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Looking through an on-set or kit bag, you never know what little surprises you may run into. For example, one Assistant Cameraman (A.C.) with whom I studied years ago used to carry disposable razors. Why, you may ask? An actor with whom that AC once worked was always worried about his five-o’clock shadow, and the makeup person didn’t have a razor. I didn’t carry around disposable razors, but in my time as a camera assistant, gaffer, and D.P., I assembled a rather odd assortment of items. So I took a stroll thought the B&H website for some useful items that you may need at some point—perhaps even on your next shoot.
You can remove your hand from your forehead now. It seems so obvious, but so often this simple item is overlooked. There are three basic types: the single-use plastic strip, which are great for permanent installation; elastic band, such as can be used for securing cables to an audio boom pole; and my favorite, the reusable hook-and-loop cable tie. Besides the fun of tearing them open over and over, they really do seem to last forever (hint: if the prickly side starts to get filled with lint and doesn’t stick as well as it used to, try running a comb through it a few times to clean it out). Rip-Tie is a popular brand, and its Premium CableWraps feature Rip-Tie’s Rip-Lock provide more leverage for you when wrapping your cables tight.
Sure, you may like the feel of rubber grinding against your eye socket, and going home with a big red circle of soreness on your face. Personally, that gets old really quick, and if you share the eyepiece, forget it. When you make a living with your eyes, that last thing you need is an irritated eye, or even worse, conjunctivitis. So the TBA (and I’m not going to share what that acronym stands for) or eyepiece chamois became very popular among the pro crowd. But those who come from a DSLR or Mirrorless background and are moving up to an EVF or adding a loupe viewfinder might not know about the benefits of working with a viewfinder eye cushion. Comfort goes a long way to improving your work, and an irritated eye can make shooting go from joy to agony lickety-split. Pick up a few, so everyone who looks through the eyepiece can have their own. Available in round or oval, as well as a variety of sizes and colors.
I didn’t know about this for a long time, but this is a neat, useful little item. The Noga Quick-Release System makes it fast and easy to change out ¼"-20 threaded accessories. Matthews offers its own version of the system. I wouldn’t trust that the two systems are interchangeable.
I’ve been carrying one of these around for years. Great for setting the camera down on an uneven surface. Available in red or green, it isn’t about fashion—the red pod has its ¼"-20 tie-down screw in the center, while the green pod has the tie-down screw closer to the edge, to accommodate zoom lenses.
Yeah, sure you know about them, but are you carrying one? Are you using it? No it isn’t a trivet, and you shouldn’t be using that ratty old gray T-shirt your grip is wearing. Who knows when that shirt was last washed? Gray Cards a-plenty, and just for fun, here is a subset of collapsible gray discs. Step up to consistent color balancing and spot-meter readings, and cut down on your post color-correction time.
Doubtful as it is that the battery contacts on your camera will corrode or need cleaning, everyone has some battery-powered appliance on them. And those contacts will undoubtedly need cleaning at the worst time, and you without a pencil eraser. What to do? Be prepared and carry electronic contact cleaners. I recommend carrying both dry scrubbing-type, and the liquid spray-on cleaners.
Don’t drink on set—it isn’t professional. But sometimes it is in the script, and what happens if the script calls for a fight sequence with a bottle being broken? Remember: safety first. Along these lines, B&H carries breakaway bottles in green and blue, wine and beer. So, don’t go to the hospital, go to B&H and get your breakaway bottles.
Now that you’ve gotten through that big bottle smash, you probably need to wash off. Hopefully, you are near a bathroom with running water, but that isn’t always the case. Might I suggest Adventure bath wipes from Adventure Medical Kits? They are soft, wet and cleansing. When you are out on location all day, a quick wipe-down with these can, dare I say, make the day tolerable if not enjoyable.
It is hot, the sun is burning bright in the sky, and you forgot to bring the grips and their flags. Turn this survival blanket reflective side out, and cover the camera to help keep it cool.
Okay, maybe you don’t really need it, but you know you want it. And it is useful not just for directors, but for script supervisors and producers, too. Producers love to sit in the director’s chair. So you might as well get two, or expect the director to be squatting on an apple box while the producer takes up residence in their chair. Since the producer is going to be residing in the director’s chair, you might as well provide a cup holder, such as these that attach to a mic stand, so they don’t have to hold onto their coffee cup.
For more useful items you may not be aware of, check out the B&H Explora articles, 10 Useful Accessories for Video Production, and 9 Types of Video Accessories to Enhance Your Production. If you have any suggestions you’d care to share, please post tem in the Comments section, below.