Be a Faster AC #12: Customize the Camera

Be a Faster AC #12: Customize the Camera

The camera is sacred to the camera assistant, but that doesn't mean it has to be treated like an ancient artifact. If you're so afraid about damaging the camera that you only touch it to start rolling on a shot, then you're missing out on some great ways to speed yourself up.

From our ongoing exploration of ways to become a faster and more efficient camera assistant, today’s tip is:

12. Customize the Camera

The camera is sacred to the camera assistant, but that doesn’t mean it has to be treated like an ancient artifact. If you’re so afraid about damaging the camera that you only touch it to start rolling on a shot, then you’re missing out on some great ways to speed yourself up.

When I first sat down to write this tip, I was going to talk about using custom lists and user buttons available on most digital cameras. And while that’s certainly one way to customize a camera, I realized there are many more:

  • Place velcro on the mattebox to hold marking pencils
  • Adjust handles/cheeseplates/rods to fit your working style
  • Use cable ties to pre-rig essential cables to the camera
  • As mentioned above, customize user buttons and menus
  • Remove unneeded accessories to lighten the load

There are a million different ways to tweak a camera to fit into the type of environment you’re using it in. Many of them won’t work for you, but plenty will, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what those are.

Also, customize the camera in ways that benefit the director of photography or camera operator. If they move faster, you’ll move faster too.

Always remember that cameras, though they are expensive and deserve to be treated with care, are ultimately tools which we use to create a film — so don’t be afraid to make them even more effective and efficient than they already are.

What customizations do you make to your cameras?