Video Essentials

Essential Video Gear for Traveling: Video 101

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

Traveling around the world making films sounds like the ultimate lifestyle, right? There actually are a handful of lucky you-know-whats out there who get to earn their living that way, like my new favorite source of career-envy, filmmaker Trey Chace.

Trey often finds himself traveling for production jobs. Over the years, he has developed a list of lightweight, compact, portable, and durable equipment that allows him to get jobs done efficiently. With the help of Trey’s gear tutorial below, we’ve compiled our own list of essentials suitable for a traveling crew working with a medium budget. Whether you’re a pro like Trey, or you’re eying the greener pastures of the freelance filmmaker lifestyle like me, this Video School lesson is for you. Let’s see what Trey has to say:

Keep in mind that this video is a reflection of one person’s opinion. It gives a great general overview of a comprehensive traveling kit, but is by no means a definitive recommendation. You may need to add or remove items based on your project, shooting style, and budget. I’ve summarized and explained the items he recommends below. For specific brand and model suggestions, refer to the video.

1. First and foremost, you definitely need a camera. Trey was using a RED Scarlet on this shoot, but, as he mentions, we could easily spend hours debating camera choices, so don’t get too tied to the specific brand and model. He does make a good point about having a backup camera body. Bring along something smaller and more affordable, like the Canon 5D Mark III or another DSLR in case something goes awry.

2. Lenses also are necessary, of course. Once again, this comes down to personal preference. Just make sure you have your focal ranges and apertures covered.

3. Just as important as your camera is what you use to stabilize it. A compact, collapsible, sturdy tripod is an essential part of your kit.

4. If you’re shooting commercial work, or you want a highly polished look, consider bringing a jib to attach to your tripod. They come in all different sizes. The one Trey uses extends to about six feet, but collapses to about half that size for easy portability.

5. You may want to consider a slider to add production value to your project. The one Trey uses has protected rails. Keep in mind that equipment with moving parts can get easily damaged when traveling, so spring for the extra protection, if possible.

6. If you’re shooting in the sun, bring a matte box. It’s useful for absorbing the unwanted rays, and for holding filters.

7. Speaking of filters, an array of them will come in handy. Bring along some ND filters, graduated ND filters, and polarizing filters.

8. To help you achieve crisp, clear shots and rack focus, think about adding a follow focus to your kit. A small HD monitor also will be necessary if you have someone else pulling focus for you.

9. Last but not least, you need lights. If budget and space restrictions don’t permit you to bring a comprehensive light kit, just go for the essentials. If you bring a fill light and some key lights, you’ll be able to make do in most situations. Along with lights, don’t forget grip equipment like clamps and a scrim with silks and reflectors.

10. Trey didn’t mention audio equipment in his video — he probably didn’t need it on his shoot. But if you plan to use sound captured on site in your final piece, audio equipment is essential. Fortunately, most audio equipment is lightweight and compact! Bring along a few lavalier microphones and/or a boom mic, plus something to record to, if you’re recording sound separate from the camera.

All of Trey’s equipment fits into four boxes, but there’s no standard rule for how much space your gear will require. In the end, you need to decide what’s best for you and your crew. Focus on finding equipment that is compact, lightweight, and durable, and your next traveling shoot will be a success. Bon voyage!

Ready for more? Learn how to make an animated title sequence or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.


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  1. So much gear. Not sure I can afford it all.

    Posted by Jeremy | July 29, 2012, 5:54 am
  2. What are those little battery powered “lightpanels” he’s showing around 4 mins in?

    Can’t find it at BH.

    Posted by Axl | August 11, 2012, 1:38 pm
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