By Michael Dowson, Video Creators & Associate Editor, MotionArray.com
Cameras, lights and mics are the backbone of every filmmaker’s arsenal, but are you sure you’ve explored all of your options? There’s plenty of new and exciting gear you have probably never heard of, despite its potential to change the world of filmmaking. We’ve picked out our 5 favorites below.
Getting silky smooth shots is a filmmaker’s dream. But gimbals can be expensive, bulky, heavy and frustrating. They take a while to set up, and heavy-duty equipment like the DJI Ronin can be exhausting after a while.
SteadXP labels itself as the future of video stabilization, and it’s definitely something to get excited about. This small device is a combination of hardware and software that records the camera’s movements accurately using a gyroscope and accelerometer. The software then automatically stabilizes the footage, removing all the unwanted shake from handheld footage using just a tiny box that slots into the camera.
2. Wiral Lite
You’ve seen those sporting events where the camera zips across the field on a line — well, the Wiral Lite can achieve the same stunning results for everyday filmmakers. Portable sliders are great for getting smooth shots and adding some dynamism to your videography, but the Wiral Lite elevates that quite literally to another level.
This device lets you connect a sliding platform between two obstacles, way further than the 3 feet sliders are usually limited to. It can be used between trees in a rainforest, a mountain, or over a street, giving you incredible aerial angles without the need for a drone. The Wiral Lite can be used with any smartphone, action camera or mirrorless camera weighing less than 3.3 lbs, and the kit itself packs up small enough to carry around.
Macro photography can produce some stunning results of close-up images, but traditional macro lenses don’t necessarily paint an accurate depiction of life on a smaller scale. There’s a tiny depth of field, so only the subject can be identified. Plus, the lens is so narrow, you get little to no broader context. The Laowa Wide Angle Macro lens does away with all of that.
It’s a true bugs-eye lens that gets the camera right into the action on a tiny scale without compromising on the angle or the depth of field. The background is clear and visible, and the 40cm probe lens gets you into the action like never before.
So, you’ve been inspired, taken the plunge, and kitted yourself out with all of this incredible gear we listed above. How do you keep track of it? This next item is a safety net that lets you keep close tabs on everything you own, whether in the field or at home. GearEye lets you tag all of the individual pieces of kit you own, label them accurately within the app, and then tracks them using a small dongle which fits neatly in your bag. Ready to head out or head back home? The app will let you know if everything’s where it should be. The RFID stickers mean they don’t need to be charged, so you’ll have peace of mind that you can just jump in and get moving. Never leave anything behind at a shoot again.
5. MOGRT Files
Okay, maybe we’re cheating a little here… this isn’t gear in the traditional sense, but if you want to build out your filmmaking skills then getting to grips with motion graphics template files (or MOGRT files) in Premiere Pro is invaluable.
Creating complex animations and titles in After Effects or building them from scratch in Premiere Pro can be frustrating, time-consuming, and even a little boring. Why spend so long on it when you can use a MOGRT file to have the perfect title animation to drop into your project in seconds? They’re fully customizable, so you can either leave them as they are if they work — or tweak them within the Essential Graphics panel of Premiere Pro to get perfect results. When it comes to outcome versus time spent, they’re the best bang for your buck.
To sharpen your skills as a video editor and learn how to use these templates, check out these Premiere Pro tutorials and resources.
So there we have it — 5 lifesaving bits of filmmaking kit invaluable to hobbyists and professionals alike. Step out of your comfort zone and explore new gear. It’s the best way to learn, develop new skills, and become an all-around better filmmaker.