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. What’s Changing at MKE: Zero-Touch Pickup

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    Contactless Equipment Rental with our lockers
    Our new lockers let you pick up and return,
    without needing to talk to a rental specialist.

    At MKE Production Rental, we’re doing everything possible to keep our customers, employees, and community safe. As part of that effort, we offer zero-contact pickup and returns for all renters.

    Please use the phone or email to place orders. All pick ups and returns will use our contactless lockers, or our outdoor loading dock. If you’re using our loading dock, please call when you arrive and someone will come out to meet you.

    Renters will need to complete certain requirements electronically. After you make payment, we will send you a link to digitally sign your rental contract and upload identification documents.

    We have resumed our regular business operating hours. Our most current hours are always available on Google.

    As always, delivery and pick up is an option for any size order. We can also ship your order via FedEx or UPS. Fees vary, please check with your rental specialist for pricing.

  2. 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 cheers for the Cubs. Other than that, he’s usually pretty great.


    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.


    Jon Kline


    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.

  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. What do I need before I can rent?

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    Don’t know what you need?

    There’s no substitute for professional advice. Give one of our rental specialists a call, (414) 939-3653.

    Already know what you want? 

    The easiest way to get your rental started is to email [email protected] with the following information:

    • Your full name
    • Phone number
    • Address
    • Date and time you’d like to start your rental
    • Date and time you’d like to return
    • The equipment you’d like


    Insurance and Equipment Deposits

    If you’re renting more than $1500 worth of gear, we may ask you to provide proof of insurance or pay a security deposit for the value of the equipment.  If you don’t have insurance and need a one-time policy, we suggest For most of our renters, it makes more sense to buy an annual policy instead of a short-term one.

    If you keep a current certificate of insurance (COI) on file with us, you may be eligible for discounts on your rentals. For some rentals under $1500, we may still ask for a deposit or a credit card on file.


    We require payment to hold your rental. Most of our customers choose to pay by credit card online or over the phone. We accept cash, credit cards including Master Card, Visa, Discover, and American Express, and business checks from Wisconsin-based companies, churches, and nonprofits.  Sorry, we can’t take a personal check.

    Once you have made your payment, there may be fees or other charges if you cancel or miss your appointments. The details are in our rental terms.

    We are required to charge sales tax on your rental, unless you complete a valid S-211 form.

    Pickup and Return

    You can only pick up your rental with a rental appointment.  We need time to prepare your gear and make sure everything is ready to go.  There is no charge to schedule a pickup or return during our regular business hours.  After hours pickup and return is available for an additional charge. Delivery and pickup services are also available.

    Before your rental starts, we need the following:

    • payment in full with cash or credit
    • a valid credit card, deposit, or proof of insurance
    • your government-issued photo ID
    • a signed rental contract


    You need to return the equipment on time, within 15 minutes of the return time you schedule with us.  Late charges and fees will be detailed in the rental contract.

    Have everything you need to get started?  Get in touch to make your rental reservation now!

  6. 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.

  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.


    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. Hours

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    Please make an appointment before stopping by. Rental pick ups and drop offs are by appointment only.

    We generally have someone available on staff to answer phones and emails from 10:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    Our most current open hours, including holidays, are posted through Google.

    If you’re in a jam after hours, send us a text! We may be able to help you with our emergency service.

  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. Five Steps to Your First Gig in Video Production

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    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, 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