As a video production company in a competitive place like Toronto, we’re always on the hunt for new tools that will give us that extra edge. Sometimes this means saving time, money or our sanity. Sometimes it means delivering a new level of polish. Sometimes it’s just about getting out of our comfort zone and trying something brand new.
Not a week goes by that we don’t add something to the wish list. Here are our top 10 must-try pieces of gear for 2020.
1. C500 Mark II
Back in September, Canon announced its latest cinema camera, the C500 Mark II. Announced three years after Canon’s signature cinema camera, the C700, this modular camera boasts a ton of new features. First, there’s the sensor. The C500 houses a 5.9k full frame 17:9 sensor which allegedly offers over 15 stops of dynamic range.
While most 6K Full frame cameras on the market, including the Sony Venice and the Panosonic S1H, only get you full resolution when shooting anamorphic. The C500’s 17:9 full frame sensor gives you that same resolution when shooting with normal spherical lenses.
The C500 also uses a new DIGIC DV7 processor which allows the camera to record Cinema RAW Light internally at up to 5.9K as well as XF-AVC in 4K 4:2:2 10-bit. This Cinema RAW Light can be shot at 5.9K up to 60fps and up to 120fps in 2K.
Despite this camera being a workhorse, the Canon C500 weighs less than 4lbs and most of your essential connectors are already inside, including built in timecode, monitor out, 12-G-SDI OUT as well as HDMI out.
We’re seriously considering adding this to the SVG family of cameras.
2. Red Komodo 6K
While excitement generally is high about RED’s upcoming 6K release, the Komodo, fans are particularly interested in the one thing: its sensor size. While the trend of other cinema cameras is heading towards full frame, the more traditional Super 35mm still has its place. Last week, RED president Jarred Land gave everyone a little clue.
Basically, this camera falls somewhere in the middle. It is neither the full-frame sensor some where banking on, nor is it a traditional Super 35mm. It’s technically a Super 35mm Plus with a close to 2:1 aspect ratio.
That’s not all. The Komodo will also feature a Global Shutter mode., meaning it can capture 6K footage at up to 40fps using the full sensor and 6K WS at 50fps in the global shutter mode. The camera will also have anamorphic support.
The camera body weighs less than 2lbs and is expected to retail between $5,000 – $6,000 USD.
3. Hive CX Series LED lights
Trusted brand Hive Lighting has just announced a new series of LED lights, starting with the Wasp 100-CX and the Hornet 200-CX. This models are improved versions of the omni-coloured LED lights originally launched as the Wasp 100-C and Hornet 100-C, but come in at a much more attractive price point.
The Wasp 100-CX draws 75 watts to create 320FC at 5ft/1.5M while the Hornet draws 150 watts. Both models are Bluetooth enabled and Profoto modifier compatible, making them endlessly customizable.
Hive has also included an updated Hive SHOT app for full wireless control.
4. Teradek 4K Bolt Max
Looking to improve your image transmission quality but don’t want to upgrade your whole kit? No problem. The Teradek 4K Bolt Max outputs 10 bit footage at up to 4K through SDI and HDMI outputs. THowever, the real star feature is its 5,000ft range. That’s over three times further than the original Bolt 4K 1500.
A feed can be multicast to up to 6 receivers simultaneously with less than a millisecond of delay. It can also transmit extended metadata, timecode and record triggers over the wireless link.
While the Bolt 4K Max was announced at NAB back in April, the new model is officially shipping as of November.
5. SLR Magic Microprime Cine Lenses
With the launch of the BMPCC and other small body cinema cameras, many filmmakers (ourselves included) were looking for lenses that performed like cinema lenses but were compact enough to operate on these smaller body cameras without a focus puller.
The team at SLR Magic has come to the rescue with their new line of MicroPrime cine lenses. These lenses are significantly smaller, with both a smaller focus throw and a smaller 85mm front diameter.
The line includes four EF mount MicroPrimes, ready to go on cameras like the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K.
The lenses have a 150mm focus throw and a maximum aperture of 2.1. So far, they are available in 25mm, 32mm, 50mm and 85mm.
All in all, these lenses give more control to a single-shooter camera setup and give DPs the flexibility to comfortably pull their own focus.
Rumour has it that these lenses will be on the market sometime in December.
6. HyperDisk SSD
This next piece of gear sounds almost too good to be true. 2TB of storage that’s compact, fast and affordable. Similar in size to the popular Samsung T5 SSD, the Hyperdisk promises almost double the write speed, 1,000mb/s compared to 540mb/s.
It’s compatible with all Mac and Windows computers, iPhones, iPads and most Android devices.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about this tiny 45g device is its price point. 2TB models are expected to sell for just over $200 USD.
While shipping is expected to begin in January 2020, we’ll wait for a few reviews trickle in before we decide if this really is too good to be true.
7. 2019 MacPro (the “Cheesegrater”)
It seems that Apple is determined to design their most high end machines to resemble common household items. The 2019 Apple Mac Pro will leave behind the iconic “trashcan” look and is opting for what some are calling the “cheese grater“.
Apple claims the new model is designed “in pursuit of performance”. One way that they’ve delivered on that promise is by allowing a ton of flexibility when it comes to configuration. This machine can be customized to suit the needs of pretty well any professional.
At its top end, the Mac Pro can be configured with a 28-core Intel Xeon W processor, up to 1.5TB of memory and up to 4TB of SSD storage.
It’s graphics card, the AMD Radeon pPro 580x, is world class and can support up to six 4K displays, two 5K displays or two Pro Display XDRs. All models boast a 32-inch 6K display monitor.
What might peek the interest of filmmakers the most is Apple’s new Apple Afterburner hardware option. Basically, this hardware takes over some of the work from the graphics card, which frees up space for it to handle other system tasks.
This is extremely helpful when working with ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs (specifically encoding and decoding). The Apple Afterburner can handle up to 3 streams of 8K ProRes RAW footage simultaneously.
Say goodbye to cumbersome proxies and lagging footage.
8. Panasonic Lumix S1H
In the summer of 2019, Panasonic announced its brand new 6K mirrorless camera. This camera is lightweight, has a small form factor and could be the next go-to model for indie filmmakers.
Its 6K resolution and 14 stops of dynamic range give it the flexibility of a higher end cine camera and it has been added to Netflix’s list of officially supported cameras for original content production.
This camera’s price point makes it the cheaper Netflix-certified camera on the market, coming it at around $4,000 USD.
Panasonic is also working with Leica and Sigma to produce a robust new line of L Mount lenses, slated to be released shortly.
9. Sundance Co//ab
While this pick may not be a piece of gear, it’s a tool filmmakers of all levels can appreciate. Sundance Co//Ab is a one stop shop for creators to share their work, learn from each other (including some of the world’s most decorated filmmakers) and participate in master classes from industry leaders.
This subscription-based service includes an exclusive video library that includes interviews, talks and more from big names like actor Octavia Spencer, editor/producer Jeff Malmberg and director Alma Har’El, among hundreds of others. It also includes a series of Master Classes and Online courses available for purchase.
If you’re looking to get feedback about a project, Sundance Co//AB has a great tool that allows you to upload your work and submit it to a members-only forum for feedback.
While camera upgrades coming around pretty often, game-changing lighting is less often. This is one of those rare moments. This September, Arri announced its new model, the Orbiter.
Its biggest appeal is its flexibility. This light can do anything. It can be a leko light, a softbox or a fresnel, it can connect with other lights via internet or and it can be controlled wirelessly. It even has the ability to read the light in a the room and adjust its own brightness and colour temperature.
It is of course housed with the Arri Spectra 6-Colour Light Engine, made popular in other Arri lights.
While this article touches upon some of the digital tools we’re excited about, if analog photography is your game, here’s another great resources on film photography to read.
Did we miss anything that you’re particularly pumped for? We’d love to hear what other filmmakers are getting excited about. Drop us a line in the comments.
If you’re looking for other great gear recos that aren’t as recent, you can check out our wish-list from last year too.