The Best Under-the-Radar Tech & Gear You Missed in 2017
A look at some of the best gear that fills in the workflow gaps of production.
There's a slew of gear and tech that's pretty awesome in its own right and may not necessarily fit into a traditional "Best Of" list. Instead of ignoring them, we strung together a potpourri of stand-outs in our own "Under the Radar" category.
To be clear, these are our opinions and they shouldn't be considered as fact (but the items are, we do believe, pretty darn great). Listed in the order of pre-production, production, and post-producton usage, each of these items will help you through a particular stage of your project's journey.
Software can be convenient time-savers we add to our workflows. Like Paper, Penultimate, Procreate or last year's Broadfish, Storyboard from Wonder Unit jumps into the pre-production niche of storyboarding. As our Christopher Boone reported, the new Storyboard software allows you to mock up drawings using six different drawing tools where you can hand-draw your boards and snap a picture with your phone to automatically import them into your project.
Yes, we know, another RED mention. But the new image processing pipeline (IPP2) RED introduced is a complete overhaul to its color science...and in a good way. Improvements to color, highlight roll-off, mid-tones, shadows and standardizing color and gamma curves is just the tip of the iceberg of what RED has updated. The new REDWideGamutRGB (RWG) color space is designed to encompass all the colors RED cameras can pick up, and the Log3G10 gamma curve encodes the camera data in RWG color space for grading. While IPP2 is only available on Helium and Monstro Brains, anyone can take advantage of it in post on R3D files with an REDCINE-X PRO update. It's definitely worth checking out if you're a RED user.
EZ FX Skinny Jib
Gimbals, dollies, sliders and jibs all take part in creating the visual language of a camera. The Skinny Jib is especially unique due to being designed for filmmakers using DSLR, GoPro, MiniHD and other lightweight cameras. That choice puts its price point below $1,000. Available in 2', 4' 8' and 12' lengths, it can work with shafted tripods, Ball Mount tripods and combo grip stands. Added benefit? It's easy to setup and transport.
We agree with Phillip Bloom and Videomaker's assessment that FOCUS from SmallHD checks off a number of boxes. The 5" monitor for run-and-gun shooters features all the standard waveform, false color, focus assist, 3D LUTs, and pixel zoom options we've grown accustomed to, and what's cool about it is its display. Viewable in daylight, this thing is a monster in direct sun. Plus, it has auxiliary power out, allowing cameras to be powered from Sony L batteries via FOCUS. While it doesn't record like the Atomos, Convergent Design or Video Device series, it is a lot cheaper if you don't need that ability.
Avid Media Composer | First
Alongside its release of the new iMac Pro, Apple released a substantial update to Final Cut Pro X 10.4 and introduced 360º VR video editing, support for HDR, a slew of new color tools, and keyboard shortcuts for color adjustments. There's also now HEVC and HEIF support. But when the word "free" is involved, it's memorable. Avid finally released its "lite" version of Media Composer dubbed First that includes four video tracks and eight audio tracks for editing.
Yes, this probably could have made our "Best Of" list, but it isn't necessarily the best, hence the aforementioned FCPX update. However, it's a solid option for those looking to gain an interest in editing or wish to familiarize themselves with the Avid interface. Like DaVinci Resolve, it also marks a trend where more software companies are starting to introduce slimmed-down versions of the flagship software. How about a free Foundry software suite? :)
If you have a nifty piece of gear we're missing from our list, let us know in the comments below.