Here are our top tools for lighting your scenes and for supporting your camera and lights this year.
Grip and lighting are almost as important as camera choice for crafting amazing images and telling engaging stories. Here are some new tools that will make your job easier, including a very unexpected gadget and an online shootout test that isn't a piece of kit, but might help you make some important purchasing decisions.
MōVi, who more or less invented the gimbal-stabilized camera rig as we know it back in 2013, have kept evolving and refining their platform, leading up to the newly released MōVi Pro. With complete internal cable routing, dual batteries for longer continuous shots, and—finally—feet, the Pro is clearly the result of a lot of thought and work that went into perfecting the design. It's still pricier than many of its competitors, but the benefits in ease of use and weight are worth the extra expense for many users.
Available as a complete package for $6500 from B&H.
These count as "grip" in both the literal sense (they are named the "master grip") but also in the "camera support" sense, and they are great. While image quality is obviously the most important factor in choosing a camera, it's important not to forget that someone is going to be holding that camera on their shoulder for 10-12 hours a day on a hand held show. The ergonomic feel, comfort, and best of all camera control built into these grips is truly impressive. Most surprisingly of all, after extensive testing, ARRI ended up sticking with its original grip design from the 1980s. Turns out the company had already invented the perfect camera handle, so now they've just brought it into the 21st century. Currently a rental item wherever cinema cameras are rented.
When DJI first came out with the original Osmo in October 2015, it was exciting to have a stabilized camera in the palm of your hand, but it felt like a limited tool, especially with its fixed focal length lens. The Osmo+, released less than a year later in August 2016, resolves most, if not all, of the reservations filmmakers had about the initial Osmo and is busy cranking out some really fascinating shots right now that likely couldn't be accomplished with anything else.
Of all the tools we covered this year, this one is the most likely to get tossed hard straight to your face. Because it's made of soft foam, it's also likely to hurt the least and to create the most hilarious video afterwards (unlike, say, strapping a GoPro to an arrow, which will result in high hilariousness but probably hurt at least a bit).
Sometimes wonderful tools come from the simplest (and weirdest) inspirations, and the AER is one of those. Soft foam casing for the camera, fins for stabilization, and you have a fun toy for playing with video, and a tool that will create some legitimately interesting and different shots than other tools can capture.
Order now from their site for $54 at Aervideo.com.
The Hive Wasp 100-C is an exciting LED unit that launched later in the year with their November Kickstarter campaign. Made by veteran plasma manufacturer Hive Lighting from Los Angeles, the 100-C has a lot going for it. It goes way beyond locking itself into a single CRI, using 5 different LED bulbs on the chip to enable tremendous light spectrum and balance control. For instance, if you are shooting a scene under low CRI, 4500° kelvin green cast fluorescent lighting that you can't change, you can dial the Hive in to match the spectral characteristics of the overhead light without gels. In addition to the unprecedented flexibility on offer, the unit also offers high levels of accuracy when needed. There are 7 days left to get in on the discounted Kickstarter pricing.
One of our most popular lighting posts of the year wasn't about an individual light, but actually compared 11 different LED lights in a massive color shoot out. There are a lot of options in the LED marketplace, and it can be exhausting to attempt to compare them all when shopping for a new fixture for either rental or purchase. LED units are also more variable than tungsten units used to be. Tungsten units like an Ianero, a Lowell, a Mole or an ARRI kit light primarily differed not in the quality of light output, but in the ergonomics and durability of their design. With LED it's not just about how the unit is made, but the light it creates that matters.
Filmmaker Timur Civan took the time to put a seriously wide spectrum of LED units through their paces to give us one of the most thorough LED tests around. Presented with through supporting information and in a format that was easy to understand, it proved a popular post and hopefully helped a lot of you make your LED decisions, and possibly encouraged a few manufacturers to make some changes to their offerings.
We love big lights, we cannot lie. Unfortunately, big lights either require stage rental or a generator, then cabling, then power distribution, and the price adds up quickly. With the new Tener LED from Mole Richardson you get all the power of the old school 10K light, but you can plug it into a 15amp Edison plug wall outlet. Of course, you can't plug anything else in that outlet, but we think that's a worthwhile trade off to have the punch and power of a 10K. If you need a big light for a night exterior, you could put one of these on a put-put generator from Home Depot just about anywhere you need it. Available for $11,370.63 from B&H, this is likely a rental item for most, but if you are prepping an indie feature we think this light is definitely worth a look even for "wall power" gigs.
Those are our favorite grip and lighting gear, and top stories of the year. Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.