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Tips to Clip: June 2015

Every year I search through the thousands of products offered at NAB Show in an effort to find those unique gadgets that can make our lives as working production people easier. Here are a few I found this year.

Refoaming Cases

I have several old equipment cases in which the foam padding has almost disintegrated. The folks in the My Case Builder booth seem to have a simple answer. They make custom-cut foam inserts for almost any case. The procedure seems simple. Go to their web site, select your case, then choose your equipment’s shape from a large library. If your gear is not shown, just use their photo tracer tool. When making your shapes, you can choose to add finger notches (a good idea) to assist in the removal of your items from the foam. In about 10 days or less, you’ll have your new foam. The price varies; it’s not cheap, but it’s reasonable.

Portable Lighting

Rotolight presented an extremely versatile portable light. Rotolight Neo is a handheld LED unit with adjustable color temperature (from 3,150° K to 6,300° K). Unlike most other lights, the exact temperature is shown on the menu display on the back of the light head, making on-set fine-tuning easier. The output is adjustable from 0 to 1077 lux without color shift. Both features allow it to work seamlessly as an on-camera fill. Neo operates for about three hours at full power on six AA batteries and comes with both an AC adapter and cables for external batteries or camera power. The menu offers several special effects, including fire and lightning, as well as custom fade effects and aperture dimming. Rotolight Neo sells in a kit that includes a belt holster, AC power supply and a set of color gels for about $400.

Less-Work Wireless

Sennheiser has automated most of the functions involved in operating a wireless microphone with its new AVX system. While the lavalier or handheld sending half of the system looks pretty much like most of the others, the receiver is smaller and plugs directly into the camera’s XLR audio connector. Once connected, the automation begins. The AVX turns on when it senses the camera’s phantom power, then it automatically selects a free frequency, pairs with the transmitter and matches the camera’s mic/line setting. A feature I found most interesting is that if it detects someone is stepping on your transmission (an interfering signal), it will inaudibly find and shift to a new frequency. The AVX stretches battery life by setting the transmitter power to the minimum needed to keep a reliable connection. The condition of the lithium ion batteries shows on the transmitter display, and they can be recharged via USB. MSRP varies by configuration, $1,125 to $1,625.

Portable Power

Several people showed me their MyCharge XT Max combination backup power supply and battery charger. This little box weighs less than half a pound and contains a rechargeable 6,000 mAh battery. Its two USB ports have a combined output of 3.4A, which is more than sufficient to charge or operate tablets and other high-powered devices. The AC prongs fold in for easy storage and transport. MSRP is $49.99.