ATS Rentals: Canon XH-A1
I get the privilege of doing freelance video production work from time to time. I say privilege, because I am in no means a professional, nor do I own the professional gear it takes to pull off an entire production alone.
Usually, I have most of the stuff I need, except the camera itself. I'm covered on Audio and Post Production, it's the Video Camera that's missing. In the past, I have been able to borrow gear from friends, but being at college, and away from home, it's time to find a new source of renting gear.
When it comes to Video Cameras, my expectations are not too unreasonable. I want a medium-sized, 3CCD MiniDV setup, with XLR inputs and an LCD screen. For this particular shoot this past weekend, the Canon's XH-A1 seemed to fit this bill nicely, with the additional asset of being a High Definition camera.
I was surprised at how little the number of online gear rental places there were. There were plenty of rental houses out of LA, but finding a place that would ship the camera was rare. After doing a few hours of research through Google, I found a company that I was ready to try: ATS Rentals.
ATS Rentals is a company out of Illinois. This message pulls up when you go to their website, "Easy and Affordable Equipment Rentals. Available Nationwide." The offer a ton of items, primarily video cameras, projectors, screens and PA systems. I liked what I saw, so I dug in deeper to their site.
They have that Canon XH-A1 Video Camera I want, and they have it at the lowest price I could find. More importantly, they have 10 of them, leaving the odds of one being available when I need it, high. Their weekend rental system is based off a "business day" configuration. The 1-Day rate was $179. I was going to be shooting for over 5hrs straight, handheld, so I added a Large Battery for $15.
I like how ATS handles shipping and handling. They only ship FedEx, my favorite. Also, they include return shipping in the price you pay, by placing a return label inside the box. Shipping to me in Arkansas was $22.
These prices were fantastic.
$179 + $15 + $28 = $222
I placed my order, online, a few weeks before the shoot. I got a nice email, that said I needed to print, fill out, and return the attached form to them, as well as take a photo of my Driver's License for them to file.
I got a little confused on the form, so I called them. I spoke to Lynn, who was very helpful, and got things straightened out. I was all set to receive the gear on Friday morning, and ship it back Monday afternoon.
Then the cheerleading shoot got pushed over a week. dang. Now I've got gear scheduled to be here soon, that I'm going to have to pay for, only to turn around and pay for it again for the next weekend. Also, there was no way they would still have a camera for me, on such short notice. I called ATS and spoke with Mindy, who moved the gear rental over and acted like it was no big deal. She reminded me they have 10 units, and slid my rental forward one week.
The camera came in on time, Friday morning. It was packaged in a cardboard box, custom-fitted with pick n' pluck foam. Inside was everything Canon ships the camera with from the factory, plus my Large Battery (charged!). ATS even tossed in a 1394 Firewire cable for me, along with my FedEx return label.
The Saturday shoot went great, leaving Sunday for me to play in HD. I didn't do much playing, because Final Cut Pro gave me a hard time about importing in HD for the first time. I got it finally, but it took some time. That was my fault, not Apple's, and not ATS Rentals.
I packed the gear back up, filled out a survey page in the box, and taped it up. I stuck the FedEx label on it, and was done. All that had to happen now was get the box in our FedEx girl's hands. They should get the camera tomorrow.
I will be using ATS Rentals in the future. These freelance jobs don't come around terribly often, but when they do, ATS has what I need. They've got it at a good price, and they've got enough cameras that one is bound to be available, even on short notice.
Thanks for reading. ATS Rentals did not ask me to do this, I was just so excited about the whole thing I had to write them a nice review.
This is the day that the LORD has made, let's rejoice, and be glad!