Lighting Case for Flying?
Can anyone recommend a good lighting case for flying? I'm looking for something that will be able to hold 3-4 medium to small sized lights, and preferably the light stands too. The bag itself can't weigh more than 18 lbs or so.
I had a Hensel Softbag VII that was the perfect size and weight, but the handle broke right off, and pelican cases would exceed the 50 lb limit for checked bags on most airlines.
Something like the Kata OC-97 would be ideal, but they are hard to find and quite expensive.
Any input is greatly appreciated.
I have these
The handles don't last too long; I replaced mine with a metal one from Lowe's, latches don't take much abuse either.
Fits 3-4 regular stands and you can wrap fixtures in foam and stuff them in - 3-4 200 fresnels, a 300... can't recall if I could fit a 650 in there with a softbox too & gelly rolls. Never had damaged goods.
Not sure where you're going but it may be easier to rent when you arrive rather than the hassel of packing stuff.
Meeting the weight restrictions is tough; expecting a "bag" to survive typical airport handling is, well, "optimistic". I would personally send the stuff ahead via fedex and not the airline.
But if I HAD to bring it with me as checked, I would try to reinforce the existing bag against crushing and shock. Maybe a section of cardboard forming tube, used for forming concrete post anchors, could be found that's the right size; they come in multiple diameters at my local home supply centers.
Cut tube to length, Throw it all in the tube, cap the ends with styrofoam circles, put the tube in the bag. Should be sturdy enough to sit on.
What we use for transporting delicate RC gliders with long wings and fuselages is a product called a SportsTube, originally intended for protecting snowboards. There are also hard-shell golf bag cases, which many lighting guys seem to like for hauling stands and a few well- padded instruments.
Sport tubes and golf bag cases used to get a discount with airlines, because they counted as "sports equipment"; don't know if that's true any more. You didn't used to have to declare that it was actually a *snowboard* inside the case.
I have been using "luggage" the largest bags with wheels I can find, I use Masonite and rigid foam to protect the contents, I have been using nylon semi hard luggage and am thinking of upgrading to polycarbonate bags with 4 wheels on the bottom. Luggage looks like luggage, not expensive equipment cases. Wheeled luggage (4 wheel spinner) is also not as abused as cases while loading the plane as the handlers push it (info from a travel website on what is the "best" luggage to get)Naturally if you are moving large delicate equipment you have to use custom air shipping cases. I am using led lights and some umbrellas with CFL's so far so good, just use a lot of bubble wrap on the bulbs! 8' stands work in large cases, 12 footers use golf bag cases.
The cardboard forming tube post anchors is a brilliant idea. That opens up a lot of possibilities if you don't mind sacrificing a little space for the durability. Getting some ideas...
Cardboard tubes will work, and if you need extra length, you can nest one inside the other. Usually you'll find that, though they are all labeled as 8" diameter, one is small enough to fit into another. With a bit of overlap and some wrapping tape, you can create a long, light, strong, and cheap shipping tube -perhaps too long for air shipping on a given carrier.
Best strategy, as mentioned, is to use a real shipping company like FedEx. Ship to one of their store locations, roll up in your rental and you're on your way.
Back to air shipping:
Light-weight cases from Lightware are good. But no wheels, except on one large case, afaik. And they are expensive. But strong and light!
Late to the party here, but I'll chime in to second some of the good advice so far...
We have a couple of heavy-duty wheeled golf club cases that are good for longish items like light stands, tripod, folded dolly, Porta-Jib, etc. We've lined them with foam and put heavier-duty locks and clasps on them.
You might not want to travel with actual C-stands since they are so heavy, but if you do nothing beats shotgun or rifle cases. They are well built, fairly inexpensive, and available at most any outdoors or sporting goods store, or places like Kmart. Two shotgun cases will carry three C-stands... you put all the risers in one, and nest the turtle bases in another (we never figured out a way to puzzle together bases and risers in one case, they just don't fit that way).
Slightly funny aside, we were shooting at our local NASA installation here once, which is located inside an Army base, Redstone Arsenal. The security watchdogs were going through all our gear that day before entry (sometimes we breeze right in, sometimes they get picky). We had to open some of the most innocuous and innocent-looking cases for them to inspect... but they didn't even look twice at the gun cases, which is pretty obvious what they are. They even say "Winchester" on the side.
The best advice though is to ship gear. If we travel far enough away that we have to fly, we FedEx everything that we can. Often the only piece of gear I will travel with is my case of lenses (and I always carry it on, never check it... just because that one little case is worth more than everything else put together). You can have your gear delivered to your location or hotel, but we usually figure out which FedEx station is nearest wherever we are renting vehicles, and have the gear held at that station. It's there and ready to go when we are. I've never had anything lost, broken, or misplaced by FedEx. I cannot say the same for the airlines. It can be a little expensive, but worth every penny.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Good deal. Up until now I haven't had the need to fedex gear, but if the equipment list expands that looks like a solid option.
There's probably an option with fedex to insure that the gear makes it over safely?
[David Hala] "There's probably an option with fedex to insure that the gear makes it over safely?"
Yes. Unlike the airlines.
If you have enough time (and don't need your gear in use until right when you get on the plane) you can do a three-day FedEx with hold for pickup and the cost isn't too astronomical.
FedExing is infinitely more convenient for us than checking gear as baggage, and we've never had anything lost, misdirected, or broken. I think the last time we traveled a fair distance with a good bit of gear it was from here in Alabama to San Francisco and back. I can't remember exactly but I think the two-way FedEx bill was something like $1500 for all the gear we needed and more (probably five or six pretty big road-type cases). Not super cheap but worth every penny... and we didn't have to wrestle anything through airports (which is sooo fun). We landed, picked up our rental truck, and headed straight to FedEx where it was waiting for us. We only had to be careful not to book anything that required any of that specific gear in the couple of days before we left (I believe we did faster shipping for the return trip).
Of course, unless you are married to any of your specific pieces of gear, you can always rent things in your location city which is often easier and cheaper. For example, we never travel with HMI lighting but rent it on location... it's just too big, heavy and fragile to cart around. Sometimes though you want your "own stuff." On one cross-country shoot I took my own dolly and jib, but got a tripod from a camera/grip house there. I was cursing that tripod the whole shoot. It was actually a very nice set of sticks and a great head... but it wasn't the one I was used to and a million times kept reaching for levers and locks that weren't where I was used to them being. I always take my own now.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.