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

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




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  1. Magic Lantern and Canon Cameras

    It seems like once a month or so, I run into someone who still hasn’t installed Magic Lantern on their Canon DSLR. Whether you’re shooting on a T4i, 7D, 5DmkII or III, 6D, or one of the other growing number of Canon DSLR cameras that support Magic Lantern, you’re missing out on some great free features!  But, since the Magic Lantern project is run by programmers, not marketers, it can be a little confusing at times.

    Canon 6D

    The Canon 6D Magic Lantern is still in Alpha

    We’ve been using Magic Lantern on every Canon DSLR we rent, and we think you should, too.

    Here’s a few reasons why you should be using it, and how to get started.

    What is Magic Lantern?

    Magic Lantern is free software, developed by a volunteer third party (the Magic Lantern team), that runs on your Canon camera.  It runs “on top of” your current Canon firmware and adds some features that Canon chose not to include.  A slightly different version of the program runs on each camera, but all of them work pretty similarly, and add features for video and still shooting.

    Exposure aids – zebras, histogram, waveform, vectorscope, and false color displays, plus HDR features in still and video modes.

    ml1

    One of the Magic Lantern menus, from the Canon 5DmkIII ML beta

    Focus aids – focus assist (even during recording), peaking, more control of external monitoring options, programmable focus racking, and trap focus features for still photography.

    Sound control – earlier cameras like the T2i (550D) lacked any manual audio control, and newer cameras have only basic configuration options.  Magic lantern allows you to control the gain manually and record two mono channels at different levels, as well as have on-screen metering of audio levels.

    Improved bitrate – if your memory card is fast enough, the camera can write more video data to the card, allowing for an image with clearer fine details and slightly better results in color grading.  Multiple Canon cameras now support raw video recording, at least in limited file lengths and resolutions.  This may help keep the Canon DSLR family competitive with newer offerings from Blackmagic Design.

    Tons of other stuff – including things that were so helpful, Canon integrated them in to official firmware updates. Features like alternate frame rates and manual sound controls were available through Magic Lantern before they were released by Canon.

    What’s the Downside?

    We’ve used it on hundreds of shoots on dozens of cameras and we’re confident in recommending it.  We have heard multiple users have installed Magic Lantern, needed unrelated warranty work, and still had their cameras covered under warranty.  But, because there is a third party involved, there’s no guarantee that Canon will honor it if you do something crazy like melt your CMOS sensor. Basically… don’t be a moron and use it to circumvent safety features, and you’ll be happy.

    To have a trouble-free install, you need to make sure your camera’s firmware matches the version Magic Lantern is expecting.  If you try to use the wrong version, you may get lockups or other weirdness.  If things get crazy, just take out the battery, remove the memory card, and restart the camera.

    How do I Install it?

    The process has become simple since the Magic Lantern project unified all the different cameras together in one download.  This information is current as of version 2.3

    1. Confirm your camera is running the proper firmware version for the version of Magic Lantern you’ll be using.

    2. Copy the Magic Lantern files to your memory card.  If your camera uses SD cards, it’s a bit easier to use 32GB or smaller (SDHC) cards instead of the 64GB and larger (SDXC) cards, which require an extra step

    3. Turn your camera mode dial to M, power on the camera, and perform a firmware update.

    Magic Lantern will take care of the rest, including making the card bootable and setting the right flags.

    Of course, take it out for a spin and shoot some tests before you bring it along for paid work.  If you ever have problems, you can always use a blank memory card, or format the card without reinstalling Magic Lantern, and you can revert back to standard functionality.  But we bet after a few weeks of shooting with it, you can’t imagine ever shooting without it again!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  2. The Future for Canon Full-Frame Video

    CanonPrototype

    I’m pretty sure the f/1.2 lens is mounted in this picture just to rub it in Nikon’s face. 

    Canon announced last month it had developed a full-frame sensor exclusively for video applications, and the blog world didn’t seem surprised.  Here at MKE, we felt like the internet passed over something that could be a much bigger deal.  Here’s why:

    1. This could be the end of moire in DSLR video.  The larger pixels have no need to subsample the image into a 1080p raster.  We were really hoping this would be a 4k sensor to replace the Canon 1Dc, but running the numbers in the press release, it’s pretty clear this is a 1920-pixel horizontal imager.

    2. This is a leap forward in low-light sensitivity.  How much of a leap?  Think “shooting video with available starlight.”  Or “I had to cover the camera LCD so bounce off my face didn’t ruin my shot.”  Canon specifies 0.03 lux, which is five stops darker than the light of the full moon!  There are literally more dollars in the US federal debt than photons used in a frame of video.  The coolest application we can see for it?  High framerate videos indoors with available lighting.

    3. The megapixel war in photography is ending.  We could see the end in sight, with Canon dropping its full-frame cameras down from 21MP to 18, and cameras like the Lytro forcing us to re-define resolution all together.  This regular old 1080p sensor is just 2MP.  Of course, Canon will still make full-frame photo cameras in the 18MP range, but Canon’s engineers are definitely not chasing after more marketing megapixels at the expense of image quality.  And 8K for video is probably as far as consumer resolution will ever go, at least in the TV/cinema experience.

    4. Processing 2MP is a lot less intensive than processing 18MP.  The upshot?  Theoretically 9x more data, or capabilities in the range of 1080p240 with the same DIGIC processors (assuming that Canon provides a memory interface that can handle that much bandwidth).  This could also help cover the limits of the rolling shutter CMOS sensor, until Canon catches up with cameras like the new Blackmagic and their global shutter feature.

    The press release from Canon seems to focus on the astrovideography and security applications, but we hope to see this prototype in the hands of some of our favorite cinematographers soon!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  3. Shooting Food – Top 6 Tips

    Plenty of us snap a pic of what we’re about to eat with our smartphones, but taking a well-composed shot that’s worth printing is a very different undertaking. Food photography can be as challenging and rewarding as human subjects.  Here are my top six tips to get great-looking food in photos and video.

    Food-Photography

    Color is key. Shoot raw or triple-check your white balance.

    1. Start with good, fresh food.  This may seem obvious, but you’re not going to get a great shot of a dried-out pizza.  Use fresh ingredients, a good chef, and have the tools you need to cook nearby.  You want to be able to go from the grill/oven/fryer to the lights in as few steps as possible.

    2. Bring at least five times the ingredients you need for a single entree.  I suggest starting by making the entree once just as a sample, before you even take out the camera.  Get an idea for the color, the shape, the texture.  This is your chance to play with light and plating.

    3. The background is the context for your work.  Is the product fast-casual?  Upscale?  Infinite white may work great for fast food photography, but it’s usually too dry for fine-dining work.  Build a set for your food after you see how the first  sample comes out.  If the emphasis of the food is on the origins, consider including the ingredients in the background, like wheat behind a fresh-baked loaf of bread, or an orange behind your delicious glass of orange juice.  If the emphasis is on the mood and ambiance of the restaurant, try shooting in a table setting.  If the emphasis is on the culture of the food, try to connect it to the people or the place it comes from.

    4. This is macro, be prepared.  You’ll want a close-focusing lens that can be stopped down if necessary.  If you’re shooting video, try adding very slight motion.  A tabletop dolly and a high framerate will give you extra-smooth motion, especially if someone in your shot is pouring, cutting, or moving the food.

    Photograph of food by Jon Kline

    The best part is that you get to eat it when you’re done.

    5. Lights matter, and you may need more than you think for high framerates, fast shutters, and control of focus in macro.  Three-point lighting usually works for opaque foods, but remember that the heat from tungsten lights can dry out or melt the product.  For stills, flash is definitely the way to go.  For video, I like to use natural light when possible, but Kino Flo banks and other fluorescent fixtures are a good option, too.  Avoid LED lights, they tend to shift colors in odd and unpredictable ways.  Big softboxes may have a tendency to flatten out textures, since they are many times bigger than the subject they are lighting.  Often, semi-soft or hard key light is the best option for food shots. Pay special attention to reflections and highlights on polished and wet surfaces.

    6. Every great photograph tells a story, and food is no exeption.   Think of one brief thought you’d like your audience to have when they see this shot.  Is the picture making your mouth water?  Does it invoke the emotion you’re trying to convey?  That’s how you know you’ve got the shot you want.

    Thanks to Bleu for the delicious tuna! Now, go find some food, take some shots, and dig in!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  4. Get it Delivered!

    delivery

    We prefer to work with Quicksilver courier service in Milwaukee for delivery and pick up needs. They are available 24 hours a day. After you place your order with us, contact them and arrange your delivery and return details. If you prefer to use a different courier, just let us know when you place your order.

    Need to rent equipment last minute?  We offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

     

     

     

     

  5. It’s Opening Day!

    Posted by Jon Kline

    Today’s the day! We’re so excited to be Milwaukee’s newest video equipment rental house.

    We started on this path because we’re independent filmmakers, shooters, and producers, too, and we know that production has changed a lot over the last few years.  It’s time for a rental house that can change with you.   We’re planting our flag and saying “Thanks for waiting, Milwaukee!”  Milwaukee filmmakers deserve a camera rental house that carries DSLRs and accessories.  You deserve transparent pricing. You deserve 24/7 emergency rentals.  We’re glad to be the first company in Milwaukee to offer all that to you.

    Miller Park (Image: Flickr/compujeramey)

    Miller Park (Image: CC Flickr/compujeramey)

    As we move forward, let us know how we can keep changing to match your needs.  New gear?  New services?  Something else?  We’re here for you.

    We hope the Brewers don’t mind sharing our Opening Day.  Here’s you you, Milwaukee!  Now get shooting!

     

     

     

     

     

  6. When You Need Crew

    milwaukee-production-crew

    Photo by OnMilwaukee.com

    In this business, like so many others, people tend to work with someone they know and trust.  We’ve been shooting, producing, and editing in Wisconsin for eight years, and we have worked alongside almost everyone who works in video and film production.  When you need crew, we’re happy to recommend someone we trust.

    Our list of qualified Production Assistants, Grips, Assistant Camera, Camera Operators, Gaffers, Directors of Photography, Crane and Jib Operators, Drivers, Wardrobe, Hair and Makeup are all people we’ve worked with side-by-side.

    In Milwaukee, virtually all production crew are non-union.  If you require it, we can connect you with union crew, often from Chicago.

    Whether you’re shooting a feature on film or a reality show with mixed video formats, Milwaukee has crew with the experience and the Midwestern work ethic to get the project done well.  We’d love to help you get the absolute best crew on whatever budget you’re working with.

    For more information, get in touch.

  7. Keys to a Great Demo Reel

    In the days before internet video, the reel was an essential piece of self-marketing, the capstone on top of a polished resume and project list.  These days, a killer reel can give you a leg up on the competition, especially if you’re trying to make new contacts, or stand out in a field of dozens of candidates.  In the world of social media, each of us is our own brand, and it’s up to us to make a sizzle reel that gets potential clients excited.  Here’s my top ten list for how to make a reel jump through the screen and get gigs on your calendar.

    1. Start at the top.  In almost every other video, you want to build to a climax.  With a reel, you’re starting at the end of the third act.  Open with something awesome, and set the bar high.

    2. Keep it short.  There is no reason a reel should be more than 90 seconds, ever.  Closer to 60 makes even more sense.  If the audience needs more, make them click “replay.”  A good reel should be short enough to make them ask questions, and they should still remember the beginning when they get to the end.

    3. Stay specific.  Don’t show me one project you edited, another you wrote, and a third you were assistant camera on.  I’ll just assume you have no idea what you want to do with your career.  If you really want to showcase your work in multiple positions, try making a different reel for each category of work.

    film4. Don’t cheat!  I’ve gotten reels where I KNOW who actually worked on the project, and it wasn’t the person who was taking credit.  I assure you, your resume will end up at the bottom of the pile for a very long time if you take credit where you haven’t earned it.

    5.  Over-text is so 2009.   In montage (sometimes called “collage”)  reels, pacing is more important than context.  You can give the viewer context in the video title, in the video description, and in the email you send with the video link.  We don’t need something to read while we’re supposed to be watching what you’ve done.  A long list of brands or campaigns will take us out of the visuals and turn your reel into a video resume.  If you’re making a scene reel (where you’re only showing 3-4 excerpts each about twenty seconds long) a very short description may be appropriate.  Personally, I think scene reels are too short to be useful, and just long enough to risk being boring.  If I’m hiring a director or editor,  I will ask to see some other work samples, and this is where I learn about their ability to cut together scenes and tell stories.

    6. Don’t just cut to the beat!  I’ve seen other people suggest just exactly that, and it’s terrible advice.  The term for this is “Mickey Mouse Editing” and it will seem amateurish and predictable.  Use the motion within the shots to connect with the music. Finding the internal rhythm of the clips will seem more professional, and leave the audience wanting more.  If you’re not a pro editor, consider hiring someone to edit it for you.   A professional editor will also be a big help if you’re trying to mix multiple formats, frame rates, and aspect ratios in a single reel.

    7. End your reel with a simple way for your audience to get in touch with you.  This is where it’s okay to use text and logos.

    8. Put it online.  Of course, you should probably have a hard copy of it with you if you’re in an interview, but these days we expect everything to be online. Sites like Vimeo and YouTube make it very easy.

    9. Ask for feedback.  Your audience will see things that you don’t, and be confused more easily than you might expect.  Show your friends, show your mom, and definitely show other people in the industry.  Try to listen without being defensive.  Remember, you won’t be there to defend your reel when a potential gig is on the line.

    10. Keep it fresh.  I suggest updating your reel at least once a year.  If you’re continuously improving, then your most recent work should always be your best, so show it off!

    So go cut a killer reel, get it online, and share it!  Post it in the comments and we’ll even give feedback!

    Jon Kline is a Cinematographer/DP living in Chicago.  You can see his reel here.

  8. Getting the Most from Your Batteries

    eneloop batteries

    We suggest Eneloop brand NiMH batteries for AA applications.

    Batteries for smartphones, tablets, cameras, laptops, and even hybrid cars are expensive and often custom-sized for each product.  Almost all these devices use a Lithium, Lithium Ion, or Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable battery. Under the best circumstances, most batteries in electronic devices will have a lifetime of 3-4 years, and less than two years is typical.  Taking good care of them can protect your investment.  To get the longest lifetime and maximum charge cycles out of your lithium, lithium ion, or NiMH rechargeable batteries, here’s some things you should know:

    1. Keep them cool.  Heat will destroy them, and charging them is usually when they get the warmest.  Don’t leave them in the sun on your dashboard or stacked together with poor ventilation.

    2. They like the middle.  The hardest place for these batteries to stay healthy is when they are completely discharged (at 0%), but a 100% charge shortens battery life, too.  If you want to store your modern rechargeable battery, charge it to 75% and put it in the fridge or somewhere cool.  Avoid discharging it completely whenever you can.  These batteries have no memory effect, so discharging them completely before you recharge them is actually a terrible idea.  Some manufacturers, (e.g. Apple) suggest discharging your device completely once a month.  This is actually not for the battery cells, but so the computer that monitors the battery can make a more accurate guess about battery life.  I personally suggest not discharging your device once a month unless the battery meter is acting erratic.  Especially in your iPhone or iPad with a difficult-to-replace and expensive battery.

    3. They will slowly discharge over time, even if you don’t use them.  So if you haven’t used it in six months, go ahead and give it a charge to keep it from draining completely.  If you leave them charged on the shelf for more than a month, plan on “topping them off” before you use them again.  Some older NiMH batteries can lose as much as 20% of their charge in their first day.  Most of the rest lose a few percent a week.

    4. They will age from the day they are made, whether or not you use them.  Three years after manufacturing a lithium or lithium ion battery, you can lose as much as half of total capacity even if you’ve never used the battery once.  So don’t feel guilty about using your battery for what it was made for.  And if your battery is not holding enough charge to be useful to you, there’s no magic charger or technique that will bring it back to life.  Be sure to responsibly recycle it.  If your community doesn’t collect and recycle batteries, consider sending them in.

  9. Pick Up Guidelines

    You’ve reached a page for our old address. Please update your address book and find us here:

    MKE Production Rental
    2625 S Greeley St
    Suite 124
    Milwaukee WI 53207

  10. Stolen Equipment

    Zeiss CP2 lens set rental EF MountThe below items were stolen from us on July 13, 2018 in Milwaukee

    Carl Zeiss CP2 15mm/T2.9 EF Mount, serial number 50045267
    Carl Zeiss CP2 35mm/T2.1 EF Mount, serial number 50010653
    Carl Zeiss CP2 21mm/T2.9 EF Mount, serial number 50004455
    Carl Zeiss CP2 85mm/T2.1 EF Mount, serial number 50014297
    Carl Zeiss CP2 50mm/T2.1 EF Mount, serial number 50012625
    In a Zeiss Pelican 6-lens case

    The person renting them presented this fake ID