One of the hardest parts about video production is the travel - the travel that’s always encumbered with extra bags, travel fees upon travel fees, weird hours in airports waiting for flights - sometimes worrying about missing a flight to a shoot (or sometimes worse, coming home after a shoot). It becomes a science, packing just enough for you and/or your team to manage while ensuring everything needed comes along.
I travel solo as a 1-Man-Band producer, an owner-operator-editor in other words. Over the years my kit has changed drastically (as is expected). From a Walmart roller bag large enough for a body along side a Target suitcase, to the hard cases I now have, it’s always been game of tetris.
I run with just enough gear to be managed by 1 person. I mean that both ways, anymore would be too much gear to manage and any less would leave important gear behind.
In general, here’s what I travel with:
5 bags: 3 checked, 2 carry on (with a media pass the cost drops significantly - great article on that here by Fstoppers
2 Cameras: Video Camera (FS5 or similar), DSLR/Mirrorless (Nikon z6 or similar)
Enough cards, per camera, for each day of filming
2 LED panels & a few small “pocket lights” - LED’s about the size of a credit card from Apature
2 Tripods (Miller Air & a cheap Manfrotto video tripod for the mirrorless)
Audio Equipment for 1-2 interviewee’s at a time (lav mics & boom in case).
Computer & hard-drives for editing and data management
Clothing enough to last the trip
It’s important not to over-pack for the sake of bringing tons of gear. Bring what the story needs, not all the toys you have. Sure, one or two toys make the shoot even more exciting - the top photo is one such toy on loan from my father-in-law (I’m so lucky…). But don’t pack the gimbles, sliders, drones, lens sets simply because you have them. I recall a trip to Arkansas where I fell into that trap…lugging everything around was a nightmare. I’d drop cases, worry I’d left something behind, and so on - partly because I was bringing more gear than normal, so my normal kit was out of wack - but also because a lot of the stuff was new. When the shoot wrapped, I hadn’t used most of the fancy stuff I brought. The gear simply didn’t match the story’s need.
Again, this is mostly if you’re traveling solo, but has some relavence if you’re in a team. Heck, on another occasion I remember under packing and that actually turning into a silver lining. Instead of worrying about using all that I had, I was forced to make due with what I had. That film was the first I did for Microsoft. It’s a few years old, but I’m still proud of how it turned out (this film used the Walmart body bag & Target suitcase, by the way - yes, despite all that room, I left important stuff behind. What can I say, it was my first major traveling trip). Shot it with a couple Nikon DSLR’s, a Rode Video Mic Pro, TASCAM audio recorder, and a half-functioning tripod. It’s linked below:
You live and learn with time - what you need and don’t need. What allows the most creative freedom and what is simply extra baggage. If you’re so inclined, leave your kit in the comments. I’d love to learn how you pack, helps me get better.