Whether you rent or own your gear, chances are you’ve probably depended on a rental house at some point before. Rental houses like Panavision or Keslow Camera don’t just carry a giant arsenal of the latest tech, but also associates with the expertise to help us pimp out our camera kits for every shoot. In fact, chances are the people at rental houses are filmmakers on the side, so we know we’re working with like-minded pros when we stop by.
At the end of the day though, rental houses are businesses with their own costs and operations. They need products that are rented out consistently and generating revenue as a result. That’s why it’s important for them to invest in the products that their customers want and support all of their production needs.
Dylan Law is a Director of Photography at Bottle Tree Pictures and Quality Control Supervisor at Rule Boston Camera, a rental house based in Boston, Massachusetts. He shares with us how rental houses operate and serve their community, and why the new Teradek RT system (CTRL.3 + MDR.X + 3x MOTR.X) will be one of their top investments of 2019.
[Rule Camera Boston will have CTRL.3 Lens Control Deluxe Kits available for rental soon].
What Rule Boston Camera Looks For
"In the last 5 years or so, we've witnessed a huge amount of growth in productions heading to Massachusetts to shoot. We've had an influx of features from Hollywood along with new and renewing series from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon filming around the state, in part, due to the Massachusetts film tax credits. While commercial work is booming, at its core, Boston is still very much a commercial, documentary and indie features market. Our clients don’t have massive Hollywood-backed budgets, so we need to be smart with the pricing of our products and services.”
“But it’s not just about buying products with small price tags. We have a reputation to uphold as Boston’s largest rental house. We need gear that works consistently, whether it’s the 1st job or the 55th job. If users are having issues with their products, that reflects poorly on us and makes them less likely to rent again. Brian Malcolm, the General Manager at Rule Boston Camera, looks for products that we know are consistent, and offer them at prices that the commercial industry can work with.”
“The Teradek RT has seen a tremendous ROI (return of investment). For most gear, we’re looking ideally at a 1 year timeframe for perfect ROI. There are some exceptions like lenses that might take 3 years, but things like wireless video, follow focus, and monitors usually take 1 year to start making profits. We first invested in the CTRL.1 single axis controller which is almost always rented out. They paid themselves off in just a couple of months. So when we saw the complete FIZ system [CTRL.3] on some blogs and played with it at Cine Gear, we had to get our hands on a set.”
Taking CTRL.3 On Set
- RED Helium
- Sigma Primes
- Teradek Bolt 3000 XT
- SmallHD 703 Bolt
- 702 Bright
- 503 UltraBright
- FOCUS Bolt Sidekick
- 3x MOTR.X
“I went on set 2 weeks ago with Big Brick Productions for a commercial shoot, where I was the MoVI operator and I had my 1st AC Jeff Olive pulling focus with the CTRL.3. I was a little nervous about this shoot because it was our first time using CTRL.3 on set, and the entire thing was to be done on MoVI. I told the producer not to worry about the cost, just let us test out this new system and we won’t charge for the follow focus.”
“We were going hard on the lens mapping and overlays features. As everyone knows with commercial work, you have to move fast as there won’t be any downtime. We made all of our lens maps in prep, and in just an hour we had 6-7 setups ready to go. On set, we had the CTRL.3 connected to a FOCUS Bolt Sidekick sending the maps to the monitor for focus overlays. Jeff was able to pull focus and see every bit of information he needed directly on the FOCUS monitor. No need to look away from the screen at all. It helped him pull focus better, which made the production go much smoother and faster.”
“On top of that, the MDR.X is extremely lightweight, which is perfect for gimbal users like me. Prestons and the WCU-4 all have heavy, bulky receivers that just add weight to the rig. As an operator and a tech guy, I have extensive first-hand knowledge with the gear that I push and Teradek RT is always my priority for follow focus.”
A Return on Investment
“Our industry isn’t just going for name brands. If something fails on set even just once, filmmakers will swear off that product and company forever. At the same time, you have productions trying to cut costs left and right these days. We end up having to provide solutions that are affordable yet as effective as the high-end stuff.”
“Getting a fully kitted WCU set is $25K, whereas the CTRL.3 kit is just $12K. That means we can rent the CTRL.3 out at just half the price of the WCU. It’s also more than just price. It even has more features than the high-end systems! The overlays, the Teradek RT App, and super light MDR just to name a few. It’s the perfect combination of versatility and price.”
“In the Boston film community, price means everything. 80% of our jobs are commercials and much of the budgets go to your essentials: camera, wireless video, monitors, lenses, etc. You also only have 1-2 days to knock out a top-tier commercial. The gear HAS TO work. That’s why Teradek RT is perfect for the environment we work in. On a busy week, we’re pushing out 5-6 Teradek RT CTRL.1 kits, 15-20 Bolt 1:2 kits, and a ton of 703 Bolts.”
“We’re heavily invested into Teradek, SmallHD and Wooden Camera products now that we’re seeing all of this integration. Wireless video is built into the monitors, Teradek RT spits out focus info directly on the monitors, and everything is so compact and lightweight that it makes everything sexy for our clients. I get a lot of personal satisfaction when clients take our suggestions and come back happy. We’re all about building a better film community in Boston, and that starts by promoting the best gear in the industry.”
Working in the Boston area? Check out Rule Camera Boston at www.rule.com to see their products & services.