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

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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Pick Up Guidelines

    mke-production-rental-exteriorWhen you come to pick up, you must present your photo ID. The face on the ID must match yours and your name must be on the contract. If you are sending someone else to pick up, please coordinate with us in advance.

    If you will be late, please let us know. We strive to give great service to all of our customers, and we’d like to be sure someone is available to help you when you arrive.

    We’re in the Auler Building in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, across the street from the Skylight Music Theatre.

    Google Map

    159 N Broadway
    Suite 202 (Second Floor)
    Milwaukee, WI 53202

    We suggest parking in the free 15-minute parking spots out front, or using metered parking. Parking in the lot or alley is prohibited. We share an entrance with Mainstream Boutique. Take the hallway to the right and we’re at the top of the stairs.

    If you are here after hours, the building may be locked. Just give us a call at 414.939.3653 and we’ll meet you.

    For larger orders, we have a loading dock. Please park in front and come in first, so we can finalize your order paperwork and coordinate your loading.

  4. 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