Everyone’s a photographer these days, but some people take it more seriously than others. There’s no better time than the holidays – with family gatherings, hanging with friends, ski trips, snow angels, and more – to up the ante on your video game.
ProEditors has pulled together a holiday gift guide for the director/cinematographer/documentarian in your life. Even if that might be you. From legitimate tools for “improving your craft,” to affordable apps that add dragons and explosions to an otherwise staid home movie, these gifts provide the tools and creative freedom to focus on the making part of filmmaking – so you can leave the editing to us.
*Before you buy (and no, we’re not making money off any of the links), please confirm that the item coordinates with the gift recipient’s operating system (phone model or camera).
$25 AND UNDER
Collection of kickass apps
Pull together some of the best video apps around on one gift card. Bonus: This is a thoughtful, fun gift that also happens to be supremely affordable (from free to just a few bucks). Do some research and choose your faves. Here are a few to get things rolling:
- FX Guru (free; IOS/Android): FX Guru allows you to add explosions, rhinoceros stampedes, and alien attacks to your private video. Okay, no one is claiming that JJ Adams will be knocking down your door for tech tips. But who wouldn’t like to see an alien crawl out of the turkey dinner in your own dining room?
- FiLMic Pro ($9.99; IOS/Android): On the serious side, this app is about elevating the filmmaking on your phone. Experiment with cinematographic moods and the true art of moving images.
HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote ($24.99; IOS/Android)
This remote camera button will save you hours of frustration as the family sets up for the obligatory group shot. Operated by Bluetooth, the HISY Remote allows you to operate your shutter release from up to 90 feet away. Even better, it works with video. Now, you can be in your own shots without the selfie stick, or set the camera up for otherwise awkward shots.
Gaffer Tape ($15, varies)
Don’t dismiss a roll of tape just because it doesn’t sound sexy. Gaffer tape (aka gaffers, aka gaffer’s tape) is the calling card of a true pro. It’s the duct tape for photographers: it does everything without leaving sticky, grey residue. GoPro mount breaks on location? Use gaffer tape. Your model’s wardrobe is too billowy? Use gaffer tape to pull it taught. Little brother mouthing off? You get the point.
Andoer Pistol Grip ($11; DSLR models)
While the Andoer Pistol Grip is for DSLR cameras (Canon, Nikon, and Sony), grips are made for mobile phones, too. We like this one because it’s burly, affordable and works with point and shoot cameras. It’s a nice choice for a burgeoning filmmaker.
$50 AND UNDER
Iblazr 2 Wireless LED Flash ($45 on sale, reg. $60; IOS/Android/DSLR/Film)
This is simply one of the most versatile external flashes on the market. It works with the native camera apps on the phones, so you plug it in and shoot. It can be used independently as an autonomous light and with film and digital cameras. It’s as effective for still shots as it is for video, and adjustments like the color temperature meter allow for flexibility and creative expression.
Mighty Mic ($49; IOS with headphone jack/Android)
Recording sound, especially dialogue, on a phone is iffy. There are more powerful microphones on the market, but the Mighty Mic is compact, easy-to-use, battery-free and strong enough to capture man-on-the-street interviews or the whir of mountain bike tires across perfect, grippy loam.
$100 AND UNDER
Editing by ProEditors (beginning at $100)
Well, would you look at us with the shameless self-promotion! *Blush* When we think of why we love movies, it’s because of the stories and the memories. What better a gift than to record the story of your own family memories with a shareable video this holiday season? Or if you’re brood is camera shy, why not support the budding filmmaker among you with a professional editing service?
Pelican Protector Case (prices and sizes vary)
These versatile, foam-lined cases are the gold standard for the serious filmmaker. They’re waterproof, crushproof, dustproof and will last a lifetime. The 1450 Medium Case is a nice size for DSLR cameras and a few accessories or to hold a full suite of mobile-related accessories.
iStabilizer Dolly ($60; IOS/Android/GoPro – additional parts may be needed)
Every big-budget film set has a rolling dolly. It’s time to bring that home. Ready to experiment with new angles and moving shots? This tough, little rolling dolly has a built-in stabilizer (as the name implies) for smooth, moving shots. Note that it does not accommodate for the iPhone 7 Series.
Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus ($69; Samsung Galaxy phones)
Why not? If someone you love loves video, they’re going to flip over the increasingly realistic virtual reality options. This Samsung Gear VR is obviously just for Samsung phones, but there are a host of other options, including Google Cardboard goggles for $15! Plus, hook up your loved one with free apps to start turning their shots into VR. Check out Seene and Splash.
Olloclip Active Lens Set ($120; iPhone 7 and 7 Plus)
Olloclip has been making excellent external lenses for mobile photography for about five years. If the recipient isn’t shooting with an iPhone 7 Series, other options are available. This Active Lens Set has both wide angle and zoom (optical) lens. Even with the iPhone 7 Series camera upgrades, we still support a quiver of external lenses for serious mobile filmmakers.
DJI OSMO Mobile Gimbal ($299; IOS/Android)
A gimbal, in these terms, is a stabilizer and a grip in one. You can shoot solo POV or aim toward your crew. The DJI OSMO Mobile will smooth out your shots for a more professional look, not to mention less motion sickness. When you combine it with the DJI GO app, the features multiply.
GoPro HERO 5 Session ($299)
In a few short years, GoPro has gone from the fringe to the mainstream. And we’re not just talking about its use by action sport aficionados. Mainstream filmmakers rely on GoPro cameras for all sorts of applications now. With 4K video, built-in stabilization, and a rugged, compact outer, the GoPro HERO 5 Session can be part of your camera quiver or your only camera.
DSLR Camera (Prices vary)
We’re not about to jump in the fray of reviewing DSLR cameras. But we’re happy to comb through reviews and source out the two cameras that regularly show up on “Top” and “Best of” lists. If it’s time to make the jump away from mobile photography and into the big world of DSLR, these two options have passionate followers: the Nikon D3300 ($450) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III ($2500, body only).
DJI Phantom 4 Drone ($999, on sale)
Someone would have had to have been very, very nice this year to receive this bad boy for Christmas. The editors of PC Magazine gave the DJI Phantom 4 five stars and the coveted “Editors’ Choice” award. (By the way: If you like drone footage but not drone prices, ProEditors has gorgeous stock drone film we can add to your video, too.)
Don’t forget to record the memories you make this holiday season.
Happy Holidays from all of us at ProEditors.