Cinematography is a difficult job because it is one of those jobs that call for an artistic view along with the knowledge of lot of technicalities. To do a great job as a cinematographer, you will need to bring a lot more to the set than your camera. Here is a list of essential gadgets that you have to bring with you on the sets. This essential checklist is followed by another one which lists some gadgets that you will need for work, but nobody will tell you so.
This second list of essentials varies from one person to another and is made of simple things recommended by experts after years of experience. Like every job in the world, in cinematography as well, you learn more on the job than in classroom, so might as well end up making your own list of essential gadgets after a few years. Now, without any further ado, let’s get to the list of essential gadgets that every cinematographer needs.
First Things First – An Inspiration
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Essential Gadgets For Amateur Cinematographer
A light meter is as crucial as a camera and generally, a cinematographer has a team taking care of this department. But as an amateur, you might have to manage light yourself. A light meter is of extra importance in the initial days because it takes time to understand light and to use it in a positive way. So, it will be better to use a device for good results rather than trusting your instincts especially while shooting closeups. Light meters come in a number of makes and models, finding the best one for you is a matter of time. Start with simple ones and graduate to the latest gadgets that will help you read all three lights; key light, backlight and fill.
Like already mentioned, every cinematographer has a person or a team taking care of the lights but as an amateur, you will have to do a lot of things yourself and that includes using a Gaffer’s glass to protect your eyes when you have to look directly in the light while asking for adjustments. These glasses protect the eyes from strong lights and will ensure that you walk out of a shoot without damaging your vision.
Laser pointers sound very professional but when there is a lot of light and you need to communicate something; these will come in extremely handy. A laser pointer will help you explain various light positions and cut on a wall using simple hand movements and will save you and others a lot of time and efforts.
View finders are essential to get a clear picture of the frames before the cameras are set up for a shot. These are essential gadgets for both the cinematographer a well as other people who are involved in the approval process. If you have just begun your journey as a cinematographer, you will learn that you will need this gadget almost always to finalize frames with the director and sometimes even the subjects before a shot is finalized.
A Good DSLR
Now, this is a no brainer. A DSLR is a must have gadget for new cinematographers because you can use it to understand the nuances like color and exposure better before moving on to the film. You can also use it as a tool for storyboarding or finding the perfect shots and angles on the set. All these aspects, as in colors, angles, etc are some of the very important aspects on the job and a DSLR can do an excellent job to help. Also, not to forget that latest DSLR cameras can shoot HD videos, so, you might as well shoot some sections on them.
Tools Essential For An Amateur Cinematographer
Now that we have discussed the essential gadgets, let’s discuss about some tools that can help you have a great day at work. All of these essentials have been recommended by experienced cinematographers from their personal experience.
Experienced cinematographers say that you should always bring extra storage with your gadgets because you will never know how long will a shoot last and how much memory you will end up using. So, always stock yourself with extra cards and other devices like a laptop to transfer the media as and when needed. Also, do not forget that sometimes storage cards and devices go kaput right when they shouldn’t. What will you do if that happens and you have no extra card?
Safety gear like kneepads and gloves are a must when shooting for long hours and outdoors. Gloves protect you from lights that get extremely hot after being used for hours and kneepads protect your knees when you have to take adventurous positions to get that one perfect shot. Protection of knees and hands will go a long way in helping you do your job better on a daily basis.
A flashlight comes in handy when you need to find some teeny tiny things on the shoot with lights off. This is one small gadget that nobody considers until they need to find a memory card or a special screw in total darkness. Experts say that the need to look for things happens more often than you would like, learn quickly and start keeping a small flashlight in your bag, at all times.
Extra Batteries And Charger
Never ever step on a shoot site without extra batteries and charger because the day you do so, you will find that your battery is completely drained out and the shoot will go on for two extra hours. Yes, that happens and that’s why you have to always carry extra batteries and charger. According to expert cinematographers, it’s one of the biggest mistakes to reach a shoot without fully loaded batteries because when your do not have batteries you cannot shoot and when you cannot shoot, everyone will want you dead for wasting their time. So, avoid a disaster and charge up.
Gaffe tape is essential for shoots where you do not want to leave any signs behind. These tapes come in handy more than you can imagine because no client wants tape residue on their floors. So, when you are shooting on site, you have to be a thorough professional and keep the client happy with not just your work but also with how you work.
Like already mentioned, cinematography is both an artistic as well as a technical job and it also calls for multitasking. So, it is crucial to carry the right gadgets in your bag to make your job easy and convenient. The above-mentioned gadgets are just a few gadgets that you must carry with you. This list will grow as you grow and learn from your own mistakes. For now, go with these and you are sure to look like a pro.