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Let's leave the recorders, mics, boompoles and windscreens out of this list. What unique pieces of extra gear do you always have in your kit, and why? For example here are two items from our kits at work:

Number 1.

alt text

We use these to manage our cables; either coiling, or mounting to a boompole/stand. These are also great because they're entirely velcro, which means you can create a little fixed loop when wrapping it around things. Useful for hooking coils of cable slack to a carabiner on your recording bag while running around. We usually buy this stuff at Lowes or Home Depot.

Number 2.

alt text http://kayakfishinggear.com/ProductImages/Scotty-Baitcaster-Rod-Holde.jpg

The Scotty Baitcaster is a kind of a poor man's boom holder. We've removed ours from that mounting plate, and the post fits into a Matthellini C-clamp nicely. It's great for when we're doing static shot interviews, because the video guys always bring some C-stands with them. [Heavy, but useful more often than not.] So, I'll grab one, mount this on top, and I don't have to worry about handling noise or my arms getting tired during long interviews.

So, what other interesting pieces of gear are you guys using?

11 Answers 11

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Hmm theres a lot that comes to mind. Nice one with the Baitcaster!!! Thats exactly what I need!!

I carry a cap-gun in my kit. I use this to trigger the reverberative qualities of a space to create an impulse response.

Condoms! For dunking mics underwater or recording in the rain.

A basic makeup kit has come in handy on shoots to reduce shininess when the budget for a makeup person is non existent.

First aid stuff has also been pretty nice!

Thats off the top of my head, Ill add some comments after looking through my kit.

Cool topic!!

  • cap gun idea is pretty cool. how well does it work for you impulse responses? – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 1:54
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Two (well actually three) essential pieces of kit that are pretty non-technical:

Tape essentials: Gaffer and Sparky

alt text http://www.tools-supplies.co.uk/ekmps/shops/sjhowardwork/images/dt201.jpg

Multitool (mine's a Leatherman Wave)

alt text http://www.leathermans.co.uk/images09/Leatherman-Wave/Leatherman-Wave.jpg

  • I love my Leatherman Wave!!! – user6513 May 18 '11 at 1:48
  • +1 on the multitool. I'm a Gerber man myself though. Need that speed! lol – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 1:55
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Packing blankets. My god, these are a lifesaver when the director or cameraman says "WOW, LOOK AT THIS AWESOME FRAME I CAN GET FOR THE INTERVIEW INSIDE THIS GLASS BOX OF PARALLEL WALLS!!!"

A pair of nice work gloves - I got mine at home depot for $14.

A nifty wind foam built for a blumlein pair. I have one that fits two MK6 capsules. They are awesome.

Gaffer tape.

I also like my lazer tilt sensor/measurement tool to know exactly how many feet of cable I'll need for a particular cable run and what angle things are pointed at.

It's kind of a no-brainer, but some paper tape and a sharpie can be indispensable when plugging into a 12-channel snake and you want to make sure what cable you're running is the right one to plug into..

A camera - even if it's on your phone or iPod. I have learned from Tim Prebble that taking photos of what and where you record is very important and is much more professional if you want to release it later in a library.

Small LED flashlight or a flashlight headband.

EDIT: I forgot an important one which I listed in my Duties of a Boom Op answer, but it also applies here:

Breath mints. When micing up celebrities or VIPs or even just regular actors, it's important you have fresh breath because most of the time you have to be very close to the people. Also, just working in a small space with other crew members, it's nice to keep your breath so fresh and so clean, clean. Reason I bring this up is because I've witnessed someone placing a lapel on a celeb on a shoot who had bad breath and the celeb let him hear about it loudly (not to mention he wasn't hired on the next gig).

  • brushing your teeth usually helps with that too. ;) – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 0:53
  • @Shaun Pop quiz hot shot: Let's say you're on set at 5AM and the talent don't arrive until 8AM and you've been running around and drinking coffee all morning. Would you trust your colgate and bristles? HAH! Thought so. ;) – Utopia May 18 '11 at 1:20
  • @Utopia - Why, yes. Yes I would. Additionally, I don't drink coffee. So my breath doesn't get as stinky as the rest of you caffeine junkies. ;) – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 1:53
  • @Shaun Hah! Touche. Touche. Good luck to you and your mint crystals ;) – Utopia May 18 '11 at 1:59
  • (for the record I don't drink too much coffee. I went through a terrible withdrawl when I quit a while back!) – Utopia May 18 '11 at 2:00
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Medical tape. Now, I am a bit newer to production audio than many here, but I've used this a few times to get a wireless mic onto an actor. It's been pretty much the only way I could figure how to do it when all they've got on is a thin t-shirt. Incidentally, you may also want to have a razor and shaving foam handy :D.

They also make little holsters for wireless transmitters designed to strap around someone's thigh. Very useful for when a talent (especially females) have tight dresses on.

  • i use medical tape all the time. a good trick is to make a "double sided" strip/wedge out of it, and tape the inside of the clothes to the mic as well (in addition to taping to the body). it helps keep the clothing from moving over the mic, good for reducing rustle and noise. – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 1:52
  • ...incidentally, I've mistakenly made like 3 different accounts over time. The double sided idea is a good one, I ended up doing something once where I wrapped the mic one time around with the tape before then taping it to the actor. It muffled my sound -slightly- but eliminated clothing rustle and really didn't sound that bad. – James May 18 '11 at 11:01
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I bring sweets and chocs just in case the shoot eats into our meal times and my gastric starts acting up.

  • I buy Riesens for this very reason. Wonderful dark chocolate and caramel. Mmmm. – Utopia May 18 '11 at 2:07
  • mmmmm....snacks. – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 11:50
  • Hah! I got you, @Shaun Farley! SOME SNACKS GIVE YOU BAD BREATH. You will be observing my rule about fresh breath soon enough, MWAHAHAHA! – Utopia May 19 '11 at 21:12
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I use sink mats, (I think you call them that?) small rubber mats you put in the sink to keep the water in the sink... I use that for stopping ventilation holes in apartments and such. They are super handy, requires no tape!

I also use paper clips for lavs, in case I don't have a "concealer" (plastic pieces you get for DPA-lavs). I bend the paper clips and sort of build a holder for the lavs so that shirts and cloth don't ever get near the mic. Sometimes i find that to be even better than the concealer cause it gets smaller and is harder to see under the clothes.

Floor protectors! You can stick them on actor's and team's shoes when you can't put rugs or mats on the floor for step-dampening.

This probably isn't gear-related just "the-way-i-work"-related, but I also always carry mic stands, clamps (we call them superclamps in Sweden), magic arms, to put mics on, so I can record off-sounds like ambiances while in the take.. Like for instance a commercial I was shooting I had a few mic stands and just set up a stereo-rig outside of the apartment we were shooting in. Why? The shot was looking out the window showing the backyard. I figured I wouldn't have time for a wild track of that exterior since we were on a tight schedule so I just set that up real quick and got it good!

  • I second that. Awesome list. – user6513 May 20 '11 at 2:58
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My Merrell shoes.

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1) CAIG A/V Survival Kit - this has saved me so many times (corroded connectors, scratchy faders, etc, etc, etc)

2) Medi-keel throat lozenges - a lifesaver when one of the talent suddenly gets a frog in his throat

  • that survival kit is interesting. looking at that more closely right now. thanks. – Shaun Farley May 18 '11 at 11:52
  • Listerine Strips work well for that purpose, too! – Utopia May 19 '11 at 21:13
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Another thing I thought of: If you're the type to use sound blankets, bring a few "A" clamps. Can't always guarantee G+E will be able to spare any. I've got the luxury of being able to check out gear as part of my tuition, so I also tend to bring my own C-stands and sandbags. Mark 'em with an S so grips keep their hands off ;).

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While not quite gear, its a lifesaver. gold bond medicated powder.

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I now take my Kindle.

I use it most for testing mic feeds. I have MP3 voice recordings for getting rough levels, the built in speakers are surprisingly efficient. The headphone socket gives me approximate line level feeds as well. I also have all my manuals on pdf, and can surf using 3G if I need check something on the web.

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