2017: Our 10 Favorite Filmmaking Tools

From Cameras to microphones to writing aids, 2017 could be considered the year of Film Gear. Here are ten of our favorites.

10. Storyclock Notebook – Born out of an idea by filmmaker Seth Worley, this new system for developing your ideas works on the premise of how an idea flows as time passes. Using the simple visual method of a clock, the Storyclock notebook turns your ideas into a viable cinematic story. For writers who struggle with the blank page, this is a godsend, and for $15, you can’t beat the price. Available from PlotDevices.co.

9. TriLens – what’s not to like about a belt mounted lens holder that can accommodate up to 3 different lenses and keeps it’s center of gravity when you take one off? The TriLens is ideal for documentarians, wedding shooters, or a one man crew out in the field who doesn’t want to take the time to go back to his bag for a lens.  Will mount Canon, Sony and Nikon lenses. Available for Preorder for about $135 from FriDesigns. Shipping in January 2018.

8. RØDE VideoMic Pro + – RØDE continues its evolution of the VideoMic Pro line, refining the concept and fixing some annoyances. Gone is the hard to close battery door as the VideoMic Pro + now runs on rechargeable batteries and offers a phantom power option. There’s also a simpler button layout with auto power on and off mode. Cables also get a locking screw for security.  $299 at B&H.

7. iPhone X – Of course the iPhone X had to be on this list. It’s the iPhone X. It’s gorgeous. It’s also expensive. It does shoot some of the best 4K footage DxOMark has ever seen. Apple may have taken it on the chin with their battery gate issue, but that’s not stopping mobile filmmakers from turning to it to capture their vision. If it only didn’t have that silly notch!

6. DJI Spark – These days, every filmmaker needs access to a drone to capture those angles that you can’t get any other way. They give you the God’s eye view of the image without busting your budget renting a pilot and helicopter. But if you’re just starting out, the DJI Spark can help you get the basics of drone flight, and still delivers a decent HD image. And until midnight, December 31st, you can get Spark for $100 off and free delivery.

Image Credit – Tech Crunch

5. GoPro HERO6 and GoPro Fusion – GoPro had a tough 2016, but this year things have turned around significantly freeing up the action camera company to begin innovating again. The result is the HERO6, with its GP1 image sensor, which delivers startlingly beautiful HDR images, and some Karma grade stabilization. It’s damned impressive. Then there’s the GoPro Fusion 360° Camera. And thanks to GoPro’s OverCapture feature, Fusion may convince me that VR/360 is worth shooting after all.

4. Sennheiser MKE2 Elements Microphone for GoPro – the GoPro takes some remarkable images underwater. But sadly, the audio suffers as a result. But with the Sennheiser MKE2 microphone, you no longer have to deal with that fishbowl sound. The MKE2 has an ultra thin rubber membrane and super dense spiked sphere that repels water while still allowing the audio to record, so you can actually hear a more accurate representation of sound underwater. It can even capture audio in up to 70 mph winds. The only downside is, the MKE2 is currently only available for HERO3 and HERO4 models and there’s no word if Sennheiser is going to redesign it for the HERO6.

Director David Fincher and actor Brad Pitt Oogle the Hydrogen Holographic Display. Image credit – Jarred Land on Facebook

3. RED Helium and Hydrogen – From the Super35mm RED Helium camera to the game changing RED HYDROGEN One Android mobile device, RED has had a banner year.  Helium takes RED’s 8K  REDRaw IPP2 workflow and scales it down to a Super35 mm sensor. The result is 16.5 stops of dynamic range at a data rate of 275 MBps. It also supports 4K in Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD.

Hydrogen One is shrouded in mystery. But what we do know is that RED’s first foray into smart phone design is far more than a mobile device. Hydrogen’s 5.7″ holographic display gives users the Virtual Reality experience without the need for expensive and cumbersome VR goggles. It’s not only the display either as Hydrogen looks to act as the heartbeat of future RED cinema camera design. We’ll see after the first of the year just what Hydrogen is capable of, but the talk of the town is, it’ll be miraculous.

2. Panasonic GH5 – The main new feature of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is that it no longer has to deal with a crop factor to shoot in 4K. You can record ultra high definition across the entire micro four thirds image sensor. The GH5 also enjoys dual image stabilization that teams the camera image stabilizer (IS) with the lens IS for a rock steady image, and some great noise reduction. It may be the best 4K camera for under $2,000 out there.

Nikon D850

1. Nikon D850 – Last, but certainly not least, Nikon gets serious again with DSLR Video thanks to the D850 DSLR. The D850 not only shoots internal 4K at 30 fps, but also 8K time lapses, and a 10 second burst in both shutter and silent modes. It may be a bit pricey at $3300 compared to the GH5 above, but there’s no denying the performance is there.

That closes the books on 2017. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store. Will 8K become more mainstream? Will artificial intelligence make our post production workflows easier to manage?  And will mobile filmmaking continue to develop into a mainstream tool for filmmakers? What else is just over the horizon? We’ll find out soon enough. After all, NAB is just four months away.

What is some of your gear of 2017? Leave a comment below.

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About James DeRuvo 179 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

1 Comment

  1. Great list, can’t argue with any of those tools. I’d add in the very recent Final Cut Pro X 10.4 update; I’ve been using it, and it’s pretty awesome!

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