We all need them. Bags, cases, and plastic tubs for wrangling our gear to set, and sometimes these cases and be expensive. The old Milk Crate has been a reliable, strong, and cheap solution for years, but they have a few issues. Mainly they have a bunch of openings all over them, and small items can slip through and never be found again. Here is where Canadian Producer/Director Ken Nemetchek steps in with a clever way to convert a simple Milk Crate into a padded case.
Bring Your Own Milk Crate
Sort-It Cases are heavy-duty fabric and plastic inserts. You supply your own milk crate. This saves you a lot of money on shipping. Ken recommends buying crates in different colors so keeping things organized is easier. Hardware stores are a good place to find 1’x1′ and 1 1/2’ x 1’ crates, and you should be able to track down distributors near where you live that offer colors.
Another benefit of Sort-It Cases is that you can stack them. Because Sort-It Cases go inside milk crates, you can stack them as high as you like.
The next big benefit is that you can space the dividers to suit your needs. Everything goes together with a hook & loop (velcro), so you can customize any case for whatever you’re using it for. Need more dividers? No problem. Different sized dividers? Sure. You can even upgrade to padded dividers for more protection or stay with regular non-padded dividers if you need that extra little bit of room.
The outside is waterproof fabric, and the bottom layer is over 6” high so that you could sit it in a puddle, and you’d probably keep everything dry. The seams are not water-tight, but anyone can seal them at home with some silicone. Then I thought, I should make a rain lid. Ya, easier said than done, but eventually, I came up with a design that attaches to the top of the case. They’re not as stackable when it’s on, but you can take them off when the sun is shining!
Ket states, he loves hearing of new ways that people are using them. He was on a set recently, and the makeup artist was carrying 9 bags! He showed her his cases, and she immediately said, “I want one!” Even people doing props like them keep things safe, and you can tear the case apart after the show and rebuild it to suit whatever the next job is.
The cases come in two sizes – 1’x1’ and 1 1/2’ x 1’. I hear that some people use 1’ x 2’ cases, and I’m willing to design one if there’s enough demand.
Ken’s father was a saddle maker. His father spent about 5 minutes teaching him to sew because he needed some sandbags for a shoot, he decided to make them instead of buying them, and he’s been sewing all sorts of cases over the years. When he needs one, Ken just makes it.
Once the word got around, people started asking for custom cases: “I’ve got speakers that need soft cases to protect them between gigs.” “My company rents dolly track, and we want to protect it when it’s shipped, and lots of smaller cases for all kinds of things, from light fixtures to grip, audio gear, monitors, camera stuff.”
Ken needed a case for his LED ribbon lighting (strips, extensions, ballasts, etc.) and decided to make something that fits into a milk crate. That was the first one.
When Aputure released the Amaran 100 and 200 fixtures, there were many posts on the Facebook User Group asking what people were using for cases, so he designed a case specifically for those fixtures and put up a FaceBook page. Now he’s got people interested in buying them. A website is coming, but for now, people are Facebook DMing.
Pricing and Options
The single and double Amaran cases retail for $80/$95 USD plus S&H. Coming soon, the Bigger BaseCase, and padded versions of both. Also in the works is the CameraCase.
The BaseCase is $80 and comes with 1 divider, and the Bigger BaseCase is $95 and comes with 2 dividers. The biggest difference between them and the Amaram cases is the lid, so you can attach a rain cover (coming soon). Both the BaseCase and the Bigger BaseCase are also available with padded dividers for a bit more. Additional dividers range from $7.50 to $20 each, depending on size and if they’re padded.
It’s always fun to see people who work in the industry creating products that solve problems or just make affordable and useful things.
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