All great things come from humble beginnings, and this includes filmmaking. There are many challenges that need to be overcome in order that you can bring your vision to life on the big screen. One of these elements is getting hold of the equipment needed to shoot your film.
There are several key bits of equipment that any short filmmaker needs in order to create their film. The most important piece of equipment is a camera. These days’ filmmakers have lots of options including camcorders, SLR cameras, cell phones and even webcams. While it is possible to make a film with a very small budget, most filmmakers naturally want access to the best equipment possible.
The problem that most budding filmmakers experience is that they usually do not have enough resources to realize their projects. They cannot afford to buy or hire expensive equipment and hire a crew for the movie. But no filmmaker should ever let this prevent them from creating their film; instead this is where you need to let passion and creativity fuel your project.
In order to help first time low budget filmmakers understand what kind of equipment they will need to get their film up on the silver screen, I have compiled a list of the basic filmmaking equipment that you can use to shoot your low-budget film. I have included several different options to cover a spectrum of budgets. So let’s take a look.
Panasonic G80- This can film full HD quality footage and record Ultra HD 4K. It also has a 2x slow motion feature. This camera has a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body and kit lens to give filmmakers maximum flexibility. It has a Dual Image Stabilizer that allows you to take clearer and sharper images in fast-moving and difficult environments. It is a great low budget HD camera.
Panasonic GH4– This camera is intended for professional photo and video use. It also has a weather-sealed body and offers an improved resolution on the OLED monitor and electronic viewfinder. The camera includes a 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and a 4-CPU Venus Engine which lets you capture high-resolution JPEG and RAW photos and record Ultra HD 4K and cinematic DCI 4K video at 24p.
Panasonic G7- This is perfect if you are on a tight budget. This mirrorless camera has burst shooting capabilities and advanced still capture and is able to record 4K Ultra HD video. It has the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH. It has a MEGA O.I.S. lens for a 28-84mm equivalent focal range, making it good for wide angle shots. Its Optical Image Stabilizer helps in handheld shooting and keeps your images sharp and clear throughout the zoom range. This is a great camera for those lovers of the documentary approach.
The most economical option when it comes to lenses for filmmaking is a basic kit zoom and a medium telephoto non-zooming lens. This will cover most of the close up and medium length shots you might need. You can also use manual focus primes with an adapter and you can still achieve great quality results.
The choice of lenses always depends on the filmmaker and on their style of filmmaking. If you are not comfortable changing lenses during the shoot, you can always stick with the lens that came with your camera. Remember that filmmakers are now making movies with just an iPhone.
These items are important especially if you are working on your film alone. Your camera will definitely need all the support it could get. Everything from close ups to zoom shots need a tripod, so it is an essential part of any filmmakers kit.
Benro Aero 4 Tripod – This has a removable flat base video head as well as adjustable aluminum legs that help you easily shoot on irregular surfaces. This tripod is also multipurpose as one of its legs is removable and can be converted to a monopod when needed. Now that’s handy!
Slik 504QFII– This is the tripod that is good for those on a tight budget. It has a 2-way fluid head which can be tilted and be used to follow moving objects at full magnification. It is also sturdy and has 11 lbs capacity.
Manfrotto XPRO- This video monopod features micrometric knobs and a 200PL quick-release plate which allows you to place and remove your camera easily. It is light (weighs 1.7 lb) and can carry up to 8.8 lb.
Zhiyun Crane- This is a handheld stabilizer designed for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It is button-powered and can be rotated up to 360 degrees and on all three axes. A nice feature is that it can also be controlled by a IOS/Android App, allowing it to create some smooth panning shots.
The sound or audio quality of your film is just as important as any other part of the movie. Without good sound, audiences are quickly going to grow frustrated by your film. When it comes to good quality audio, inbuilt microphones are just not enough. Here are some of the audio devices that you can use on your film.
Tascam DR-05- This portable handheld digital audio recorder produces high-quality recordings and is available in a lightweight and compact design. It has integrated microphones that can record clear stereo audio and also allows you to connect external microphones and other sound sources through its internal speaker.
Rode VideoMic Pro- This microphone can be used to capture audio for cameras, camcorders and other portable recorders. It is lightweight and offers lower noise as well as being better at higher sensitivity recordings.
Rodelink Wireless Kit- This is a system built for film production. It includes a transmitter, receiver and a Lavalier microphone. It has a high signal-to-noise ratio and offers a high resolution 24-bit/44.1kHz lossless transmission of audio.
Boya BY-M1– This is a lavalier microphone that can be used for DSLRs, camcorders, and even smartphones. It has an Omni pickup pattern for full 360-degree coverage and a high-quality condenser for video use.
Memory Cards- You will need fast and reliable memory cards for film, video and audio storage purposes. SanDisk Extreme memory cards are highly recommended for your storage needs. Be sure to check the data record speed to make sure the card is suitable for the video you want to record.
External Hard disk- You can get a 2TB external hard disk for around $100. This will let you backup your shots to make sure that you don’t end up having to reshoot them should your SD card fail.
Spare Battery- This is necessary especially if you are on the go and also if you plan to be shooting your films in remote areas where you cannot easily find power sources for your camera. You can use ExPro or the optional DMW-BGG1 battery grip which has a spare battery.
Bags and Cases- These must be heavy duty yet convenient to carry around as need to hold all your equipment. You can use Manfrotto or ThinkTank bags, or neoprene wraps, which are also recommended.
Neutral Density Filters- This lessens or increases the intensity of the light equally without changing its color. They are used to prevent shadows that would otherwise require extra lighting. You can use a variable neutral density filter like Tiffen, which is highly recommended and affordable.
Lights- Lighting can be a real challenge to low budget filmmakers. The cheapest option is to go with a basic lighting rig that attaches to your camera. Beyond that, try to get a good quality rig that is designed to be portable.
Editing Suite- These days, even the better laptops are capable of editing films. Share a license to Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro if you have a MAC.
These are just some of the many tools out there. It is up to you which you think will be most suitable given your budget. I hope this list gives you some idea of what’s out there and that you found it helpful.
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