The design of a DIT cart heavily depends on the specific requirements of the DIT who builds it. In the case of Germany-based DIT Christian Dressler, his requirements were clear when he first planned the design of his cart: A secure and stable cart that allowed him to protect his gear but was still flexible enough to fit in narrow spaces.
The solution Christian came up with was simple yet unique: Building his cart based on a flight case. In the following Christian shares some details about his “flight-case-cart” and explains his “secret method” for expanding his workspace.
Hi Christian, nice to meet you! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, for example, where are you based and what projects are you usually booked for?
Hey there! My name is Christian Dressler, and I’m based in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. I’ve loved film, television, and computers since my childhood, so my future career was set early on. After graduating from school with a focus on electrical engineering, I began training as a media designer, which I successfully completed in 2007. This was followed by a traineeship at a local camera rental house. Since 2008 I’m working as a DIT for feature films, TV shows, commercials, and image films all around Germany. My main tasks are data management, quality checks, on-set grading, color correction, dailies, and workflow development.
We are interested in your DIT cart because we know that everyone’s cart setup varies. How would you describe your personal overall cart setup?
My requirements for the cart were to securely house my computers, all types of hard drives, card readers, monitors, and accessories in a single, rugged housing. That’s why I came up with the idea of building a flight case. The whole cart is made of 9mm plywood.
Even though all equipment is built-in, I can easily adjust the setup to the given conditions. There are two large doors at the back to access all components and cables. When I arrive on a set, all I have to do is open the front cover, lift the top flap, and connect the cart to a power supply. Another advantage is that my cart is very compact. So I do not need a big truck for transportation. Ever since I built the cart four years ago entirely by myself, it’s been constantly evolving and improving.
Can you tell us some details about the components of your cart? E.g., what size is it, and does it have wheels?
When it’s closed, the box is 60 x 80cm and 90cm high, including the wheels. It fits perfectly through every door, in every elevator, and also in small vans. The cart has four soft rubber wheels to protect the equipment from shocks.
How many monitors do you have installed?
I am currently using two Eizo Color Edge 24 “monitors, but I’d like to exchange one of them with a new Flanders Scientific DM250 monitor for on-set color grading and dailies.
What about video and computer gear?
At the moment, I do not have any special video equipment except a small Thunderbolt to SDI Converter for my grading monitor. However, this year I would like to purchase a Waveform & Vectorscope, as well as a Videohub and a Capture Card.
Regarding computer gear, I use a MacPro 8-core (late 2013), 32GB RAM, and two 6GB GPUs. With this machine, I have enough power for all tasks on set. Everything is possible, from simply downloading the files to on-set grading and even first edits. The data is stored on a 32 TB RAID. For the backups, I usually use two more small RAIDs. For the administration of the data and for the creation of dailies, I use Silverstack Lab.
How do you handle power supply on set?
I need at least 1kW for my cart. On set, I usually use the available power sources, but there are always situations where this doesn’t work. For this case, I always have a small 2kW generator with me. To protect the equipment against over-voltage or power outages, I use a UPS that can supply my cart with power for about 15 minutes.
What are the accessories and special features of your cart?
Recently I often got the request to quickly transfer the daily rushes, rendered files, and dailies to the editing suite. To do this, I use an LTE router with an external antenna on the roof of my van for uploading all the desired files at any location.
As for “special features”, there’s nothing really to mention there yet… However, suggestions are welcome!
What is your personal favorite component of your cart?
My highlight is the front cover of the box that I can convert to a side table. This way, I can easily expand my workplace and create plenty of room for a coffee mug, sweets, or the DOP’s laptop. ?
What has been the latest addition to your DIT cart?
My latest addition was a 12V, 20A universal power converter, so I don’t need any additional power supplies for the different kinds of hard drives or SSD’s I use. It’s also great to get rid of all the annoying power plugs and adaptors.
Are there any notable stories that have happened with your cart while on set and that you’d like to share with us?
When I create dailies on set, I am looking for a dark environment to be able to judge the colors well. I often sit in my DIT van with the doors closed to correct the shots. Unfortunately, sometimes I completely forget about the time. Since my colleagues seem to be similar in terms of this, I’ve missed quite a few lunch breaks with them already.
Christian’s DIT cart really is a perfect mix: It allows him to collaborate well with others using its extendable table while also being compact enough to fit in his van and giving him some private “coloring” space.
Many thanks to Christian for sharing all these details about his cart!