A Dozen or So Handy-Dandy Gifts for Video Shooters

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Video/film shoots can be challenging, what with 12-hour days, exterior locations in all kinds of weather, and lugging equipment to the ends of the earth and back. Here are some practical gift items to add a little comfort, both physical and mental, to your friend’s (or your own) shoot. Many of these items are not camera specific and are useful for grips, electrics, and other crew members, as well.

Gene Kelly may have been singing in the rain, but you can bet his camera crew dreaded each and every time the rain machine spouted its fake downpour. Protect the camera with a raincover—available in several universal styles from Porta Brace and Manfrotto, and tailored for specific cameras by Porta Brace. The waterproof 3.5 x 5' Multi-Purpose Tarp with elastic corner loops, from MindShift Gear, will shield the camera or equipment cart from an unexpected drizzle. Secure any tarp or rain cover with a couple of orange-tipped Bessey Spring Clamps with 3" jaw openings. Spring clamps also make good anchor points for hanging a strap of tape rolls or a bag over the side of your camera cart. Large tote bags, like Black Label’s canvas Talbot Bag or Porta Brace’s Cordura Sack Pack, are good for carrying bulky equipment or personal rain/cold weather gear.

Porta Brace Sack Pack

Never mind cross-fit-type routines, there’s nothing like handheld shooting for a full-body workout! Save shoulder wear-and-tear by fastening this Porta Brace Universal Shoulder Pad over a baseplate’s 15mm or 19mm rods for quick handheld comfort. It can also be sandwiched under a shoulder rig as additional padding when carrying a heavier camera rig. Fold up a Matthews Sound Blanket to cushion a camera rig on the ground, or spread one out to protect the interior of a personal vehicle from dirty cases. They can even be used as originally intended, to damp unwanted sounds while recording by draping one over two horizontal gobo arms.

Matthews Sound Blanket with Grommets

Keep essential tools, a light meter, or even eyeglasses close at hand with the combination of a Camera Assistant’s Pouch and a quick-clasping Waist Belt. A Set of Two Carabiners from BlackRapid can be used on a belt, set bag, or cart for linking hanging items. Organize smaller items and tools within a larger kit bag with some zippered pouches. These purse-shaped Tamrac Goblin Accessory Pouches are roughly 5 x 7", feature mesh panels, and are available in different colors to help you store components by category. The flatter Think Tank Photo Travel Pouches have a mesh front and a hanging strap and come in 8 x 10" and 11 x 16" options.

BlackRapid Carabiners

Like it or not, wireless video transmitters, microphone receivers, lens motor drivers, and other items frequently need to be mounted on the camera. Depending on what else is attached to the camera, it’s not always possible to use any built-in mounts on such devices. Adhesive-backed Velcro® / touch fastener / hook-and-loop closure comes to the rescue, no matter what you call it! Depending on your project needs, select from a set of four 2" Velcro® Strips, a 41.5" length of 3" touch-fastener strips, or a 5-foot roll of 3/4" touch fastener.

General Brand Sticky Back Roll

Sure, the craft services department should be keeping the crew hydrated throughout the day on set, but hedge your bets with the Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle. This 20-oz container keeps beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for a 12-hour period and has a screw-on rather than flip top to prevent leaks.

Klean Kanteen Vacuum 12- to 24-Hour Insulated Classic Water Bottle

Capturing video or film is often a hurry-up-and-wait endeavor, depending on a host of factors like weather, travel time, location availability, lighting set up, wardrobe changes, etc. My absolute favorite “downtime” memory is of waiting for two hours in 35˚ rain while our episodic show’s lead actor defended his decision to drastically alter his hairstyle over a holiday break—without informing the producers. You or your gifted friend can put any available time that pops up to use by keeping some reading material on hand. Flip though Digital Cinematography, by David Stump, ASC, for digital capture fundamentals or the Hands-On Manual for Cinematographers, by the storied David Samuelson if your giftee is lucky enough to be shooting film. Wherever you land in these reference bibles, you’ll find valuable imaging information. If your gift recipient is a DSLR shooter, they can use a Camera Cheat Sheet to better learn the camera’s functions and menu trees, without breaking out a hundred-plus-page manual. These folding, laminated sheets are available for select DSLRs including the Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D500.

PhotoBert CheatSheet for Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Camera

As the beauty of magic hour ebbs, the Assistant Director breathes a sigh of relief as they call wrap on a daylight exterior shoot. The camera crew, on the other hand, still must disassemble and pack up the camera gear as it darkens by the minute. As long as there’s access to an AC outlet, they can hang the affordable Go Green Portable Hand Lamp up as a work light. This lamp features a protected bulb cage and a 50' power cord (bulb not included). Nowhere near civilization, let alone an outlet? The bright Fenix Flashlight CL30R Camping Lantern radiates up to a stunning 650 lumens, is rechargeable, functions as a USB power bank, and can be hung overhead or stood on its flat base. The petite, rechargeable Nitecore T360M Utility Flashlight is perfect for lighting a smaller work area or for when a larger light would interfere with the scene. It outputs up to a 45-lumen, 100˚ beam and can be used on or off its included magnetic ball-head mount.

Nitecore T360M Multi-Purpose Magnetic Utility Flashlight

Stock up on these and other videography gifts on the B&H B&H Photo website or if you’re a people kind of person, forge right into the holiday crowd at the B&H SuperStore for hands-on gift selection.

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