More lighting and camera gear 2014: FS7, Sourcemaker blanket, Twintube Dolly, Gruvgear Muver

New lighting and camera equipment from 2014 that bears mention:

Sony’s Fs7 has been one of the most ballyhooed releases this year. I recently got the chance to do some testing Adam Wilt and Art Adams. Adam Wilt wrote some thorough articles about it which are worth reading. I’m looking forward to reading Arts writeup when its done, but here’s my really quick .02 – like the smarty handgrip. All those controls you can operate without taking your eye of the eyepiece! I was also very impressed with the dynamic range. S-log 3, we were actually short of hard pressed to create an indoor situation that exceeded what camera could still resolve. Granted,  our biggest light was an 800 joker, but it was still impressive that the camera could still see detail on the t/45 white curtains where the beam of light was hitting them as well as in the unlit T/1 patch of dark wood in the foreground, about eleven stops apart.  We’ll wait and see the actual test results though once Art has done the edit.
60Sony FS7, test shoot w/Art Adams and Airbox Lights
Sourcemaker inflatable 4×4 soft source with eggcrate:
How cool is this?  It’s like a 4×4 diffusion frame with a light behind it, except there’s no light behind it! Seems ideal for tight spaces.  I do think you need a pump or helium tank to blow it up; I think you’d turn blue and faint, trying to inflate this by mouth. These are the same people who make the large helium filled balloons you see on big night exterior sets.

Sourcemaker LED Blanket
The back and the front of their LED blanket stretched on a 4×4 frame with a diffuser balloon and eggcrate on it.Solid grip twin tube dolly:  this is like an improved version of the ever-popular Dana Dolly, with some significant improvements. Most notable feature is the track: The track breaks down and fits in one case, assembles with no seams between pieces so your frame doesn’t bump when dolly goes over it, and the track is extremely stiff- it doesn’t bow(“smile”) under the weight like the speedrail track of a dana dolly does. The dolly carriage grabs onto the track rather than sitting on top, so the carriage and camera won’t fall off and can be underslung easily. Very nice stuff, but pretty pricey- about 3x as much as a dana dolly setup, in the neighborhood of 4k.

See also Rigwheels; they’re another cpmpetitor in the field of portable dollies.  Also a good system, less expensive than the twintube, but more than a dana dolly.
Its a giant inflatable tube that mounts to the front of a medium/large HMI par like a 4k or 6k par.  It makes a giant glowing sausage that you only have to support at one end. It definitely was eyecatching.  I could see that being useful in some situations. If you needed to arm out a large bright soft source and weren’t able to support the far end because the stand would be in frame perhaps?  On their website they show it being used to light a car, which makes sense since it’s would make one long continuous reflection on the curved finish of the car. The massive size of the source is probably the most important feature; to get a single soft source that big could take some significant effort using traditional tools. Still, I’m not holding my breath to see this all the time.
Plastic apple boxes: So simple! A lot f the best new gear is just that, super simple.  These apple boxes won’t start to splinter and come apart on you, probably won’t show the wear as much as traditional wooden ones.  I was told they were priced approximately the same as normal apples. Plus, you can get them appropriately colored for chroma key work in green, blue, or red. at
******* MISSING PHOTO  *******
Who thought that regular old carts had room for improvement! This is an LA company who make these carts that can be configured lots of different ways, as you see in the video. They originally were making stuff for musicians and bands et al., but bands and shoot technicians have a lot in common. Folds up very small for portability, sets up quickly in loads of different ways. We have a customer group in common: video shooters for whom compactness and portability is essential. I got the chance to use one on a job yesterday, and it was awesome!  Really sturdy and adaptable, but importantly, that center wheels lets it turn on a dime. Red Scorpion LED Maxibrutes: Daylight-balanced large LED heads with output that can compete with a 4k par, but on a single 20 amp circuit! To get that kind of output, they’re set up with arrays of emitters, much like the familiar Maxibrutes, 9-lights fays, and Dinos. Each LED emitter is set into an MR-16-style parabolic refractor, directing all of the light forward.  Some of their smaller units are compatible with Airbox inflatable softboxes. They’re a small startup started by a working gaffer, just like Airbox, but watch out for these lights! That kind of output with such minimal power draw could be a really big deal in days to come.
68Red Scorpion LED maxibrute
69Red Scorpion LED
Other tidbits- Recently discovered that more excellent lights have proven to be compatible with Airbox inflatable softboxes- the BBS area 48 and the Cineo LS and Cineo Maverick! See the full list of lights compatible with Airbox Inflatable softboxes here.

Micro Grip and Lighting Kit

Sometimes I get this notion like I’ve got all the answers on something, an of course that means I don’t. I got my eyes opened a bit on how small you can go with gear and still be very effecive. This is particularly relevant when you’re working by yourself or with a very small crew. I gaffed a Chrome spot for a dp named Norman Bonney, and he had a whole kit of totally miniaturized gear, optimized for fitting in one vehicle and for taking on airplanes.
Kit was
1 case: 4 LEDs, 2 1×1 panels and two 6″ x1′ panels
4 skinny little 18/3 “stingers”
A bag of slender aluminum stands, of a degree of sturdiness that I had previously dismissed as Mickey-mouse student film stuff. Some stands were 3/8″ studs at the top, some were standard 5/8″ studs.
Portable fold-up flag kit
Collapsible 4×6 westcott scrimjim frames and a duffel bag full of soft goods.
Instead of heavy duveteen, he carried lightweight ripstop nylon
And the grip kit: instead of heavy steel 2 1/2″ steel gobo heads, these tiny little 1 1/2″ grip heads. So this is what your “C-stand” looks like:











A tiny stand, a tiny head, and a tiny cardi. Slender, but big enough to handle this lightweight collapsible 4x frame on an interior set:


And all the bags and cases were 49 lbs or less and less than 62″ long, making it all air-travel ready.
I dig it!  I shoot a bunch of little jobs where it’s basically just me, and if everything fit in bags and cases and didn’t weight all that much, that would be just fine with me.
Handy items in my kit as far as extreme portability are the inflatable softboxes I make to go with my LED lights.  They just squish down on top of the lights in the case and add barely any weight or bulk since they’re inflatable. Also handy are these cheesy “Impact” brand light stands that I got a while ago and then regretted because they seemed so flimsy.  They’ve proved really reliable, even if they are lightweight. They work.  When I’m not bringing “any” lights, I bring my two 1×1 panels in their laptop bags and these two lightweight stands and my little briefcase of small LED units and Airbox softboxes.
Trivium: “Impact” is one of B&H’s house brands of gear, along with Pearstone and probably a few others.