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Video Producer Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Photographer holding color and white balance chip card

Gifts for the Video Producer that you can (almost) Buy Anywhere

If you're a video producer with family members scratching their heads over what to get you to support your video passion, this list of 10 Video Tools might help someone checking off YOUR video gear list.

Video production tools are hard to buy for someone who doesn't know them, but they want to get you something. We gave you a Gear Wish List earlier, but this week we're focusing on those "throw it in the bag" items that are easy for anyone to gather, (because you sure aren't going to let just anyone buy you that new camcorder!), check out our Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide for the Video Producer. 

This holiday gift guide is a small collection of the "other" stuff that video producers might use and need in their day-to-day production to keep in their camera bag, and most of these you can buy at your local hardware store, electronics outlet or even some sporting goods, department and drug stores.

1 - Touchscreen Gloves:

These specialty sensor gloves are designed to be used with touch screen devices like tablets, smartphones and LCD camera menu controls. Backpacker magazine likes the touchscreen gloves from Outdoor Reach the best - and they tested them with an iPhone in Iceland - pretty cool. Other companies we've discovered carrying touchscreen gloves include Agloves, Timberland and more. You can find these at sporting goods stores for $20 to $70+.

2 - Foam Core:

Big white sheets; big black sheets: 16X20": The white is used for white balancing and bouncing light, the black is used for flagging spill.  You can't put it your gear bag, but you can easily tote these along on location. You can find these at most art supply and some hardware stores for about $2 each.

3 -Tabletop Tripod

These are great little tools for a smartphone or small camcorder. Get the type with flexible legs so you can wrap them and pose them how you want. The ones designed for still cameras are cheaper, but just know that you can't pan, tilt or do much of anything else - but what they CAN do is hold the camera steady on a table, floor, bookcase and they're compact enough to toss in your gear bag, backpack or pocket when you have that urge to go off road without your pro sticks.

4 - Cleaning Kit:

No holiday gift guide for the video producer is complete without something to care for all those video tools. You can never have too many cleaning products for your gear - especially this time of year! From greasy fingers on the LCD screen to mud tracking in from that great family shoot in the snow, a cleaning kit is a must have for any gear bag. 

5 - Keyboard and Mouse:

Yeah, not too sexy, but check out your video pal's current setup, it might be time for an upgrade. Wireless keyboards used to be hit-and-miss, but the technology has changed a lot in the past five years, if you're not "there" yet, now's the time to check them out again.
6 - Speakers.
Good ones. OK. This can't, and shouldn't go in the camera bag! But it's still an important tool that anyone can get you for your editing desk. No one should be using the tinny tiny speakers that came with their computer. Audio editing requires precision and you're only going to be able to hear the highs, lows and crackles and pops in a pair of quality speakers. Do we need to say more? 

7 - Headphones:

. Good ones. Earbuds are good for a quick listen, but like good speakers, the best audio monitoring tools let you hear all levels of audio and noise - especially the noise! Headphones are a must when shooting in the field and if you edit in a noisy work environment. You don't want to get noise canceling 'phones because they prevent you from hearing the real sound you're project is playing out, or your camera is recording. 

8 - White Balance and Color Chip Chart:

 OK, you can't buy this at your local hardware store, but it's a great accessory to add to your video gear wish list and if you have a local camera store, they just might have it on the shelf. There are several varieties of color/white balance cards, but for the videographer a card that also features a gray scale chip chart is best. These cards are about 5X7", so they're easy to pack and help with exposure and color level accuracy. A chip-chart shows allows you to set your proper white level and acceptable black accurately. You can find them at B&H Photo or Adorama for around $25.

9 - Portable Hard Drive:

I'm not talking about the main drives you keep on your desk forever that stores everything digitally you've ever owned. (And you DO back up your system often, right?) I'm talking about the drive you take with you on a shoot, to the office, to share at your brother-in-law's house or your partner's studio. It has to be small enough to be thrown in a backpack, purse, or camera bag and it has to be tough enough to withstand being thrown in a backpack, purse, or camera bag. LaCie has it's 3.0 150GB SSD Rugged Hard Disk running Thunderbolt for about $200 or the Rugged Mini 500 GB 3.0 for about $95. You can find these in some local electronics stores.

10 - A Small Gear Bag Filled with Goodies:

: A simple padded gear bag is good for all sorts of things besides your camera - it can hold your adapters, mics, cables or tools that can be stashed in your larger camera bag and allows you to find all those things quickly, without them spilling into the bottom of the bigger bag. For a unique perspective, check out the cosmetics counter for travel make-up bags. They're not only padded and compact, they have slotted spaces and zippered hideaway pockets for the tiny can't-lose items like batteries and phono adaptors. But don't give the bag alone - fill it with toys! Here's a suggested list:
  • Zip-ties: colored zip-ties are great for corralling computer cables - and different colors can remind you that Drive A is red, Drive B is green, etc. before you unplug the wrong device.
  • C-47s: Otherwise known as plain old clothes pins, they're cheap and good for all sorts of things from attaching gels to lights to hanging light-weight backdrops to C-stands.

  • USB Jump Drives: Honestly, can you ever have enough? the cheap little low-storage capable ones are good for "scratch" projects - what we used to call "scratch tapes", then later "scratch discs" when you handed a client a tape to view for approval before you finished the project. The more robust drives can hold much much more. The beauty of these is their tiny size, the downside is their tiny size. I have a drawer-full, you probably do, too.
  • Camera Cleaning Supplies: See Wish List item number 4 above.
  • Gift Subscription to Videomaker! If you're video producer already has a subscription, (we hope so!) you can beef it up with a Videomaker Plus account. Besides your usual assortment of reviews, techniques and gear buyer's guides you find in the magazine or online, there is a host of articles "behind the paywall" to find that answer almost every technique or technical question you  might have about video production. And if they don't, you also have access to our Expert Hotline, where you can get one-on-one Q&A with our technical experts. We also have specials and deals that Plus Members only are privy to. While you're shopping on our website, check out Videomaker Store for a plethora of training videos and books that Videomaker offers to the video enthusiasts!

A few gifts not mentioned on this Holiday Wish List include a camera bag, or camera light because each video producer has specialized needs that require these items to be narrowed down. But if you see just the perfect one in Videomaker magazine, make sure to paper-clip that ad to your holiday wish list! 

Finally, the season's fun is in full-tilt: Videomaker has these stories (and more!) you can check out right now - no subscription needed - to learn how to shoot better Family Holiday Videos or Special Holiday Events, and then sit down with some classic traditional holiday movies and study how these classics withstood through the ages. 

Jennifer O'Rourke is Videomaker's managing editor.

Primary image courtesy of Bigstock.com

December 21st, 2012