Gear Checks 101Feb 23, 2022
We're shooting at The Vision House in Port Melbourne today and I just wanted to see how to do a
gearcheck. Now the friendly folks over at the vision house have put out a rough selection of
gearfor you to do for yourself and we'll just go over the basics. The fact is, if you know how to do a basic equipment check, you'll know how to do most of them. Now it can be very daunting to do a team check for the first time or two. I had a really hard time figuring out how to approach the situation at first and I hope this video is helpful to some of you who may be doing your first or second gear overhaul and still aren't quite sure how to do it correctly. .
This is something they don't really teach you in film school, which is a real shame. The only thing you need to know is that the rental facility team is there to help you. If you need to double check something or have someone else look at something you can ask them, if you need another piece of kit to make this work you can ask them, they are always there so don't worry about having to. ask for something else or help setting it up too. Now you'll probably be doing the team check as the 1st QA yourself, but if you're on a larger job sometimes you'll do it with a QA team, really that just depends on the size and intensity of the job. but yeah, let's talk about equipment
checksin a basic sense so you know how to do it and then you can carry that over to bigger jobs.
The whole point of the equipment check is to make sure everything works, it's to make sure everything works as it should and works together to get the result you need on set. You will check the focus of the lenses to make sure it is accurate; it will also check the functionality of all accessories and the status of all accessories. Basically, you will be preparing as best you can before the day of the session so that you are not rushing the morning of the session trying to get things done or trying to organize things, it's all about organization.
Now, a space will often be set aside for you where you can check out your gear and your boxes will usually be stacked there. Sometimes they will be set up, sometimes they won't, so the first thing to do is find the space you need to prepare and start setting up. After you find the area where you're going to check out your gear, you'll want to get organized a bit, so grab all your boxes if you haven't already and start organizing them into categories. Now I like to go with lenses and lens accessories so the matte box filters all of those things together and then the camera and any camera accessories like onboard monitors and then monitoring so any external monitoring like monitors bigger for the client, all of those things go together and then along with that support that just needs a light revision and I usually do that last.
And the stand includes tripods that handle all that jazz. If this hasn't already been done, you'll need to set up your tripod first. Now I like to do that 5-7 feet away from the focus chart and that way it's a good figure to start with, you can go back and forth during setup to check different focal lengths. It's also a good idea at this point to tape off where the tripod sits so you can back up to the five foot seven foot position in any position later if you decide to change during testing. Wow those noises are great.
Next, we put the camera on the tripod and start setting it up, so we hook up all the accessories we have for the camera and pretty much get it ready to go. With an equipment check, you have to check absolutely everything to make sure it's working and in the box ready to go. Believe it or not, people are people and sometimes things are left out of kits even when they are being prepared, so you have to be very careful about what is in your kit and make sure it is there and working. When you're setting up a camera and any camera accessories, just make sure you set up the camera the way it's meant to be used on the shoot, check with the DP what settings you need to set up the camera, and then format any cards. to make sure they are ready for the day of the shoot.
You can also tape the cards together, so put little labels on each card so you don't have to do that when you're shooting and when you're in a rush for the day. You can simply put the card in and remove the tape and attach it to the side of the camera and it's ready to go. Trust me, the more preparation you can do now, the better it will be on the day of the session. I like to start with the lenses because they will probably take the longest and if there are issues they sometimes take a little longer to fix so you can continue to get the other stuff ready while you wait for your lenses.
In terms of which lens to start with, I like to start with the longest lens because problems are often easier to spot with focus and then work my way back to the wider lens, but you can start with anything you want, just make sure you Know which ones you've tried and which ones you haven't. So the ideal is to start from the beginning, start from the widest or start from the longest. First check your lenses at 5ft or 7ft or whatever you initially set. When you get your focus marks, just make sure your camera is square to the dash and the dash is square to the camera; otherwise the focus may be a bit off.
Make sure you've marked the feet of the tripod and then swing it back another 10 feet, no matter how far you can go or how far you think it takes, then check focus again to make sure it's super sharp and on point. If any lens is running short or long, you'll need to notify the rental team just to find out where it's coming from. It could be coming from the lens setting or the camera so there are two different things there and they will be able to figure out which one it is and how to resolve the issue.
Shims are effectively little sheets of plastic that sit on the lens mounts or on the back of the lens and that affects the distance between the rear element and the sensor. If you're still having trouble seeing what's in focus, you can use your larger monitor or ask the staff for a larger monitor so you can see what you're doing. Also while checking the lenses make sure to look for marks or damage or anything on the front and back elements and make sure it rolls properly all the way around the focus ring and all the iris ring and there are no bumps or anything like that in there .
And be sure to write down any issues you have and then reach out to the rental team to make sure they can be corrected or are at least aware of it. At the same time that you are checking your lenses, if you have a wireless hand unit, you can program the lenses while you are doing your check. It's also important to keep in mind checking the matte box feature and making sure it locks properly and has the correct accessories to make it work with all the lenses you have. Now some rental houses have condition reports for lenses and filters and pretty much anything in the kit.
If the rental doesn't have a condition report for a lens or filter and you're checking it out and notice a scratch or any damage, just make sure you take note of that and at least let the rental know. equipment that is there because then the responsibility is not on you because if you take that equipment out and then come back and they notice the damage they may think you have done it so you have to be very careful and really sure of the state of the equipment you is renting Also make sure you spend time checking out the mount for the day and make sure you've checked the tripod head and legs to make sure it's working smoothly and there aren't any bumps or anything like that that could be an issue. when you're shooting the next day.
The last thing you want is a screw missing or something on them falling apart, you want to make sure everything works. It's best to do this when the tripod is at full capacity, so with the camera, accessories, lens, everything on there just to make sure all the features work with the weight of the camera. Another thing you'll need to check is the function of the monitors, so only check the outputs on the camera, the cables move around a bit because the connections on the camera, especially with BNC. BNC can be a bit tricky and can break very easily, check all your cables as well to make sure they are working properly and if you notice any signal dropouts when you are moving the cable around or when you are moving things around. just notify the rental team and you can get a new cable.
Make sure you have at least two BNCs per monitor and that way you've got yourself covered. If you're using multiple monitors or multiple cameras, it's worth checking the monitors with both cameras to make sure all settings match and the image looks correct on both monitors. You're basically just playing with the colors there to make sure everything matches and you know the client gets the same image as the director and vice versa. I struggle with it a bit sometimes, so I like to have a second set of eyes on that as well. Now the last thing I like to do is check off everything on the list and make sure everything is packed in the right boxes.
While I pack everything in boxes, I also like to label the boxes to make sure I know exactly what's in that box. Now with the lenses it's a little different. I still like to label the lens case and make sure I know what lenses are in there, whether they are long or wide, and I also write down the focal lengths. like the t stop or how fast the target is and the close focus marks to make it completely clear how close we can get with that target. While removing the tape, you can also label the filters.
If you have pre-made filter labels, you can put them on each case; If not, you can use tape and you can write little labels on what filter is in that case and stick them to the side of the matte box when you're shooting. And then you just pack everything logically and you're done. I make it sound simple but actually it is a small process and it will take you a lot of time to do it. Don't count a couple of hours, count like four or five. Depending on how big the kit is, it may be in there for a long time.
Now this is all on a case by case basis so your kit may be completely different than what I have here, in fact it will probably be completely different and the situation you will be shooting in will also be different so I will have different solutions to things. . But at least knowing the basics of team verification and knowing what to look for is really important as a beginner because you don't want to get anywhere, you know your first or second job or you're trying to make a good impression and you messed up verification from the team and now everything is delayed because you don't have this integral part of the kit or a part of your kit is broken.
So thank you very much for watching. I hope you enjoyed this video and I hope you got something out of it. If you enjoyed this video remember to give it a big thumbs up and if you want to see more of my face and learn a bit more about filmmaking in the process remember to subscribe and I'll see you next Sunday --- Or I won't see you next Sunday . I need to change that see you later
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