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ctboita

Audio Dude with a $h!t Ton of Camera Gear - What Should I Do With It?

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Over the past several years, I have collected a plethora of video production equipment that doesn’t have anything to do with sound. At one point in time, I had fantasized about running a full on production company, but alas those days have passed. It is all quality gear that has been well taken of. 


As I mentioned in a separate post, I am trying to break into the freelance market so I have no idea what production crews may or may not be looking for. Moving forward, I don’t plan to try and find freelance work other than within the location sound department so my intuition says it would be best to sell it off.  I’m sure most producers wouldn’t think to ask a sound guy if he has any camera equipment and probably already has that taken care of. Has anyone ever ran into a situation where the production crew was lacking in gear not related to sound? My thought is, I may be able to get more out of renting my camera gear than selling it on the used market. Is it worth my time, or is this just crazy talk?


My Excel spreadsheet has 212 lines of camera gear, but most of it is preferials. The main items I am considering holding onto are the following: (4) KinoFlo Diva lights, (2) KinoFlo barfly lights, and (2) KinoFlo Parabeam lights. I own a Sony FS100 (although it is nearly obsolete.) I also have an 8’x8’ diffusion frame with translucent, black, and white screens, an 8’x16’ portable green screen, flag kits, a slider dolly, zacuto camera shoulder rig with follow focus and other accessories, a motorized jib head (but no jib to mount it on), a small chest mounted stedicam kit, a few small fluid head tripods, a cartoni D600 fluid head, and a bunch of other peripherals.


My wife asks you to, “Talk me out of keeping it”. Is she right?
 

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I would say it’s unlikely that you’ll be asked about gear outside your department, but as someone who also does lighting, it does happen, usually on small gigs where I’m asked to be both sound and gaffer. I can’t imagine you’ll be asked to bring camera gear, I’ve never seen that camera used in the last few years, if steadicam is needed they will hire that person who will own their rig, same with follow focus and such. I’d say the 8x8 frame and silks to go on it will retain value the most, the kinos less so since everyone is on to quasars and other LED fixtures now


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Turn it into cash before it further deprecates. What you gain will be two-fold. Cash and space, although freedom from the horde will be your best reward. 😉

 

Focus your gear down to the pieces you use most and rent the rest when you need it.  The motto of most production gear is: Hot today, passé tomorrow. 

 

And be be sure to invest in yourself by continuing to develop your skill set!

Edited by Christopher Salazar
Climbed back on soapbox to add a bit more.

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In my area it is utterly unlikely that I'd ever be asked about camera or lighting rentals, and making competition for same with shooters would not be very welcome.  Since I get referrals from those folks this seems like a bad idea.   Unless you want to become a rental house with real service etc then I'd cash out while you can and concentrate on gear you can work and rent out yourself.  If  you want to become a rental house then you need to up your camera game by hundreds of thousands of $.

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Thank you all for your responses. I felt like getting rid of the camera gear was going to be the way to go but wanted to get a pulse on production needs. I planned on doing some personal projects but they keep getting pushed to the side. It's a bit hard for me to get out of the hoarding mentality because I think if ever need it, it is always there. That said, I am sure the money can be better put to use to help round out my sound kit. 

 

Phantompwr, I was mainly thinking about the lights as you had mentioned. I have a good deal of experience with lighting but don't want to make it a main focus. I would welcome a small gig where I could wear two hats as sound and gaffer at the same time. Do you find yourself in this position often?

 

Philip, I hadn't thought of looking at this from the view point of the shooter and you make a very valid point. My main consideration was on projects where the production crew consisted of the main shooter and a sound guy. By no means do I want to become a rental house or reinvest in camera gear. I just know the camera gear's street value is so low, I thought perhaps I could make more off of it by renting it out a few times than selling it outright.

 

Chris, thank you for the reminder to keep investing in myself to develop my skill set. In fact, the reason I became interested in location sound was because I was attending a Main Media Workshop a few years back and took a location sound course given by Mic Fowler.

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7 hours ago, ctboita said:

Has anyone ever ran into a situation where the production crew was lacking in gear not related to sound?


I have a few times been generous and helped out a shoot with an extra few pieces of non-sound gear.

But generally we're talking about ultra low budget shoots which are struggling to get it sorted out themselves, so don't expect them to have the budget to make it worthwhile to keep a substantial investment of non-sound gear yourself. 

 

 

7 hours ago, ctboita said:

My thought is, I may be able to get more out of renting my camera gear than selling it on the used market. Is it worth my time, or is this just crazy talk?


Unlikely. A lot of overheads too in running a rental house (in time and money). 

If you're 110% focused on the sound department then sell it off and reinvest into your sound kit where it actually matters. (maybe keep something small like a DSLR etc if you like to still do the camera side as a bit of a hobby with friends occasionally, but that is how you should treat that: money spent on a hobby. Just like your golf clubs or whatever. So think it through like that, rather than trying to rationalise it as "a business expense").

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23 minutes ago, ctboita said:

I just know the camera gear's street value is so low, I thought perhaps I could make more off of it by renting it out a few times than selling it outright.


Exactly because the street price is so low (because it is has long gone out of fashion) is why you're struggle to get many if any full rate rentals of a FS100 (I own a Sony PMW-F3 myself, and I don't get any of note. And that is a much superior camera than the FS100).

1 minute ago, codyman said:

Sell it all but keep a c-stand (for locked off interviews) and a stinger.


Absolutely! C stands are very handy for everyone. 

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I truly appreciate the insight and am feeling better about letting it go. I need a few key items in my sound gear and hopefully selling these items off will help me gain the items I need. Do you think Ebay is the best place to list the items for sale? 

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“I have a good deal of experience with lighting but don't want to make it a main focus. I would welcome a small gig where I could wear two hats as sound and gaffer at the same time. Do you find yourself in this position often?”

 

Aw man, focus on one job and put your all into it! Trying to do both at once is... 🤪

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3 minutes ago, Christopher Salazar said:

Aw man, focus on one job and put your all into it! Trying to do both at once is... 🤪

 

I hear that! I ran a one man band for years and always welcomed an experienced hand. Unfortunately they were a bit hard to come by in my previous employment. I would only consider wearing two hats on a small job like a corporate interview in a controlled environment. That said, I am ready to move on and focus on one area of production and get as good at it as I possibly can.

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To echo what most have said here, cash it out and concentrate on one thing. If you do more than one thing, you will likely be stepping on someone else's toes, and will be regarded as a jack of all, master of none. In our business it is often too confusing for people to understand that a single person is capable of knowing how to do more than one thing, so do one thing, and do it well. 

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29 minutes ago, JonG said:

In our business it is often too confusing for people to understand that a single person is capable of knowing how to do more than one thing, so do one thing, and do it well. 


Sadly so. 

Often enough on shoots I'll know more about their camera than the guy using it, does this mean however I should try to be known widely as a cameraman / soundie? Nah, it wouldn't be helpful to me overall. Best to just be known for one or the other. 

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@IronFilm truth. I too have had a good amount of experience on all fronts, and it's sad when you know more than the gaffer about how to light a scene without creating boom shadows, or how to navigate the menus of a camera better than the tool that was hired to AC, or the wardrobe ppl that can't seem to choose an outfit than has form AND function, or a producer who understands that they get what they pay for, or an AD who doesn't invite sound to a tech scout! lol

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Oh I mean much worse than that, in areas that don't even overlap with our sound field at all which we have experience with (such as the examples you gave, that is just almost normal run of the mill stuff). 

For instance a DoP who will engage max ND *and* raise the ISO waaaay higher than base ISO, at the same time. There is no good excuse at all for that for this shot.
Or just not knowing how to pick the appropriate codec, or understanding shutter angle to avoid flicker with slow motion shots. Or... I could go on and on.

This seems to be super basic stuff that every cameraman should know!

But mostly I just keep my mouth shut, as it is short term gain (ok, I fixed up that one shot. Maybe, if they listened to me), but long term loss (as they won't want me back and showing them up again).

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 Phantompwr, I was mainly thinking about the lights as you had mentioned. I have a good deal of experience with lighting but don't want to make it a main focus. I would welcome a small gig where I could wear two hats as sound and gaffer at the same time. Do you find yourself in this position often?

 

 

I wouldn’t say often, and getting less now as I am working bigger jobs, but occasionally, and I’d say I’m almost never asked, what usually happens is I take an educated guess on a shoot that might need them and I bring it up, or I am working with someone who knows what I have and they rent it from me.

 

 

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