Late last week, I had the most amazing 4 hour lunch with the creators of this unique solution – the “Logger's Lunchbox” which is a kickstarter project you are likely very interested in funding if you shoot with DSLRs.
Hannah Radcliff and Edward Calvey are a unique and very funny people (tho Edward does tend to fired up about many different topics – he's opinionated just like me LOL!).
It was a real treat to be able to sit down with them to talk about what it is like to have a passion about what you're doing and to actually take that to the next level by creating a product and trying to get it funded. Especially when you're filmmakers and know virtually nothing about setting up a company and getting a product launched.
I was also pleasantly surprised when they didn't bring a Logger's Lunchbox with them – don't' get me wrong, I do want to see and feel one (obviously they only have a prototype now) – but I wasn't quite sure where the lunch meeting was going to go and whether they were going to spend the whole time just begging me to promote the product for them – obviously they want to get it funded, but they both simply wanted to make a connection with me and that was a real joy. They never even once asked me to promote this for them… but I will because I was VERY impressed with this innovative couple.
We had a huge laugh over the name of their product – you had to be there to see them laugh and to see the pride in their eyes, but let's just say the name doesn't have much to do with audio or power (but again, that's obvious I think). Tho I was gratified to learn that there wasn't some hidden pun or unusual connection to audio or power that I didn't know about.
We spent much of the afternoon laughing and discussing the unique properties of St. Louis and what goes into creating a new small business and evolving from a simple solution they built for themselves into growing a new business.
I was especially amazed at the thoughts and decisions that have gone into the Logger's Lunchbox. Especially since you would think that with all of the “modern” buttons and knobs and plastics of the world, that you wouldn't design this the old fashioned way – but they're incredibly right, the Logger's Lunchbox is set up to be designed to last and not fall apart in the first few weeks you use it. They've hit it with hammers and run over it with a car to make sure it will work and last and that the electronics will survive a nuclear explosion (ok, not really but close).
Being a guy who worked for 32 years at Boeing, I can see that they've done an incredible job of design and thought for the long run.
If you're a one man band or do a lot of long single day shoots, or maybe even shooting weddings etc, you should watch all of the videos on this kickstarter page and consider being an initial backer.
There's also a very cool audio podcast with Edward and Hannah that will answer some of the questions you may have as well will give you a little hint about these two.
What is the Logger's Lunchbox?
The Logger's Lunchbox (patent pending) is a pain-and-suffering alleviation mechanism that we've been fondly calling “the rest of the DSLR.”
It's single device that combines intuitive audio handling, preamplification, metering and monitoring with a unified battery power system for everything. Banish the battery dance!
Logger's Lunchbox Press
Innovators Edward Calvey and Hannah Radcliff produced hundreds of hours of video using Canon DSLRs before taking workflow shortcomings into their own hands. The Logger’s Lunchbox (patent pending) is a single device that banishes the battery dance while providing effective tools for audio management.
With the rise of popularity in video DSLRs and one-man-band producers, the necessity for additional audio preamplifiers and power systems arose. Individual products for power and audio are available but at a high price. But the Logger’s Lunchbox is the single cost-effective solution many been waiting for.
“We’re setting out to solve as many problems as we can for other people like us,” says Calvey, who says he first tried to purchase individual solutions for power and audio from other companies. “For the cost of everything you need to turn a DSLR into an ENG camera, we could have just turned these jobs back over to real ENG video cameras.”
It provides many handy audio features including headphone monitoring with volume control, two isolated XLR inputs with switchable phantom power, audio level meters with menu-free gain control on both channels and two balanced line XLR outputs.
A single battery delivers power to the camera and all of its accessories. Each Lunchbox has a connection for a BP-U60 type Li-Ion battery as well as a hot-swappable input for an external battery. Auxiliary outputs for both 2.1mm and 2.5mm barrel sizes allow viewfinders, monitors and on-camera lights to plug straight into the device.
There are two available builds of the Lunchbox, the Studio version and the Run-N-Gun. The Studio version mounts to the bottom of a camera and is mainly for tripod shooting while the Run-N-Gun offers the further benefit of ENG (electronic news gathering) ergonomics. The Run-N-Gun also features a built-in speaker near the operator’s ear for headphone-free audio monitoring as well as an easy and fast attachment method for RF receivers. Both units require little set-up time so users can spend more time shooting and less time building their rig.
Both versions connect to a DSLR camera through a single cable system. The power requirements are encoded in these camera-specific cables, which support several models of Canon DSLRs. The system was first designed and optimized to work with the Canon 5D Mark III.
Cable systems for additional cameras are under development and include cinema cameras such as Blackmagic and RED as well as Sony, Panasonic and Nikon DSLRs.
The first run will be hand-built and is completely dedicated to the Kickstarter campaign. To show their appreciation, Radcliff and Calvey are offering exclusive pricing. The Studio version will be offered for $499 and the Run-N-Gun for $699.
Final retail prices are still under negotiation. The first published prices were $699 and $999 respectively, but these are expected to go up. However, theKickstarter reward amounts will remain the same, giving backers an even more significant price break. An announcement concerning the final price tag will be announced before the end of the fundraising period.
This is the studio enclosure prototype. It mounts underneath the camera and is mainly for tripod shooting.
“We’ve gotten a lot of pledges already and have a lot of faith in the Kickstarter community. We’re eternally grateful for each and every supporter,” says Calvey.
“DSLRs are very popular and have a desirable ‘filmic’ look, but in order to use them to shoot video, we’ve had to get used to certain features being absent,” Radcliff explains. After deciding that this was no longer acceptable, Calvey and Radcliff headed to the garage with an electronics guru and a stainless steel fabricator to build the first prototypes.
Over the course of 6 months, they developed a working prototype with a special power supply and designed two rugged and stylish enclosures.
“Before launching the Kickstarter, we looked at a lot of the other campaigns for ideas. We noticed many other technology and hardware projects seem to be much further along in the manufacturing process.” She adds, “We’re definitely proud of the Lunchbox in its current phase of production and would hope that everyone else shares the same enthusiasm for a specially hand-built product that solves so many problems.”
The Lunchbox is still in its infancy. Calvey says that start-up funds were very limited during development. “We looked into prototyping services as well as manufacturing processes such as aluminum machining, powder coating and screen-printing. A lot of these services entailed hefty set-up costs and their minimum order quantities were not so minimum.”
The first run will be a combination of welded stainless steel and machined aluminum elements. The boxes will eventually completely be made of light-weight aluminum and manufactured at a larger scale, but these special first run Lunchboxes will offer no compromises and will likely be the most rugged editions they’ll be able to make.
“An atomic bomb can go off and this thing will still be here,” they muse. The Kickstarter video comes with “Easter eggs”, one of which shows a video of Calvey driving over an early enclosure prototype with a car.
The Logger's Lunchbox Beginning Phase
Funds raised through Kickstarter will go toward circuit board production and streamlining the final enclosure design by automating as many processes as possible. The Lunchbox that backers receive will have some minor differences in its design once they are ready to ship. The expected ship date for the first run is August, 2014.
Calvey and Radcliff assure that they’ll keep everyone posted as they go. “We promise you’ll get a good look at our first production run before it’s all said and done. Worst case scenario, they’ll look a lot cooler than they do now.”
Edward Calvey and Hannah Radcliff operate Thumbcat Media in St. Louis, MO, a Midwest Emmy Award-winning team of creative professionals. The Logger’s Lunchbox is their first micro-manufacturing venture.
Testing the Logger's Lunchbox
Check out their Kickstarter Campaign: Logger's Lunchbox
Visit their website: Logger's Lunchbox
(cover photo credit: snap from the Kickstarter)