NAB is the biggest US convention for gear related to filmmakers and broadcasters. Held each year in Las Vegas all the big companies come out and bring their big guns. But the little guys come, too.
My company Aviator Camera Gear had a booth last year because we were launching our Rocket travel slider. But since we didn’t have anything new to announce just yet, my producer Deena and I headed to Vegas to find the very best new gear from other companies. Watch the video and see what I picked (additional info and links below).
Best of NAB 2014 Video
Since we make compact, lightweight gear, I wanted to cover the show with the most compact setup that would still give me professional results. The plan was to bring all the gear, 5 days of clothes, and 25 promotional hats to give out to friends and fans, but to do all that without checking a bag!
What Gear Did I Bring?
Camera: Panasonic GM1 with the kit lens and the 20mm 1.7 II plus 2 extra batteries
Microphone: RØDE smartLav
Audio Recorder (and if I needed a second camera): my cell phone – HTC One
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Brian
Jib: Aviator Travel Jib (carbon fiber)
Media: 2 Kingston 64gb U3 SDXC cards
Camera Bag: Think Tank Photo TurnStyle 10
That’s it. I’ve been a filmmaker professionally for over 20 years, most of it based in Hollywood with big crews and bigger gear, so I still can’t help but smile when I think about how much production power can now be packed into such a small kit. Crazy.
Now onto my best of NAB.
Freefly, makers of the amazing Movi gimbal stabilizer, have the Tero, a high end remote control car that can drive up to 50mph, smooth and stable. The price starts at $15k – so you’ll probably want to use a professional RC car driver to protect your investment. I know $15k is out of my price range – and just about all indie filmmakers to buy, but as a rental, it means you can get action shots at high speeds at much lower costs compared to hiring a driver, crew, and rigged up full size vehicle. And you’ll be able to get shots you couldn’t get with a full size set up, too!
JuicedLink was showing off the prototype for their new digital audio recorder – the Little Darling. I’m not a fan of the name, but what it does is super handy. It lets you record from a lav mic directly to a micro sd card and leave the recorder on your actor. It brackets the audio, so if you blow out the volume on the left channel you can pull from the lower recording on the right. Extremely handy. The device runs for 7 hours on one AA battery, so you can hit record and drop it in a groom’s pocket and have the entire day’s worth of sound to pull from. Or if you are out shooting guerrilla style and can’t have a boom guy giving away what you are doing, grab a couple of these and mic up your actors, then pull in the sound when you are editing. You get the idea. There aren’t any bells or whistles, no screens or anything fancy, but you can use a lav that screws into the recorder so you don’t have to worry about the mic working loose and blowing the recording. Should be shipping this summer for around $200 – $230 each. I’ll be grabbing a few.
You know those hydrostatic articulating arms everyone uses? If you’ve used them, you probably don’t like them. I know I don’t. Well, Xtender has reinvented the articulating arm and it’s much, much better. Their newest is the Xtender Multi. It provides toolless friction adjustment and doesn’t flop. I can’t wait to change my arms over to this style.
Redrock Micro has been making great gear for a long time. Looking at their latest release you’d think the started in the 1950’s. The Retroflex is a pistol grip, screen loop, and well thought out cage for the Black Magic Pocket Camera. It looks very cool with it’s retro styling, but it’s not just good looks. It should help you get smoother looking hand held shots with the extra point of contact. It’s even got a start/stop trigger built into the grip.
The piece of gear I’m most excited about is the Panasonic GH4. I think just about everyone has heard of this camera. It shoots beautiful 4K video and despite it’s small size is packed with professional features. I won’t get into the list of impressive features here as there is plenty of comprehensive coverage just a search away. I’ll just say what it can do for $1699 must be causing all the other camera manufacturers plenty of sleepless nights.
[REWIND: PANASONIC GH4, AN EARLY HANDS ON LOOK]
It’s easy to get overloaded with all the gear packed into the convention center. Fortunately it’s also packed with people. Remember gear doesn’t make films, people make films. And every year, my favorite part of NAB is making new friends and catching up with old ones from around the world. If you go next year, make sure to find me and say hi!