Filmmaking can be tough, especially when you have so much gear that you’re stuffing a 5-ton truck to the brim and still need more space. Bring travel into the mix as you add flight times, baggage restrictions, unfamiliar filming locations and you get an even more challenging production to manage.
Having traveled extensively with gear from our home base of Vancouver, BC, we’ve found a few tips and tricks to keep packed light and shooting happy no matter where you go.
Pack zip ties and other tools for repair
This one is pretty self-explanatory but it’s a necessity no matter where you go! Have a clasp on a bag that broke just before the airport security in London? Need to perform camera surgery on a dusty side street in the Australian outback? Well, having a trusty multi-tool, screwdriver and allen key set will keep your head afloat and your anxiety down. Just don’t forget to pack those bad boys in your checked bag otherwise airport security might take them!
Zoomin’ around with zoom lenses!
I know we all love the beautiful bokeh and sharpness that a full set of inexpensive Rokinon lenses can bring, but how much space can you really afford when you’re stuffing 4 primes into a bag that one zoom lens can cover? Don’t get me wrong, prime lenses are an important tool for any job, but when traveling, a zoom lens will provide you more focal length coverage and save space in your case.
Carry extra batteries/build a portable battery charging station
Batteries, batteries, batteries! When we traveled to South East Asia last year, we bought an extra 20 batteries for our Sony a7s because we didn’t know how many days we would go for without electricity while traveling in certain remote regions. There is nothing worse than running out of juice just before an epic once in a lifetime shot. We also recommend building a portable battery charging station. When you have a huge battery supply that needs charging every night after a long day, sitting there and waiting for that little red light to turn green and then swapping the battery isn’t too appealing! Make sure the station has enough outlets to power at least 6-10 batts at a time!
Image stabilization is a must
You can never go wrong with image stabilization. Especially when shooting with flimsy DSLR or mirrorless systems. We use IS on all of our video productions in Vancouver and abroad. It allows you to go completely handheld when using a rig is not an option! Bonus points if you have a viewfinder that you can use for additional stabilization.
Bring a good tripod!
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to these guys. For us, we want to be able to bring along a tripod that has the most stability and portability along with having a good fluid head. There are tons on the market but we found ones that have multiple purposes to be the best for travel. For example, we’ve been using one that acts as a tripod, monopod and even a short boom pole – for those very limited budget travel video productions! Another support option if you’re really trying to pack light is the widely popular gorillapod. Packs away nicely into your bag and mounts like a beast on just about anything!