5 Facts for the Full Time Filmmaker
Depending on which video camera you decide to use, make sure that you are within your budget. There is a saying that the “money makes the man,” or is it that the “man makes the money?” Anyway, you are using your camera to make money, but you are also using your skills. As a full time filmmaker, you need to attract clients and keep them. If you are using a RED Digital Cinema Camera, used for high budget films, or a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera, popular with indie films you better have the filmmaking chops to make it happen. There is an age-old dispute in the film making community that the camera you use matters more to your client than your finished product. While we don’t discredit the amazing technology out there today, we do believe you can make cinematic quality films using just an iPhone and excellent lighting.
The most popular lighting equipment in the industry tend to be the most commonly used. There are the behemoths of the lighting industry which makes huge, expensive lighting fixtures worth tens of thousands of dollars. I’m looking at you ARRI. There are also more budget friendly LED lights made for teams with less budget to play with such as the ever more expensive Aputure, D&O Lighting (our company), and many Chinese companies with interesting LED stage lighting equipment coming to the market. Let’s just say, you’re spoiled for choice. LED lighting quality is often measured using a Color Rendering Index Scale (CRI), the score is a numerical number ranging from 0-100. Good quality LED lights are given scores between 90-95 CRI. Extremely good quality LED lights can even surpass 95 CRI as the brighter a light gets the harder is to maintain accurate color temperature. Poor color quality from the lights can be corrected with a proper white balance before your shoot, or edited in post. May we add that our D&O Lighting LED lights have 97+ CRI, an excellent collapsible grid, and a beautiful carrying case that fits two (2) LED lights and four (4) V Mount lithium ion battery packs?
What do you truly need to power your setup? Will Sony NPF batteries do the trick? Have you heard of V Mount batteries? Are you crazy enough to try a super power generator like this one from Anton Bauer, or this one from D&O Lighting? Many full time filmmakers want to get the most out of their cameras & lighting fixtures so that they can bill more hours from their clients. Imagine this, your camera is rolling for hours, your clients are paying you per hour, more time spent = more money made. But not so fast! Maybe you didn’t think about the cost of the batteries, or maybe you did. How can you guarantee you get the right power setup for your budget and your needs? You need to ask yourself a few questions;
- Will I be indoors (on set)? Is there convenient access to A/C power? NO lithim ion batteries needed in this case.
- If indoors, will I be covering a lot of ground? Definitely consider either v mount or gold mount lithium ion batteries in this case, as moving your equipment around the room will take time away from getting footage, the power cables can be a hazard, and it’s just a pain overall.
- Will I be outdoors (off set) most of the time with little to no access to A/C power?You should strongly consider lithium ion batteries in this case.
- Even with access to a power generator you need to ask yourself, how many plugs can fit in the generator, how noisy is said generator (gas generators are very loud and can ruin a shoot), & last but not least are your power cables even long enough?
A couple words about the different options you have for powering your cameras and lights.
- NP-F batteries are invented by Sony, but made and sold by most Chinese & American film equipment companies. They offer up to 25Wh of power and can last anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour depending on what products you’re using it with, and how many you’re using together.
- NP-F Batteries are the first step many full time filmmakers take into portable lithium ion battery packs, and they are relatively inexpensive and can be recharged as many times as you need them.
- V Mount & Gold Mount batteries are larger, and pack a much larger bang for your buck. V Mount batteries have unique V shaped conductive faceplates that lock into camera adapters, or directly onto your camera/lights, and Gold Mount batteries (developed by Anton Bauer) have three conductive gold studs that attach to a corresponding Gold Mount adapter plates or directly onto your camera/lights.
- These batteries usually range from 55Wh ~230Wh, and can accommodate voltage ranging from 12v ~24v depending on what brand of battery you buy, and what size of battery you prefer. An average 190Wh V mount battery can power a high-powered led studio light at full power for roughly 1 hour before it needs to be swapped out. The same battery can power a cinema camera for 3 hours.
- Super Power Generators are the largest and the best option for a large studio with tons of equipment and both on set & off set projects.
- These super capacity batteries are made of lithium ion, lithium polymer, or lithium metal hydride. All of these components allow for more storage and a more efficient discharge while maintaining peace of mind that you’re going to be safe and sound sitting in the same room as these behemoths.
No matter what power options you choose, you always want to keep in mind your budget, your need, and your current stock. If you’re in the market for higher capacity v mount, gold mount, or super power options you may always contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about what products may be right for you.
There are plenty of accessories out there to make your rig as pimped out as a supercharged Honda civic… but take a step back and determine what you actually need for your comfort, ease of use, and yes looks do count.
You really only need to know a couple things about how to make sure your camera works with any of the power systems mentioned above, get yourself the right power adapter for the battery that you buy. V mount adapters will fit v mount batteries, gold mount adapters will fit gold mount batteries, and many adapters have external inputs that you can use to power peripheral units such as a monitor, and a follow focus. Install the adapter properly to the back of your camera, and make sure the connection is stable before starting to shoot. Please beware that the v mount adapters that fit best with our D&O Lighting batteries require a custom installation method.
Don’t forget to have fun.
It’s not very common that someone can truly turn their passion into gainful employment. Just remember when you get lost in the day to day of managing your own video production company why you started film making in the first place. Also don’t forget to treat yourself from time to time with a new accessory, and write it off at the end of the year for tax purposes!