However much I plan new equipment purchases, jobs come up that demand kit you can’t rent or borrow so the longed for toys have to wait again whilst you fork out for the basics.
I have been nursing a little pot of cash that may have bought a brace of 32GB SxS1 cards, or some nice Canon L-Series glass, maybe even a BlackBird. Nice-to-haves that I needn’t worry too much about getting a quick return on investment.
But at my end of the video production industry, work often involves making things look as expensive as possible for as little cash as possible, and often at short notice. It sometimes means buying an accessory of some sort (or ‘toy’ as my accountant calls them) that will lift a simple 1 man shoot to a higher ‘Production Value’ level, but because we’re using Prosumer kit rather than the heavy duty pro stuff, it’s pretty much impossible to hire a spider dolly for a Miller Solo tripod, and impossible to source a proper dolly system (or use it single handed) either at home or on the shoot (which is often abroad).
So you shrug, open your wallet and spend.
I bought the special Miller spider dolly. Not the sexiest of toys in some ways, but it has gone on to produce sexy shots.
So in quick succession, two jobs come up that require ‘something special’. One job needs to capture a whole lot of outdoor activities as they happen (so we can’t ‘fake’ it, I will be filming people actually doing it, so no take twos) in a mere two or three days, on top of the usual corporate stuff. Heavy going.
White water rafting can be exciting but the best view would surely be inside the boat, but I AM NOT getting in one, especially not with my gear. Cycling along mountain paths is picturesque, but unlike a cycling version of Top Gear, I cannot set up shots and be in several locations to ‘catch the group rounding a corner’. I have to cycle along with them with an EX1 in a backpack.
So I just had to have a GoPro Hero – a miniature waterproof HD camera that can be attached to helments, clamped to bikes or – more fun – strapped to head or chest harnesses. So now I can join the peloton of cyclists and do the old Top Gear routine (charge through the crowd, then let them pass by, and so on). Lots of fun. And the white water rafting footage shot from the middle chap’s chest was suitably dynamic too.
The cost of hiring a GoPro with all the bits for a week (if one could be found) would probably be not far off the cost of buying one, so once again, shrug shoulders and open up the wallet.
And then there’s the other job which involved filming projected diagrams all over a big lump of metal. I guess if it were a commercial, you’d want a motion control rig and a snorkel camera. At least a big crane or jib arm on a dolly. But at the client’s end of the market, they need a tripod mounted slider.
Guess what. None I can find for hire at short notice.
So reach for wallet, shrug shoulders, buy GlideTrack…