MY GEAR
Posted Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Many people have asked me about the video equipment we use and why we use it.  Let me start with why we got into video in the first place and how we stumbled upon a camera.

A few years back, a local television station approached us about producing videos to help market our company in the local area and online. The service included three hours of time with a cameraman and 10 hours of editing and post production.  The price was $7000.

We liked the idea of marketing with video, but thought we could make our own movies for much less.  We didn’t have a clue how, but the decision was made that we would.

Besides, I had been sitting on an idea called The Edgegrain for a long while.  Being able to acquire video equipment would allow me to make that idea a reality.

So we started looking online and asking around about video cameras.  We wanted something versatile…interchangeable lenses would be nice.  We wanted something durable…we would be filming around a lot of dust.  And of course, we wanted something affordable…it would be nice to have more than one camera.

Just by chance; I called a guy in Los Angeles who was selling a Panasonic he had purchased to use on the television series House.  He explained to me that the camera was really nice, but that he needed to get rid of it because the client had decided to shoot everything with Canon 5Ds.

I had never heard of a Canon 5D.  I had been looking strictly at video cameras.  I didn’t know that there were digital still cameras out there that had the ability to shoot quality video too...not good enough to film a television show with.

I really liked the idea of a camera like this.  If the video thing didn’t work out I could still use it to take pictures with.

When I hung up the phone I Googled the Canon 5D, and I soon found a whole online community of videographers singing the praises of these DSLR cameras and sharing tips on how they used them.

I also found the 5D’s little brother, the Canon 7D, and it was exactly what we were looking for.  We bought two of them, and they turned out to be great cameras.

They also turned out to be highly customizable, which leads me to the rest of my gear.

There is an entire industry built around shooting video with these cameras.  They make external monitors, microphones, lights, recorders, remotes and all kinds of mounts.  Figuring out what accessories I really needed took some time.  All I knew in the beginning was that I needed a lens.

And the first lens I bought was a cheap Canon 50mm prime lens.  I have since tried all kinds of lenses - macro, zoom, and wide angle - but my favorite lenses to use for video remain prime lenses.  I mostly use a 50mm and a 20mm lens, both made by Canon.  The picture quality is excellent and I feel that using a prime lens forces me to plan out my shots more.  The 50mm also has a really cool ‘depth of field’ focusing effect.

I should mention here that it took me a minute to teach myself how to shoot decent video with the 7D.  The auto focus function on the camera does not work in video mode.  The lens has to be focused manually, which can be frustrating at first, especially when filming moving objects at close range.  I spent a lot of time practicing how to manually focus.  I even had to reshoot an entire video before I got the hang of it.

Not having a stable platform for the 7D can also ruin a video shoot.  A shaky camera will film a shaky movie.  It is important to get a good stand, grip, rig or stabilizer to mount the camera to.  We have a few monopods from Manfrotto.  They are easy to set up and get around with while filming.  We also have a couple of Manfrotto’s Magic Arms.  With these things you can mount the camera to pretty much anything and add some really unique points of view to a video.

For audio I bought an external recorder, which led to the purchase of some external microphones.  I wanted the videos to sound as good as they looked and the microphone on the 7D is not that great.  I have a Zoom H4n recorder and I love it.  It holds hours of audio and the built in microphone is great for recording live music or doing voiceover stuff.  I also have Sennheiser wireless microphones and a Rode shotgun VideoMic that plug into the Zoom when I need to isolate the audio more.

That’s pretty much it.  The only other piece of equipment we use on a regular basis is a Canon remote that plugs into the 7D for time-lapse stuff.

All the audio and video gets thrown together in Adobe Premier Pro.  I have used Adobe products for years for everything from designing logos to building websites, so for me Adobe’s video editing software was a natural fit.

And this is how we make the things we make.  It may not be the easiest way to market your business with video, but it’s worked out for us so far.

And we have a lot of fun doing it.

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