask.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  2. Five Predictions for Video Production in 2015 – Part 2


    Every year, we publish a list of predictions for the video industry.  Here’s what I see coming up in the next twelve months.

    #1 – Standard Definition is dead, at least as far as professional acquisition is concerned.  We will see nearly all professional and most consumer cameras introduced without any standard definition support.  This trend has already been underway in many manufacturer’s 4K cameras, and this year we’ll see a lot of cameras dropped from production that offer SD recording as an option.

    #2 – Canon will lose their death grip over low-budget video production.  The 5D mark II and III and the 7D completely owned the market for low-budget commercial, documentary, and narrative projects for the last 4-5 years.  As more shooters and producers see the performance gap between those cameras and mirrorless options from Panasonic and Sony, there will be pressure to change cameras.  This will be amplified by Canon’s decisions on pricing and video recording resolution.

    #3 – Metadata will be growing quickly as people and applications find new ways to use it.  Most still cameras today record exposure information in the file. Some record GPS-based location information. Video has been woefully behind in this, but 2015 will see us starting to catch up, hopefully not just with more tools for acquisition, but also for the preservation of that data through the editing and broadcast process.

    #4 – There will be many more jobs in video production. With the economy at large picking up steam, video as entertainment and advertising will increase.  This will be amplified by improved mobile device bandwidth, increased number of screens, and the accessibility of the technology.  We’ll also see video production professionals who specialize in mobile and mixed-platform video campaigns. What works in a theater doesn’t always work on mobile, and advertisers are learning that quickly.

    #5 – In-camera video HDR will start to take shape. We’ve seen plenty of still cameras with HDR built in, and solutions for video so far (Like RED’s HDRx) require a lot of processing after capture. Now that more and more cameras can capture 60+ fps and still have processing power left over, manufacturers can use that hardware for expanding dynamic range.

    What changes do you see coming in 2015? Sound off in the comments!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  3. Five Predictions for Video Production in 2015 – Part 1


     Last year, I posted my five predictions for video production in 2014.  Let’s take a look back and see the hits and misses.

    #1 – 4K Heyday

    With far more new cameras offering 4K resolution, I think this was an accurate call. I also suggested selling your Sony EX1. That camera has lost about 40% of its value this year.  I predicted a new 4K camera in the $5,000 to $8,000 range before the end of the year, and the Sony FS7 is exactly that.   This prediction gets a “confirmed” rating.

    #2 – Prosumer Video DSLR

    This prediction is mostly accurate, if you replace “DSLR” with “mirrorless.” The GH4 shoots and records 4K video on a crop sensor and can be outfitted with timecode and XLR ins.  The Sony A7s has significantly larger pixels than previous DSLRs, and definitely qualifies for “far better low-light performance.”  The miss here was all about Canon’s strategy.  Instead of delivering a 4K DSLR, Canon avoided bringing their video and photo lines in direct competition.  While the merits of this strategy may outweigh the risks to Canon right now, there’s a lot of other companies who aren’t afraid to shake up the market between still/video and prosumer/professional. This prediction gets a “sorta” rating.

    #3 – Lytro in Motion

    The closest match to this prediction is Pelican Imaging’s announcement of “upcoming” video support for their light field camera. 2014 also saw the release of the first light-field plugin for an NLE (Frauenhofer’s Light Field plugin for Avid). Lytro, the leader in bringing light field to consumers, spent their efforts on improving photographs. The Lytro Illum is really a fantastic camera within the tiny niche of light field photography, and the Lytro Development Kit has put the hardware and software in the hands of NASA and the DOD, who have video applications on the horizon.  Want to develop with the LDK? You’ll just need $20,000 a year. The part of the prediction I missed? This revolution is not hyped at all.  We’ll probably need a storyteller or brand to start using light field video before the world at large sees it and starts to take notice.  I give this predition a “mostly” rating.

    #4 – LED over HMI

    This year was certainly a banner year for LED technology. We’ve seen a dozen new manufacturers, and several are emerging as leaders in the LED video lighting category. Arri updated their LED fixtures with a 25% brightness improvement. This was significant, but the fixtures are still a long way from matching a 575w HMI in output (to be precise, an L7 has about 40% of the 5600k output of an HMI at 575w). Arri also launched the L5 fixture, with less output than the L7, less color adjustments, and lower CRI.  The biggest advantage of the L5 is battery operation. This prediction gets called a “miss.”

    #5 – Magic Lantern will change or become irrelevant

    2014 saw the announcement of the Axiom line of open-source video cameras, with firmware to be developed by the Magic Lantern team.  I think that qualifies as a significant change.  The ML team put a great deal of effort into making raw recording more stable, but the Blackmagic 4K camera gave shooters raw files with higher resolution, more dynamic range, and significantly more manageable workflow. For shooters that don’t need raw, cameras like the GH4 integrate nicely into existing workflows (and shoulder rigs, memory cards, and lenses too).  We’ve seen the rentals of the Canon 5D3 for video shooters drop around September 2014. This prediction gets another “mostly” rating.

    Now I’m off to write part 2, where I make new predictions for 2015.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  4. Sony FS7 Tips, Tricks, and First Impressions

    Sony FS7 tips

    The Sony FS7 in Times Square at night.

    An update to this entry was published on May 19, 2015.

    The Sony FS7 and Metabones EF to E Ultra Speedbooster have been in my hands for about two weeks, and that’s long enough to learn some of the biggest strengths and limitations of the duo. This post is current as of Sony’s firmare v1.01 and Metabones’ firmware V0.38, which are the most recent available today (December 20, 2014).

    First things first, the Sony FS7 is easily my favorite camera under $15,000.  When the FS700 came out, it was a direct competitor to Canon’s C300, which still dominates docu and reality work. With the release of the FS7, Sony has no direct competitor in this price range, and it seems likely that the camera could become the leading choice of docu and reality shooters. It’s also an incredible film-look camera, and will be my first choice for a lot of commercial work.

    There are some notable limitations to the camera right now.  Here’s a list of the caveats and the considerations you’ll want to consider before buying or renting an FS7 package.

    Electronic lenses aren’t working great, yet.  Sony knows that the iris control on the FS7 is a bit “loose” feeling. There is no click-equals-1/3-stop, it’s much more of a spin and pray feel right now. This is across both Sony E-mount and adapted EF-mount lenses, so it’s not just a Metabones issue. Sony has talked about addressing this issue in firmware.

    Some EF lenses have issues where the f-stop “twitches,” making the image flash.  Some high speed lenses are reported by the Metabones to be slower than they are, because Sony firmware doesn’t support lens speeds faster than 1.0. In our tests, a Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro wouldn’t adjust f-stop at all, locking wide-open at f/2.0.  We’ll do a comprehensive test of all the lenses in our inventory, but for now, I suggest you test all the EF lenses in your kit before you take them on a shoot. I have every reason to believe that eventually, nearly all EF-mount lenses will work great. It will just take Metabones some time to get the bugs worked out.

    The best lenses for now are either Sony’s native E-mount or fully manual lenses. Zeiss CP2s or Rokinon cines make for trouble-free operation. You’ll want to use rails and a lens mount, since the Metabones Speedboosters aren’t particularly good at handling heavier weight lenses.

    Waveform or LUT preview work separately, not together. And worse, if you switch between shooting modes, waveform will be disabled by default. The second problem will be addressed by Sony in firmware. Until then, if you change modes and your waveforms turn off, you’ll need to adjust the outputs of the camera to SDI 1080p and HDMI off.  You’ll also need to disable LUTs on all outputs (or enable them and record a baked-in LUT).  The second problem is possibly too processor-intensive to correct in firmware. If you want to monitor in a REC709 space while you have waveform or histogram on the viewfinder, you’ll need a LUT box or LUT-enabled monitor, for now.  I’ve been shooting and previewing in slog3 with waveform on, and have had great results. If I have a shoot with a client over my shoulder, I’ll be sure to bring a DP7-PRO or something else with LUT support, so we can have some idea of what the final product will look like.

    Batteries are a b*tch. Sony ships the FS7 with a BP-U30, which will give you 50-70 minutes of real-world use. Sony brand BP-U60 batteries are expensive, with a full day’s worth costing above $1000.  Sony’s engineers made sure to sell them, though, by blocking aftermarket batteries from working with the FS7. Even BP-U series batteries that work with the EX1 and EX3 won’t work with the FS7. Want to use an aftermarket battery with a Sony barrel connector, instead? No problem, until you want to charge it with Sony’s latest BP-U series charger. The Ikan BP-U65 battery I tested wouldn’t take a charge on the Sony charger, either. As we learn of aftermarket batteries that work with the Sony FS7, we’ll post a link here.

    The configuration is designed to be customized. I’ve experimented with several configurations to help balance the weight when mounted on a shoulder rig. My preferred method moves the shoulder pad back about 2 inches, puts a V-mount battery behind me, and leaves the viewfinder where it is. Other shooters prefer to move the viewfinder and the handle forward (suggested if you’re not using V-mount batteries). Swapping the stock rod for a 10″ 15mm rod will let you move the viewfinder, and an Arri rosette dogbone will solve your handle problems. Figure out how you’re likely to be using the camera before you figure out how you’re going to pack it.  You’re stuck choosing between a bulky bag that’s ready-to-shoot or a compact bag that needs a few minutes to get set up.

    You’ve got to put in the time. If you haven’t used the Cine EI mode on Sony’s cameras like the F5 and F55, or you’re not familiar with log color profiles (specifically Slog3), you’ll need to read up before you’re ready to get the most out of the Sony FS7. Alister Chapman has a world-class overview of Slog3 and LUTs for the FS7, great for getting started with the camera. There is, as always, no replacement for real-world experience, though. It’s going to take a few missed shots before you’re regularly getting great results from the FS7 in Slog3. It’s definitely not an expose-to-the-right picture profile, and does much better with underexposure than overexposure.

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

    Posted by Jon Kline

  5. Consignment Rental

    consignment-camera-rentalHow many hours a week do you use your camera?  Wouldn’t it be great if you could make extra cash when you’re not using it?   MKE Production Rental is always looking to add cameras and a few other pieces of equipment to our rental inventory.

    What is consignment rental?
    Consignment rental is a simple agreement between you and us that lets us rent your equipment to other people.

    How much money will I make?
    For most equipment, we’ll give you a 50/50 split of the rental revenue.  For equipment on our Most Wanted list, we’ll give you even more (60/40 split).

    Is my equipment safe?

    We use the same procedures with your equipment as we do with ours. When your equipment is in our care, it’s covered by our insurance. When it’s with a customer, we require proof of their insurance, and we complete a background check. In the unlikely event something permanent happens to your equipment while part of our consignment rental program, you’ll be paid the replacement cost. If your equipment needs repair due to misuse, we will pay for it. Maintanance costs, like re-lubricating gears, replacing lamps, etc., are split at the same ratio as rental revenue.

    Can I use my equipment for my own projects?
    Of course! If the equipment is not already committed to a rental, you can pick it up and return it during normal business hours.

    What kind of equipment is acceptable for consignment rental?
    Most 4K and cinema cameras, as well as professional photo and cine lenses are the most popular items.  We are also a big renter of stills cameras, so high end DSLR and mirrorless cameras less than three years old are in demand.

    You can read our boilerplate Consignment Rental Agreement, get in touch, and start making money today!

    Consignment Rental Most Wanted List

    Video Cameras, Lenses, & Accessories

    Canon c300 mark II Kit
    Canon c500 Kit
    Canon c700 Kit
    Arri Alexa or Amira Kit
    Cooke S4/i, mini S4/i, or S5 Lens Kit

    Still Photography Equipment

    Profoto Heads
    Medium Format Digital Camera
    IR (Infrared) DSLR Camera

  6. Using Bounce – Available Light

    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


  7. Gay All the Way!

    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.


  8. GH4 Video: Tips and Tricks

    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

  9. Equipment to Make an Awesome Kickstarter Video

    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