7 Best Lightweight Gear For Filmmaking – An Essential List For Filmmakers On The Go
When it comes to filmmaking gear on a film set, they are often made of heavy-duty materials that need to be able to withstand everyday use.
Why? Because when it comes to filmmaking, filmmaking gear tends to be built up quickly and taken down just as fast and moved to different locations daily without much care.
That’s why many stands for cameras and lighting equipment are made out of steel, as well as dolly tracks are made out of steel to handle the punishment a film crew puts the equipment through. With lighting gear, lights like HMIs are made to withstand heat and can require multiple crew members to get them onto a stand.
If you have ever worked on a film set, you can notice by the end of production, that most of the crew all are nursing their backs with ice and painkillers because of the amount of weight each piece of equipment is that is carried around throughout a shoot.
That’s why in this article, I’m going to break down some lightweight gear for filmmaking that can save you some weight in your filmmaking kit that can save some muscle pain throughout a film shoot. Some of the equipment is lighter replacements for what film crews use today on a set, while others are alternative tools.
If you are an independent filmmaker who double duties as a film director and cinematographer, then an Easyrig will be your best friend on a film set. While this isn’t exactly lightweight gear for filmmaking, having the ability to distribute the weight of the camera package on your hips helps avoid hurting your back throughout a production.
I have used an Easyrig multiple times on short films, and they are a game-changer when you are shooting with a 7.5 pound Red Helium 8K with a 100 mm Cooke anamorphic lens attached to the cinema camera. I know many cinematographers who have their own, but if you shoot independent films and have the budget for a camera gear gadget, adding an Easyrig to your filmmaking kit will help your body in the long term.
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LED Lights are now becoming the standard light for filmmaking. They’re safer, cooler, use less energy, and open up a whole ton of exciting new possibilities for how we light our movies.
If you are looking for lightweight gear for filmmaking to add to your lighting equipment kit, the Aladdin Bi-Flex shown above is an excellent lighting tool for many circumstances. The power block weighs barely anything when compared to other light sources, weighing close to 1 lb. (0.45 kg).
It is a flexible mat that is incredibly versatile. It has a substantial output when you factor in its size. This is great for being hidden in tight spots where other sorts of light sources can’t go. Plus, it’s an ideal travel lighting solution for any type of interview set up for content creators who do everything themselves.
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While the lightweight gear for filmmaking mentioned above can be rented from project to project, for portable lighting help, you can’t go wrong with owning the Matthews RoadRags II set. They do the same job as a 24” X 36” flag or scrim, but are compact and fold down to a nice travel-sized kit.
This portable lighting modification system allows the location Cinematographer or Key Grip the ability to quickly and easily duplicate studio lighting effects on location using their portable lights.
By using the different lightweight materials the cinematographer can quickly create contrasts, different light ratios, diffusion or block the light.
ROADRAGS consists of two folding 18″x24″ frames, single scrim, double scrim, artificial silk, and flag with convenient carrying bag. They use a similar setup that you would see on camping tent poles for the frame, which you slide your desired fabric onto.
The only downside with this kit is they may struggle in slightly high winds — but indoors, they are fantastic!
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Leatherman Sidekick Multi-Tool
When it comes to film productions, crew members in different departments are all working together to complete the project. Depending on your skill levels, you may be required to jump between numerous departments to lend a hand.
So if you are a crew member with the right skills to jump between departments to lend a hand, then you will need the right accessory, and the Leatherman Sidekick multi-tool will be your best friend on a set.
Why? Because it saves you from having to carry different tools all over a film set. With the Leatherman multi-tool, you have one multi-tool on your to carry in a cargo shorts pocket. Does it replace every tool you might need? No, it can’t be everything for everyone.
But, it does save you from having to go into your toolbox or a nearby backpack constantly to find a new tool. When you are up on a ladder and realize you need to cut, tighten, or work on something away from your tool kit, you will be happy you have your Leatherman with you.
Cinefoil (aka Blackwrap)
Black Wrap, Cinefoil, Black Foil made from aluminum is used in film, video, photo, and stage lighting to block light leaks from lighting fixtures by attaching to barn doors with clothespins. Cinefoil can handle high temperatures, and they are great for extending barn doors or stopping the unwanted light spill.
Since it is made out of flexible aluminum, it is safe to use with very hot lights. The way this little crinkly metal sheet saves you weight is by often cutting light without having to put up a stand and a flag.
This lightweight gear for filmmaking is something that every filmmaker needs. Why? Light leaks from ARRI kits? Black wrap that. Glowing green exit sign? Black wrap that! Lens flares and your DP forgot his matte box and the grip truck is parked 6 blocks down, and you don’t want to send a poor PA running in 100-degree heat to go grab it? Just black wrap that!
When it comes to lightweight gear for filmmaking, Gaffer Tape is another piece of film set gear you every day to make things easier when you are stuck in trouble. Why? Because Gaffer Tape can help you repair, hide, hang, and tape things on a film set. There are so many things that gaffer tape can do, that it really is another crew member on set.
Gaffer tape is cloth-backed, high-tensile tape with a matte finish. Its adhesive chemical composition makes it strong enough to stick to any surface indefinitely, as well as being easy to remove later on when you don’t need it. Gaffer tape also has a high melting point, meaning it can be used on lighting equipment that often gets extremely hot. And it can stick to almost any kind of surface, including fabric.
Black gaffer tape is the best option to have on set because it’s the least noticeable tape available and can be used for almost anything. Black gaffer tape can hide visible trademark logo’s on clothing, hide extension cords on the carpet, and so much more.
Portable Camping stool
While I know this next lightweight gear for filmmaking may seem odd to some people, but for someone who worked as a set dresser on the Netflix Series “Maid”, next to gaffer tape and a multitool, a portable stool is a blessing in disguise.
Why? Because for certain roles on set, there will be times where you will be standing by while scenes are being filmed, and if there is no place to sit, it will make for a very long day.
A Pop-out camping stool is compact enough to fit in a backpack or carried around from location change to location change, and allows you a comfortable sitting option on long shooting days.
Sure you can use an apple box(used for the lighting and camera department to prop up equipment) on short film production, but I noticed on my last short film I directed the wardrobe and art department keep stealing the apple boxes to sit on.
A Pop-out camping stool allows you to have a comfortable seat while you are standing by and can be hidden from the wardrobe and art department crew members looking for a place to sit while the action is going on. Plus, with a portable camping stool, you can brand it with ‘Property of [Your Name]” so nobody can walk away with it to use it for themselves.
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.