How To Select A DIT Cart

Selecting A DIT Cart

February 14, 2017

Do you want to be a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) on film or video sets? Learn how to outift your DIT cart (and why it matters).


Series

Rich Roddman is a guest contributor to this Insight. He is a professional Digital Imaging Technician and colorist based out of Tampa, Florida. His company is SilverBox Studios. His clients include WWE, National Geographic, Major League Baseball and Harley Davidson. 


DIT Fundamentals: Selecting Your DIT Cart

Part 1: Surveying Entry-Level, Mid-Priced and High-End DIT Carts

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar

In the year 1999, I (Patrick) was a 10-year veteran of the New York City post-production scene. And my career was stuck in the mud. I was working on A-list jobs with A-list companies in a top post-production house… and I didn’t know where I wanted to go from there, in terms of my career. The work I was doing was top-notch but I didn’t feel satisfied or enriched.

My problem? I didn’t know what I actually wanted to do.

It was around then I first heard the Zig Ziglar quote above: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

Bingo.

For the prior 10 years, I aimed at nothing, except a bigger paycheck. And I hit it, with a bullseye. I made good money, earning zero job satisfaction.

That’s when I set my eyes on a goal. For me, it was to work in long-form, to work with above-the-line talent on a one-on-one basis and do it from the East Coast of the US. I finally set a goal and aimed at it. And while there’s no guarantee you’ll ever actually hit your target, this Insight is about one of those potentials career goals—working on-set.

If your career aim is to work on-set then you should understand the craft of the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT)

Of course, there’s always the ‘chicken and the egg’ problem of finding work on-set. And the easiest way in is as a Production Assistant. But if you want to move up the ranks, you’re going to need to set a target.

One potential target is working as a DIT

Maybe that path is your destination. Or maybe it’s a stop-over to get you into the camera department or down a color correction career. Either way, the entire production eventually runs through the DIT… making it a great craft to learn about. Even if you don’t want to be a DIT, you’ll be interacting with the DIT at some level, eventually—so this series is a great way to pick up some of the lingo and a lot of the tradecraft.

In this 4-part series, professional DIT Rich Roddman talks about the gear of his craft

As any craftsman will tell you, the craft of the DIT is more than just about the gear. But if you are not a master of your gear then how can anyone expect you to be a master of the craft?

In Part 1, Rich shares with you his thoughts on key bit of gear: The DIT Cart

Don’t be fooled, the Cart is an extremely important tool for a professional DIT… for reasons we talk about in this video. Rich explains the value of the cart and the various bits and bobs you want to have—if you want to be an asset to the on-set team.

In this Insight Rich shares his entry-level cart that sustained his business for the first few years. Then we look at his current cart. Plus, he shares the high-end cart he’s lusting after but hasn’t yet pulled the trigger to buy.

If you want to learn more about the Craft and Tools of DITs, let us know in the comments!

And leave suggestions for on-set software or skills you’d like us to tackle!

In Parts 2, 3 and 4 Rich will share how he kits out his cart depending on the needs and budget of a production. Below the video are links to various items mentioned here in Part 1.

Enjoy!

-pi

Mentioned in this Insight

Comments

14 thoughts on “Selecting A DIT Cart”

  1. Look into the Rock’n’Roller carts if you cant afford the magliner. The big one (R12) is only about $300. I only do DIT occasionally, and it works very well, and I fit it in my Toyota Camry

    1. Hi Nick, Those are nice inexpensive carts that can carry a good amount of gear. But when I was looking at them the wheels were still a little to unforgiving over the bumps for the hard drives and such. But for camera or monitor cases they are a great alternative. Thanks for mentioning them.

  2. I’m very interested on the subject!

    My goal is to start jobs on set and finish them in the grading room, being able to color manage from start to finish and working tight with the DP from the very begin.

    Unfortunately is not an easy thing to do, getting on set it’s hard (at least in my country) because the DIT is called on set either from the 1stAC or the production manager, and they don’t really care about color managing, in fact most of the time they only want a data manager.
    Second because the DITs are very reluctant on teaching and showing the craft, I guess they are scared of losing power on the market.

    I believe that data managing and basic DITing is not going to last a lot longer, but being able to color manage and throw off some really good looks on set is the future of this job.

    1. It really all depends on the workflow decided for the project. When I’m working as a DIT for commercials the DP often is not involved much after they wrap the spot and the look ends up being decided by the agency’s creative director and the colorist they choose. Often the DPs and I build LUTs or CDLs for different scenes but if they are used or even make it to the colorist is anyones guess. Now with features (shorts or full) it is a entirely different game where the looks are added to dailies and sent along through the post process.

      As freelancers it’s all about developing a good network with the people in the business. As a DIT you have to have successful workflows for a variety of different cameras or projects in general. Once the DPs know that you have their back and keep them safe with exposure, clipping or chrome noise and the production managers know you can be depended upon for fast safe handling of the media, you will work as much as you want. I always share my workflows with anyone who might ask. There is no secret to them, but having the focus and work ethic to stay on top of it time and time again is what separates you from your competition.

      1. Hi Rich!
        I totally get what you saying and I can see you are open on sharing, I mean you are starting this insight series 🙂
        I’m not sure how the market is in Tamp, Florida. I live in Italy and work mostly in the commercial filed, Italian market is not that big and the ADV market is even smaller, so i guess I’m fighting a completely different beast.
        It’s true that once you build a trust network then finding work is a lot easier, it’s just really hard to brake the surface and get into it.

        Getting back to your example about how much the dops are involved after the set is done, here is the same, and because of that I am actually stepping onto sets a bit more.

        The Dops that i’m working with are pushing to have me to grade their jobs and are pushing more (unfortunately with a little luck so far) to have me on set, in that way we can start with the look on set and in a way starting a conversation with the agency right from the begin.

        With them seeing the picture with a specific look on set monitor, then trough the edit and in the grading room, looks like it’s a little easier for the dop to have his/her vision getting through, even if they are not invited to grade afterwards.
        I hope this make sense (sorry for my english 🙂 )

        This is the path I’m trying to take, and that would help me also because i love grading but i love to be on set just as much 🙂

  3. Awesome Insight! I have that exact cart that my AC uses when I have my DP hat on. It is an awesome investment. Although I spend most of my time grading now, I love grip, DIT, AC tech stuff. Great addition to the Mixing Light library.

  4. Hi Mixing Light Community:

    Thanks for the addition of the DIT series.

    I have been following with close attention and excitement Robbin’s ACES and Patrick’s Color Shot Match and Conforming series. I believe that the addition of the DIT series to Mixing Light is going to fill in the gap in the color management series between what is happening today in digital film acquisition when the basic primary color grading of the film -The Look- is created and maintained throughout preproduction, production to post with the collaboration between the DIT and the cinematographer.

    In my experience, this is the most common missing piece in today’s in-classes and online workshops in reference to color management on-set. When it is taught, most of the time, it’s treated as a separated-isolated image processing and not as a link between preproduction and post.

    Since ACES has been embraced by camera manufactures and color grading software developers as the standard pipeline of the industry for color management interchange between professionals and the multi facility software systems involved in the production of the film, I would like to see in Mixing Light’s series a description and demonstration of ACES, (IDT, LMT, RRT and ODT) within ASC-CDL parameters, (SOP + Saturation). This from the perspective of preproduction, on-set, (production) color management to post, including demonstration of the equipment and softwares used by the DIT and examples of the workflows that establishes the basic primary color grading in creating the Look of the film.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Willian! We really appreciate it!

      I too would like to go down this path – I’m actually working on a film right now that might make a perfect case study as I was provided CDLs from LIveGrade – although it’s not being finished in ACES.

      But your point is well taken – your suggestion has been added to the queue and its something that I agree with you needs further attention!

  5. Funny that you would mention Inovativ carts, because I’m currently typing this comment on an Echo 36! It is indeed a fantastic cart and great for DIT work.

    As a freelancer, I jump back and forth between being a DIT and post-colorist frequently. In fact, I am DITing a music video next week that I will also be colorist on. I bring this up to illustrate that having the skillset of a post-colorist AND a DIT can be extremely valuable. If you don’t have the luxury of working in a post-house, also having DIT experience can potentially offer more employment and better networking. DIT work entails many similar skills that post-colorists must have, so the two can feed into each other.

    Rich, as DIT I am always struggling to keep my iMac secured to my cart because of the odd base. My Flanders is on an attached monitor stand and everything else sits in racks, but the base of my iMac has proven to be difficult. Do you have a suggestion for what I might use to better secure my iMac (or other equipment) to my cart? A friend of mine took a ratchet strap and block of wood to secure his iMac on a Magliner Senior cart, but I am curious of a better approach.

    Thank you Mixing Light for this insights series and I’m excited for what’s next.

    1. Hello and thanks for the support on the series. Depending on the year and model of your iMac you can get a VESA Mount replacement for the stand and then be able to mount the iMac like any other monitor. If you have a model that you can’t replace the stand, there are options that attach to the stand itself that will let you connect to a monitor stand.

      1. Did a little research from your suggestion and found exactly what I need. I had no idea there were VESA adaptors for the existing iMac stand. I will be purchasing one in the near future, even if it is to just keep my iMac seated securely to the top of the cart shelf and not fully utilizing the VESA arm. Thanks Rich!

  6. Great addition to MixingLight.
    I have been thinking of buying a cart for all those times that it’s just easier to be there on set.

    Looking forward to the next one.

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