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Blog: Logistics

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Mike Cohen
Blog: Logistics
on Sep 22, 2011 at 8:37:35 pm

As project manager / producer of either big projects or simply projects involving lots of puzzle pieces, logistics is a word that always comes to mind. Currently planning a project that involves, in no particular order:

Travel planning

Flights, hotels, van rental.

Depending upon the length of stay I may scope out restaurant choices or simply map the driving routes. The Droid X GPS works quite well, but you never know when a NASA satellite may crash to Earth!

Speaking of food, I may get ridiculed by co-workers, but I like to document meals that are pleasing to the eye and the palate.

Equipment Rental

For anything involving more than 1 person on-camera, we often need additional lighting, cameras or other gear. While we have a perfectly good LCD monitor we use on-set for numerous projects, transporting that long distances is problematic. Renting a monitor with a stand locally is a better choice. Video camera rental in major cities is usually not a problem. Bexel, VER or MP&E are the usual suspects. Different vendors provide different levels of value. VER is a la carte.

MP&E you rent a camera and it comes with an Arri kit, tripod and audio kit. Luckily I frequent Denver where they have an office. Push comes to shove I can always rent from HB Communications in CT and carry on the plane.

For large productions such as AV at a conference, you need to budget time for load-in, setup and the breakdown at the end. This is not always during normal business hours. If Bob and Daisy don't finish their wedding reception until 11pm, you can be setting up your projectors and mics in the wee hours of the morning. Done that a few times.


Sometimes talent are actual actors. For corporate or training, auditions are usually not required. A headshot with a phone interview and YouTube videos should suffice. The cool ting about paid actors is you send them a script, and they arrive on set able to follow the script without too much prompting. The prompting I offer is usually specific to the setting (ie, hospital).

Other times the talent are the people who actually work in the location, such as a nurse, physician or technologist. In these cases the prompting required is to make the person feel comfortable on-camera (ie, not nervous). We remind the talent in this case that they are the experts. Sometimes the talent is involved in creating the content, sometimes they ad-lib or improvise based upon direction.


We can make good use of a particular setting, such as a patient holding area in a hospital, empty operating room, or a classroom or conference room.

Sometimes you get a great setting where image, sound and heating/cooling are cooperative. Otherwise you need to be prepared for the unexpected.

Itinerary Writing

Although I use an app called TripIt, which collects reservation confirmations from Gmail and builds an itinerary for me, it is a good idea to have a one-sheet Word Doc with flight, car, hotel, driving directions, important contacts and phone numbers and schedules of meetings. This you can leave behind with the office, your spouse or co-workers who you may be meeting at your destination. I email this to my various email aliases for good measure


We have had numerous threads here about carrying vs shipping gear. We always carry things like cameras and video decks on planes. Lately I have been packing small LCD monitors in lots of padding and checking as luggage without incident, or in an Anvil case with more peace of mind. For this project we are shipping via FedEx ground the backdrop for our set as it weighs 75 pounds and would never be accepted by an airline - nor would I want to try.

Bits and Bobs

For this project I need a few pieces of graphic printed for the backdrop. Also need a series of medical images, harvested from a secure VPN provided by the client. Once the images are in hand, these need to be married to other information being created by the talent and then combined into slide sets for use during the shoot. Still working on seating for the talent and the exact schedule, but with a week to go that's plenty of time!

In summary, a little planning goes a long way. A LOT of planning goes even farther. We add a project management fee to our work for hire. This fee covers the time spent, sometimes several whole days, planning the on-location work so that when it actually happens, there are few surprises and we can get the result we are looking for. While the requirements are the same, each time we have a different location, new talent and all of the ramifications of going to a new location each time. It's a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

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Jason Jenkins
Re: Blog: Logistics
on Sep 22, 2011 at 10:20:06 pm

Having a dedicate production coordinator would be soooo nice. Dude, where are your sandbags? I hope you have excellent liability coverage :)

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

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Tyle Renake
Re: Blog: Logistics
on Sep 23, 2011 at 4:52:21 am

just out of curiousity, are you located out of ct? I like using hb group as well, very nice folks.

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Mark Stuart
Re: Logistics
on Sep 29, 2011 at 8:07:51 pm

thanks for the cool photos, Mike. I've also found that planning and organization save days of time!

Mark A. Stuart
Madison, Wisconsin

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