KIT BAG: Gearing Up For Run 'n Gun
Filmmaking used to be a complicated affair that required a team of people, with a variety of specialist roles such as camera operator, sound and lighting, that were all dedicated full-time jobs. Times change, and technology has moved everything on, making life so much easier for those looking for the maximum amount of flexibility.
These days it’s possible to put together a kit that is so lightweight to carry and simple to use that it can be operated by a single person. This way of working – dubbed Run ‘n Gun – has opened the door to individuals who want the freedom to travel at will and to be in total control of their production, and it’s an area of the business that is becoming increasingly popular.
What do you need?
Run ‘n Gun set ups vary and are very much down to individual choice, but essentially you’re looking for an HD-Capable compact camera – probably a DSLR or a CSC – plus a rig, a microphone and possibly mic adapter, a light and maybe an auxiliary monitor. You’ll also need a set of headphones to enable you to monitor the audio. The kit needs to be quick to set up and take down, and it should be capable of being packed away into a single case that can easily be carried around and taken as hand luggage should a flight be involved.
A perfect starting point for the Run ‘n Gun filmmaker would be something like Kenro’s SKR02 professional dual grip video shoulder support rig, which features the Sevenoak universal rail system so that it can be customised, if necessary with the help of articulated arms, with accessories such as LCD monitors, video lights and microphones. This lightweight unit is comfortable and stable for extended periods and the camera is attached to a moveable platform so that it can be positioned at a comfortable distance for viewing, either on the camera’s LCD screen or on a separate monitor.
An alternative might be a product such as the Sevenoak Shoulder Support Rig, which features a single foam padded arm that still provides great stability. The rig is height adjustable and can be used on either shoulder, while the hand grip is detachable, allowing it to double as a standalone camera support for lightweight cameras.
A third option, and one that’s just as much at home sitting on a set of tripod-mounted rails for conventional tripod-mounted filming work as it is being carried around by its top handle for Run ‘n Gun use, is a Camera Cage. This adds protection, stability and mounting options to the camera, and you can either go for one that’s dedicated to a particular camera model or look for one that’s universal such as the Sevenoak Camera Cage SK-C03, which is compatible with most DSLR cameras. The set up includes a removable top handgrip, mini HDMI to HDMI adapter cable, HDMI plug protector, quick release base plate, cold shoes and 1/4in and 3/8in mounting points.
Audio should be recorded off-camera for professional quality sound, and the simplest way to achieve this is to sit a separate microphone either in your camera’s hotshoe or attach it to your rig. An ideal choice would be the Saramonic VMic Pro, a super directional video condenser microphone that’s mounted on a dedicated shock mount system to prevent vibration and mechanical noise.
The microphone comes with a range of professional features, such as adjustable level control (-10dB, 0dB, +20dB), high pass filter (150 Hz) and a high frequency boost (+6dB) to improve the intelligibility of dialogue: crucial if you’re out in the field trying to record an interview. Meanwhile a detachable 3.5mm cable provides a connection to the camera’s audio input, while the stereo headphone output allows for the monitoring of incoming audio.
As a one-person Run ‘n Gun operator there will be times, however, when you want more control over your audio than a single mic can provide, and here the choice is to go for an audio adaptor, which will enable more than one mic to be utilised and might even come with the facility to do a live mix of the sound. A product such as the Saramonic SR-AX107 will sit neatly between the bottom of the camera and the rig and, while it connects to the camera via a standard microphone jack, it comes with two XLR channels built in, enabling pro-spec products to be used.
An alternative would be using a set up such as the Saramonic UwMic9 system, a comprehensive range of broadcast-quality audio products that includes a wireless receiver and twin transmitter kit. In combination with the supplied pair of omnidirectional lavaliere microphones this outfit allows two separate voices to be clearly picked up from up to 100 metres away, giving a highly professional and very controllable result. The RX9 camera-mountable integrated wireless receiver features a wide switching RF bandwidth, an easy-to-read LCD display and infrared synchronisation between transmitter and receiver, while its auto-scan function automatically searches for an available transmission frequency to take away all the stress of having to do this yourself under time pressure.
While you might be working for much of the time using just available light, it’s crucial for the Run ‘n Gun operator to have some back up for times when they might be working inside or they’re simply looking to lift the shadow on the face of the person they’re interviewing. Pick a product such as the NanGuang On-Camera Video light, which measures just 135x90x40mm and weighs in at only 225g and you’re good to go. This accessory will sit in a side pocket of your kit bag and can be set up in a matter of moments when required. Furthermore, it’s powered by Sony Series batteries making it entirely portable, and it can sit on your rig when you’re looking to work on the move or be mounted off-camera if you require a little side light in a fixed interview situation.
The key to Run ‘n Gun success is creating a complete kit that suits your individual needs, and which you can become so familiar with that using it becomes just second nature, freeing you up to focus on your filmmaking. It’s not just a flexible and versatile way of working, it’s also very cost effective: the products we’ve mentioned here are all highly affordable and, in tandem, they should give you all you need to get started. It’s a great time to be making films, so take a look at what’s out there!
Monday, 9 October 2017