soundrolling

What Kit Would You Buy If You Started Again And Had £3,000?

28 posts in this topic

#: 1   Posted (edited)

Zoom F4 - £600
Rode NTG 4 - 229
Rode Boom Pro - £166
Rycote Supershield - £215
XLR Cable - £15
Headphones Sennheiser HD25 - £145
2x sennheiser G3 - £315 (£630)
2x Sanken Cos-11 - £300 (£600)
2x RM-11s - £20
Sachtler SN607 Bag - £120
Sachtler harness - £99

Edited by soundrolling
formatting was wrong

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's always the alternative of renting. I am not impressed with Zoom and Rode, not if you can rent much better gear from other pro sound companies. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you've got a string of jobs or a long job then I guess this could be a way to go.  But you'll end up replacing all of this stuff pretty much straightaway if you stay in as a freelance soundie.  Your first string of jobs with this lesser kit will show you why that is.   The resale on this gear isn't much, and you'll be buying the better stuff anyhow.  But if it gets you through some jobs as a newb it might be worth the extra $ when you rebuy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I'm not in the league of Mr. Wielage and Mr. Perkins, I've faced your same dilemma. Unfortunately there's really no cheap way in for professional work. But with all the real low budget films not willing to pay even $200 a day for a real good boom op I had to make the jump and gained my first solo mixing experience using these tools (and they may work for you too as the sound quality is excellent):

Used Sound Devices 302 mixer and bag- $1000 Rock solid little mixer w/fantastic limiters that can be your backup when you expand

Tascam DR-40 Recorder- $150 Laugh all you want but 5 mixers worked one episode of THN and they used most of my recordings

Petrol Harness- $150 Sucks, bad design, had to make mods

Sennheiser MKH-416 $1000 Buy new, lots of fakes out there on ebay (a mixer I knew got burned)

K-Tek Aluminum 12ft Boom Pole- $225 Good starter boom but you'll need a good graphite one later (we could talk all day on this subject)

Rycote Shock Mount and Dead Cat- $125 Acceptable but there's better

Canare Cables, bunch of different sizes- $300 Buy good cables and they last many years of rough shoots

Misc Lav prep tools, topstick, moleskin, tapes, etc- $30 Must have's

Sennheiser HD-350 Pro Headphones (already owned them) Love them, sound great and comfortable for 12-14 hour days

Rode NTG-2 (already owned from when I did video work) Not great but serves as a backup, plant mic, and can be battery powered

Wireless- I rented Lectrosonic 411's with Trams when I needed them. Cos-11's sound great but I've boomed several films where that thin wire gave us troubles. Certainly not knocking a great sounding mic but low budget films/projects, lesser experienced actors, are tough on mic wires even if you safety loop both ends for strain relief.

Not sure how these professional's view my advice but I agree with everything they've stated to you! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mixed my first feature on a Shure M267 mixer to 2 3/4" video decks, with a mono cassette recorder for wild sound and 2 ancient single freq Swintek wirelesses.  I did have 1 good boom mic (Schoeps MK41) that worked in every shot.  You can do adequate audio with miscellaneous gear if you are working on a lowbudg indie project where that just has to be the drill, and is probably the aesthetic anyhow.  This approach stops being workable when you begin to do professional for-hire work for people who have large $ in, careers going, real experience and greater ambitions.  In other words, you might be good with doing an indie feature with a Zoom and some G2 wirelesses (far better sounding stuff than I started with), but having done that picture that way you might not want to do another without upping your equipment game.  After you've done that movie with that cheap gear you will vividly understand what I'm talking about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I only have only 3000 to invest, then I will definitely not buy a whole kit. At first a good Boom pole (the first gear I have ever bought was a vdb Boom pole), a good headphone which you feel comfortable with, and maybe a wireless set, or maybe only a pair good lavalier Mic - DPA, SANKEN or Countryman, and accessories.. And, the most important, get some good sound mixer friends, who can give you a good day rate for their gears. after one year or so, you can buy a Zaxcom recorder or Sound-devices 6xx for sure.. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/25/2016 at 4:25 PM, Dutch said:

While I'm not in the league of Mr. Wielage and Mr. Perkins, I've faced your same dilemma. Unfortunately there's really no cheap way in for professional work. But with all the real low budget films not willing to pay even $200 a day for a real good boom op I had to make the jump and gained my first solo mixing experience using these tools (and they may work for you too as the sound quality is excellent):

I agree with @dutch  (& @soundrolling) , when starting out you might be working on jobs where renting is simply a luxury you can't afford. And if you're a fresh graduate from film school there might not by much spare catch beyond a few low thousands to get your own gear. 

And yes it is also true that as you progress, you will no longer want to use as your main gear what you started out with (does anyone here still use all entirely the same gear as what they started out with twenty years beforehand? Of course not). But the starting out gear @Dutch, @soundrolling, & myself suggest can still serve a person for 3 or even 5+ years. As even if you upgrade the next day, that starting out gear can still serve as a back up set of gear or fit into other roles for usage in your overall kit. 

Here are my recommendations for a low budget location sound recordist who wants to take it more seriously:

Zoom F4 / F8 (heaps more bag friendly than any handheld recorder, and packed with heaps of features for their relatively very low price).

Tascam DR60D mk2 (or DR70D), it goes for roughly US$135 on sale!! Great so that even at this low level, you still have some form of budget back up recorder to bring along. A cheap form of insurance to have. Also useful in other ways, such as if you need to record on boat but don't wish to risk your "valuable" F8.

2x Saramonic UwMic10/9 (basically kinda a clone of the Sony UWP-D11, which I prefer over the ubiquitous Sennheiser G3 which is the normal wireless choice for low budget filmmakers. One of their handy features is they've got a headphone output on the RX, which means as you upgrade these Saramonics can be turned into low budget IFBs instead).

Aputure D3 (like the Zoom F4, this is also not out yet, but they're making big claims it will sound as good as the 416, and Aputure is already a good brand known for bringing out higher quality lighting products at a low price. Be interesting to see if they succeed in doing the same too for the niche of the audio world they're targeted). If you can't wait, then get a RODE NTG3 (no harm in picking up the D3 later on as a back up mic).

Oktava MK-012.

Rode Blimp v2 and a Rode WS6.

Carbon fibre boom pole (every gram saved counts!).

Oscar SoundTech lavs (upgrade your stock lavs to these!).

Any spare cash put the various many little accessories you'll need: gaffer tape, topstick, hush heels, many many many rechargeable batteries, all sorts of various cables, etc...

 

Total cost is roughly (according to my very quick back mental back of the envelop calculations) in the US$3K ish ballpark. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out by purchasing a used Package for  2k from a local mixer.

I got a used Rode Boom Pole.

Sennheiser ME66

3 Audio Technica 1800 series Wireless

Editor R4 Pro 4 Track Recorder w/ TC

All of it was very basic but allowed me to start taking small gigs and didn't take long to make a return on my investment and start getting clients.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/30/2016 at 2:14 AM, IronFilm said:

2x Saramonic UwMic10/9 (basically kinda a clone of the Sony UWP-D11, which I prefer over the ubiquitous Sennheiser G3 which is the normal wireless choice for low budget filmmakers. One of their handy features is they've got a headphone output on the RX, which means as you upgrade these Saramonics can be turned into low budget IFBs instead).

 

Would these still be a good buy with the FCC getting rid of the 600+ frequency range? I might only get a year out of the system before they become obsolete. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'd get more than a single year out of them. But you should view them as close to disposable anyway. And you'd be moving on up to Lectrosonics asap as soon as you can pay for them from the future work you get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m in the buy once, cry once camp.
When I started, I first rented, then quickly bought the pieces that I knew I would need, for the jobs I was getting at the time, done properly. Gear that I could keep for a good long while.
The first bits I bought were used; SD442, and a Lectrosonics UCR211 with a UM400 to go with it.
I bought the following new: a K-tek Avalon graphite pole, Rycote softie, a 416, a COS11D and Sony 7506.
Then I added a Lectrosonics 190 set from eBay as a backup wireless, which also came with a buttplug, which was useful for some gigs.
I still have all of it, except the 211 set, the 442 and the Sony cans.
I have of course added a million things along the way, as the jobs have required it. Personally for me that is the key: get the things that the job at hand requires - and charge a reasonable rate. Then when you get bigger and better jobs, add to the kit, If you are doing it right the gear should pay for itself, and you should still be make a living. 
- If it’s specific things that will not get used often, rent those and have production pay for it.

Cheap gear will not help build your reputation. Be reliable, and bring quality both in terms of gear and your skills.

Conclusion: my advise would be to not set up some arbitrary number like “3000”, just get what you need - if and when you need it.
Little by little (if you keep doing this) you will accumulate $50,000 worth of gear before you even know what happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/19/2017 at 0:48 PM, Matthew Manville said:

Would these still be a good buy with the FCC getting rid of the 600+ frequency range? I might only get a year out of the system before they become obsolete. 

More time than that. Your New Mexico neighbors at Lectrosonics say, "The final Channel Reassignment Public Notice (CRPN) that the FCC will publish in the coming months will trigger a 39 month "clock" after which time all wireless microphone operation above 614 MHz must cease. That still gives users up to 3.25 years from today to continue using our gear in the affected blocks and bands."

More info here:

http://www.lectrosonics.com/US/Wireless-Resources/fcc-spectrum-updates.html

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Buy once cry once" is a nice philosophy but doesn't work if you're left with an incomplete usable kit but you don't live near a gear rental house and/or they're unusually prohibitively expensive and/or you don't yet have the network of contacts that can always afford your day rate plus full rental rates.

 

So for some people a balance needs to be struck, of going the "buy once cry once" path of getting the best kit you can afford at the time but also at the same time a reasonably well balanced kit without major gaps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, there is no need to start out with a full kit. I thought so myself when I started out, and ended up with a lot gear I never used, partly because I felt a bit embarrassed about it. Start with a proper mic, is my advice. And buy it new, so you get full warranty and can be certain it's in good health. I'd suggest the 416, as this will turn into the must-have backup.
Rent everything else - especially wireless. Even something like the Sennheiser EW is nice and can be re-purposed later, 4 sets still cost quite a bit, and you'll need better mics and all that.
If there is no rental house nearby, habe them mail it to you. That's what I did in the first 5 or so years in my career, too, when I lived in the wrong market. And then I did the opposite, too. Mail my gear to others as rental. You have to get the production company to pay for this. They would have to pay for your gear rental, too.
Then add to your kit as your jobs grow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a tough business that tends to chew up people with a marginal grip on the profession. It has been thus for a very long time and there is little or nothing that any of us can do to alter that. I don't wish to discourage anyone from chasing their dream - that's what youth is for - but one must also have an unblinking perspective.

I've read several accounts of people on hard times who learned to be an Assistant Director or Production Manager or similar role, achieved some degree of success, pulled themselves and immediate family out of poverty and then suffered when the business migrated to Canada, or overseas or everything dried up because of a labor dispute. The crew people from middle class families were also hurt but they drew upon family resources and toughed out the hard times. It can be a cruel life and crushingly unfair.

Regarding equipment, there are certain minimums one needs to work effectively. In a major market, like Los Angeles or New York, one can rent whatever is needed and get by for a very long time without buying anything more expensive than a cell phone and a ballpoint pen. But in more remote markets, there is a challenge.

Ascertain the minimum gear needed for assignments that needs to be available at a moment's notice and purchase that gear. Whatever that cost is, raise the money to do it. Borrow from relatives. Drive a cab or Uber. Work in a grocery store. Whatever it takes.

Constantine's advice to start with a first class microphone is excellent. Microphones provide a better return on investment and are less vulnerable to obsolescence than any other piece of gear.

If you are in a remote area, you might explore the possibility of forming a cooperative with competitors in your market. If one person has a recorder and someone else has a microphone set, then together you have a kit. Yes, sometimes your needs will conflict but, for those occasions, have rental gear flown in. Set up a charge account at your favored vendor (Trew, LSC, Audio Dept., Gotham, etc.) and also set up an account with an air freight company like FedEx. Both FedEx and UPS freely offer accounts that will bill to your credit card.

Open a mail drop so you may have an address where valuable equipment may be sent that is not your apartment. Have your business cards printed with that address so you are not sharing your home address with anyone inclined to do midnight shopping.

Recalling Hunter Thompson's take on the movies-
The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
(I've heard this as pertaining to the movie industry but found this version when I went looking for the quote.)

In any event, you are not alone in the struggle.

David
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 24 Feb 2017 at 0:03 AM, Constantin said:

Start with a proper mic, is my advice. [...]
Rent everything else

I'm not sure about that - how would you invoice this? day rate 600 + one shotgun 15 + kit from rental house 500?

or more realistically if you're starting out: day rate 300 + one shotgun 15 + kit from rental house 200?

I'd rather have a cheaper fully working kit that I know inside out for lower budget jobs, and rent a full kit for bigger productions (and bring the low tech kit as backup). then get experience, find out what kind of jobs I want to do and which gear I like and then upgrade bit by bit (either selling the cheap stuff or keeping it as backup if it's useful). People laugh at the F8 but it's a mighty nice machine if my 633 just fell into the river and people want to continue shooting.

chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not sure about that - how would you invoice this? day rate 600 + one shotgun 15 + kit from rental house 500?

No, you invoice everything to the production company and you deal with the rental house. That way you can build a relationship with the rental house and they'll be more inclined to offer you discounts and help you later when you are ready to buy more gear. And when you know them and they know you, they'll be more understanding if you can't pay an invoice straight away, because once again your client needed 8 weeks to pay your invoice.
And by the way, the discounts you negotiate, you don't pass them on to the production company, that's your cut

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Constantin said:

No, you invoice everything to the production company and you deal with the rental house.

ah I see, that also would be a good option. The relationship with the rental place is certainly useful, but personally I'd be reluctant to carry all the risk for insurance of gear and non-payment of the producers, so I'd have the production rent the gear directly. But for those who don't mind some paperwork there's probably some extra money in this model and helps to get into the serious productions faster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Location Sound used to offer regular customers the accommodation of matching the rental rate to whatever day rate was being offered by production. They would make whatever was available work for the technician and even with a little left as extra profit. (Sometimes very little extra)

I don't know if the policy is still in force but I expect it is. And, I think the various competitors, Trew and Gotham and ProSound and Audio Department, would do the same. All the "regular suspects" go out of their way to help their clients navigate sometimes choppy waters. A little time and effort to get to know the people working in those shops and asking about support pays dividends. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, chrismedr said:

ah I see, that also would be a good option. The relationship with the rental place is certainly useful, but personally I'd be reluctant to carry all the risk for insurance of gear and non-payment of the producers, so I'd have the production rent the gear directly. But for those who don't mind some paperwork there's probably some extra money in this model and helps to get into the serious productions faster.

Simply request a copy of the insurance certificate from the client that states that they have production insurance. Present that to the rental house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

Simply request a copy of the insurance certificate from the client that states that they have production insurance. Present that to the rental house.

well, that might be simple on bigger productions in the US, over here smaller production companies often have to insure equipment separately and need a part list. Then if something goes wrong and insurance doesn't want to pay (or the production messed up), I'm still the middle man who signed for everything. As said, probably a good way for people who don't mind paperwork.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have my own insurance for my gear. Had it since day one. Don't know why, just always felt safer. It allows for 100k€ of rental gear per year.
So I am always covered. So far, production companies have always picked up the deductible, even if their insurance did not cover my gear. I don't like the paperwork, and there isn't much. On bigger productions, it states on my deal memo that the production company is responsible for my gear. I'll include an equipment list. This list is almost always the same and lists all the location sound gear I own. They sign it, done. No hassle for me, none for them. They can forward that list to the insurance or not, I don't care. So far, they have always paid. Although I've never had any bigger damages

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what work you want to do now and in the future

I'd save another 9000.00 Sterling and buy the best

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want a long term career in sound save your $, do more work as an assistant, with that you'll learn 2 important things, 1) what gear is good and the best for starting out, and 2) how to actually do your job, the gear is so much the lesser part of the equation. And then when you are buying remember to check out used gear, most sound mixers keep their gear in very good condition and update when the big jobs come in. A good mic can be over 20 yrs old and still be a good mic, way better that a new rhode. A used SD442 / 744t / 416 / and a couple of 200 series lectros is a great first kit parts of which you may use for yrs. I still use my early lectros for comms, still haves lots of my original gear.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about simple math?

First, I did NOT watch the OP's video. I refuse to have my time abused this way, simple as the topic name sorta kinda says it all. I'm not going to watch a long video to get the info I could read in 30 seconds if it was in text.

First. You need clients. Get them. Spend money on that. No clients, no income.

Next, there is a difference between renting and owning, but if write off goes by year and you have little jobs, renting could be cheaper than owning. (A rental kit works at least 100 days a year, yours might be working less.)

So start with spending money on getting clients, and decide what you WANT, not what you can afford.

Do some simple math. Say you want 20K worth of gear. If you borrow the money and pay off in 2 years,

you pay some 2K of interest (assuming you get a loan for 10%). Not sure about the UK, but over here interest is deductable, so you end up paying less than that.

Thats 22.000 / 24 months = 917 per month. (Tax returns not included.)

Thus, if you have jobs that you can put 200 a day for gear, you need just 4 days of work a month to get this cost covered.

The math changes with different payback time / interest rates, but it's not rocket science.

Again, get cliens, buy whatever is needed for the job and the clients are willing to pay for. Although I know that clients in your bizz refuse to pay for the good gear, again do math. See if you can bill enough to get by. That's the only thing that's important. Running a business is way more that owning gear.

(If you're a sound guy, does it matter if you bill 100 an hour for you and bring your equipment for free?)

Bouke (who's borrowed way over 100K to buy equipment, but I'm in post / developing.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now