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al hamman
traveling with pro gear
on Oct 28, 2009 at 4:08:38 am

When traveling by air, how do you protect your video gear? Do you check it in a pelican case, do you carry on in a soft-side case or ship in a pelican or original carton? What about light kits - how do you transport those when traveling via air?

Have i overlooked any options that you use? Feedback on how you safeguard your gear would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, al


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Tom Opferman
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 28, 2009 at 2:08:40 pm

Hi Al,

I try to take on the plane the bare minimum I would need to still be able to shoot if my checked bags were to not show up.

So I put the camera in its soft case, with ac power supply, battery, recording media, lav mike, & ac cable. I carry this case onto the plane. On standard size jets the case will fit fine in the overhead compartment; I will try to pad it with blankets or my coat.

On smaller planes I plead my case with the airline staff to let me take it on the plane; it will barely fit under the seat sometimes. It used to be the staff was helpful and understanding--they would find a way to put the case in the cabin with me. These days I'm not getting much love from airlines so, if I have to, I'll take the camera out of the soft case, then watch them put the soft case in the luggage compartment, and carry the camera on and put it between my legs under the seat.

For lights, remember to take the lamps out of the units and pack them with plenty of padding. The jostling can cause lamps to come out of the units and break.

I put my sticks in a hard case, and sometimes I put extra cables into the same case.

Usually I end up with four checked bags: 1) tripod case, 2) light kit, 3) gear case (batts, charger, mikes, cables, grip stuff, etc), and 4) my clothes case.

Be prepared to pay excess baggage/weight fees. It used to be if you tipped the right person and/or told them you were with the media, then you could talk your way out of significant extra fees. That rarely happens anymore. It used to be that cases over 70 lbs were considered overweight; these days it seems like all the airlines consider 50 lbs to be overweight. Some airlines charge for each checked bag and then an additional fee for every bag more than two. Southwest, my current favorite, doesn't charge for the first two bags.

Also, I've been told by some airlines that they won't take any bags that are over a certain maximum weight, regardless of how much your willing to pay. So it's a good idea to check with the airline in advance to find out what their specific policies are.

Traveling with gear is a lot more hassle than it used to be but you can still get it done with reasonable assurance that your gear will arrive with you and in one piece.

Good luck.

Tom O


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Dan Brockett
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:37:39 am

Great advice from Tom, all of which I totally agree with.

A few additional ideas...

1. If you are doing a project with any kind of budget, FedEx or UPS all gear except your camera ahead of time. I often shoot in NYC and it is a heck of lot easier to just carry my camera case and personal luggage on the plane and not have to worry about lugging lots of big heavy cases through La Guardia or JFK and then having to schlep it in and out of taxis into Manhattan? No insurance means that if the airlines lose your $5,000.00 HD monitor or your $8,000.00 Sachtler, you are screwed unless you have your own insurance. It is so nice to arrive at my hotel and all of my shoot gear is waiting in my hotel room for me.

NOT cheap about $700.00 ea. way. BUT, it is insured, and you can send a few days ahead of you and talk to the hotel staff to make sure that it arrived. Why deal with airlines who suck so badly anyway and don't really care if you or your luggage makes it to your destination in one piece?

2. That said, I flew to France to shoot a doc this Summer. Traveled alone so there was only so much gear I could take. Took no lighting, was shooting with the Canon 5D MKII so all I took was camera, lenses, cards, batteries and a couple of lavs with a Zoom H4N recorder. Came back with nice footage and I traveled very lightly. So, depending on the style of project you are shooting, you can travel very light and still make nice video.

3. Another tip. Grip and lighting are heavy and bulky. If you are traveling to any metropolitan area, why on earth lug all of your grip and lighting gear? In NYC, I rent it. I have also rented in Miami, Dallas, Chicago and a few other places. It is a heck of a lot easier to land, grab your rental car and go pickup your lighting kit, C-stands and sandbags than to haul them on and off of a plane. Then again, if you are going to someplace remote or a smaller city, this may not be possible. Start going to the states not on the coasts and the amount of rental gear available goes way down. In many states, there may only be one or two rental sources in the entire state.

4. Beware that many European carriers will only let you bring on one carry on, not two as many domestic carriers let you do. So if you need your camera and laptop/drives, you need a camera backpack that can carry your computer as well. Being a P2 shooter, I have to carry camera, laptop and drives everywhere. The CineBags are good, really good and they have a model that can take any smaller prosumer camera (EX1, HVX/HPX, etc.) and a laptop. Bigger 2/3" type cameras are tough to fly with a laptop all in one bag, it becomes too large and heavy.

5. If you are not using a camera backpack, the best case in the world for carrying cameras, lenses, other electronics is a thrift-store diaper bag. Who would want to ripoff or even look inside a diaper bag? Seriously. Certain airports are famous for thefts like Miami, Charles De Gaulle, etc.

6. Make sure you are familiar with new rules about transporting Lithium Ion, NIMH, etc. batteries in comparing your checked versus carry on.

7. Tom's advice is great in that you should think that your checked luggage will be lost. You have around a 10% chance these days so make sure that you put mics, headphones, media, batteries and anything else you need in your camera case. That way, if you lose your check in luggage, you have what you need to do a bare bones emergency shoot. You can always duck into a photo store or Best Buy and pickup a cheapo tripod just for the shoot but you have to have camera, media, batteries and audio at a bare minimum, right?

Good luck. Flying with gear is a huge PITA. The FedEx and UPS way is best and easiest but costs the most. I just build it in as a line item in the budget. It is not cheap but it is not that expensive if the client can also afford to fly you around.

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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al hamman
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:13:28 am

Dan - thank you for adding to the great thoughts Tom laid out for us - you & he both went well beyond what i had hoped for - amazes me. I am deeply grateful for kind folks who take teh few moments to share their experience. Especially the thoughts on security - who knows - you may have just saved me my rig! Thanks again, i promise what will hopefully be a very few more basic newbie questions & will hopefully be able to help others along the way in teh future.




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al hamman
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 31, 2009 at 12:16:00 am

Tom - thank you so much for your well thought out help. the guidance is very appreciated.


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Ryan Pratzel
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 31, 2009 at 2:58:50 am

Tom-

I know you have gotten alot of great advice, but here are a few more quick tips. I've done a ton of traveling this year and about to do some more in November.

1) Measure your bags. Discount airlines can be sticklers for carry-on bags fitting into those tiny test compartments at the gates. When I travel with my HPX500 on discount carriers I put the camera body, VF, shotgun mic and (2) AB Dionics in a Cinebag 25 backpack. The lens goes in a Pelican case that I carry on board that fits under the seat. I also try to book on larger planes (no regional jets) whenever possible.

2) (2) Lithium batteries. That is the current rule for batteries on the plane. I travel with (2) AB Dionic 90's. The bigger Dionics are OVER the FAA limits for Lithium batters (if I remember correctly) Anton Bauer has great travel info on their website. I have a print-out of their specs and carry it with me in case TSA ever questions the batteries. Last time I checked you cannot check pro lithium batteries in your checked luggage.

3) I try to not travel with lights when I fly. If I need to travel with them I pack them either in a Pelican case or if it's just a few small lights, in a suitcase wrapped in clothing. When I need lighting I try to rent local. Alot of lighting rental shops will deliver and pickup from a shooting location for a freight charge. Also, consider LED's. They are easy to travel with and you don't have to worry about bulbs. (Coollights.biz)

4) When I fly I always try to pre-board. I usually ask the gate agents very nicely. This way I guarantee I will get overhead space.

Finally, the last bit of advice, make sure you have all of your paperwork in order if you travel internationally. I traveled to Canada with a producer back in June and he had no idea he needed customs paperwork for his Sony HDV camera.

Happy Travels.

Ryan Pratzel
Executive Producer
Creative Liquid Productions
http://www.CreativeLiquid.com



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Ryan Pratzel
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Oct 31, 2009 at 2:59:17 am

Al-

I know you have gotten alot of great advice, but here are a few more quick tips. I've done a ton of traveling this year and about to do some more in November.

1) Measure your bags. Discount airlines can be sticklers for carry-on bags fitting into those tiny test compartments at the gates. When I travel with my HPX500 on discount carriers I put the camera body, VF, shotgun mic and (2) AB Dionics in a Cinebag 25 backpack. The lens goes in a Pelican case that I carry on board that fits under the seat. I also try to book on larger planes (no regional jets) whenever possible.

2) (2) Lithium batteries. That is the current rule for batteries on the plane. I travel with (2) AB Dionic 90's. The bigger Dionics are OVER the FAA limits for Lithium batters (if I remember correctly) Anton Bauer has great travel info on their website. I have a print-out of their specs and carry it with me in case TSA ever questions the batteries. Last time I checked you cannot check pro lithium batteries in your checked luggage.

3) I try to not travel with lights when I fly. If I need to travel with them I pack them either in a Pelican case or if it's just a few small lights, in a suitcase wrapped in clothing. When I need lighting I try to rent local. Alot of lighting rental shops will deliver and pickup from a shooting location for a freight charge. Also, consider LED's. They are easy to travel with and you don't have to worry about bulbs. (Coollights.biz)

4) When I fly I always try to pre-board. I usually ask the gate agents very nicely. This way I guarantee I will get overhead space.

Finally, the last bit of advice, make sure you have all of your paperwork in order if you travel internationally. I traveled to Canada with a producer back in June and he had no idea he needed customs paperwork for his Sony HDV camera.

Happy Travels.

Ryan Pratzel
Executive Producer
Creative Liquid Productions
http://www.CreativeLiquid.com



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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Nov 6, 2009 at 8:01:16 am

http://www.filmtools.com/pelican-1510-loc-overnight-case-black-1510loc.html

http://www.filmtools.com/cinebags-revolution-backpack-cb-25.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/340292-REG/Petrol_PCBP_1_PCBP_1_Papoo...

or if you have a larger camera..

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/622108-REG/Petrol_PCBP_2N_PCBP_2N_Bro...

Panasonic HPX170 P
Unibody Macbook Pro 15 inch, 2.8 Ghz, 4GB RAM
Final Cut Pro Studio 2
Avid Media Composer
The College of WIlliam and Mary


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Brett Howe
Re: traveling with pro gear
on Nov 20, 2009 at 1:29:05 am

All great advice! I have travelled between Australia, US & Europe on shoots many times and the packing and carrying of kit is the biggest headache. So just to fill your brain some more....read on!

VISA! - Some countries require you to have a "MEDIA" visa, to stroll in and shoot. USA being one of them. My tip here....plan ahead! It can take quite some time to sit the interview, and obtain a Visa...but it generally lasts about 5 years. Travel without one and you may get the rubber glove and a quick trip home! So check the gov websites of your destination.

Secondly...and we have had hassles like this in the past...moving valuable items (Your Gear) between countries. Some countries are tougher than others, but generally you need a document from your country of origin, stating that you have brought it from home, and it is returning home with you. This is called a "Carnae"(not sure on the spelling). This ensures you are not importing/exporting high price items avoiding tax and duties....(yes they have thought of everything). Walking through an airport with a trolley loaded with kit will grab the attention of the powers that be.

Apart from all the above mentioned....travellings a breeze....just don't let your kit out of your sight for a second!



Brett Howe
Creative Director / Producer
Brave Vision Pty Ltd


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