So you think you're ready for anything? Maybe you've got extra batteries and tape but what about all those little doodads and thingamabobs that can make or break a shoot? Here's a quick look at what should be in everyone's grip bag.
AC prong adapter –
Some older building have two-prong outlets. Have several three-
prong adapters with you at all times.
Aluminum foil – for creating a makeshift reflector, thick foil on a piece of cardboard can't be beat.
Black wrap – This is incredibly useful stuff. It's a heavy aluminum foil-type product that has a matte black finish and is perfect for flagging stray light either directly on the fixture, on a stand or even wrapped carefully around the camcorder lens.
Box-O-Connectors – If you don't already have a tackle box full of evidence from too many trips to Radio Shack, then you should at least have a small box of assorted connectors. Remember safety comes from thinking like Noah; bring two of everything male and female.
Clamps – Spring clamps, available at most hardware stores, are perfect for securing flags or cookies. Get a variety of sizes and
at least two of each size.
Cord – Various lengths of rope, cord, string, even fishing line will give you all sorts of options when you need to secure small stands, flags, or products in odd positions.
Extra audio and video cables – They always seem to go bad without warning, so have at least one extra cable for each type you plan to use in the field.
Flashlight – If you need to fish a stray piece of gunk out of your camcorder, you'll want to see what you're doing. The more powerful mag lights can even be used as mini spotlights when overall light levels are not too intense.
Gaffer's tape – Sure, it's a little pricey, but nothing else can help stick a light on a wall, fix a wobbly tripod leg and conceal a mic in a shirt without destroying or gumming up the works. It comes in various colors and having at least white and black can come in handy. Go ahead and add a roll of duct tape to the mix if you know where you can use it.
Gloves – Regular heavy duty work gloves are usually fine for working quickly with hot lights but if you really need to change a hot bulb, special heat resistant gloves are available from larger video supply retailers.
Lens kit – Smudges and dirt on your lens will almost always be a problem if you're not prepared. Carry a small can of compressed air, a lens cloth, a blower brush, lens tissue, and a small bottle of lens cleaners.
Nylon ties – Zip ties can quickly herd stray cables into one neat bundle. In case the shielding on some of your cables is not perfect, avoid binding power and A/V together.
Pens – Basic stuff, but how many times have you had to ask someone for a simple pen? Bring both ballpoint and permanent markers.
Plastic bags – Small trash bags, one or two gallon freezer bags, even sandwich baggies will keep things dry in wet environments. Doubled-up heavy-duty trash bags work as makeshift sandbags for steadying stands.
Power strips and cords – Make sure they are rated for at least 15 amps and are long enough to run about twice as far as you think you might need.
Tools – A very modest collection of tools will cover just about every situation you'll encounter: an adjustable wrench; standard and phillips head screwdrivers; pliers; knife; small hammer; single-edge razor blades; allen wrenches. A Swiss Army-type tool can combine many of these, but get a durable model. Also carry a set of small screwdrivers made for adjusting eyeglasses.
Towels – A small roll of paper towels and at least one clean cloth rag might keep that cup of spilled coffee from becoming a "we'll fix it in post" nightmare.
Wooden clothes pins – Nothing beats them for quickly clipping gels to barn doors, but be sure to get the old-fashioned wooden kind as plastic can melt. Other uses include cinching the backs of loose fitting clothing on talent, propping small objects and, if you paint them different colors, make good temporary cable markers.
Not traditional grip, but – If disaster strikes and you get separated from your light kit, having a small light, reflector and stand will let you at least get basic coverage.