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

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




Category Archive: Blog

  1. Meet the Team

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    Ty Danielson

    Rental Manager

    Ty likes to help customers have five-star experiences. He doesn’t understand most hashtags. He has a degree in Film and Video from UW-Milwaukee and prefers Colectivo over Starbucks. He says that only serial killers like the X-Men. Otherwise, he’s usually pretty friendly.

    chad

    Chad Halvorsen

    Audiovisual Director

    Chad has a decade of film production experience as an editor, producer and actor. He uses his incredible good looks and wealth of knowledge to help us create great events and awesome visuals. He has a 300-pound fire pit shaped like the Death Star in his back yard. If you ask nicely, he might let you kiss his adorable baby daughter.

    Troy Freund

    Photo Rental Specialist

    Troy enjoys long walks on the Milwaukee riverfront and posting “tasteful” selfies on Instagram. He once ran 52 miles in under 15 hours. He’s a graduate from Cardinal Stritch and was the president of the Mayville, Wisconsin Golden Rule 4-H Club in 1991.

    Emry Brisky

    Film Production Specialist

    Emry makes film and video. He won the MKE Production Rental Best Hair award in 2017 and 2018. His skills in the lighting and camera departments of film and video production make him indispensable in our Milwaukee office, as well as on set as a grip, gaffer, or DP.

    jon

    Jon Kline

    Founder

    Jon started the company so he could move all his video production equipment out of his apartment. He has met seven astronauts, two Miss Americas, and the guy who played Rudy in Rudy.   Now he’s usually only around when he needs more stuff for his day job as a cinematographer.

     


  2. Now Hiring – Rental Assistant (Part Time)

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    At MKE Production Rental we help our customers make amazing video, audio, photos, and events. We’re looking for someone who wants to join us in our mission, part time.   This is your chance to work with other people who love telling stories, making movies, and using new tech.

    An ideal candidate will:
    Have a love of video, photography, and technology.
    Strive to learn something new every day.
    Have a formal or informal background in audio, video, lighting, and/or photography.  A college degree is a plus, but not required.
    Be organized and punctual.
    Be detail-oriented and attentive.
    Be capable of lifting and carrying up to 50 pounds, loading large objects, and climbing stairs
    Have reliable transportation to our downtown office.  We’re near multiple bus lines.

    The Rental Assistant will be responsible for:
    Fulfilling rental orders.
    Receiving rental dropoffs and performing return inspections.
    Answering customer phone calls and emails.
    Managing rental paperwork.
    Other miscellaneous duties.

    A big perk of the job is access to tons of cool gear, including for your own personal projects! You’ll also be meeting producers, cinematographers, photographers, and other creatives working in Milwaukee.Pay commensurate with experience.  MKE Production Rental is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

    To apply, please send a resume as PDF to [email protected]. No calls, please!


  3. Now Hiring – AV Tech

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    We help our customers make amazing video, audio, photos, and events. We’re looking for someone who wants to join us in our mission as an AV Technician.  This is your chance to work with other people who love using the latest technology to create fun and exciting events!

    The AV Technician is a contractor position, with work on an as-needed basis. Contractors are paid based on hours worked, with reimbursement available for mileage and expenses.

    An ideal candidate will:

    Have a love of video and technology.

    Strive to learn and do better work every day.

    Have a background in audio, video, and lighting set up.

    Be comfortable with basic repairs and troubleshooting for AV equipment.

    Have flexible availability.

    Be detail-oriented, attentive, and able to work on their own.

    Be capable of lifting and carrying up to 50 pounds, loading carts and vehicles with large objects.

    Have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.

     

    The Delivery and AV Tech will be responsible for:

    Delivering and picking up orders in the Milwaukee area and occasionally beyond.

    Setting up audio and visual equipment in various venues. This often includes speakers, projectors, and event lighting.

    The position is dependent on our clients’ needs, and available work varies. Pay commensurate with experience.  Equal Opportunity Employer.

    To apply, please send a resume as PDF to [email protected] No phone calls, please!


  4. Anamorphic Adapter Tips and Tricks

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    The SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50 anamorphic lens adapter is a game-changer for cinematographers who want to get the cinemascope look without a six-figure lens budget. I spent some time shooting with the 2x Anamorphot (after working with various 2x vintage adapters) and have a lot of tips and tricks to share to get the most from any anamorphic adapter rig.

    A frame from “Upstairs.” It was shot with a Sony FS7, a Zeiss 50mm ZE Planar T* lens with Metabones Speedbooster, the SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50, and Rangefinder.

     

    Crazy budget anamorphic rig

    This is the crazy rig I started using for the short film High Beam. It’s a Panasonic GH4, with an EF to MFT speedbooster, with a m42 to EF adapter, a vintage Helios 44-2 as the taking lens, a modified lens hood for mounting the Bell and Howell anamorphic adapter, which had the adjustable diopter cine modified. Then on the end, to get wide enough, I resorted to taping on a 0.7x wide angle adapter.

    I started my anamorphic journey with a Bell and Howell 2x super 16mm projection lens. Getting the imperial threads of the lens adapter to fit onto the metric standards in use on my lenses and filters took a few deep dives on eBay. Figuring out how to mount and support the lens was a lot of trial and error, too. There are a lot of tips online, but with any modified projector lens, you’re going to need to figure out what works best yourself.

    I learned one big lesson from shooting on the Bell and Howell: try not to change lenses. While I had lots of options, I ended up shooting almost exclusively on the vintage 58mm Helios 44-2. Since changing the taking lens meant changing the length of the crazy lens assembly, as well as using different stepping rings, lens changes were a 15-minute ordeal. I found it was easiest to switch between a “dumb” adapter for my telephoto shots, a speedbooster for my middle shots, and a speedbooster plus a wide angle adapter on the front for my widest shots. I found the the character of the vintage lens helped forgive some of the softness of the adapter.

    Screen grab from High Beam

    Paired with a vintage lens, the Bell and Howell gives one-of-a-kind visuals, although it was bordering on impossible to use. Courtesy of High Beam. Click image to view in 4K

    The rig was very inelegant, but did create some gorgeous images. The size of the Bell and Howell was suited to a Panasonic GH4, not s35 or full frame sensors. On MFT, it seemed a bit soft in 4K. Even with the modification to the variable diopter focus, focus was a challenge. It also looked so ridiculous that I couldn’t possibly suggest it for a “proper” shoot.

    Looking for something that would be a better fit for the Sony A7s II, I picked up a Lomo 35 NAP2-3m. It’s a massive beast of a lens. While it does allow for relatively wide lenses even on a full frame camera, close focus is limited to a ridiculous 6 meters. The front element is so huge that no variable diopter would fit. Some anamorphic lensheads have done extreme modifications to the 35-NAP2-3M, but to do it right means building your own lens housing. Even with modifications, focus is difficult and requires the dual-focus method. After trying a few test shots, I quickly realized that the Lomo wasn’t a good option for me.

    SLR Magic is the only company making modern “budget” anamorphic lenses and adapters. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is designed to work with the SLR Magic Rangefinder for single-focus operation. It has easy-to-use metric filter threads on the front and back. Everything about it makes it a lot easier to shoot with than any of the modified anamorphic projection lenses. I decided to work with the 2.0x model, since it gives a much more distinctly anamorphic look than the 1.33x.

    SLR Magic definitely has some anamorphiles on staff. Everything in their Anamorphot line has a blue lens coating, which amplifies the blue-streak flares made famous by filmmakers like J.J. Abrams. The glass definitely has a unique character, like nothing I’ve seen from any other anamorphic lenses. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is relatively sharp when used with the right taking lens. I used it a lot around f/4 with Zeiss ZE series lenses. To get a tack-sharp image, you need to be sure that your taking lens and the adapter are at infinity, your adapter is mounted squarely, and of course your front focus element needs to be spot on as well. It takes some time and practice before that all happens naturally.

    Lighting requires a different touch, as well. In general, highlights are to be avoided, except for the intentional lens flares and bokeh-ed points of light. High-contrast areas on a face, for example, can “bloom” and cause an out-of-focus look.  In general, anamorphic shines most in low-key and night scenes. Getting the most from daytime exteriors usually means shooting low contrast, with a long lens and maximizing the oval bokeh effect.

    After a few days of camera and lens tests, I’ve fine-tuned my ideal anamorphic adapter setup. I shoot on the Sony FS7, with an Atomos Shogun Flame to handle anamorphic de-squeeze and LUTs. A Zacuto Universal Baseplate provides a stable connection to rails (and gives the option to handhold the rig, if necessary). I use a Metabones adapter (not speedbooster). I found the speedbooster sometimes made focus even harder. I use Zeiss ZE lenses, or the Helios 44-2 for a more vintage look. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 gets stepping rings to mount to the taking lens. I also use a Canon C-size tripod collar to help keep the adapter from rotating.

    Playing with various lenses, I learned that the ideal taking lens has to have certain features. You need non-rotating front filter threads. Ideally, the lens maintains the same length when focusing. For full frame cameras, the front filter threads should be 62mm or smaller and the front element should be about 50mm or smaller. You can get away with slightly bigger numbers if you’re using full frame glass on a crop sensor.

    Any comfort you have with lens lengths goes out the window with 2x anamorphic. Since a 50mm becomes a 50mm x 25mm lens, it can almost be wide and telephoto at the same time. Screengrab from Upstairs.

    The Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 on super 35, cropped to 2.35:1, was the absolute widest I could get, and required removing the Rangefinder. It still left me wanting a wider option when shooting interiors. It gives about the same horizontal field of view as a 28mm on s35. The 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 were both simple to use, and worked with the Rangefinder no problem. The 50mm was definitely the workhorse lens. Using an 85 seemed limited to large spaces and exteriors. I can see why the Helios 44 series is so popular among anamorphic adapter shooters. It’s an eminently useful length that’s long enough for bokeh effects and still wide enough to use indoors. On paper I was worried about not having a lens longer than 85mm, but in practice I never really felt I needed it.

    Full manual is definitely the easiest way to go. Zoom lenses are tricky to use, since most of them change length while zooming. Primes are a much easier option. I experimented with a Canon 70-200, and it’s definitely not parfocal. In general, trying to focus past 135mm with an anamorphic adapter requires a zen-like patience, or a “good enough” attitude.

     

    After shooting a few projects with various adapters, I really fell in love with the anamorphic look. It’s something I’ve wanted to take into my commercial work, but I didn’t feel an adapter was simple enough for high pressure work. I made the decision to add the three SLR Magic Anamorphot PL primes to my collection. I’ll post back here after I’ve shot a few projects with them.

    What are your experiences shooting with anamorphic adapters? Let me know in the comments.


  5. Crash Course: GoPro Omni Tips & Tricks

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    GoPro Omni 360 Camera

    The GoPro Omni uses six genlocked GoPro Hero 4 black cameras in a cube-like array.

    This post was updated in October, 2018, to reflect the closing of GoPro’s Kolor software division.

    The GoPro Omni 360 camera is an incredibly popular tool for recording immersive 360-degree video and photos.  Since the technology is just getting started, we wanted to review some of the most common questions and answers about the Omni, and 360-degree shooting in general.

    How long is the record time?

    Our GoPro Omni 360 camera kit includes six 32GB cards, which allow 40+ minutes of recording in the highest quality setting (recommended). The cameras will accept 64GB microSD cards, taking record time to 90+ minutes. Record times are about twice as long when using the 1440p setting. We have not yet tested the array with 128GB microSD cards.

    How long is the battery life?

    Typical life with just the GoPro batteries inside the Omni (the lightweight configuration) is around 50 minutes.  The kit includes a V-mount battery and power adapter, extending the run time to 3+ hours. An AC adapter is also included.

    What accessories do I need?

    The Omni kit we rent includes the Omni Sync Rig with six cameras, six GoPro batteries, one V-mount battery, a battery plate with clamp, a V-mount battery charger, a powertap cable, a GoPro Smart Remote with charge cable, six 32GB microSD cards, six microSD USB readers, and a USB hub. The items you are most likely to need in addition are:

    a way to mount the camera
    additional media
    additional batteries

    How should I mount the GoPro Omni?

    GoPro Omni mount

    The Omni mounts with a 1/4-inch tripod screw

    The Omni has a standard 1/4″-20 receiver, designed to be used with virtually all video production equipment. Since the camera is capable of seeing directly above and below itself, we suggest using something without a protrusion near the camera (for example, tripod legs or a tripod head).

    We have found that a light stand, or “chickenfoot” monopod work well. For a more invisible look, fishing line can be run through the Omni frame and fastened to the ceiling. Just be sure to mount it safely, as the rig weighs about 2 1/2 pounds. Since the camera is 360×360, mounting it “underslung” is simple and requires no adjustments. Regardless of how the camera is mounted, the editor will need to properly set the horizon level in post production.

    Does it matter where I point it, or where camera #1 is?

    Short answer: not really. The long answer is, if you can’t get the Omni away from an object, it’s much better to not have that object on a stitch (the seam between two cameras). Since each camera is in a slightly different position, the perspective of each starts to become significant once objects are within about six feet (two meters) of the array. You can tweak the stitching between cameras in post production, but it’s best to keep the camera away from any close objects if you want a clean stitch without much work in post.

    Is it really better than using six GoPros in an aftermarket frame like the Freedom 360?

    There are a few key advantages to the Omni rig over using six independent cameras. First, the operation of each camera is handled by the array, so you only need to use one camera or remote. The settings propagate across all cameras, so there’s no risk of mismatched settings. The six video files will all be the exact same length and begin at the same time, removing the need for a complicated sync procedure in post. In fact, the Omni is sub-frame accurate, with each frame from each camera starting at the exact same moment in time. This makes motion across the stitch lines much more natural-looking.

    Is it 3D?

    The GoPro Omni is an immersive 360×360 video camera, but it is not stereoscopic. If your project requires stereoscopic 3D, you’ll need to consider a camera like the GoPro Odyssey or the Nokia Ozo. Kits with 360-degree stereoscopic cameras are currently an order of magnitude more expensive, and have more challenges in post-production.

    Is it HD/4K/8K?

    The old ways of measuring video resolution don’t exactly translate to 360 video. If you are distributing to YouTube, you will likely upload an equirectangular projection in a 4K video file.  The Omni captures a total of either 16.5 or 24.8 megapixels, allowing for plenty of oversampling and some overlap at the seams. 360 video playback beyond 8K  resolutions is currently limited to custom installations and very expensive hardware.

    If your final deliverable is a traditional 2D video, you can get a reasonable 1080p cut from the source files, with a medium-wide field of view. If you won’t be adding digital pans or tilts in post production, it currently makes more sense to use a traditional single camera for 2D video.

    How do I go from recording in-camera to a finished video?

    The camera records to each of the six microSD cards simultaneously. After recording, remove the six cards and copy each of them to a drive, using a separate folder for each card. The video files will have matching names, lengths, and settings. You’ll need a program to combine the files together, this is called “stitching.” GoPro has closed Kolor, the company that provided video stiching tools, so for now we suggest using the Premiere/After Effects plugins included with Fusion Studio. We don’t include software with any camera rental.

    Our suggestion is to stitch the video, and then edit it, and then apply color and exposure adjustments. The Omni records in ProTune and native white balance, so without correction, the footage will look gray and colors may appear inaccurate.

    Will it work as a live camera?

    The GoPro Omni is not designed to be used live. Currently, there are a limited number of live 360 camera options, most of them requiring a very expensive computer system and trained technicians. We do not currently provide live camera 360 rentals.

    How do I monitor the video?

    Monitoring 360 video live is not possible with the GoPro Omni. Since the camera points in all directions at once, and settings are handled automatically, monitoring doesn’t have much use anyway.

    Unlike the GoPro Hero 4 black outside of the Omni array, WiFi control and monitoring is not supported. The wireless remote can be used to adjust Omni settings and trigger recording.

    What about audio?

    Each GoPro Hero 4 black records audio, and any one of those files can be selected in post production. If audio is critical, we suggest recording to a separate device and syncing them in post production.

    Can we call you and ask a bunch of questions from our set?

    Please, if you’re new to 360 video, book an extra day with your camera rental to do some tests and figure out the details. We can try to walk you through things on the phone, but working with any new camera is never something you should do in a rush.

    Can you provide a list of qualified GoPro Omni 360 camera operators?

    Yes, just email us with your project dates and location and someone will be in touch with you shortly.


  6. 2018 Student Internships

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    video-intern

    Matt, one of our previous interns, learned a lot about video production, worked with producers, and was on set for multiple productions.

    MKE Production Rental is looking for several interns for 2018. 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

    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, a $400 stipend will be provided.

    Please submit your resume, as well as information about your college’s internship program, your availability, and your desired start dates, to [email protected] No phone calls, please!

     


  7. 9 Rides Cinematographer: Shooting on iPhone 6

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    Meet the cinematographer behind “9 Rides,” the film that premiered at SXSW and was shot on an iPhone 6. Most recently, you may have seen the film at the Milwaukee International Film Festival.

    r-vialet

    Cinematographer Richard Vialet hosts “How to Shoot a Great Movie On An iPhone”
    Wednesday, October 5th at 5-8pm
    Milwaukee Film Festival Lounge (the back projector area)
    2155 N. Prospect Ave

    This event will be an opportunity for those working or interested in working in the film industry to learn and discuss with a knowledgeable, experienced, and innovative filmmaker.

    The event is free, but invitation only, as space is limited.

    Please RSVP online before October 3rd. Seats will be available to invitees on a first-come, first-served basis.

     


  8. Holiday Hours

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    rental-hours

    Please make an appointment before stopping by.  Our hours below are when we have someone available to answer your questions by email, phone, or SMS. We usually aren’t able to help customers who stop in without an appointment.

    MKE Production Rental Winter Hours (starting September 1)

    Open Close
    Monday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Tuesday 11:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Wednesday By Appt.
    Thursday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Friday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Saturday 11:00 AM 1:00 PM
    Sunday 11:00 AM 1:00 PM

     

    Holiday Hours for 2016-2017:

    Friday, December 23, open 9am to noon
    Saturday, December 24, closed
    Sunday, December 25, closed
    Monday, December 26, open noon to 5pm
    Friday, December 30, open 9am to noon
    Saturday, December 31, closed
    Sunday, January 1, closed

    We don’t count holidays as rental days, so you can get a great deal on rentals if you pick up before the holiday. Please book early as things tend to go quickly!

    If you’re in a jam, use our 24/7 emergency service.  Just send a SMS to 414.939.3653 and we’ll be with you as soon as we can. After hours/holiday rates, minimum order sizes, and delivery charges may apply.

     


  9. Now Hiring – Rental Manager (Full-Time)

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    We’ve filled this position! Thank you for your interest. We’ll post our future employment opportunities here on our blog.

    lighting rental


  10. 2016 Summer Internship

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    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

     


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