If you have listened to any of the Film Fervor episodes or have spoken to us on any social media platform, we are always raving about cinema gear. We live in an era of amazing technology at incredible prices, giving filmmakers the tools and resources of massive budget shoots at shoe-string prices. In this series, I will be talking about the equipment we use and the brands we endorse at Film Fervor. Before we begin, I want to be 100% transparent with everyone in this community. I do not receive any compensation or payments in any kind for these reviews. This is just my opinion.
When I first started off looking into film equipment, like everyone, I was overwhelmed with the choices available on the low to mid budget range. There were literally thousands of options for every aspect of production, from cranes to sliders, jibs and rigs and there were thousands of reviews and opinions to sort through. When I got my hands on the Kessler line of products, I was instantly hooked on the build quality, the returns on the investment (by this I mean the consistent quality increase of my shoots increased and by extension my value as a filmmaker increased) as well as the overall business mentality of the Kessler brand products.
For the scope of this article, I will discuss three products from the Kessler line that I believe in personally, professionally and financially.
The KC-8 model weights in at 20lbs and can carry a weight capacity of 25lbs. Featuring 360 degree rotation, an invertible camera platform for under or over slung camera positions, a two arm design for maximum stability and built with high-grade anodized aluminum the Kessler Crane is as robust as it is functional. Easily broken down for transportation and uses standard household style weights to achieve proper balance. (source: http://www.kesslercrane.com/kessler-crane)
What I like about this product is that, when combined with the K-Pod Tripod system, it’s a completely portable solution for overheads and smooth motion.
Working with the Kessler Crane is a joy in both a studio and an “on location” environment because of its rugged construction and its ability to get into tricky places. The capability to have an under-slung
The fastest way to add production value to any film is to put the camera in motion, so long as that motion is fluid and seamless. I am not a fan of the “shaky cam” or “found footage” look in general, but when I see movement in a film that was obviously meant for a solid, locked off, pan or slide and it’s wobbly, I’m instantly turned off.
With the Kessler CineSlider (It comes in various lengths), you are able to use it in conjunction with the Crane & Tripod setup to give you an unbelievably smooth and beautiful sliding shot. Instead of trying to rent a huge dolly system (which the K-Pod and accessories can be used as, by the way) having a CineSlider available will give your independent film that big-budget look without spending big-budget money.
The one drawback of a slider over a dolly is that you only have a limited amount of track space to use, so if you need a longer shot you would have to use another system, but for short movements in key shots the Cineslider is the way to go.
Rounding out the “go-to” kit for the Kessler lineup is the ShuttlePod system. In my opinion, this is one of the very best tools for those longer dolly like shots and it opens the door for more complicated and advanced shots, like motion control and time-lapse (which is beyond the scope of this review, but I may do an in-depth about those in the future).
The ShuttlePod, like the rest of the Kessler products, is built to be modular and used with existing Kessler gear so it goes hand-in-hand with the Crane. However, if you do not have a Crane you can use any of the outrigger options and even C-Stands to support this system.
I’ve seen this rail system placed through windows, vertically up staircases, under vehicles and many more unique and inventive locations to get the shots people need. You can make it as long as you need, with additional rail purchases and really the only limitation of this product is that it gets cumbersome after a certain length is required.
As I grow in my skills and in my career, I have come to appreciate having access to equipment like this to get the shots I need, without having to rig up some DIY solution. Although I do not recommend anyone go out and buy these things without doing your own research and due diligence, the Kessler line of products will always be on my shoots and on my sets. It is quite possible to find equipment similar to these for a smaller price tag, but I am a firm believer in getting what you pay for and, also, in brand loyalty. Kessler Crane has been in my wheelhouse for some time now and I don’t see myself replacing this equipment in the foreseeable future.
The innovations that are coming out of the Kessler “think-tank” are amazing and every year at NAB they seem to unveil something else that has to go into my toolkit. As I mentioned before, they also have a motion control system that works with the other hardware listed above that can turn your small independent film into a blockbusting visual effects powerhouse. The only limitation with this system is budget and imagination.
Feel free to check out the Kessler website and do your own research.
As for me, field tested and cynic approved is all the motivation I need to continue adding Kessler products into my arsenal.