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What Type of Equipment is Needed for Video Production?

Updated on August 23, 2012

It’s much easier now to create high definition (HD) videos than years before as the realm of D-SLR filmmaking has taken off into another dimension. You won’t necessarily need to purchase a film camera costing a ton load to make a quality films. Furthermore, as you embark on your D-SLR video production journey, there’s not a great need for a lot of accessories. Follow through so that you can take note of basic recommended items to have in your filmmaking kit.

Most naturally, the primary item in your kit should be a D-SLR with video recording capabilities. Even an entry level D-SLR such as the Canon EOS 650D T4i is capable of recording in HD formats. Entry level D-SLRs have crop sensors that are smaller in size than that of full-frame camera sensors. A main advantage of having a full frame camera such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is that its sensor has the ability to perform much better in low light than say a Canon T4i. Furthermore, a crop sensor will increase (through magnification) the effective focal length of lens by 1.6x. A 30mm lens on a full frame camera still has an effective focal length of 30mm, whereas the same lens on a crop sensor camera has an effective focal length of 1.6 x 30mm = 48mm. It’s desirable by filmmakers to have reasonably wide angles of view for creating videos, but there are ways to get around that with crop sensor cameras.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only) is a full-frame 22.3MP DSLR featuring exceptional still image and movie recording capabilities.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only) is a full-frame 22.3MP DSLR featuring exceptional still image and movie recording capabilities. | Source

You’ve got to add a couple great lenses in your kit to produce good videos, but guess what? They don’t have to be all that expensive. A 50mm lens is recommended for full frame camera, and a 30mm lens for a crop sensor camera. It would also be good to add a wide angle zoom lens to the mix. Autofocus is not a big issue with D-SLR filmmaking, as it is rarely ever used. Manual focusing is the way to go, and this is a skill that you’ll need to practice. Besides, the autofocusing noise of lens gears is not a fun thing to hear when playing back your well captured videos.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

This large aperture 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM lens is designed to match the APS-C size image sensors of digital SLR cameras. From 40cm (15.7) minimum focusing distance to infinity, this lens creates very sharp images with high contrast.

 

Whether or not you have a flip-out LCD screen on your D-SLR, most filmmakers will tell you that having an viewfinder is the real deal. These can be purchased or if you are interested you can even create your own viewfinder, such as what John Phillips demonstrates in the video below, and save some dollars. With a viewfinder you will be able to see more of a scene with greater comfort. If you avoid using the LCD screen for viewing, you may also minimize the amount of extra light entering which may have a negative effect on exposure.

DIY -- LCD Viewfinder Tutorial with John Phillips

The RØDE VideoMic is a professional grade 1/2" condenser shotgun microphone designed for use with consumer video cameras and personal audio recorders.
The RØDE VideoMic is a professional grade 1/2" condenser shotgun microphone designed for use with consumer video cameras and personal audio recorders. | Source

Currently, D-SLRs are notoriously known to have poor in-built audio and so you’ll need to get a microphone to attach to it. There are two well recommended audio devices for D-SLR filmmaking and they are the Rhodes VideoMic and the Zoom H4N. A great number of D-SLR filmmakers use these, and they are relatively affordable. Others exist, so of course do your research to find what’s best for you.

Zoom h4n: Ideal for recording interviews, lectures, rehearsals, meetings, and more, this palm-sized unit packs the ability to record up to 4 channels of audio at greater than CD quality.
Zoom h4n: Ideal for recording interviews, lectures, rehearsals, meetings, and more, this palm-sized unit packs the ability to record up to 4 channels of audio at greater than CD quality. | Source

Holding a D-SLR in your hands for extended periods can not only be uncomfortable and tiring but also can introduce unwanted shaking in your videos. Rigs come in all sorts of shapes and forms, and they are quite handy tools to have to ensure stability and comfort. Several companies produce rigs, and you may need to sift around to find those that suit you.

Source

Recording videos burns a lot of ‘juice’, so you’ll definitely need to stack up on extra batteries.Four to five batteries is recommended. Also, make sure to carry along your battery charger even though in many cases you may not get the chance to use it. A battery grip may also come in handy. You may get more out of two batteries within a battery grip than otherwise.

Along with a large use of energy, comes a large use of memory. You’ve got to make sure that you have ample memory cards whether SD or CF. It’s better to have several 16GB cards than one massive 64GB card.

"What happens if your ONE beloved card fails and you lose ALL of your footage?"

Be wise and stack up on several of these cards. You’ll get roughly half an hour out of a 16GB card when recording at 1080p. Furthermore, pay attention to the CLASS of the card. It's better to purchase cards of CLASS 10 as they transfer data at a faster rate.

Neutral Density Filters can be attached on to your lens to help to maintain correct exposure thereby eliminating over bright and washed out images. You can adjust the intensity of these filters depending on the light conditions that you are in.

Tiffen 52mm Neutral Density 0.6 Filter
Tiffen 52mm Neutral Density 0.6 Filter

Controls depth of field for specific diameters. For use with F-stop 2 on a manual camera; for all film types, color or black and white

 

There are going to be times when you need a bit of extra light for video recording. Yes, your ISO may be increased, but you may definitely need extra light, and this is where light panels come into play.

Source

Have you seen a film where you see a smooth gliding effect? There’s no way you can hold your camera and do that on your own. Some have used skateboards, but nothing beats a nice Dolly or Glider. These can be custom made, and you can even make one yourself as a DIY project if you don't want to buy it.

Kamerar SLD-400 47" Camera Track Slider Video Stabilization System DSLR
Kamerar SLD-400 47" Camera Track Slider Video Stabilization System DSLR | Source

This sums up a basic D-SLR video production kit. You’ll need to do some extra research for each item, but this should narrow things down a bit as well as giving a more pointed perspective of what you need. Along with all that was discussed, you’ll need video editing software such as Adobe After Effects to put together your final cut.

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