This is how ninjas tune up their kits.
These tools are the ones that help you take your ninja filmmaking to the max.
Video support gear is somewhat of an ambiguous category. Here, we’ve put all of those extra tidbits that we often use. Those things that can make a huge difference in staying stealth, strategic, and staying a step ahead.
- ZACUTO Z-FINDER
- THE SHOOTSAC LENS BAG
- SMALLHD DP4 FIELD MONITOR
- CINEVATE SIMPLIS
- PELICAN 1510 TRAVEL CASE
- ATOMOS NINJA BLADE EXTERNAL RECORDER
The industry standard in helping people everywhere see their images better.
While Jean-Claude Van Damme might be able to finish a fight after losing his vision in the final rounds of a kickboxing championship (Bloodsport), a ninja relies much more on strategy than brute force.
The Z-Finder does the obvious–it helps you see the image in any environment.
But it offers much more than that. When you put your eye up to a Z-Finder, it offers the same experience as if you were at a cinema–your entire focus is on the picture on the screen. We use the Z-finder both outside and inside because it helps you to stay present and connected to your image.
Plus it is virtually indestructible. While shooting for A Game of Honor, we were deep inside the forest at Quantico, Virginia chasing down a Blackhawk chopper. With the cadets in training, we reached a clearing and everybody started sprinting towards the Blackhawk to be transported away. As we got closer, the sheer force of the wind from the propellers sent the Z-Finder a solid 50 feet away. Those next 10 minutes without it felt like we were totally guessing at what we were shooting. This is not how a ninja conducts his business.
And when we found the Z-Finder some while later a ways away, it was totally unscathed and went right back to work.
Do be careful though to choose the proper Z-Finder bracket for your camera’s LCD.
- Small, lightweight and will last for years
- Virtually indestructible
- As you change cameras, you can often just add a new bracket and keep on going
- Different magnifications depending on your eyesight
- Helps you focus on your image better
- Helps hit focus for tougher moves like a rack-focus on the fly
- Oh, and ’cause it sucks not being able to see your image outside
Here are 5 Reasons why we love the Z-Finder:
The go-to bag for having your gear on you at all times when shoot a wedding, documentary, or event-style shoot.
Staying one step ahead means not having to go back for gear.
By day, the Shootsac is a lens bag that can hold several of your lenses, a Z-Finder, Rode Video Mic, extra cards, batteries, your wallet, a protein bar, and more.
By night, you can use it as a grip bag for gaff tape, grip heads, spring clamps, and more. Need a sandbag for your crane? The Shootsac has you covered. The Shootsac is versatile and the ninja loves this.
Throw your accessories in the back of the Shootsac and put your top three lenses in the front (plus one on your camera). Sort them by focal length with the lowest on the left (35mm f1.4) and the highest on the right (135mm f2.0) and you’ll be able to stay fully present in the moment while changing lenses and not evening needing to look at your lens bag or camera.
We bring one for each shooter on every documentary, wedding, and event-style shoot.
- This is perfect for a bag while you are shooting
- It holds the perfect mix of just enough, and not too much, so you can move quickly
- Perfect for 3 lenses, plus one on your camera, and a bunch of accessories
- Packs super small when traveling
- Made of robust material and has interchangeable covers should you want to coordinate your ninja look
Here is a short spot we made for Shootsac several years back:
Quick. Easy. Affordable. Durable. A Ninja’s top choice in field monitors.
The LCD on the back of your camera may be good but shooting with an external monitor not only enlarges the screen but also gives you stealthy features that may not be available on the camera itself. The SmallHD DP4 provides you with false color that will help you tell exposure, focus assist to aid in focusing, and framing guides to help you compose your shots.
An additional advantage is that you can program two of your most used features onto customizable buttons so that you can quickly access them without having to toggle through the menu—and that can certainly help a ninja stay a step ahead in production.
Additionally all SmallHD monitors have pass-thru, meaning you can hook it up to another monitor or device without having to bring a separate piece of equipment. This is a great option if you need one monitor for you and one for the director. All you’d have to do is go into one and out to the other and voila, eyes for everybody!
And if you have the budget, we’d recommend the DP4’s more elite cousin, the DP7-Pro OLED. In addition to all the features the DP4 has this badass monitor is significantly larger and has a much truer representation of the colors, which makes it not only great for the ninja filmmaker but also as a in-the-field client monitor. It also adds in advanced features like waveforms and scopes so that you can get a more accurate reading on your color and exposure.
Oh and yeah, the screen is gorgeous too.
- Beautiful screen at a reasonable price
- Loaded with helpful features like false color, focus assist and HDMI pass through
- Programmable smart keys to tailor it for your specific scenario
- Compatible with any range of cameras from DSLRs all the way up to Red Epic and Alexas
- Compatible with multiple types of industry standard batteries so you don’t have to switch systems or bring additional chargers
Check out this short spot on the DP4 from its manufacturer, SmallHD:
A sleek building block for any rig with a remarkably small footprint.
The ultimate in versatility, the Simplis is the best base plate for ninjas. It has an adjustable tab that makes it compatible with just about any size tripod/monopod plate system and holds (9) ¼-20 threaded mounts all around the rim of the unit, allowing you to easily kit up your rig while keeping it tight to the center.
You can mount an external recorder off to the side of your DSLR and a monitor to the back of it—and still get it attached to your monopod—all with one small piece.
- Solid build quality in a relatively lightweight aluminum body
- Up to 9 mounting options available to configure things any way you want
- Works with any camera plate system
- Allows for top loading, minimizing the chance of interference with other pieces
Part of our list of 10 Tools That Will Save Your Life (on a film set). Check this out along with the 9 other awesome items we never leave home without:
The industry standard in camera cases, this one is rock solid in every sense of the phrase.
Our studio mantra is Story First and that means we do what it takes to tell the best story, and sometimes that means we are rather rough on our gear. We also travel hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe year after year and the only piece of gear that’s held up through all of that is our Pelican cases. They’re indestructible.
It’s properly sized to meet FAA regulations for a carry-on so there’s no wondering if it’ll fit in the overhead compartment. Pair that with the removable padded dividers and the lid organizer and you’ve got yourself the ultimate gear case to house anything fragile and kept all its accessories, chargers, batteries, cables, and miscellaneous doodads together.
And if you’re small it doubles as a great apple box to stand on if you need a boost on set.
- Unbreakable. Run over it with a car and it’ll be fine. Now we don’t recommend that but it’ll likely be ok.
- Dividers make it highly versatile and customizable
- Doubles as a seat or apple box on set
- Meets FAA regulations so you know it will fit
- Has a solid handle and wheels, so durability isn’t an issue
Check back shortly for a new video!
This nifty gadget is one of the industry leaders in external recorders. And yes, it really is called the Ninja—true story.
Aptly named after one of the stealthiest ninjas out there, this external recorder does way more than just record. Beyond capturing a less compressed stream of the recording straight from the sensor, it also includes a host of features. Waveforms, zebras, and false color help with exposure while RGB and vectorscopes assist with color, and peaking helps focus assist. All of that in a small package with a beautiful screen that’s good enough to double as a monitor.
It records onto a solid-state card which gives it the ability to house a rather large capacity drive, minimizing the number of cards you’d need for the shoot day. Couple that with the long-lasting batteries and you’re good to roll on hours without having to swap out anything.
If you are shooting with any of the hi-resolution cameras out there and want an external recorder that matches that, the Atomos Shogun is the one you want. It will give you options for recording in high resolution (4k), multiple frame rates up to 120fps, and a screen so gorgeous you’d be happy to use just as a monitor.
- Maximize what you get out of your camera by recording an uncompressed stream to edit friendly Prores
- Syncs up to your camera’s timecode and shares one-touch recording with your camera so you don’t have to hit record twice
- Competitively priced with the higher-end monitors out there, giving them a run for their money
- Comes with advanced features to help you with exposure, focus, and color
Take a look at this video from Atomos: