My Advanced Camera Assistant Kit

Florian's camera assistant Pelicase

As a camera assistant, I act as the left and right hand of the camera operator and oftentimes assist with things like double-checking exposure or framing. I am the handyman of the film set and therefore I have to be prepared for a multitude of tasks and scenarios, depending on the environment and the kind of production. From focus pulling to doc-shooting, here’s my camera assistant kit that has proven to be versatile, yet efficient for most productions I do.

My camera assistant kit conveniently packs into a Pelican 1535 Air hard case that is weatherproof and has a legal carry-on size. But most importantly, it’s on wheels! I have gone through a multitude of camera assistant bags which all got the job done, some of them heavier than others and most of them had at least one zipper fail on me, but all of them had to be carried over the shoulder. When I reached my late twenties, my back was giving me problems, so I decided to invest in this roller case – a good purchase!

everything inside Florian's camera assistant Pelicase
Most of what I take with me on every project. Image credit: CineD

Inside I have my trusty SmallHD 702 Touch 7″ monitor which I absolutely love. I used a 5″ TVLogic monitor for many years, so the upgrade to the larger 7″ monitor and the SmallHD Operating System was massive. I like comparing the two brands with Android and iOS – they both get the job done very well, one is just more pleasing to the eye than the other.

After a lot of consideration and input from fellow camera assistants, I decided not to invest in my own wireless follow focus system. This is mostly because most productions prefer to rent a complete package which includes the follow focus and also, nowadays it’s easy to find a WCU-4 (or Preston or cmotion) for a very reasonable price at rental houses or from other camera assistants.

I still carry a manual follow focus with me just in case I cannot use a wireless system, which doesn’t happen very often. I must say though, that I enjoy operating a manual follow focus because of the tactile feel and the control of the lens’ feedback you simply cannot get from a lens motor and hand unit combo.

For wireless video, I purely rely on Teradek Bolt because it works 99% of the time without a complicated setup. These things just work! Unfortunately, the new Bolt 4K units have very large receivers but I am confident that Teradek can shrink these down in the near future. Until then I’m happy with transmitting an HD signal.

Powering all my accessories from one central battery is such an important part of my kit. I love the Fxlion nano micro batteries because they have P-Tap and USB-C outputs and a digital readout on how much voltage is being used and how much charge I have left. I also have an emergency blanket in my bag in case of shooting in cold weather in order to keep the battery temperature up. This helps a lot with battery life and is a very low-tech solution.

Mounting everything is done with ULCS or Wooden Camera Ultra Arm components. I love these ball arms because they are so versatile and I have better control than with a single locking magic arm. I still carry magic arms in my bag for lighter stuff but I primarily use the ball arms. I also like to combine these arms with quick-release adapters from either Lenz Cameratools or V-Lock Adapters from Slidekamera or Wooden Camera. These two interfaces are a joy to use and make set life so much more efficient.

For distance measuring, I use a Leica disto D2 laser distance meter and a fatmax tape measure. For laying down marks, marking memory cards, or quickly fastening gear I carry an assortment of tape in different colors. Complementing the tape are a bunch of non-permanent and permanent markers.

Smaller tools include a Leatherman wave multi-tool, a micro screwdriver with interchangeable bits, and some Dual-Lock and regular Velcro.

When I have to clean lenses, filters, monitors, etc. I always use my beloved large Giottos Rocket Air blower and a few microfiber cloths. I rarely use lens cleaning fluid but always carry a bottle of Rosco lens cleaner.

A bunch of BNC and HDMI cables in several lengths are always in my bag and I also carry a Blackmagic BiDirectional SDI-HDMI converter just in case.

The inside of Florian's camera assistant Pelicase
Practical and well organized. Easy to take everywhere. Image credit: CineD

This camera assistant kit is always evolving, especially with such a rapidly growing camera market. I love checking out other camera assistants’ problem-solving solutions and nothing beats exchanging thoughts and inputs with other professionals. Rental houses are also a great source of information and you always get great insider information from other filmmakers.

I hope my kit can act as an inspiration for you!