8 Last-Minute Gifts for Filmmakers

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Ahh, it’s the holidays. Time for warm clothes, good food, and figuring out what to get your relative or friend who has an affinity for filmmaking. Looking at film and video equipment from the outside is confusing. It’s sometimes even confusing to those of us who make a living with film and video, so I can’t imagine what every-day folk are thinking. I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t get them the lens replica coaster set, it’s just that there are some more practical gifts that will be much more appreciated.

FotodioX LenzCoaster Lens Replica Coaster Set
FotodioX LenzCoaster Lens Replica Coaster Set

Gaffer Tape

When completely without a clue of what to give, get gaffer tape. This is perhaps the one gift that will always be appreciated because film sets eat up tons of tape. Use it to attach gels to lights, tape down wires, as a quick fix for an outfit, or attaching a mic underneath clothing. The uses are almost endless. If you don’t know what makes gaffer tape so special, it is because it is strong, doesn’t leave a residue, and is hand tear-able. It’s significantly more efficient than duct tape.

ProTapes Pro Gaffer Tape
ProTapes Pro Gaffer Tape

Some Big Batteries

One other thing that always seems to be in short supply is power. With aims to keep equipment highly portable and eliminate the need for long cables running across set, batteries have become more and more important. It used to be just cameras and some other essential gear ran on batteries, but now even lights can be powered by them. There are a few extremely common types that are a good place to start if you want to help bolster the kit of the filmmaker in your life. The first is the small L-series battery. This can run a lot of smaller lights and cameras, as well as monitors and other filmmaking tools. It’s common for indie filmmakers to make use of these. High-end productions and equipment move up to the much larger Gold and V-mount battery packs. These can power serious cinema cameras and extremely bright LED panels. Anton Bauer is a solid name when it comes to battery packs and is a great choice for finding good ones. Keep in mind that, for air travel, you are limited to 100 Wh.

Anton Bauer NP-F976 7.2V, 6600mAh L-Series Li-Ion Battery
Anton Bauer NP-F976 7.2V, 6600mAh L-Series Li-Ion Battery

An Action Cam

Everyone could use a “B” camera. If you know a vlogger or someone just starting out, the addition of a GoPro to their bag can open up a world of possibilities. Being waterproof and compact makes it super easy to stick in small spaces and in harm’s way—somewhere many beginners would never risk their main camera. The HERO8 Black is the best action cam you can get, though if the person you are giving it to is a little more experimental, it may be worth checking out the MAX, with its 360-degree capture.

GoPro HERO8 Black
GoPro HERO8 Black

Tripods!

Nobody ever wants to use one, but tripods are essential for filmmaking. Now, if you really want to surprise your friend or relative, then look at the Sachtler Flowtech 75. This is one of the few moments where there is a nice improvement to tripod design. It features a single clamping lever for easier adjustments and is very solid. A little rich for you? Well, plenty of other manufacturers produce video tripods that will get the job done. Take this Vanguard VEO 2 PRO 233AV as a prime example. Or just pick up a tiny Joby GorillaPod.

Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS Carbon Fiber Tripod with Mid-Level Spreader and Rubber Feet
Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS Carbon Fiber Tripod

Motion Control

Taking the next step in support systems would be to add some motion. There are a few ways to do this, with the most common being the slider. Sliders can be found in nearly every size and at any price point, so I’m going to pick out one that fits somewhere in the middle of the road. edelkrone has made its name on unique products, and the SliderONE v2 is one of its best. It’s an ultra-compact motorized slider with 7.9" of travel. A cool extra feature is the ability to pair with a HeadONE or HeadPLUS to transform it into a two- or three-axis unit. That’s quite nice for a compact device.

edelkrone SliderONE v2
edelkrone SliderONE v2

Stability Now!

Smooth movement is the key to looking professional, and can keep your audience from getting nauseated. It’s a simple yet effective tool that can dramatically smooth out your handheld footage. It works by compensating for all your movements using a variety of sensors and motors. A solid choice is the DJI Ronin-SC, designed for lightweight mirrorless cameras. Since I don’t want to forget beginners who are working magic with their smartphone, there is an amazing phone-specific gimbal available, too. That is the DJI Osmo Mobile 3, an impressive improvement over its already amazing predecessors.

DJI Ronin-SC Gimbal Stabilizer
DJI Ronin-SC Gimbal Stabilizer

Lights for Anywhere

Light is so important to video and yet the smallest details can often be overlooked. Sometimes the idea of carrying another 1x1 LED panel is just too much for a small production. That is where ultra-compact lights can make all the difference. One brand making a name in this area is Lume Cube, especially since the Lume Cube 2.0 is an exceptionally tiny, yet powerful LED that is waterproof to 30'. This means you can work it in with a GoPro, place it in dangerous positions, stick it where no other light can even dream, and boost the quality of your image. Lume Cube is expanding its offerings with a Bi-Color LED Panel. Still slim and lightweight, the panel is a great on-camera light and can even serve extra duty as a battery pack for a smartphone or other accessories.

Lume Cube 2.0 Daylight-Balanced Portable LED Light
Lume Cube 2.0 Portable LED Light

Extra Space

Some hard drives and storage are always useful for video and film as the raw footage always takes up a ton of space. For filmmakers, I would always opt for an SSD. These are significantly faster than conventional spinning hard drives and don’t have moving parts—meaning they are less likely to loss data because of a bump while traveling. Even smartphone filmmakers can benefit from storage such as the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go. Plug it into the Lightning port of your iPhone and copy over all the wonderful footage you just captured. Now you can easily bring it over to your computer to start editing.

SanDisk 256GB iXpand Flash Drive Go
SanDisk 256GB iXpand Flash Drive Go

These are just eight examples of sweet filmmaking tools that your friend or family member will most certainly appreciate. Do any filmmakers reading this have any of their own wish list items they want to share? Leave them in the Comments section, below!

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