Let’s be honest, filmmaking equipment is expensive. We all wish it didn’t cost the price of a small house to build our toolkits with awesome filmmaking equipment; but, it does.
This makes it almost impossible for beginner filmmakers to buy the whole kit and caboodle from the get go. Instead, most beginner filmmakers are faced with the question, “What essential filmmaking equipment do I need to get started”?
Firstly, you need to remember that a filmmaker’s toolkit can be large or small. Big is not always better, and small is not always cheaper.
In this industry very few rules apply: ‘shoulds’ generally don’t exist and there is always more than 1 way to shoot a scene. In saying this, if you want to capture memorable, eye-candy imagery that whispers sweet nothings in your ear, or if you’re looking to produce a business video your clients will respect, you’ll need to give consideration to the filmmaking equipment you use. You don’t need a lot of equipment, but you do need to at least consider the basic toolkit items.
Here’s the top 5 filmmaking equipment we recommend for beginners.
1. Digital Camera
Duh, you say? Well, you can’t be too careful when it comes to capturing eye-candy. You’ll want a digital camera that captures a minimum of High Definition (HD) 1080p. Imagery smaller than this, such as HD 720, can still look good; but, you don’t want to shoot with a camera that will restrict where your production can be shown. Consider, is it just for YouTube or do I want to enter a film festival? Answering this question will help you decide the camera you need. The camera’s frame rate is also worth considering. Does it only do 24 or 25 fps, or do you have the option of 30 or 60 or 120 fps, as well. Having more options is definitely better. You don’t need a RED, an ARRI or a 4K camera if you’re new to buying filmmaking equipment, just make sure you consider the camera’s specs before making your decision.
Now you’ve sorted your camera you’re ready to shoot, right? Not so fast. If you want to avoid looking like a contestant in amateur hour, you’ll use a fluid head tripod to capture your shots. A few hand-held shots here and there are fine, but having a consistently shaky picture will hurt your reputation (and possibly make your viewers nauseous). Having a fluid head on your tripod is always the preference. It’s the fluid head that lets you smoothly pan and capture motion shots without jerkiness. Definitely worth the investment.
Unless you want to make silent movies, you’ll need decent audio equipment. You have a few options here. Most cameras come with on-board mics, but their quality is usually dodgy (especially if you’re using a DSLR camera). To counter this, you want audio gear capable of capturing clear, crisp sound. Adding an external mic to your camera is a simple option that will significantly lift your film or video’s quality. Depending on your situation, you may also want a boom mic to get in close to your cast and lapel mics for interview situations. It’s worth researching Zoom recorders, too. They’re popular for a reason, as the audio they give can help your production rise to another level. As a beginner, you don’t need to buy all these audio options – 1 or 2 will do the job.
Some filmmakers will argue that you can start your career without lighting. Maybe, but you’re gonna need to have an awesome eye so you can make the most of natural lighting. Don’t get me wrong, we love natural lighting – who doesn’t love filming at Golden Hour – but, it’s not always enough. Adding a light or two can completely change the mood of your film and propel it to a more professional category. Shooting a scene in your bedroom using only the standard room light will give you a drab, boring shot. Shoot the same scene using additional lighting and you could make it look like a studio shot. If lighting is out of your budget, consider using reflectors to help manipulate the natural lighting.
5. Support and Confidence
Filmmaking is a creative outlet unlike any other, and its rewards can be huge…..for a select few. Money is the motivator for some, whilst others find their rewards come from satisfaction and a job well done. To deal with the challenges of filmmaking in the longterm, you’ll need support from your loved ones and confidence in yourself. No one said filmmaking was easy; but, if you have support and confidence in your toolkit your journey along this road less travelled will be much easier and more enjoyable.
Now you know the basics that'll get you started. Your next step is to research which equipment brands you trust and want to use. Or, if this all feels too overwhelming, simply contact us and we can work together to produce your video.