Whether you’re just starting your journey as a filmmaker or you’ve already been in the business for years, it’s important to have all the filmmaking equipment you need. But with all the equipment out there, it’s hard to know which tools are really necessary. To help you decide, here is a list of essential filmmaking equipment that will help you to excel in your filmmaking endeavors.
The single most important piece of equipment for filmmakers to own is a high-quality camera. The kind of filming you will be doing will determine the type of camera you choose; the camera you use to film a documentary will be much different than a camera you would use to shoot an action film. These days, it’s not hard to find a good camera for every budget range. If you’re just starting out in the filmmaking business, choose the best camera that you can afford that suits your needs. You can always upgrade later.
Along with a good camera, you will need a good camera lens. The lens is the eye through which your movie is filmed. Changing your lens is an easy way to professionalize the look of your scenes by giving you the ability to take shots from different angles. Some good lenses to start out with include wide-angle and zoom or macro lenses.
Lens filters are placed over the camera lens to protect the lens and filter out certain kinds of light in your shots. Filters make your shots look clearer, fuller, and more professional, and are especially helpful when filming outdoors. Some good filters to have include ultraviolet (UV), polarizing, and neutral density (ND) filters.
A tripod is essential to filming on any budget. Tripods support your camera for you, providing a more stable method of filming than simply holding the camera. Tripods also provide smooth panning and tilting during filming.
A gimbal is an alternative to a tripod for making films that require smooth camera movements during filming. Even when the cameraman’s hands are shaky, a gimbal will compensate for that shaky movement and still provide a smooth moving shot. Gimbals are a great filmmaking tool to have, but are generally best for more experienced filmmakers.
Sliders are a good tool for taking slow, smooth moving shots. They are inexpensive, easy to install and use, and help to stabilize a camera operated by an unsteady hand, making them a great tool for amateur filmmakers.
If you need a more stable alternative to a handheld rig, consider getting a shoulder rig. These rigs are mounted on the shoulder and are useful for following subjects around.
Overhead Camera Rig
An overhead camera rig helps you to film shots from above or from higher angles than other sorts of rigs allow. This type of rig is helpful to have if you find yourself needing to film overhead shots often.
If you can’t afford or don’t need an entire lighting kit for a project, a camera light that you can attach to your camera is a good way to go. These lights will quickly and effectively illuminate the scene and are good for documentary and news shoots.
Light reflectors are a natural and inexpensive way to adjust the lighting on individual subjects of your scene. These reflectors are available in a variety of colors, including silver and gold, which will change the appearance of colors in your shots, and white, which helps to balance and enhance the lighting of the subject without altering the colors.
If you’re planning to do a lot of filming indoors, you’ll need a three-point lighting kit. These kits come with everything you need to naturally illuminate your subject from all angles. However, lighting kits can be expensive, so consider renting lights when you need them, or don’t purchase a full lighting kit right away unless you absolutely need one.
Clear audio adds to the professionalism of a film, which is why it’s so important for any filmmaker to have a few quality microphones. Below are a few common kinds of microphones:
- Shotgun Microphone
Shotgun microphones are used to record faraway sounds. These microphones are particularly useful when combined with a boom pole.
- Wireless Microphone
Wireless microphones are particularly useful in documentary filmmaking settings for recording the audio of interviews. These mics will enable you to walk and record audio while talking with your subjects.
- On-Camera Microphone
An on-camera microphone is a type of mic that can be attached to your video camera. On-camera mics are of higher quality than built-in camera mics and easily outperform them. This kind of mic is useful for filming with a handheld camera.
An audio recorder is a good low budget option for recording sound while filming. These are a good tool for beginners, but can sometimes pick up more sound than is meant to be picked up.
Headphones are an essential piece of sound equipment because they allow you, as the filmmaker, to know which sounds the mic is picking up. Mics are very sensitive and sometimes pick up background noises that you don’t want them to pick up, and wearing headphones will alert you to these extra sounds.
Be sure to keep a few extra charged batteries on hand for your camera and other battery-operated equipment. The last thing you want is for your camera to die in the middle of a shoot!
External Hard Drive
If you do a lot of shooting at once and tend to fill up your camera’s memory cards, you should have an external hard drive. Transfer the information from your memory card to one of these when the memory card is full.
Computer and Editing Software
If you are editing your footage yourself, you’ll need a computer with good video editing software to properly edit what you’ve filmed.
You’ll need somewhere to store all this equipment, especially if you’re filming on the go! Get yourself a camera bag that will hold your camera and any equipment you need to carry with you while filming.
Hopefully, this is a list of essential filmmaking equipment that has been useful in helping you learn which types of film equipment you need. As you gather the equipment you need for your next shoot, know that Glide Gear carries a variety of professional filming equipment including camera rigs, lighting gear, and sound gear. We’ll help you find the equipment you need to make your next film project a masterpiece.