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Essential non-camera must haves?

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adam taylor
Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 3, 2012 at 12:51:11 pm

Its a long time since i was out in the field, and back then it was my job to cart all the kit around - not easy when it was low-band video recorders, portable monitors, Hitachi Z1, etc.

I recently got to thinking about how one-man camera operators make sure they have the kit they need ready at hand in these days of fast paced roving work and started mulling over some ideas about carrying systems....

so if you camera operators out there don't mind me asking -

What kit do you consider essential to have about your person at all times when shooting?
I am thinking more about the less obvious. ie - I know you need your camera and tripod, a battery and spare media...but what else?

thanks

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk
My YouTube Animations Page


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Nick Griffin
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 3, 2012 at 3:44:59 pm

For true "run and gun" I like to carry a small pop-out "Lite Disc" / "Flex Fill" reflector. It helps open up eyes and other shadows when working with ambient light, weighs only a few ounces (.056kg) and our smallest one folds down to about a foot around by half an inch deep (304mm x 25mm).

For audio I carry a handheld Beyer omni as a back-up in case the lav mic has problems or if there simply isn't time to wire up a subject.

Granted neither of these are the way I like to work. We're far more "production" oriented with three or more point lighting, large softboxes, boomed mic and even a dolly with tracks when appropriate. But having that stuff isn't always possible or practical.

I haven't had to work a trade show / expo floor in several years, but if I do again, I'd add a cheap trackless set of dolly wheels to the tripod for ease of moving between locations.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 12:25:41 am

A large van...(G)

Al


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adam taylor
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 1:16:12 pm

hmm - not sure i could fit a Van into a belt pouch!

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk
My YouTube Animations Page


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adam taylor
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 1:17:34 pm

thanks Nick, that gives me a few ideas!

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk
My YouTube Animations Page


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Al Bergstein
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 1:34:48 pm

Joking aside, likely some kind of LED light. Having tried a few, getting an anton bauer battery setup of some kind that also allows you power an lcd light could be the difference between getting a useable shot in news gathering situation or not. Probably a handheld mic with wireless to go along with a small lav and camera mounted receiver.

Making sure that your camera has a reverseable viewfinder is essential, which even some low end consumer models now have, so that you can shoot yourself if needed, which I have done on occasion.

A polarizer filter is key for me, along with a super wide angle lens attachment. I was mentored by a guy who always said, "shoot close, then get closer". So I learned with the next widest thing to fisheye distortion I could get.

A white card and grey card is essential, and I recently bought the set of 'warm' cards for special purposes. Good headphones as well if we want to state the obvious.

I put tall mud boots (short hip waders work too) in my trunk, along with a well stocked tool box of spare parts. I joke about the van, but the fact is you don't want to be missing something key (like a step ladder) when you need it to make a difference. I also carry a long mounting pole to get my camera airborne for that must have 'look down' shot in tight quarters, like on a boat. Even 10 seconds of steady camera from on high can really spruce up your video. Having a couple of light stands and clamps in the van also can come in handy.

Oh, and of course, belt mount a knife that we call a Leatherman to have a toolkit in a pinch. I rarely use it but when you need it, there is no substitute. They come in all sorts of sizes. I carry a large complete one in my toolkit and a smaller one on my belt.

All of this points out that many shots you only get once. It's far easier to load an entire kit up, and never use it than get somewhere and wish you had something. My wife jokes that I need a slave to help load and unload my van. It's actually the most grueling part of most of my shoots.

Al


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adam taylor
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 1:39:48 pm

Thanks Al,

some very good suggestions there...in fact the whole point of the post was based upon my recently making a leather pouch for my own Leatherman, and thinking how could i expand upon this and make something useful for my profession...

adam

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk
My YouTube Animations Page


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Mike Jeffs
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 6, 2012 at 3:11:58 pm

Gaffe Tape! I always need it and i always forget it!!!.

The thought comes to mind that this is subjective to what type of work are you doing? News, documentary, promos? Al joked and said a van, but i would agree depending on the type of shoot i'm doing my kits contain Lights, Stands, Reflectors, flags, cloth back drop, field/client Monitor, tons of stingers, and of course Gaffe Tape!!! To get it all to be with me all the time a van fits the bill nicely

Mike Jeffs
Video Coordinator
BYU-Idaho


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nick ring
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 14, 2012 at 5:38:18 pm

I was on a panel last year for Public Access on essentially this topic. When I mentioned Gaffers tape people laughed--it's obvious, but it isn't. A plastic credit card style card with black tape wrapped around a few times (the long way) can fit in your back pocket or wallet and is super handy when you've left that roll "way over there." Also, a Sharpie with 1" white tape wrapped around it--perfect for quick equipment labels.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on Feb 21, 2012 at 9:29:05 pm

A good alternate use for gaffer tape is to remove lint from sweaters, jackets and other articles of clothing (works for dandruff too), and for concealing lavaliere mic wires. Always ask permission before moving your finger tips beyond the collar of someone's shirt or blouse!

Mike Cohen


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Bob Cole
Re: Essential non-camera must haves?
on May 7, 2012 at 9:54:12 pm

This makes me smile, when I think of all the things I've neglected to bring for various shoots, up to and including... the camera. (but in my defense, only as far as the end of my driveway)

I tend to pack a ton of stuff and so I agree with the idea that "you never know, so all you can."

But the challenge of this question is to pack as light as possible. And for me, that particular list changes totally, based on the shoot. Another way of looking at this is, when you fly, what do you bring in the carry-on kit rather than checking it, so that you can make a movie even if the checked cases don't get there on time?

I like all of the lists. Nick's Flex-Fill is a great one. I think I'll add that to my basic kit now. My Flex-Fill is kind of big so I don't "always" have it; a small one is a fantastic idea.

Some more items from my list that I don't recall from reading the above posts:
Little loops of velcro are super-easy to bring. I just keep them on the straps of my camera bag.
Little case of extra AA batteries.
Lens cloth and brush.
EXTRA CAMERA. It is ridiculous not to pack a tiny HD camera and a way to mount it in some weird location.

This case is getting heavy....

Alternatively, if the shoot allows it, there is something quite bracing about not having all that crap to carry around. Carrying one DSLR camera (with a moderate zoom) can re-open your eyes to the joys of "seeing" rather than just lugging equipment. And you can make an excellent case (no pun intended) that carrying as little as possible enables you to move more quickly, be unobtrusive, and get shots that would be impossible with a large convoy of cases bogging you down.

Bob C


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