Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gear used on General Specific

I've been getting asked what gear we used to shoot the General Specific movie, our low-budget indie. The answer is, not a lot. Here's a quick rundown.


Sony EX1 was my main camera. Its little, has a great codec and is a workhorse. Seriously, its a tough camera that I can't say enough good things about. This thing took a bath in the Pacific one day and kept on going. I could rate it's ISO around 500 to 600 typically without worrying about noise. I'll still use this camera over the 5D on many occasions due to its easy codec and pro audio. Don't underestimate time savings in post.

Towards the end of production, the 7D came out and I added it to several scenes. Most notably the Russian scene. The 5D and 7D defintely have their own look, much like a film stock or the difference between a panny and sony. I also used it to shoot a VERY late-in-the-game scene with Wally and Clem in the car with a greenscreen backdrop. Considering we shot through the front and rear windshields outside in winter, I pulled keys that works well enough for the movie. You can pull a decent key off this camera but it definitely has its challenges.


On the front of the EX1, I used a Letus Extreme combined with a set of old Nikon primes I've collected over the years. I've been using the adapters since I built one of my own 5 years back and was the proud owner of the first Letus Flip (it kinda looked like a bomb).

Supporting this I had rails and support gear, shoulder mount and more from Zacuto and a baseplate and follow focus from Redrock Micro

The Zacuto rails and support I think you could hang a truck off the front of and not get vibration. Expensive but it'll last a very long time and its versatile enough that you can piece parts together in different ways to build around any kind of setup you might have.

The Redrock FF is the best quality vs. cost FF I've used out there. Very smooth and durable plus you get Redrock customer support which is some of the best in our industry.


I used 2 Kino Flo Diva-Lite 400s heavily. Fast, bright, soft light and flexible. I have a set of both daylight and tungsten bulbs for both. A nice little touch sometimes is keeping one tungsten bulb in to just warm your key up a touch.

My other set of main lights was an ARRI kit with 2x650 1x300 and a 1K open face with softbox. I used that 1K a LOT as well. Great for popping up into a ceiling with a quarter CBT gel over it to lift your overall base light level.

For audio, we used a pair of Audio Technica shotgun mics, a 4-channel mixer - which is essential. Get GOOD audio. A mixer will go miles in helping. You can cut off high end and low end noise at the source. You can get by with a mid-range mic but Jason managed to not need ADR on several scenes because of the quality of audio he got from being able to capture more accurately at the source.

We also used a H4N recorder for scenes with the 7D and synced with PluralEyes.

Other Items:

A basic set of sticks with a Manfrotto 503 head. It'll get you by for the price.

A skater dolly for a couple shots with wheels from Willy's Wheels.

A jib I wont name because it just didn't hold up well - expensive too - but had a LOT of camera shake

A light meter. This is invaluable on a small shoot for you. Finding contrast ratios between key and fill and backgrounds on your subjects is maybe more important when you have a limited number of lights.

A handful of used C-Stands from Matthews. Check your used photo shops. A lot of time, they get these in and Matthews gear holds up for YEARS.

A 5-1 reflector that I could quickly put up for bounce, shoot the 1K through for a big soft light or bounce as a hard fill with the sun. Also get yourself some black and white foamcore. It'll come in handy!

That's about it, in general, not a lot of gear. And overall, very pleased with the look of the production. Shoot smart and you can get a long way.

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