Tools that I bring along with me on the job and more.
Nobody can do without tape on the set. Red and green tape especially, are essential as they are used on the set to indicate if a camera card is exposed or not. Exposed cards are wrapped with red tape with the roll number on it, while green tape is used to indicated that the camera card is ready to be formatted.
Most of the time, the ACs will have plenty of tape but it's always good to have a selection handy for my own use and in the event where the AC has no red tape, I will offer mine so that we will not have any miscommunication on the status of the camera card.
Shurtape or ProTape are my trusted brand for the colors red and green.
I personally prefer paper tape to gaff tape as it does not leave any residue and it is smooth to write on. I have noticed ACs using gaff tape on a number of occasions though, because it's stickier and lasts longer in bad weather conditions. Whichever type of tape is used, make sure it is never taped over the contact point of the card! A sticky contact point can be catastrophic for a card. The worst possible moment that can happen in your DIT career is to have to deliver the bad news that there's no footage on the card, or sweating over the possible loss of data.
Fold the corners at both ends of the tape, this allows the AC to take it off the camera card easily.
RED TAPE is used to indicate that a camera card has been exposed. The camera roll number should be written on the tape and then put over the end that is not the contact point of the card. Put the card in the card case where available.
GREEN TAPE is put over the camera card when the data has been safely downloaded to at least 3 places and the card is ready to be formatted. I'll usually write 'OK to format' together with the camera roll number on the tape.
Writing 'OK to format' is an extra indicator that the card is safe to be formatted while the roll number is information for myself in the event I need to check on a camera roll for any reason prior to handing the card back to the AC.
I will also give a generous wrap around the camera card to make sure it doesn't look like green tape was put on the card accidentally.
WHITE TAPE comes in handy to label your cables and hard drives temporarily, and for keeping your cables tidy. It is easy to peel off and won't leave gunk on your cables. I am not fussy about the brand of white tape and will use anything that can be found in store, as long as it won't leave residue behind.
Label the end of the cable that plugs into your computer with the drive name so that you can easily identify which peripheral is used for that cable. Sometimes I like to use colors to match them up as well.
BLACK TAPE is used to tape down those stingers and power strips connecting your rig. The last thing you want is to have somebody trip over your cables and injure themselves. You will need good proper black gaff tape that is at least 2" wide and does not leave any residue. I prefer the 3" width and my favorite is the cloth type.
Some kind of FLUORESCENT TAPE is good to have around to grab people's attention. Put it over your power source for example. I'll usually write DIT on it so that the gaffer knows who to look for, if needed.
Lastly, you will need a tape strap or a tape lanyard to keep all your tape rolls together. This will allow you to have easy access to your tape supply and also clip it round your rig easily.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. If you have found any of my resources useful, support me by making a purchase from the links provided. Cheers!
keeping things tidy
Tuck those cables away, keep your station tidy. It shows that you are in control and it provides a sense of calm. I divide my workspace into little sections that flow from start to end. I do the same with my computer workspace. On my rig, I will have a section with all my card readers taped in place for downloading incoming cards, and a space for my pouch containing cards that are good to be recycled. There will also be a section for my notebook with a pen tagged on it for logging, a pencil case usually sits at the top of my keyboard, and I have a space for the camera report binder. Every rig is different but however you have it, each section has its place. After day 2 or so, you get into a routine and when somebody asks you for something, you know where everything is without having to think about it.
After 5 or more long days of production, you start needing to save your brain power for problems that may come up instead of the nitty gritty details of things. A consistent, mechanical flow allows you to pick things up without missing a beat amid all the requests that may come in while you are in the middle of something.
One of the best inventions ever. I don't know what I'd do without it. I have a roll of velcro with me at all times to keep my cables tidy and neat.
Adhesive-backed velcro is especially good if your rig allows it. It secures your equipment to your rig especially for the little things like your tablet pen, mouse, sharpie, etc. One rig that I used had velcro taped to the top and the sides of the computer monitor, so I could easily stick my tablet pen on there, so I'd never lose it.
Velcro is pretty expensive so another option would be to have some cable ties handy. They are cheap and always so useful to have around. The re-usable ones are especially handy for temporarily tying something to your rig.
The exchange of camera cards, and keeping the cards safe, are key for a DIT/data wrangler. I personally like to handle the exchange of cards myself rather than have a runner do it if possible. This is so that during the receipt of the card, I can make sure red tape is taped round the card, not at the contact points, and with the camera roll number written on it. In the event that this has not been done already, I can put the red tape on myself to make sure that everyone knows the card has been exposed.
Most ACs will have a piece of red tape (or multiple pieces of stacked red tapes) taped to the camera body. Once a card is formatted, the camera roll number will be written on that piece of red tape. During reload, the same piece of red tape with the correct camera roll will be used to wrap round the exposed camera card. This has been the tried and true way to minimize confusion during reloads. Suggest this if your AC is not already doing it.
KEEPING YOUR CARDS SAFE
Trusty Pelican 1020 case keeping my SSD cards safe.
The Pelican 1020 Micro Case comes in really handy for card exchanges. Most of the time, cards do not have individual cases and it's best not to put cards in your pocket, as tempting as it may be.
Also, I will put a couple of pieces of red tape under the cover of the case so that I can mark the cards if I get one without red tape on it already. A good case like this will be weather-proof which means that if you were to accidentally fall over on muddy fields or snow, the camera cards will still be safe.
I DON'T WEAR MAKEUP...
But a makeup pouch is amazing to have on set. They are usually transparent, waterproof to a certain extent, and cheap! You can get them at the dollar store or Daiso.
I usually have two pouches on my rig. One with green tape all over it to indicate that the pouch contains camera cards that have been downloaded. The other with red tape for cards that are exposed but not processed. They are also useful for organizing your computer cables and gear.
I like the flat bottomed ones with a fully opening lid for my camera cards as they are easily accessible. Multi-packs are great to separate out your cables and also handy for packing away your card readers.
ALWAYS HAVE SPARES
Multiple kinds of spare cables, card readers and flash drives/thumbdrives are useful to have on the set. You never know when a spare piece of hardware can come in handy. This is especially so when you are at some remote location where it's not easy to buy things. Depending on my setup, these are the extra cables that I usually have with me.
HDMI & BNC cables and a pack of adapters.
High-Speed HDMI Cables are not as robust as BNC cables but are widely used on set, so it's good to have spares around. Especially in the event that you need to connect another spare monitor on the set for viewing purposes. I usually have two, one that is around 6 feet and a longer one around 15 to 25 feet. Luckily Amazon have them at a really good price with their Amazon Basics range. You shouldn't need an ultra high speed cable unless you are thinking of connecting to a 4K or higher monitor.
It's also good to have BNC cables in the event you need to connect your rig to a broadcast monitor. BNC cable is the most robust and reliable way to send video and audio signal.
BNC straight adapters are useful on the set to connect multiple BNC cables.
Bunch of USB3.0 / USB3.1 Type A cables.
USB3.0 drives are widely used on the set so it's always good to have a few spare cables around. I have used them to troubleshoot hard drive problems by eliminating the cable component. It's also useful to move shuttle drives around without having to think about shuttling the cables as well.
Here's a handy link to understand all the different kinds of USB connectors out there: USB Connector Guide
As if the world of cables and connectors is not confusing enough, what we used to call USB3.0 is now referred to as USB3.1 Gen1 which has a data rate of 5Gbps. The USB3.1 that we once knew that comes with a type C connection is actually Gen2 and that has a data rate of 10Gbps. I bet marketing is having a fun time with that. Don't be fooled and shell out extra bucks when a product says USB3.1. Be sure to check which generation it is. Geek out on the USB specs here.
A CAT6 ethernet cable with my old mac adapter.
An ethernet cable may be old school but can still be handy. This came in really useful on one of my shoots when I was in a motel that had a bad WiFi connection. Fortunately, the motel had a working ethernet jack and I was able to get a good signal. The same can apply on the set sometimes or when you need to hook up two computers using a switch.
Adapters — the curse of living in the Mac ecosystem.
The Mac ecosystem does not look back which is a blessing and a curse. I like the new speed we get with thunderbolt-3 but not having any legacy ports on my MacBook Pro means I need adapters for all my existing peripherals. I hope that using the type C port for thunderbolt-3 means that having multiple adapters will soon be a thing of the past.
My HyperDrive Hub for USB-C MacBook Pro
I like the HyperDrive a lot as it harnesses the power of the USB-C connections, enabling me to plug in a display, charge my laptop, read the odd SD card when needed and plug in a USB3.0/USB3.1 Gen1 drive at the same time without dongles everywhere. The only downside is it can't do Thunderbolt-2. I would not plug in a big production raid drive via the hub though — always plug those drives in to a dedicated port or one that does not share the same I/O as another port on the computer.
Hyper has since come out with more hubs for the Mac. Check them out at the Hypershop.
Thunderbolt-2 / USB-C CABLES
If the hard drives on the set use a thunderbolt-2 or a USB-C connection, be sure to pack in those extra cables as well. These cables are fragile and can shut you down when they are damaged. It can potentially be another nightmare if you are on a remote location.
Charging cables and docks have become essentials in my kit as well.
My charging cables with a charging dock.
The cables on their own wrap into a neat pile with this case. I travel everywhere with it.
It's always good to have multiple card readers. I usually request more than 1 card reader, especially when I am unable to test them during camera checkout. Also, make sure that the card reader connections are USB3.0 at minimum, or you will be waiting forever to download your cards.
On top of the camera card readers which are provided by the rental company, I always have spares handy. A good quality, high-speed SD and CF card reader is a must have. Sound department will usually use an SD or CF card to record sound and chances are you will be handed a USB2.0 reader with the card which can be painstakingly slow when everybody is waiting for you to wrap.
CF readers are also important because it's not uncommon to suddenly have b-roll shot on Canon cameras. The on-set photographer will either have a SD or CF card for you to handle as well. Additionally, there will always be the odd GoPros, drone cameras and what not... and you do not want to be taken by surprise by being given a slow reader. For a CF reader, you want to be able to handle at least UDMA 7 format.
I use the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot-Reader and have 2 of them handy at any one time. I like this one in particular for its pop-up design, which means I can keep the contact points as clean as possible when not in use.
Lexar USB3.0 card readers with UDMA7 support.
CFAST cards are also widely used nowadays so I keep a spare Lexar CFast 2.0 reader with me as it has a TB2 connection that can come in handy when you are low on USB3.0 connections.
Lexar CFAST card reader with Thunderbolt-2 and USB3.0/USB3.1 Gen1.
An old RedMag 1.8" reader that came in handy in 2017!
My 2 x USB3.0 64GB flash drives and a G-Tech TB2 ev ATC drive.
Flash drives are always handy for the occasional transfer of files between computers. SanDisk Extreme Go is my go-to for flash drives as they are good value for their USB3.0 / USB3.1 Gen1 connection and fast transfer speed. There's a new solid state version called the Extreme Pro that has a maximum read speed that is twice that of the flash version.
At the same time, I'll also carry a traditional 1TB like the G-Tech TB2 drive as it is not as precious as the other drives that I have, and I like that it is self-contained. It's not the fastest drive but it has both TB2 and USB3.0 which means that you can use it readily on the Mac Pros trash can. TB2 is useful as it's very easy to run out of USB3.0 ports.
I have a confession, I'm obsessed with speed on the job. I always aim to wrap at the same time as the crew especially if I'm just doing data wrangling. This means that I need to spec out drives that have great transfer speed within the production budget.
When it comes to transfer speed, assuming the camera cards have decent transfer rate, the drives that contain the camera originals are usually not the problem as it is the norm to use RAID drives which means better write and read speed. It is usually the shuttle drive that needs to go to editorial on the same day that becomes an issue as those drives are usually not RAID drives. With the cost of SSD drives dropping, this means the problem can be solved without breaking the bank, which was what I did on the set of the film Patti Cake$.
A 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive that I bring with me to the set for speed.
The Samsung SSD 850 EVO is extremely light, and can make use of the full USB3.0 bandwidth so transfers are a snap. The downside is that it is an internal drive and not an external one so it does not feel as robust. However, an SSD drive means there's no movable parts so dropping it is not that big a concern. The only thing that you need to be wary of is water, and the exposed contact points. A Pelican 1020 works beautifully as a case for shuttling the drive.
Three of the 500GB versions of the Samsung 850 EVO SSD drives were used as shuttle drives on Patti Cake$ to speed up my transfers at the end of production days. I was usually wrapped with last cards transferred by the time everybody had packed up their equipment. As Patti Cake$ was a low budget production, using this solution, I could get the speed I want at a price production could afford.
Prices of external SSD drives have since dropped. Given the same scenario in the future, I will compare the prices between an internal drive setup and an external drive before giving a recommendation.
My absolute favorite thus far — the 1TB Glyph Atom Raid.
I fell in love with the Glyph Atom Raid at the NAB 2016 trade show. It uses the USB3.1 Gen2 connection which means that I can use it directly on my MacBook Pro without the need for an adapter. A SSD raid means I can maximise the throughput of the USB3.1 Gen2 connection. I get amazing speed in a ridiculously small form factor with 4 different colors to choose from. Pair this with the superior support that you get from Glyph, other than the cost, there's really nothing not to like about this drive. The Glyph Atom Raid goes up to 2TB in capacity.
If your production can afford it, I would go with the single Glyph Atom 500GB or Glyph 1TB Atom Raid drive instead of using the Samsung EVO SSD combination described earlier. The Glyph Atom comes in 3 capacity, 275GB, 525GB & 1TB.
G-Technology has come out with the GDrive mobile SSD R-Series which I'll be sure to look into as a potential candidate in the future.
The little bits and pieces that complete my toolkit.
Headphones are always handy on the set. I have two pairs of headphones that I use. One is the trusted Sony MDR-7506 that I have had for more than 7 years now. I had to replace the ear pads that were flaking, a DP that I was working with got very confused as to why he had black bits all over him after watching dailies. Not a good thing to do to your DP.
My well-worn Sony MDR-7506 headphones with new ear pads and casing.
More recently, I bought a pair of Marshall monitor headphones. I like the sound quality (after removing the filter) and they have a mic which is a bonus but no volume control. The other nifty thing about these is that there are inputs on both ear cups so you can have additional headphones/earphones plugged in for two people to listen to the same content simultaneously in a comfortable manner.
My Marshall monitor headphones with great sound and looks.
Despite the great sound, there are two downsides, the ear cups are not as comfortable as the Sony's and the cable length on the Marshall is much shorter than the Sony. I tend to use the Marshall headphones for my personal listening rather than for production but I did get a compliment from a producer once who praised the quality of the sound when he used them on set.
The same Marshalls now come with a Bluetooth version as well
An audio splitter is also useful to have around. I may not bring two sets of headphones with me all the time so a splitter can be useful when a couple of producers would like to watch footage and they can use their own earphones.
I do wonder — with Apple doing away with the audio jack, there is a high possibility producers will no longer have wired earphones. I may throw a pair of fresh unused Apple earphones that I have lying around somewhere into my kit in the future.
SD CaRDS & ADAPTERS
Perfect Pelican 0915 SD memory card case to hold all my SD cards and adapters.
I often carry a few SD cards with me just in case somebody needs to flash a firmware on their camera. In my Pelican 0915 SD memory card case, I will also have a micro SD card and its adapter for downloads from cameras like GoPros. These cards are cheap to have around and when a DP gives you a micro SD card pulled from their GoPro, you look like a champ without them having to rummage through their bag to find an adapter and reader for you.
I always have a notebook with me on the set. I use it to log the cards that I have received and transferred from each production day, any other pertinent information, and to-dos for the next day.
It is very handy to have a physical book that you can carry around easily and to have information like the next roll number at your finger tips. It is much easier and faster to pull out your notebook than to use your phone, especially in cold weather conditions, and you never have to worry that your phone goes dead.
A sample of my notebook collection.
My favourite notebooks are from Field Notes. They are so well made and beautifully designed. At one point, I subscribed to their year-long subscription which gave me limited editions of their notebooks every quarter. I love them and may consider doing that again.
Before discovering Field Notes, I got my free notebooks from a company called Dissolve which sells stock footage and photography. They look good and the paper is really nice to write on. They gave them out during Edit Fest in New York and it's the best practical swag you can get.
Something fun that I got from working on Carol. I'm not going to use this precious notepad 🙂
Like tape, Sharpies are must-haves and they get mis-placed so easily that you need a few of them lying around. Also, if somebody is to borrow them, chances are, you are not going to get them back. I always have them tucked away somewhere in my bags and cases.
Lots of pens and sharpies!
The fine point ones are the usual ones on set but I like to use the ultra fine point to write on the camera tape as they are more legible on the 1/2" tape.
I like colors and by far, my favorites are the fine point assorted color sharpies that do not bleed through the paper on my notebooks. For regular pens, I like to use the Uni-Ball Jetstream retractable ball point pens that are waterproof. There's nothing quite as satisfying to me as having a good pen to write with.
Another great bit of swag that I got at some point was a really great pen from Artisans PR (first pen on the left in above pic). This pen looks good and is amazing to write with. It also has a LED light at the other end, very neat.
I also like to have a few highlighters handy. I put all these in a pencil case that I have for a long time now.
When you need to tread the field for camera reloads in the night, a spot headlamp is a must-have. It leaves your hands free to carry other stuff and handle the camera cards properly. Remember to point it as far down as possible so that you don't blind your AC! I have the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp which works great. It's also good for the occasional night BBQ and camping trip.
A collection of lights for night shoots.
A headlamp is usually sufficient and the best for on-set needs. I will however stash a Maglite somewhere in my kit as well.
Things can get very confusing very fast on the set. I label all my cables and personal equipment just in case they get borrowed or if they are misplaced. I also love to label all the hard drives used on the set. It looks tidy and professional.
My old but reliable P-Touch for more than 5 years.
I own a P-Touch, it's a Brother PT-1880. It's an old one and bulkier than the newer ones but still works nicely. The cutting blade is still sharp. It never hurts to ask production to absorb the cost of the label cartridges as they can be expensive. Alternatively, you can use white paper tape or just write on the equipment itself. I have done both plenty of times. The good thing about writing on the equipment itself is that you do not need to worry about the labels coming off or getting removed but it can be a pain if you want to use it for something else in the future.
I don't own but have used a Brother QL-700 label printer in a post-production house. The software is not user-friendly at all, but once setup, it is really useful for printing labels for your LTOs or your DCP drives. A newer version has since come out.
Best physical document scanner.
I scan my receipts and camera reports with this. Everything just comes out like it should. It will auto-crop, and will de-skew and straighten the scans if needed. You can even scan multiple receipts at the same time. I not only use it for some production work but I also use it for my day-to-day home expenses.
The iX100 can be used wirelessly as well.
My Belkin mini travel with a power extension cord underneath.
The Belkin 3-outlet mini travel is a good one to have and I like that it can swivel. It's the only one that I took with me when I moved overseas. It's small enough to put in your laptop bag for the odd 1-day job.
The 12-outlet with 8 outlets that can be pivoted is what I used to own if I need more outlets. The 8-feet cord is also useful.
Surge protectors, however, will not cover you when there's a power trip. I used to own a APC Back-UPS 550 prior to moving overseas. I used it for jobs where the production couldn't afford a proper DIT rig. Depending on the load you are putting on it, it will not last as long as the big boy in a rig. I used it if I was just data wrangling off my laptop with external powered raids. Once I hear the annoying beep, there is sufficient time to stop all hard drive related activities, eject the drives and power them down as that's the most important part. Your laptop can run on its own for a while but you do not want your external drives to power off accidentally, it will damage them and potentially corrupt your data. An electrician on the set was very happy when I had one of those during a shoot.
It's a cheap investment, protects your drives and makes you look professional. The model that I had is no longer available. The newer model APC Back-UPS 600VA looks much more portable and takes up less room.
Tired of big plugs that take up 2-3 of your precious outlet spaces? A client gave me a drive once with this power extension cord cable attached and I immediately bought a pack as they are so useful for saving space on your power strip.
USB hubs are a necessity as you do not want to use up all your ports for peripherals that do not need the full transfer speed of a USB3.1 / USB3.0 / TB3 / TB2.
Reliable hub that I'm still using with a USB-C to TB2 adapter.
When I had my old laptop with a TB1 port, I used my CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 2 to get the extra USB3.0 ports on set. It was also a good way to get USB3.0 connections with the older MacBook Pros that have TB1 but no USB3.0 ports.
CalDigit now have TB3 docks available for the new MacBook Pros as well. The note about TB3 docks is that you need to make sure there's sufficient amps to charge your laptop with the same USB-C connector. I would also look at other manufacturers like OWC and Plugable if I'm looking for a TB3 dock.
An old one, but it can still be useful.
Sometimes, it isn't necessary to have a fancy CalDigit hub. If I just need more USB ports, I use my Anker USB3.0 hub. I won't connect my external raids to these hubs though, as I want to make sure to get the best throughput while backing up camera cards. That will always be top priority. Peripherals like flash drives are a great use for this as it's easily accessible. Get one of those hubs that uses an external power source as it's usually more reliable and can feed power for the occasional shuttle drive needs.
It's inevitable that you become the go-to charging station on the set which is why I try to always have a travel size multi-port charger with me. It's also great when you are away from home. If you need to charge the newer iPads or your laptop, make sure to get one with enough amps for that. Having a charging station is also a good way to have people come to you when you are in your little dark corner, you get to chat with actors and other crew members.
Pelican Storm Case iM2500.
Pelican cases are just so handy. I use a Pelican Storm Case iM2500 to keep all my cables and knick knacks. There are pros and cons for this case:
- The press and pull latch is much easier to handle than the ones on the protector pelican cases. With the original ones you usually have to slam your palm on it to close it. This is the main reason why I prefer the storm cases.
- It is the perfect form factor for me with wheels and a luggage-like handle bar for dragging around. Although it is on the small side for all the equipment that I would like to cram in.
- The iM2500 does not have a handle on each side, it only has one handle on the wide side.
- I find that if I am to overfill the case, it will latch shut but I can see potential gaps on the sides which means that water may seep in. Then again, I should not be overfilling my case.
- The wheels are a little too small to handle all terrain types on the set. But the mobility cases are much more expensive.
- All in all, the storm case does not feel as sturdy as the protector pelican case. But it is not meant to be.
- The foam was not necessary in the end as there wasn't space for it. I did see that there are padded dividers available and those may come in handy.
Measurements for your reference:
iM2500 - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
20.50" x 11.50" x 7.20" (52.1 x 29.2 x 18.3 cm)
1610 - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
21.78" x 16.69" x 10.62" (55.3 x 42.4 x 27 cm)
1620 - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
21.48" x 16.42" x 12.54" (54.6 x 41.7 x 31.9 cm)
I also suggest pelican cases for hard drives whenever possible. Boxes are just so unreliable and vulnerable to weather conditions.
Pelican cases are very heavy and can reach your check-in weight limit before all the equipment is even loaded. The Pelican Air edition eliminates this problem as they advertise it to be 40% lighter and there are also 45% deeper options available which is perfect. The wheels are the same size as the iM2500, I would prefer bigger wheels but it's a good tradeoff for a lighter case. I have not seen one physically but it's on my wish list to replace the iM2500.
Measurements for your reference:
1607 Air Case - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
21.05" x 15.81" x 11.63" (53.5 x 40.2 x 29.5 cm)
1615 Air Case (Maximum airline check-in size) - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
29.59" x 15.50" x 9.38" (75.2 x 39.4 x 23.8 cm)
1637 Air Case - INTERIOR (L x W x H)
23.43" x 17.55" x 13.25" (59.5 x 44.6 x 33.7 cm)
the little bits
The little bits that I carry with me.
These may seem like an overkill but I have a post suite setup at home so I bring my monitor adapters with me just in case I need to output to a reference monitor on the set. I personally prefer the AJA T-Tap and the AJA brand in general but if you are using Resolve, you will need the Blackmagic model to make it play nice.
This is something new that I picked up from the set, a non-contact voltage tester is absolutely great to have to know if you have power on the set.
I've never used this particular one but it looks exactly like what I would get. I've since bought this for a production shoot I was on and it certainly came in handy! Non-contact means you do not need to put the tester by the outlet, you just need to put it by the power cable that is attached to the power outlet. This particular one also has a LED light which can be useful.
FSI produce great reference monitors and great swag as well. Grab one of these when you are at NAB.
Wireless mouse and mouse pad.
The mouse is such an essential part of my setup that I tested a few before settling on this one. It's a Logitech Wireless M525. The small form factor works for me as I use a grip position and rest my wrist on the mousepad. I love that the mouse does not have any grippy texture on it as those bits get sticky over time and that's really uncomfortable. I use my left hand to control the mouse, this means that I can't use any of the fancy programmable mouses that Logitech offers as they are usually shaped for people who are right-handed. This is also part of the reason why I use a Logitech G13 — it has programmable buttons.
Another feature that this mouse has is that you can determine how heavy you would like it to be by either putting one or two AA batteries. I use one AA battery on mine. The battery lasts a really long time so no worries there.
The Logitech unifying receiver that provides the wireless signal means that you can pair with another Logitech wireless device like the keyboard without needing another receiver. I'm just as fussy about my keyboard as my mouse and finally settled on the Logitech K800. It's one of the few full-size keyboards that has hand-proximity backlight and has good spacing between all the sections on the keyboard so that I don't get tripped up using arrow keys and the number pad. It is a keyboard with a Windows layout so the keys are not the same as on the Mac. A big downside for me.
I use my mouse on a SteelSeries mouse pad and I love that combination. It's big and very comfortable and the mouse glides effortlessly. I have used this mouse, mousepad and keyboard combo for more than 2 years now and they still work really well. It's so good that I bring my mouse and mousepad with me to the set.
This may seem a little odd, but the Apple Watch is really handy on the set. I don't miss messages with my phone in silent mode and I can quickly check if a message is important without taking my phone out of my pocket.
FOR POST PRODUCTION NEEDS
The Logitech G13 is marketed for gamers but there are lots of people who use them in post-production as well. I use it for color work on DaVinci Resolve mostly. There are 25 programmable keys available, more than you will ever need.
Update: It looks like the G13 has been discontinued by Logitech which explains the ridiculous prices on Amazon. If I know of a good replacement, I'll provide an update in the future.
Shuttle Pro v2 by Contour Design.
I bought the Shuttle Pro way before the Logitech G13. The Shuttle Pro is marketed for post-production professionals and comes with preconfigured settings for tools like Avid and Adobe to name a few. In the Shuttle settings document that was updated on April 15, 2016, it mentions that it supports Avid Media Composer 5-7. I'm not sure if that means it does not support 8 and above which is when the Avid subscription model started. Be sure to check that your software of choice is supported if interested.
The SpectraCal C6 that I bought with Calman Studio and VirtualForge to calibrate my setup.
Monitor calibration is essential for color grading. The Calman Studio with the entry level SpectraCal C6 meter and VirtualForge was what I could afford at the time, and it has served me well. I love how SpectraCal is making monitor calibration friendlier with their YouTube videos. Their support staff are really lovely as well. Shoutout to Tyler Pruitt!
I started with a Flanders 17" reference monitor back in 2009/2010 and I love it. FSI made good reference monitors affordable for a number of smaller post shops. They are also used widely on the set as there are tons of options available on the monitor and they update their firmware with additional features regularly. Their range of monitors has expanded since then and they have come up with new products as well like the BoxIO. They sell other color related tools in their shop and one such product that I'm very interested is the Medialight Eclipse 6500K Bias Light.
Check FSI out if you are looking for professional reference monitors for in the field and for your studio.
I have two computers for my setup, I use my MacBook Pro for most of my work but I also have a Windows desktop computer that I built for color grading and other work that needs more computer power. I have two computer monitors in my studio. A LG 34" Curved Ultrawide 34UC88-B monitor as my primary monitor and a DELL U2715H as my secondary monitor. I also use my MacBook Pro as my third monitor for its retina display.
Both monitors use IPS panels so they are not going to be perfect in terms of color but I don't use them for that purpose. Also, there is some bleeding at the edges visible in extremely dark conditions.
I love the ultrawide format of my LG monitor, the increase in screen real estate is so nice to have. I do have screen retention problem on my LG but it's not bad enough to bug me for now and it will be impossible to get it serviced anyway, so I'll just have to live with it. In the future, I would love to check out the NEC and the Asus ultrawide monitors. NEC is expensive but I used to have a 27" monitor in the office and the colors are just amazing.
To share my wireless Logitech mouse and keyboard between the two computers, I use a Plugable USB2.0 switch for one button swapping between the two computers. There's now a Plugable USB3.0 sharing switch but I don't really see the need to have a USB3.0 over a USB2.0 since the wireless receiver does not make use of that extra bandwidth.
Here are a few little tools that keep my space tidy.
- Monitor mounts are the best, they free up so much desk space. The AmazonBasics are good enough if you are on a budget but I prefer the build of the Ergotron.
- The MOS Magnetic Cable Organizer
- The Quirky Cordies Desktop Cable Management. (I use this mainly for charging & peripheral cables as I find the slots to be a little too tight for power cords).