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Essential grip equipment???


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#1 Guy Staley

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 10:42 PM

I am a gaffer/cinematographer starting to build a basic electrical and grip kit for personal use (not a rental kit). What would you consider "essential" equipment if starting from scratch?

TIA for any input!
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#2 Guy Staley

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 10:53 PM

BTW, this is for small, narrative, location shoots.

Edited by Guy Staley, 24 June 2012 - 10:53 PM.

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#3 David G. Smith

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:53 PM

Guy, I am kind of in the same boat and am putting together a small lighting/grip/electrical package for very low budget/micro budget fictional narrative personal works and I will share what I have come up with. I am not saying that this is the industry standard way of doing things. I just think that it is the best way for me to go with the resources that I have.

A lot depends on the lighting package that you have or anticipate using. Most of my package is tungsten. I have 5 750 watt fresnels, 4 (Up to)1K Par 64 cans, a bunch (about 10) of 650 watt open face lights and a bunch of standard medium base (E26)Edison house hold light bulb socket fixtures, from clamp work lights to high wattage 4 socket batten lights that I can put in any medium base bulb from CFLs up to 500 watt mushroom shaped (R40) flood lights and anything in between.

One thing that I have decided to do, to help keep my kit costs lower and help simplify lighting on most locations that I would most likely encounter is to keep my lighting kit to fixtures with a max of 1000 watts (1K). With 1K or less I can safely use standard household 15 amp circuits to light most situations. The electrics part of my kit is mainly for spreading out the lighting over several circuits at a location. 15 amps can handle up to 1625 watts of light so I can put two 650s, or what ever up to 1625 watts, on one circuit safely.

So in my kit I have:

Electric:

Stingers. I bought 10 25' 12/3 black stingers. I would like to get at couple of 50' and 100' foot 12/3 stingers as well. You will need to shop around to get the best prices. I would try to stay with 12 gauge cable. A lot of 14 gauge cables are rated for 15 amps, but I like have the 12 gauge for little longer cable runs. I am also getting some 8' light duty (16 gauge, 13 amp rated) extension cords (From a big box retailer) that I plug into the power cord of individual lamps. Since I am using mostly fixtures that are 1K or less, these cable will handle the power and having the extra, lighter weight extension cord makes it easier to arrange the lights around on the set (As opposed to running a couple of fixtures off a cube tap from a stinger just using the attached power cord). I also have 4 15 amp rated power strips. What I usually do is run a stinger from different circuits at a location to a power strip on the set. Then run the power to the individual lights from the power strip. To round out electric gear I also have cube taps, ground lifts or "Cheater plugs"(3 prong plug to 2 prong plug adapter) and some specialty supplies. Things like an adapter that screws into medium base socket and gives you a female plug, or a female plug to socket adapter, some "Y" sockets to put two bulbs in one medium base socket and so on. I also have 3 dimmers that I use.

Grip:

I am still working on getting my grip gear up to speed. To me, the starting point of grip gear is the grip (Or gobo) head. I have 4 grip heads and I am going to get some more. The ones I have have a five/eights female adapter that will fit on most any stand and have a single grip head. I want to get 2 or three of those and then get 4 or so double head grip heads. These are simply two grip heads attached together. These are useful for attaching a grip head to an extension arm (or any pole) and having the second grip head for attachments. The grip head is the starting point for most any grip set up and I recommend really researching what is out there is and what will fit your needs the best. The single grip heads I am using I found on eBay for a very good price. I bought one and tried it out and really like it. Like I said, I have bought more of them and will get even a few more.

I got them from these guys. 2DreamMaker and is called the DMK E-Image Gobo Grip Head.

After getting grip heads then you can go ahead and get, or make up sets of flags, scrims and nets, diffusion and gel frames, boom arms ect.

Stands. Of course, it would be recommended that you get some C-stands. I am slacking in this and haven't put together a set of C-stands. Instead, I have been using regular light and medium duty light stands for my grip set ups. It works, but I really need to get some C-stands.

Clamps. I have a couple of super clamps (Bogen-Manfretto) with a baby pin. I want to get some more and will look around for other types; probably some cardellini clamps, or the equivalent. I also have a couple of baby plates which are very handy.

Other. Things like apple boxes, cribbing and the like you can get, or put together, as needed. However on thing that I think is essential for a grip kit is sandbags (Or shot bags). What I did is I got 12 inexpensive pre-made empty sandbags off of eBay and filled them myself. Shop around and get the ones you like best. Just some tips. I used sand from a big box retailer and I highly recommend using the more expensive "Play" sand (By QUIKRETE). I first used regular landscape fill sand, but the moisture content of this type of sand is too high and the sand bags froze solid when stored in my unheated garage during a Michigan winter. This made them useless to me as I need to use them in winter up here. The play sand is cleaned and dried and since switching to it I have not had a problem with the bags freezing. Another tip, when I filled the bags I put two heavy duty gallon sized zip lock storage bags in the bags, put the sand in and sealed the bags. I haven't had any issue with sand leaking out of the bags. I really can not stress how handy and essential I think having sand bags around are. Of course they are for making your stands more safe, especially when using lighter weight inexpensive stands, but I find new uses for them all the time. I really recommend taking the time and money (I think I spent MAYBE $120.00 total getting and filling 12 sandbags, well worth it) and making up some good sandbags to have around.

The wonderful world of DIY PVC pipe gear. I just started doing this, and I am really sorry I put it off for as long as I have, but I am putting together some gear with PVC pipe from a big box retailer. Now I have seen those YouTube tutorials on DIY light stand made out of PVC pipe, and I am not going that far. What I have done is put together some simple frames using the stuff and I am very pleased with results. I put together two 4'X4' frames, two 3'X2' frames, a 6' wide backdrop top bar and made up some DIY flags with 1/2" PVC pipe and spent about $20 total for the pipe and fittings. Like I said I am very pleased with the results and the frames are going to be very handy. I have some pipe left over that I have cut and will keep around as light weight boom arms, or what ever. I am going to keep some 1/2" PVC pipe with elbows and T couplings, a PVC pipe cutter and some PVC cement around from now on. The stuff is just way too handy.

Expendables and tools. You will of course need some basic expendables. Gaffer's, and other types of tape, black wrap, gels and so on. I also have a tool box of basic hand tools that I keep around on a shoot. This stuff grows all the time and you can put it together to your specs.

Well, just some suggestions. Like I said, I work low budget, so a lot of folks may chuckle... but to each there own. If it works, it works, ya know.
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