All posts by GTF Admin

You Gotta Love this Grip Facebook page!

Any grip in Miami would salivate over the stunning grip rigs on this Grip’s Facebook page: car rigs, helicopter rigs, Polaris rigs and all in between.  These creations by grips are jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring. Some of these grip concoctions are seriously a work of art. Check it out!

Grip in Miami?

Working as a Grip in Miami, we’ve often seen creative camera movements like these. But as productions get smaller, the grip craft is in decline. Grips like my buddy Charlie McGowan are becoming a rarity. Charlie is one of the top 3 grips in Miami. There used to be many more grips in Miami with way above average talent. Call me if you need a grip in Miami, I will introduce to one of my guys.

What’s a Grip?

Let’s look at the history of the craft.  In the United States, grips are movie technicians in the art of filmmaking. Grips head their own department on a film set and are under the command of the Key Grip, the head of the department. Grips have two roles: 1) They work intimately with the camera team to provide camera support, particularly when the camera is fixed to a dolly, crane, or in an unusual position, for example on the hood of a car. Grips often specialize in operating dollies or cranes. 2) They work closely with the electricians to light scenes, shape light, diffuse light and work directly under the head of the grip and lighting department otherwise known as the Director of Photography.

Grip’s duties are to construct and keep working the apparatus that supports cameras. Support equipment, includes tripods, dollies, tracks, jibs, cranes, and stationary rigs built of highly engineered heavy duty parts that require a high level of experience to operate. Grips, particularly Key Grips must have the patience of a saint to always be at the Director and DP’s side.  Camera is often a high-stress environment. An excellent key grip must have the people skills to diffuse stressful situations with producers, actors and crew. They can never be afraid to “step up” and call a scene unsafe and then speak up to stop filming and make the set safe. Simple environmental occurrences like wind and rain can cause injury and sometimes death on film sets. Being a great diplomat separates the good from the great key grips.

Where does the Grip name come from?

The name grip came from the circus. Vaudville is where it all began. As early as 1940 the name perhaps originated from film technicians gripping or carrying tool bags. Hand crank cameras that were bulky and heavy required big men to grip the camera tripod from below and keep it steady. “Keep a good grip on the camera and tripod,” was the mantra heard in the early days before proper camera rigging, heads and support were later developed.

As time marches on, cameras move more, requiring highly complex rigs that are extremely expensive, wholly customized and handmade. And they’re becoming more sophisticated as camera support technology comes of age. Work with drones and helicopters is now common and the key grip’s duties have rapidly expanded. Often this work is hazardous. Safety is a significant consideration for grips in Miami, and our guys here have a stellar record of no one getting hurt. Cameras hanging from cables off of helicopters are just one example. See Klaus Obermeyer (Klaus Cam). With that said, check out this link to a very simple rig with ropes as camera support.


The Art of Grip

While the art of gripping becomes more sophisticated, 2×4’s and nails, sandbags, speed rail, c-clamps, and hammers are still used extensively to get scenes shot safely. A good grip in Miami can tie a wide range of knots, rig ratchet straps as wells as a tailor creates a three-piece suit, and can defy gravity with their knowledge of camera support.

In my humble estimation, it takes 4 to 8 years of apprenticeship to master the art of advanced gripping. With 3 years minimum to become a basic grip.  One critical attribute of a professional grip is that they take safety seriously and head off unsafe issues on a film set before bad things happen. Hopefully mentoring young grip talent will continue in the US.  Some people tell me that the art continues in Europe and that it takes much longer in some areas there to become the head of the department aka the “Key Grip.”

Grips in general belong under the labor Union IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees]. But we have both IATSE and non-union guys on my Miami grip trucks.

Litepanels Gemini for Your Best Shoot Ever

New lights don’t often impress me. Quite frankly, all of this advancement in technology is often overblown, IMHO. But, this little beauty of a fixture, the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 LED Soft Panels, is my exception to that rule. They are the rental lights I now promote and a standard fixture on my grip trucks. Let me tell you why.

Litepanels Gemini On the Job Benefits

Short on time? You can do a lot with a Litepanels Gemini rental. Since you don’t need gels, just think of the savings on C47’s alone. Concerned about aesthetics? We’ve seen it with our own eyes — the Gemini wraps light nicely around its subjects, it works well as a bounce, and it’s soft enough for fill. It’s also worth noting that if you rent several of these Geminis you can replace space lights in a studio when their hung from above in a grid. The other cool thing about the Litepanels Gemini is it has a built-in ballast. One more part you won’t lose! Plus it can run on a battery. Also, Litepanels Geminis are lightweight at 22 lbs making it 40% lighter than the Arri SkyPanel. To me, they’re a much better solution when working with a small crew.

Litepanels Gemini Highlights

Bi-color is now the norm! In HIS mode you have total control over Hue, Saturation, and Intensity. RGBW mode lets you dial in a wide range of colors with Red, Green, Blue and white independently. Need to create the old standard TV refection in the face of a subject? That’s so easy now. The Gemini has useful effects like TV, Fire, Emergency, Paparazzi, Strobe, and Fireworks, to name a few. Plus and minus green is a godsend and a real time saver when shooting in retail stores with fluorescents. When it comes to form factor, you can read the LED screen on the light when it is high up on a stand. And, Sound Dept. do not fear, the fan on this light is super quiet.

Arri SkyPanel vs. Litepanels Gemini

Litepanels announced the Gemini 2×1 LED Soft Panel in September 2017.   Before this, Arri SkyPanel was arguably the most requested rental light on the market. Lightpanels wanted to take away some of Arri’s thunder by designing a light that was thinner and with no external ballast. The Arri SkyPanel that we rent is only slightly brighter than Litepanels’ Gemini — a difference gaffers tell me is not a negative. But the Arri SkyPanel weighs around 30lbs. A Litepanels Gemini rental combines daylight, tungsten, and red-green-blue LEDs. Both lights offer a very similar feature set. The Gemini comes with a host of new features not seen on Litepanels’ fixtures before. Not only is its Kelvin color temperature adjustable from 2700 to 6000K, but it also offers four different lighting modes, six presets for user-defined color temperature and plus/minus green control. It’s also Litepanels’ first 2×1 panel light, and the first to use RGB-Warm White LEDs.

As with most lighting equipment, these new lights are nothing more than a means to an end. However, we can now get there quicker with the new Litepanel Gemini.

Love the Arri M18 on my Grip Truck Miami!

Dave's Grip & Lighting Arri M18 Grip Truck in MiamiThe amazing Arri M18.  Our go-to “big, but not too big” HMI light. We love this light. So punchy! We have two at all times on my grip truck Miami.




The Arri M18 is always on our Grip Truck Miami

If it’s just me and my grip truck in Miami — I can do a lot with a little in a hurry. “Git’er done” –the shot that is– with this M18 when the sun is not out on a cloudy day.  It’s a game changer. I like to call it a “save the daylight light”.

Need a bunch of daylight in a hurry? Then this is the one to choose. Folks come from the North East and all of a sudden the Florida sun disappears? What? The Arri M18 light is a godsend on my grip truck Miami.

What sets the Arri M18 apart?

Dave's Grip & Lighting Arri M18 Grip Truck in Miami

Some Film Lighting Lore

People have short memories.  I remember not so long ago, struggling with large tungsten lights while shooting in houses and office buildings.  The level of effort that was required to tie into a breaker panel — making the home owner and business owner very nervous as we took off the breaker panel and exposed all of the building’s wires, lugging large banded 25 ft. cables to then have to run from the panel to the set with distro boxes — was a major pain in the you-know-what!

I’ve always loved technology and these wonderful lights from Arri are truly to be grateful for on every shoot. You can strike this light off any standard plug in any building and almost any house. But I always keep a 1200 watt bulb on my grip truck Miami just in case we’re shooting in an older house that has 15 amp circuits. This light matches daylight to a “T”.

We keep shipping cases for the Arri M18 back at the shop so we can ship via air cargo to do island work, etc.





New Production Lighting Gear At NAB

What’s New With Production Lighting?

NAB 2017 in Las Vegas this year was all about soft light for production lighting.   While tungston fresnels are far from dead as they continue to rent with surprisingly regularity, these soft lights are gaining massive popularity on video sets for their fast and flexible capabilities.

Kino Flow Caleb 250 Production Lighting
Kino Flow Celeb 250

Kinoflo rental has been one of my top 3 rental requests for my grip trucks for what seems like forever in Miami. Kinoflo has upgraded their select line of celeb 250’s and 450’s that now have more control and flexibility.  You can dial in a wide color pallet of not only tungston and daylight but full RGB as well.  On location, you can match old green fluorescents and sodium vapor, with the controls on this light.  Much more flexibility and portability is now built in.   The new select Freestyle line comes apart and is modular, allowing you the ability to get the light into tight spaces, cable to it or combine these units to create a bigger light source. Kinoflo has the reputation for un-matched build quality and customer support.  Certainly one of my favorite lighting manufactures for video production lighting.   

We will have these Kino Flos in our rental inventory very soon!!

Cineo's new Quantum C80 production lighting
Cineo’s new Quantum C80.

Cineo has a wonderful new light called the Quantum C80.  It is a large light source for production on location and studio lighting. Dimensions are 4 feet by 2 feet.  The output is 50 thousand lumens of full gamut light.  This is a fantastic large soft source that is easily managed by 1 person.  This instrument has the capability of full RGB and has 4 channels of DMX.  No cooling fans make this light fantastic for sets where dialog is being recorded.  Cineo’s award-winning white light quality is second to none. The character of this light is truly, truly remarkable.  The way that it wraps and influences skin tones is nothing short of breath taking.

We are thinking seriously of adding the Cineo to our video production lighting rental inventory. Let us know if you would like to rent it!

LED Lighting

Led lighting has come a long way over the past 7 years. 

I rent Led lighting to my customers on just about every production I work as Gaffer on these days.   Ease of use is a big factor. I reach for the Astra-Lite Panels the most.  Battery powered, lightweight, nimble,  variable color temperature option on the fly and extremely powerful.  Astra light panels are quick and effective. The power consumption on LED lighting is amazing.  Color rendering used to be an issue but no more in my opinion!  You literally can shoot at night in the street with only 4 anton bauer batteries for 3 to 6 hours dependent on the brightness setting. 

Astra Lite Panels

Astra Lite Panels- LED Lighting
Astra Lite Panels- LED Lighting

“This compact 2-light kit has everything you need to light on-camera stand ups or a small location. The included
battery adapter plates make these kits a great mobile lighting solution. Both the Astra 1×1 Bi-Color panels provide soft, full spectrum illumination.”

The Advantage of LED Lighting

The big advantage of LEDs is that they tend to stay relatively cool and are super energy efficient. The light also takes Chimera diffusers or modifiers (still photographers language)  which soften, wrap and broaden the LED light.  You can mount these lights on the hood of a car on a bicycle or hold it in your hand and aim it at your subject.  If you are a 1 man crew the Astra Light panel is the hot ticket!  The Astra light panel is powerful enough to use on Miami beach to fill your subject or act as an eye light on a corporate interview shoots.  In Fort Lauderdale, LEDs are quickly replacing fluorescents as well in commercial applications.

The rental price for LED lighting is a great bang for your buck. Call Daves Grip and Lighting today for a great price on LED lighting rental.

An amazing day at Matthews studio equipment

Thought I would share an amazing day at Matthews studio equipment.  I primarily use Matthews studio equipment grip gear on my grip trucks! Matthews has been building some of the best grip gear for the past 42 years.  A family run business Tyler Phillips and his Dad Ed Phillips of Matthews studio equipment are good people.  They now are in a new facility that has made the operation more efficient yielding faster turn around times for faster fulfillment.

The quality of Matthews studio equipment gear is nothing short of amazing.  Largely made by hand the tolerances and precision are impressive!  Their gear lasts forever opposed to the crap that comes from Asia.   During my visit, they treated me like royalty!

While digital cinema cameras have changed dramatically almost every 3 years, grip gear has not changed much over the years.

Matthews studio equipment grip gear is the best in the business
Desk made from dolly parts
Matthews studio equipment grip gear is the best in the business
Matthews studio equipment show room
Matthews studio equipment grip gear is the best in the business
A gaggle of duck bills

Matthews studio equipment is truly one of the top innovators in the film and television business.   The quality of the metal must be top grade as we work in the salt water a bunch here in Miami.  Lives depend on the quality of the grip gear as lights and rigging seem to be frequently over people’s heads.  Safety First!

Matthews studio equipment is also making some top notch cinema sliders these days. I have a couple of their Matthews studio equipment mini slider stands, they are a life saver!! The mini slider stands are purpose but for cine sliders, we no engirt have to mess around with low combo stands!!    I also have my eye on their new duty dolly.  I will be taking a close look at this dolly at the upcoming NAB.  We also stock Matthews studio equipment car mount systems.  We have a variety of gear to rig a camera on a car, motorcycle, baby stroller, you name it!!!

Check it Out Film Buffs! Old Tungsten Lights at Mole and B&H Photo!

As a film lighting history guy, I was interested in tungsten lights from Mole Richardson Company.  When we traveled to Los Angeles recently, I checked out their set lights on display.  Some date back to 1930.

img_5425       img_5444

According to their Wikipedia page, “Mole-Richardson invented the Fresnel Solar Spot unit in 1935, adapting the fresnel lighthouse lens for use in motion pictures. It won the first of four technical Academy Awards the company has earned.[2]”

img_5437Tungsten lights at Mole tungsten lights at Mole

Their Wikipedia page continues,  “Mole-Richardson is considered by many to be the staple of motion picture and television lighting in the movie industry today, setting the standard for tungsten fresnel fixtures. However, they do also manufacture HMI day-light lighting units. Their lighting is generally recognized by their maroon coloring and ‘MR’ logos.”

Mole-Richardson nameMole Richardson logo img_5431 img_5427

And then to my surprise, when I traveled to B&H Photo Video Pro Audio  in NYC we saw some iconic  Mole-Richardson Company 4K ZIP lights  for sale.


Enjoy this walk down the memory lane of Tungsten lighting.

TBT: Master Lighting Class by ASC Cinegear 2013

cinegear-2013-master-lighting-class-at-mole-richardson-stage by ASC Alan Caso
Alan Caso, ASC at Mole Richardson Stage, CInegear 2013

#TBT Los Angeles #Cinegear 2013. Found this photo while going through my files. We participated in a master lighting class at Mole-Richardson Stage taught by ASC Cinematographers — Ron Garcia, ASC, the late Haskell Wexler, ASC and Alan Caso, ASC. They made it look so easy. So much respect for these gentlemen!

These incredibly talented cinematographers shared their knowledge and enthusiasm, demonstrated lighting techniques and problem solving skills. It was great to see these ASC guys work their magic and we learned a thing or two!


My Grip Truck Photo Shoot in Miami!

Every once in a while you shoot somewhere where the environment triggers your mind’s eye to capture the moment. I took this photo of my grip truck on a shoot overlooking Miami and Biscayne Bay with my iPhone 6, and also did the color grading on the iPhone.

Grip Truck Avante Garde in Miami
On location overlooking  Biscayne Bay

My grip truck has a odd attractiveness in this place and time.  I will look back at this photo 20 years from now and thoughts will go straight to that job we were working.  Love this business!

I remember back when Miami did not look like this!

Knots Every Grip Should Know

Often new grips ask me — “Hey Dave show me some knots.”  Well, a few of these take some time to learn! When rigging lights and grip over people’s heads you’d better have that knot mastered!  These videos by Greg Hewett, a career grip, show you exactly what you need to know about rigging knots.  These grip knots can be used to rig 20 x 20’s, all overhead butterfly’s, large stands to hard points,  pop up tents, you name it — they’ll be fastened tight!

Check out more of Greg Hewett’s great Grip tutorial videos at:


A Great Lighting Resource – Rosco’s SoftDrop

We’re always on the search for ways to enhance our lighting kit and we recently came across these wicked cool SoftDrop backdrops by Rosco.  They look fantastic and with their extra large seamless size a Director of Photography can shoot from all angles without shooting a seam. They are 100% woven cotton and have a super matte finish so they don’t create lighting reflections — a DP’s nightmare.  They also don’t require as many lights as other backdrops.  The Rosco SoftDrops set up easily and are a great solution when shooting on a sound stage. Rosco also has some awesome Day Night SoftDrops. Hopefully we’ll be involved in a production in the future with one of these!

In this tutorial video Mike McMurray, CSC, Director of Photography talks about the Rosco SoftDrop.

For more information:

NAB 2015 – Kessler CineSlider™



We were impressed with the Kessler CineSlider™ at NAB 2015.  It’s an extremely beefy and durable camera slider built for the heaviest rigs but it’s more lightweight than others and sets up quick. Reinforced aluminum, protected rails and precision machining make it a great tool in your bag of tricks.  We were wondering when the boys at Kessler would come up with a slider for the big jobs. Hats off to Eric Kessler — they have done a great job!  Call us at Dave’s Grip & Lighting to add the CineSlider to your next production and for your other Grip Truck needs.

ARRI SkyPanel Soft Light’s Debut at NAB 2015

This was one of the coolest lights we saw this year at the NABShow!


These robust lights with aluminum bodies, simple controls have a large aperture. The light wraps beautifully for lighting actors.  It has adjustable color temperature from 2800K – 10,000K and add many types of diffusion with the front diffusion frame. Light draws 400 watts and output exceeds a 2K soft light. You can also power the light with batteries. We think the Arri SkyPanel will be relevant for a long time!




Benefits of Renting ARRI Lighting Systems

Arri light

The  ARRI M8 is the smallest and newest edition to the ARRIMAX line of daylight HMI studio lights designed to compete with the ever-popular K5600 Joker 800 HMI fixture.

ARRI lights are the most desired lighting systems for any production, and the latest ARRI M-Series is exactly what Producers and Directors of Photography are looking for. The ARRI M8 is equipped with ARRIMAX Technology and its patented, open face design makes ARRI surpass the competition.

M8 lights can be focused between 15° and 65°, allowing for an ideal light field with crisp shadows. Its faceted reflect light output produces 800W and has a temperature tolerance of 6000K. The M8’s cross cooling allows for safe operation at 90° for that perfect shot.

The ARRI M8 was designed for mobility, but it still weighs in at 17.2 lb. making shipping a challenge.  If you are shooting in Florida, consider renting ARRI lights from Dave’s Grip & Lighting. We  can help save you hundreds in shipping, as well as frustration,  for your next off-set video production. Call us today about ARRI light rental pricing and your other grip, lighting and grip truck rental needs.