One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about what video production equipment you need, especially what gear you need to start a video production business.
I’ve been pretty outspoken about gear and equipment in the past, going as far to say that there’s a bit of an obsession with gear in the filmmaking/video production communities. I’ve even gone on record saying that people should focus instead on learning how to grow their business and get more clients, rather than constantly chasing the next shiny object and trying to keep up with the latest fads in the market.
All of that is true. Still, it’s an undeniable fact that if you want to run a successful video production company, then you’re going to need some gear. Whether that gear is hired or bought for personal use.
And if you need gear, you should have a place that gives you a lowdown on your options and what’s recommended.
Introducing the Filmmaking Lifestyle Gear page!
This is a special section of the site that lists my recommended gear for different types of video production. I’ve included my recommendations for a Starting Equipment Kit, an Advanced Equipment Kit and there are even sortable filters for different types of equipment you might be looking into.
Make sure you check out this new section, as I really think it’ll help you make the best choices when it comes to video production gear. Whilst I have your ear, here are my quick thoughts on a Starting Equipment List for a video production company:
Starting Video Production Equipment List For a Video Production Company
You don’t need a whole tonne of gear to get started with your video business. The best thing you can do is start with the essentials and buy more equipment as and when it’s needed.
This isn’t meant to be seen as some all-encompassing look at every piece of equipment you could own. This is a rough guide covering just some of the key items that you’ll need to start your video production business empire. I’m not going to be too speci c with a lot of these tools because, as we’re all only too acutely aware, technology evolves so fast – I don’t want this guide to be outdated in a year’s time. I’ll speak in general terms, but be speci c where needed.
Also, know that you don’t have to buy everything to start with. Renting is an option to both:
- test out new gear,
- decide if it’s something you want to pay the full amount for.
Go full-frame from the beginning, if possible, so that you avoid that whole “Should I go full-frame and how will it affect my crop-frame lenses?” question later on. I’d recommend at least the Canon 5D Mark II, if not its newer Canon Mark III brother.
There are, of course, Nikon options, as well as other types of camera that I mention in the full gear section. I won’t say much more on cameras here, as I plan on writing an in-depth article about choosing the right camera very soon.
Walkaround lense – Canon 24-70mm 2.8. Great for shooting the majority of situations.
Close-up shots – Canon 50mm 1.8. Cheap lense that’ll help you get lots of lovely close ups with the so-called ‘blown out’ depth of eld look.
For longer range stuff – Canon 70-200mm 2.8. Get the more expensive one with image stabilization, as it’ll pay off. Renting is always an option when you’re starting out.
Tripod – all important. Too many beginners think shooting handheld 90% of the time is somehow cool because they saw a still of their favourite indie DP doing it one time.
Get a solid fluid head with a sturdy tripod like the Manfrotto MT190X3. Manfrotto are some of the best manufacturers here. You’ll need a number of fluid heads to go with your tripods, monopod, slider, etc. But, obviously, chopping and changing with the same one is an option when you’re starting out.
Slider – not entirely necessarily when you’re first starting out, but prices have come down a lot and it’s such an awesome affect that you’ll love seeing in your films!
I’d recommend the Konova range of sliders as a good entry level. The Konova K3 Slider Kit is cool.
Computers & Storage
Like cameras, computers are one of the things that cause the most gear disagreements between filmmakers and videographers.
Should you go PC or Mac?
I’m a Mac guy, but your mileage may vary.
If you’re starting out, a Macbook Pro laptop is a great piece of kit. Get it tricked out with as much RAM as possible and the biggest screen-size you can afford. RAM and screen-size, for different reasons, are extremely important for video editing.
As you progress, you can look into getting an iMac. The iMac 27 inch tricked out to the hilt is a great setup for pretty much any kind of video editing.
As with storage, I’ve used all kinds of brands of hard drive over the years. We had an in-depth look at storing media here on the site not too long ago.
It should go without saying that you need quality memory cards for your camera of choice.
Using the earlier recommendation of the Canon 5D MarkII, you’ll need to look at CompactFlash cards. I highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme range or the Ultra range, but there are of course many choices out there.
Three important notes on memory cards:
1. Don’t go for cheap cards thinking you’re getting value for money. This is really not an area to cheap-out on, as it could be the difference between reliable cards and cards that will corrupt easily.
2. Go with memory cards that are no more than 32GB capacity. I have lots of 16GB and 32GB cards. As I’ve learnt from hard experience, putting too much footage on one card (and not uploading footage during the day to a hard drive) is a recipe for disaster.
The chance of loss or corruption is an ever-present reality, so take steps to guard against those issues. On most shoots, you’ll have some downtime (during lunch, for instance), so take advantage by backing up your footage to hard drives during that time period.
Ah, sound. At this point, it’s become something on a cliché to talk about how important sound is to the quality of your films, and how hellaciously undervalued it is in most video that you see on the internet.
Yes, people will stomach a bit of grainy footage here and there, but hearing terrible audio is like scratching your fingers down a blackboard!
Get a RODE VideoMic on top of your DSLR for recording sound as you travel around an event. It won’t get you A+ sound all the time, but it’ll be decent background hubbub sound.
For entry level, you can’t go wrong with a basic DSLR attachment LED light on top of your camera. The Neewer 160 dimmable LED light is a bargain.
You can also go more advanced with the Neewer® 2x 160 LED light kit Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Kit, which comes with lights, lighting stands, a soft-box and more.
Yes, these setups will help out your image quality in low light situations, but you’re also adding an extra cumbersome element to the day, which might not suit every couple/venue. You should always measure the ease of use and efficiency with the quality return, not just the monetary concerns.
Aside from the above 7 items, there is other semi-essential gear not covered here that you should consider. Our friends over at DSLR Video Shooter have a great video that covers a lot of this:
I hope this discussion on video production equipment has been helpful. Don’t forget to check out the Filmmaking Lifestyle Gear List section. Did I miss anything out? Let me know in the comments below if you think I’ve missed out any important pieces of equipment that you can’t live without. And please share this post with your friends and colleagues using the sharing buttons below.