Keeping things light – traveling with video production gear

Last week Phil and I made a trip out to New York City. Our mission seemed simple enough – we needed to shoot some awesome stock footage and an interview the next afternoon. The key to this shoot was deciding what gear to bring (in order to give us the best interview shots) while also determining what items would be suitable for carrying around the city.

The first thing we considered were cameras. It’s no surprise we went with a Canon 7D and 5D II. These are light, easy to pack and don’t draw much attention. All good things for shooting b-roll in a city. They also are great for an interview. Easy to match color, both look awesome, and we can have our editor deal with syncing audio.

After choosing cameras we then discussed lighting. This discussion took the most time for several reasons. We needed to focus on quality, but we also needed to expect the unexpected. Since we didn’t have an excellent idea of what the environment would include, we needed to be prepared for any potential issue. So, we started with what we did know – the interview was going to take place in a bar. After going back and forth on some options, Phil and I decided to take the Kino Flo 4Bank interview kit. Kinos are great but we were both aware of the time it takes to set up and the fact we’d need to add two C stands and two sandbags to our list. Luckily, I have a Jeep so we even took the Ikan id 500 LED light. We figured it could be used as a fill light, back light or even to add something to the background.

After getting to New York City and scouting the location, we planned for our actual setup. We went with one Kino for the key light, the LED for the rim light, and the other Kino to light up a brick wall in the background. After seeing how it all looked, I was very happy we decided to take the Kinos.

Everything else was a pretty easy decision. Here is a breakdown of the rest of the setup for the interview:

  • Audio – We used a standard approach including a shotgun mic attached to a C stand for A audio and Wireless Lav for B audio. Everything connected to the Zoom H4n.
  • Glass – This may have been the easiest decision. We went with a Sigma 70-200 2.8, Sigma 17-50 2.8 and Canon 24-70 2.8 L. This gave us an amazing range of shots and possibilities in addition to having full frame and cropped sensor cameras. The Sigma 70-200 is great, but nothing compares to the Canon 70-200 L. There’s a reason it costs about $2,500.
  • Other Gear – We packed two Manfrotto tripods for the interview session. A tripod is something you should never travel without.

After the interview, it was time for b-roll. In order to carry all accessories, Phil had a Lowe Pro Sling Bag and I had the CineBags HD Backpack. The backpack was amazing. Not too heavy and it fit everything I needed to run around with. Perfect size and comfortable all day.

Handheld shots were a must and I took some time deciding what to go with. A full shoulder mount rig gets some cool shots but it’s bulky, draws attention and is hard to carry when hopping in and out of trains/cabs. I also have the Ikan Super Fly DSLR Rig and that is what I ultimately ended up going with. Why? It is extremely light, easy to pack and gets some decent shots. I don’t think I could have held stable shots for more than a few minutes. But for 30 second fillers and walking through people, this thing was the perfect tool.

Ultimately, I learned a lot from packing for this trip and looking forward to the next. I will leave you with 5 things that you should never travel without:

  1. Your choice of camera that will best do the job at hand
  2. A reliable tripod that is easy to carry around all day
  3. Batteries and cards (more than you think you will need)
  4. Energy bars (I like Cliff) – You won’t always have time to stop somewhere to eat
  5. An open mind. Especially when traveling, things don’t always go as planned. Take a deep breath, smile, and get some unexpected shots

Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
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  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

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