Traveling light with camera and video stuff

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 11, 2012, 11:58 PM | comments: 0

One of the things about my hobby in video (or filmmaking, if you can call it that, and you shouldn't, since no one uses film anymore) is that my professional past in the field is kind of a burden. It's a burden in part because of the extra stuff that I "need" to get what I want captured on film, er, bits. I know what it takes to acquire better quality images.

If I'm shooting something, you can be sure that at the very least I'm going to pay close attention to sound. That means I'll have a shotgun mic on the camera, and probably put a lavalier on my subject with a wireless transmitter. If I'm not running and chasing someone all over the place (I'm looking at you, Mr. Ouimet!), then I'll also have lighting. Maybe that's just a bounce reflector, maybe it's a couple of lights with umbrellas and sandbags. And gaffers tape. Real men use the tape, not that crap meant for heating ducts.

And if that weren't bad enough, the cameras have become smaller, but I'm always covering the cameras in gear. Support stuff is necessary to shoulder mount the cam, use a follow focus, keep pressure off the mount if you have a long lens, or if you have a matte box to keep light off the lens and use filters. I'm a poser, so I don't even have filters for my matte box (yet). Oh, and you may end up mounting wireless receivers, lights and outboard recorders or monitors on the camera, too. (I don't own this stuff, but I'm not above renting it.) Did I mention that my current camera can also work with all of my SLR lenses? I have three that work pretty well, plus two made specifically for the camera's mounting system. Oh, and don't forget the tripod!

What this amounts to is a big heap of stuff to carry around. For location shooting, I have a dolly that can wheel around all of it. The problem is actually for the times where I just want to show up, run-and-gun around a place quickly, and get it done. I think I may have cracked the code today after messing around a bit for this specific scenario.

First off, let me explain the "everything" arrangement. I have two awesome PortaBrace bags. The older one I bought for the HVX200 I used to have, and it carried pretty much everything for ENG style shooting. Only the tripod and lighting stuff had to be external. Now I use it for the matte box and all of the support rods, clamps, follow focus and such. I have a second bag, an enormous backpack style, that holds the newer camera, with the lens removed, and has room for all of the lenses, audio and on-camera light.

I'm not going to haul all of that stuff around, so I got down to business. What do I need, for example, to go to Cedar Point and shoot mostly roller coasters, scenery and maybe a person? Obviously I need the camera, plus the tripod and perhaps different lenses. That's it! So what I decided was that the camera itself can sit in my trunk, since it never leaves my side anyway when I'm not in the car. The tripod goes in my other hand. The lenses go where they would if I had my SLR... in my shoulder sling SLR bag! Problem solved.

Now of course, when I don't need the stuff, I can neatly store it in the two bags, and that keeps the dust off of it and out of Simon's grasp.


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