Gear Tips While Filming Overseas
0°1’23” S / 37°54’23” E
Next week, I'll be heading to Eastern Africa on assignment for World Relief Canada. I will be spending a week in both Ethiopia and Kenya, where I will be filming a series of short documentaries telling the stories of the hardships women are facing every day and how the projects run by World Relief Canada are making a positive impact in the quality of their lives.
Packing and planning video gear for a trip like this can be tricky as you want to be light and quick on your feet to capture these time sensitive stories, but you also want to have the right gear for the variable situations you will find in the field. Most of the time when working on documentary style films, you're only given one chance to make the shot and those extra ten seconds you find yourself fumbling with your tripod make a difference. Over the past few years while traveling extensively in remote places around the world, I developed a “run and gun” style, allowing me to me to be quick and effective at capturing video with changing environments and variable subjects.
Below is a list of all the DSLR video gear I will be bringing with me. This gear all fits into my Dakine Sequence Backpack for carry-on purposes on the plane. Once on the ground and in the field, my lenses and camera bodies are put into my small army grade shoulder bag with my tripod in hand. I have found having a rough looking side bag with quick access to lenses right on my side is a very effective way of photographing and filming on the street that allows me to move quickly on foot and not attract any attention to myself with flashy or new looking gear.
This photo shows how casual the army side bag looks while photographing in the street of Sarajevo, Bosnia last summer.
Here is a detailed list and photo of the gear I will be bring on assignment to Eastern Africa:
- Nikon D750 Body - Nikon D7000 Body - Nikon 14-24 2.8 Lens - Nikon 24-70 2.8 Lens - Nikon 50 1.8 lens - Manfrotto 701 HDV Fluid Tripod Head + Legs - Manfrotto Monopod 560B-1 - Zoom H1N Audio recorder - Rode smartlav+ - Rode Go Mic + Windsock - Nikon D7000 Battery chargers X 2 - Nikon Camera Battery X3 - Sandisk 16 GB SD memory cards X 6 - Mac Book Pro 15" - Ipad mini 32GB - Iphone 4S - Canon ELPH Power Shot 300 HS - GoPro 3+ - Seagate Hard Drive 2TB X2 - Hoodman LCD Loupe - Vagabond Mini Lithium Battery Pack
Here is a shot of Matt Gosse writing a blog post and myself editing photos in the back of a small van during last summer's road trip to Mongolia.
While on the road, you are never working in ideal conditions and most of the time when editing and backing up hard drives, it doesn’t happen on a nice office desk.
Multiple hard drives were used to backup footage last summer while in Croatia.
Backing up your footage and photos two or three times is a MUST. There are so many variable conditions when on the road that could compromise your footage. From getting your bag stolen to your hard drive overheating and becoming corrupt, I've seen it all. During my road trip through the Middle East, I was backing up my footage to three separate hard drives enclosed in waterproof Pelican cases and hiding them around our car and in various bags. I was not only worried about one of our bags disappearing, but when going through a country like Turkmenistan (who don’t welcome any kind of media) I wanted to make sure that I'd still have at least one copy of the footage if they confiscated two of the hard drives at the border.
While in Bosnia last summer I managed to break my foot while skateboarding at a local skatepark. Regardless, I still managed to keep on filming for the rest of the trip.
Pro tip: A tripod doubles as a second crutch.
While filming in bright conditions outside, I find it helpful to often use a “LCD Hood Loupe” allowing me to check my exposure and nail my focus even when the bright sun is creating glare on my DSLR screen. Here is a shot of me using the hood loupe while filming from a boat on the Amazon River in 2012.
Finally, don’t forget to step back and put down the camera for awhile. Some things are better enjoyed and experienced not through the lens. It’s so easy to get caught up in always trying to capture the best shot and forget to actually enjoy the places for what they are. Some places you will only ever see once in a lifetime, so make the most of it.
Have any questions about the gear I’m using? Or suggestions for gear I should try? Comment below.