Thanksgiving is this week, and while we’re all looking forward to stuffing our faces on Thursday, we realize that the holiday is, in fact, about giving thanks. So we thought, what are we grateful for? As creative professionals, what gear, tools, and resources make our lives easier and our work better? Each of us came up with a few things we’re thankful for, and we’re sharing them with you below!
Mark – Cinematography
MLP has been using Atomos field recorders for years, including the Atomos Samurai that we used on The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour. Unlike their earlier models, the Shogun records in 4K, which is the format and quality that high-end filmmakers and cinematographers favor. With its playback controls the Atomos Shogun also lets you review footage on set, ensuring that you got the shot you wanted. All around a great tool for filmmakers.
These flat-panel LED lights are a huge timesaver and a must-have on set. They’re lightweight, battery-powered (but can also be plugged into an outlet), have a 5,600 K output of light, and can dim from 0%-100%. And they’re stackable. If we’re on a shoot that requires several different locations, these lights are a must. No cooling time, easy to transport, and a great range of light for filming.
This quadcopter is billed as the “first consumer drone that could be called an intelligent tool”. The drone comes equipped with a control and live on screen flight data, as well as a ground station radio with USB and Android adapters. The regulations around drones are still being hammered out, its true, but a drone like this lets filmmakers get those cinematic aerial shots without breaking the bank by hiring a helicopter.
Nick – Video Editing
A collection of color LUTS that give great cinematic looks to our raw footage. When color grading, these LUTS can really enhance the mood and quality of a finished product.
A great tool for any editor working with multi-cam footage and/or external audio. Simply drop your media into the program, click “synchronize” and watch it go to work. Use the “try really hard” feature to crack the whip and put more processing power into the program for the harder-to-sync clips.
This built-in stabilizing effect can be a lifesaver in edits with shaky footage. It can mean the difference between salvaging that money shot with a bit of shake and losing it altogether. Just drag and drop the effect onto the shaky clip, tweak the settings if necessary and, nine times out of ten, you’ll have a nice smooth clip you can now work with. Your camera guy will thank you for saving his butt.
David – Photography
Shooting on a Canon Platform, Magic Lantern is an awesome community made firmware hack that really helps you shine as a higher end shooter. Being able to monitor audio levels, lock in white balance, and zebra stripes to help you pinpoint focus are only scratching the surface of what this system modification allows you to do with Canon cameras.
Life gets easier when you don’t have to worry about the little things in life. Like changing batteries. Sure it weighs down my rig and makes it more bulky, but it would feel weird to hold my camera without the grip on it. Also, unless I’m on an extra long shoot, I can go several hours without having to worry about swapping batteries.
To continue on with not having to worry about the little things, I can’t tell you how many times both of these items have come in handy. The first 5 minutes into my first shoot with Mark Leisher Productions I had my multi-tool out trying to fix a tow strap on the gear trailer. Gaff tape just comes in handy for just about everything. Stretching out backdrops, covering up weird spots on set, marking cables on the floor so no one trips over them. I’m pretty sure Gaff tape is what holds the industry together.
Susanna – Graphics
A web-based design tool that helps even the rawest of beginners make attractive graphics for their website or social media pages. With templates, stock images, and fun fonts, it’s easy to create simple graphics quickly. And Canva offers design tutorials so you can learn the basic tenets of graphic design. If you don’t have Photoshop but need the ability to make graphics, Canva is a great tool.
Want to work with Illustrator but haven’t the faintest idea how to get started? Or maybe you’ve begun a course in digital photography and want to learn how to use Lightroom. The tutorials offered by the Adobe Creative Cloud add serious value to an already-valuable software package. Whichever tool you’re using, Adobe offers series of video tutorials to help you out. Not only that, but the tutorials are accompanied by downloadable files so you can work along with the video. Great, great, resource for getting started with new creative software.
Tired of using the same old fonts or paying out the nose for new ones? Google Fonts has your back! I’m not even a font nerd and I still get the warm fuzzies scrolling through their site. With hundreds of open source fonts optimized for the web, finding new and interesting fonts for your graphics is a breeze. Plus, their test sentence involves grumpy wizards and a toxic brew – no quick foxes and lazy dogs here!
So there you go – the creative tools and resources we’re thankful for. We hope they help you in your creative work! Still need the professional touch to make your content really shine? Contact us today! In the meantime, we’d love to hear what tools you rely on – share them in the comments!