In Part 3 of Shane Hurlbut ASC’s Best Cinematography Tools, Shane reveals the Top 15 tools that he uses on set in production.
|You’re going to learn:
About the Top 15 best cinematography tools that Shane uses on-set along with an explanation for why each item is essential.
Shane likes the Walkie Caddie because it hooks up to his walkie-talkie and is ideal for storing essential production tools like Sharpies, Mat Knives, China markers, and laser pointers. That way, Shane’s always quick to the draw!
Next is the Tiffin Variable Viewing Glass which is a useful tool for keeping the light consistent. Its rota polas allow Shane to look at the sun so he can gauge if it’s coming out of the clouds. Then, he can communicate to the 1st AD to prepare for the next shot.
Conversely, if they plan on shooting the sun in the clouds, Shane would still use the Tiffen Variable Viewing Glass to monitor its movement. This cinematography tool allows Shane to work accurately and keep the production efficient on time.
The viewing glass isn’t only useful for viewing the sun but peering into light sources such as an HMI to determine if it’s a spot or flood. Immediately, you’ll know whether the source is specular and small like a flood; or, if the whole Fresnel is lit up, then that indicates it’s a full spot.
The Clear-Com FreeSpeak II is an indispensable cinematography tool for communicating with your entire team. Shane takes part in a lot of dual operating, so he might handle the wheels while someone else operates the Ronin with the AntiGravity rig and they all must work in sync.
With the Clear-Com FreeSpeak II, Shane’s able to talk with his focus pullers and tell them, for example, when to rack focus or pan a certain direction. Plus, he loves the headset because it sounds the best! Sure, he also has security earpieces, but he prefers the dorky McDonald’s headset.
It’s no secret that Shane likes to work with lots of diffusion filters on his RED Gemini camera system. So, the Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom matte box has become an essential on-set tool in his kit. It can handle two filters simultaneously without a filter tray – and Shane has even packed in three on many occasions! Plus, he’s able to angle it without experiencing any reflections.
The Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom also wields a beautiful lightweight eyebrow and comes with different-sized rings so it can adapt to any lens.
|PRO TIP: Shane uses Coroplast on the side so he can place stickers on the matte box to identify the filters so everyone is aware of what filters are in use on the front of the lens.|
Along with Shane’s Walkie Caddie is his D-Type Earpiece Surveillance which wraps snuggly around his ear. The reason he prefers this specific model is that it allows him to hear very well.
Contrarily, he cannot hear as well with the security surveillance. So, the over-the-ear surveillance model is much more suitable for his cinematography needs.
You might be wondering why a director of photography brings Alien Tape on set. In the age of battery-powered lights, you can stick them anywhere – for example, hide them behind doors.
Alien Tape makes it very quick to simply tape a battery-powered light to a wall. And the best part, they’re reusable and don’t leave marks!
Shane trusts in Tiffen’s digital diffusion filters. His package starts as 1/16 and goes to 9. He utilizes them on his Angeneiux zooms. If he goes into the 290, he will put on a 1/16 or 1/8.
On the flip side, with an eight-millimeter, Shane will use a 9. So, he has consistent diffusion across all millimeters.
Shane’s Natural ND filters are full-spectrum. They remove any IR pollution from the camera sensor and are consistent from one stop all the way to 10 with no color shift whatsoever.
Remember when Shane mentioned that he loved sticking battery-powered lights around everywhere? Well, the Aputure MC RGBWW Mini LED Lights are his favorite!
They’re perfect as under-cabinet lights, accent lights, and especially in cars for illuminating the dashboard and back seats. They’re RGB White allowing Shane to go full-spectrum at 95-96 CRI. In addition, they’re lightweight and magnetic, so they stick to anything that’s metal. Plus, they come with a charging station.
The CamelBak has saved Shane’s life 20+ times. The first time was on the feature action film Act of Valor. They were out shooting for hours on end in the Costa Rican rainforest and there wasn’t any water around.
His CamelBak backpack holds one and a half gallons of water and provided him with the hydration he needed to survive. Not only that – it has lots of nifty pouches and pockets to store specific things like sunscreen, chapstick, or whatever you want.
When Shane goes into handheld camera mode, he always turns to his Spidergrips. And if you watched How To Rig Your Camera System, then you know exactly how Shane likes to use them. Upside down for cinematic control!
The Spidergrips are extremely adjustable and can be arranged in any position to fit your specific camera rig.
Shane’s tried and true Letus35 MCS shoulder pad works like a wedge. So, it fits on your shoulder making it nice and level. The two center pads are removable and if they go bad with wear and tear, they’re also replaceable.
There are times when you as a cinematographer will have to get your hands dirty. When you’re in the muck – or even snow and rain – you can rely on NEOS Overshoes.
The NEOS Overshoes are lightweight and waterproof – up to 12 inches. You can simply slip them over your boots for much-needed protection.
They have become essential for when Shane has jobs that take him in the forest or in rainy environments. In the snow, they act as a second layer keeping him very warm with their Gortex material.
When operating, one of the worst things that can happen in the rain is for your gloves to soak through and make your hands frigid cold.
The Arc’teryx Sabre gloves are one of the best investments Shane has ever made. They cinch around your forearms to keep the cold and water out. Its hardshell exterior is waterproof and the interior utilizes polar fleece which is soft but really warm in low temperatures.
Last but not least is Shane’s trusty Tilley hat. Not only does it look good but it will protect you from the sun.
One of Shane’s favorite features of the Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat is its very wide brim. It keeps him cool in hot climates and breathes so he doesn’t sweat as much as he would with other hats.
Shane has maintained the same Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket for six years and loves it for its versatility. He can pack it up into the smallest roll to fit it into his rolling bag. Then, if he goes into a colder climate, he can simply pull it out and adapt to the temperatures of the environment that he’s in.
When Shane is confronted by rain, he pulls out his Arc’teryx Gold rain jacket. According to Shane, after four years it’s still nearly bulletproof! Other rain jackets tend to stop beating water after a couple of wears but this specific jacket continues to sheet the rain.
More Cinematography Tools
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- Cinematography Tools for the Production Office
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