If you’re reading Videomaker because you’re a regular, thank you. There might be a fellow videographer that you’re shopping for, or perhaps you’re a videographer that’s new and looking to add to your wish list of production equipment. Either way, here are some specific ideas, and we tried to find products that are $100 or less, especially since you may be rush-shipping them. Keep an eye out for sales since these prices are the quoted MSRP. Here’s the list, as clear and readable as possible in this crazy season.
1. DogCollarCam Harvest: $75
Moving cameras can pique interest in your viewers, and when a POV camera isn’t a human’s perspective, there’s extra interest. Not all dog owners are called to attempt such a perspective, but if the training and drive are there, the Harvest should fit medium to large dogs with midsections that have a circumference of 20-inches to 31-inches. A pair of straps go across the collar and two more go around the chest and belly. It will connect to any camera with a standard mount and can attach to an optional GoPro adapter. We’re just hoping the harness will eventually be combined with a life jacket.
2. Blue Microphones Nessie: $99
Getting great audio from a computer has never been so easy as with Nessie. Whether you want the recipient to have a pet waterhorse, record instruments, capture voice or retain raw audio, this USB mic will be an exciting companion. It easily adapts to many audio capturing situations. Doing its best to be self contained, Nessie has a pop filter, shock mount and automatic equalization features outside of the raw mode. They call it the point-and-shoot of microphones. See our review.
3. Clapper Board: $36
Whether there are multiple cameras, audio is being recorded separately, you want to stay organized or for some other reason, a white movie slate with color stripes and space for a production title is going to be invaluable. While there are blank slates out there, let’s just say that in terms of being organized, a few separating lines don’t hurt. Traditionally, slates were intended for chalk, but now these are often whiteboards, ready for dry erasure. If you’re looking for a high-end option with potential integration with your media management, look to mobile devices for a host of conveniences.
4. Panasonic Street Band Monitor Headphones (RP-HT470C-A): $99
We get that audio isn’t always the coolest aspect of video production, but everyone loves music and good audio. Take a look at these Street Band Monitor Headphones, they’re simple and will cover the ear to naturally block out other sounds. The inclusion of a remote and mic for iOS products is a great convenience as well. Everyone will appreciate good audio, and if you know videographers that go without monitoring their sound during production or while they’re editing a joke that got out of sync, these will be a gift for the greater good.
5. Pro-Gaff Gaffer’s Tape: many strengths and lengths for less than $30
The quickest description is that gaffer’s tape is like duct tape without the residue. This cloth tape is reusable, sturdy and strong, and has so many in-a-pinch uses, we should write a feature on it.
One of our favorites is putting two strips on either side of the 1/4-inch-20 mount of a camera, which can help reduce slipping on a quick release plate. When C-47s are AWOL, gaffer’s tape can help attach gels to lights. The bottom line is, every production set should have this tape available, and if you like to coordinate gifts, there are assorted colors, including chroma green, but black will always be in style.
6. Apple Box: $44 and less
Apples are a generally healthy snack for the set, but when a grip brings an Apple Box to the set, it could be any number of things. A chair, a table, a stand, a camera rest, any of these are welcome uses for this piece of furniture. Some key attributes that help Apple Boxes come before other boxes are the broad and solid hand holds along with four sizes from full to pancake.
7. iStabilizer Monopod: $35
We know some of you cringe when products begin with an "i", and many of you rejoice at the same time, so be glad iStabilizer decided to make the Monopod very versatile. Whether your videographer will use a smartphone — even phones with cases — or an action camera, this simple stick will open quite a few angles. The mount will also work with any standard tripod if you want to forego the arm, and if that’s not a good fit, iStabilizer has plenty of other camera supports in the same price range that may be good gifts.
8. Director’s chair: $100+
Getting furniture personalized usually just takes time and use, but you can make your favorite director official with an iconic chair. We found the one at 30-inches or bar-height to be very useful, but it is also at the top of the price range. These are sometimes mistaken for camping chairs, and we see the relation since both can fold up quite well. If you go without the printed name and for a smaller size, it can be a very affordable, and special part of the set. Chair heights are Bar – 30", Counter – 24" and Table – 18".
9. Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB: $80
There is great history in audio at Audio-Technica, and we’d have to say that one of the most useful mics we’ve been able to use is the ATR2100 USB and XLR mic. This handheld mic has an on/off switch, volume control, and headphone jack in addition to the XLR and USB 2.0 jack. If your gift recipient is resistant to paying attention to audio, perhaps this convenient piece of equipment will help. There’s really not much else to say other than a voice over, song, or announcement.
10. Photoflex 32-inch 5-in-1 MultiDisc Reflector: about $85
If a project has narrative freedom, a minimal lighting budget and an extra pair of hands, the MultiDisc Reflectors from Photoflex will show off their value real quick. The disc unfolds like a car shade, and will end up providing some handy light control. The silver side helps add contrast and highlights, while the gold and mixed sides allow the reflected light to match most people. The white side gives a natural reflection and the translucent core of this disc is a good diffuser. Be sure to consider Photoflex’s 7-in-1s, 42-inch and 22-inch sizes.
11. Energizer EN500 Power Inverter: ($80) or EN180 Cup Inverter: ($55)
Energizer provides more power options with the EN500 Power Inverter, which will be like carrying around a large dictionary, but provides two A/C outlets and two USB 2.1-amp charging ports. The safeties on this power product include bottom-and top-range shutoffs and peaks at 1000W. Lastly, this one adds some versatility since it can also draw power directly from the car battery in addition to the 120V jack somewhere on the main console. For this and a product like the EN180 Cup Inverter, Energizer supplies us with a couple of good gift ideas. They require a car, but power for your electronics can mean precious production time, and rare are the shoots that do not bring a car along.
12. LED Light Flute: $13
Lighting small cramped sets can be a real challenge, and lights that are both easy to power and transport can be hard to find. Among the household and camping lights that have video production applications, this one jumps out because it won’t add a wind instrument to your gear list, but an especially long and thin LED. Various mounting options are available, and the most awkward aspect of this light is the battery requirement, three AAAs.
13. Stock Media: price varies
Stock media can be the saving grace for a project. Now you can provide that last shot or angle and, it’ll be up to the editor/producer to make use of it well. The gift of stock media credit accounts for valuable time saved, when a project enters post-production. Of course such credit with stock media sites often opens you up to full music and video tracks as well as multiple low-resolution clips, sound effects or still images.
Thoughts That Count
Our fellow video producer is truly one that we want to build community with, so giving production equipment is a great way to connect. So is teaching (Plus Memberships are $25 for a year), and as many of our forums users know, sharing knowledge can be an extremely rewarding practice. A thank you letter is a sign of some old-fashioned gratitude, and if you see some behind the scenes with your gift on set, that should make your day.
Jackson Wong is an Associate Editor with Videomaker.