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Gear disappearing on set, how to handle it.....

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#1 Adam Smith

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 10:27 AM

I am curious to know how everyone else protects their gear on set, or for that matter keeps account of it all?

I'd rather not be the op hovering over my Pelican cases making sure no one is "taking" or "borrowing for good" any of my gear.

Obviously I'd rather be working on getting the shot and focusing on balancing my rig to perfection.

Does anyone keep their cases on lock down? Anyone have any horror stories of losing major parts of their Steadicam package? (Thankfully that has not happened to me yet.)

If you have had things stolen, how have you handled it with production? If something was "borrowed" (say a Leatherman for instance) and not returned, do you bill for it?

But most importantly how has everyone kept it from happening?



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#2 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 12:24 PM

As a Key Grip with a 10 ton truck load of equipment, I can't keep track of all the gear. If something gets lost, we put it into L&D.

If it got "borrowed" and we don't find who "borrowed" it, it goes into L&D.

If we find who "borrowed" it ... THEY go into L&D .

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#3 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:11 PM

This is why I built my cases and carts with locking drawers and like anyplace else where there are people I don't know I keep small things out of sight and out of mind.


If you have not done so already getting a good label maker and labeling everything is super important. We label for item name and then "Starling Steadicam" or just "STARLING".  That helps when something gets mixed in with other gear.  My bags and drawers are also organized in such a way that we can see at a glance that something is missing or not in it's spot with one glance.  Having a pocket, slot or wrap for every item saves time and money later.


There's a big difference in someone lifting something off your cart and someone going through your latched cases or taking a case.  All my cases are bright yellow Peli, Storm or custom so it would be pretty obvious if someone who doesn't belong has it or is in it.


I've had a few things disappear and the most notable loss was on a very high budget big label music video. I was wrapped and packed with the cart covered, went to another building to get my check from production and while I was gone some very specific camera dept items were taken out of my cases. They were there, I packed them myself and basically the only people who would have known what they were, had access or had a use for them were the ACs from out of town.  I didn't notice till the next morning when I unpacked at home but according to the ACs and production no one "borrowed them". L&D


Nothing is fool-proof and as much as it would be nice to think everyone on set has a set of ethics and honor, it is not always the case.



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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 03:36 PM

You'd be hard pressed to get my name off my gear. No labels for me, Laser Engraving

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#5 RonBaldwin


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Posted 01 December 2013 - 05:34 PM

I tried to steal the shirt off Eric's back...didn't work as he has his name on everything!
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#6 Alan Rencher

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:23 PM

Ron, I don't know if you can pull off wearing Eric's signature black Polo.

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#7 thomas-english


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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:29 AM

I lose the odd T-Bar but really my cases are open for the camera team to access at all times without asking me and its never an issue. Very occasionally a loader will contact me a couple of days after a job saying they have this or that at the bottom of their unit bag and they post it back to me. 


Asset labels are all you need in my opinion. 

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#8 PeterAbraham


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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:08 AM

Only once did I come up to my gear and find someone coming through my cases. Specifically my accessory kit.
This was inside the studio in New York.
Nothing was stolen.
Had a conversation with the production manager. The guy was removed.
Now all of my cases have padlocks.

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#9 jason rowlen

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:10 PM

I've never had equipment walk away on set, but Sanjay is right. If it gets lost, stolen or broken file L&D, thats why you get insured. I find it hard to keep track of all my gear on set and I always breath easy when it's all accounted for, but I never worry while shooting. I find the crew is usually trust worthy. but if all else fails, find an apprentice to watch your gear. 

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#10 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:37 PM

When my gear is travelling without me in the van, I always lock all my gear. I only give the code to my 1 AC when I know and trust him. Also when it's in a passing area (street, or any public or open area) I always arrange for a PA to fire watch the gear. It will never eliminate the risk, but it is limits it a great deal. Labeling your gear is great. I recently had my stand placed in the grip truck and returned to the rental place, my name was on it I got it back.

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#11 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:23 PM

I engrave a lot of my gear.
I've had two Anton Bauer HC batts walk away
I let production know I needed them back by the following Monday
and handed them my contact info at Anton Bauer. They bought two new ones and that was that.
go to the uline website and there you can look for asset labels which are super sticky
and you can design what's on them and their size, and stick away.
At least once a year. break out every case and make an inventory, see if anything needs servicing
and if you've sold stuff or added stuff, that's the time to send a revised list to walker dolle for your
insurance list to be complete and correct.
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#12 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:32 PM

I bought a Dymo Rhino label maker  http://www.bhphotovi...beler_With.html   I am using it wight the Metalized Permanent Poly labels http://www.bhphotovi...oly_Labels.html and the Heat shrink tubes  http://www.bhphotovi...eat_Shrink.html   with my name and phone number on each piece of gear along with the name of the piece.

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#13 PeterAbraham


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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:43 PM

Indeed. I used some metal foil labels made by Seton.  Superb, mad sticky, etc. Most of my stuff has a sticker on it.


Not camera lockdown screws.


As Ted Churchill famously said in the Steadicam Operators' Manual of Style, " Be extra cautious of assistants who have foam cutouts in Haliburton cases for such items as pliers, screwdrivers and c-clamps. This level of concern for the virtually indestructible indicates a potential for the mix up of priorities. ". ( © 1980 Ted Churchill )


When the rig's built for the gig, it's not such a bad idea to lock down the cases. Since they all use a common key, in the unlikely event we need to dig in, it's a few seconds to get into a case.


But then again, for 27 years my M.O. has been to build the rig, load the jump bag with spare batts, cables, ff and motors and relevant bracketry and pack the rest back into the car. This habit comes from doing almost all narrative work on location.


Your mileage may vary.  :)

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#14 Mitch Mommaerts

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:40 PM

Great thread!


Question, what does L&D mean? Being relatively new to the Professional Market of Operators there's a lot of terms not familiar with or haven't used myself yet.


I like Laser engraving the best and hope to do that at some point (although would rather sell stuff that isn't engraved as would the buyer i'm sure). RFID or GPS trackers are cool too but I'm not at that stage yet and given that some of my cables are too small to put a tracker on yet worth more than some of my larger gear I'm not sure how I'd do that. I may eventually do each case only.


For now I have mini foil stickers on all my gear and as many parts as possible. Each with name, email, and serialized. In the lid of my cases I have schematics listing all the items and serials which allows me or my assistant to do a quick check at least ensuring everything is there. I think every deterrent helps but nothing is guaranteed, as there seems to be loopholes to everything.  :(



Edited by Mitch Mommaerts, 04 December 2013 - 12:41 PM.

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#15 Alan Rencher

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 01:15 PM

Mitch, L&D means, "loss and damage." As for labels they only go so far. If a person is honest , they will see the label and return the gear. If a person is stealing the gear the label won't be much help. Even a laser engraving can be ground off of most things. Many companies blacklist serial numbers on stolen gear, so it's always good to contact them in the event of theft. That might not get you back your gear, but it will make the sale of stolen gear harder as most people will want to have big ticket items checked by the manufacturer before purchasing.

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