Video production on the go doesn’t always mean taking everything you’ve got, just in case it’s needed. All that extra poundage for things you probably won’t need can cost you money; be it in air travel fees or the extra fuel your vehicle burns due to additional weight. When we’re talking about tripods, batteries, stabilizers and more, that can add up to extra fuel costs, not to mention wear and tear on the body. And time … extra time for extra trips to lug all that stuff to the production site. Production on the go can essentially mean taking your camera, a light, a mic, batteries and a tripod or stabilizer. Production on the go can also mean taking nothing at all.

There are times when you may find it cheaper, easier and more convenient to ship ahead or rent on location, packing only your camera and tripod or compact stabilizer system, or just your camera. A little planning can make production on the go a way of simplifying your journey, making the business at hand more like a vacation than a trek with you serving as producer and pack mule.

Pack light, pack right, plan ahead. What equipment might be available on loan from a friend, for a cheaper rate from a fellow videographer, or for rent from an area equipment rental facility? You did call ahead to reserve what you’ll need and confirm its availability, right?


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Knowing what you’ll need to take, what you’ll need when you get there and where to find what you need if your equipment gets lost, misdelivered or is damaged in transit, is important. So is traveling light.

A little planning can simplify your journey, making the business at hand more like a vacation than a trek with you serving as both producer and pack mule.

The tendency, especially when traveling by auto, is to pack everything.

The tendency, especially when traveling by auto, is to pack everything. Take it all and you don’t have to worry about finding anything when you get on location, the frustration of unfamiliar and untested equipment, a shortage of batteries or a poor mic replacement for the favorite unit you left back at home, in the studio. Taking it all also increases security concerns. Is the gear you return to your car for on that second trip still going to be there when you arrive? Or will you find a cracked window or jimmied trunk lid?

What to do? Become familiar with the essential equipment you’ll need for any given video shoot. You know you want backup power, so an extra brick and the charger are a must. And your personal camera, of course, unless you can access one where you’re going. So, again, maybe you don’t need those extra bricks after all.

Your mic system, wireless or handheld, portable mixer or is this a run-and-gun project where you think you can get by with the on-camera mic, those backup battery bricks and a charger? While there’s comfort in the familiarity of your own equipment and redundancy a mantra oft repeated to reduce anxiety over equipment failure, unless you’re going out back, with no hope for equipment rescue or replacement, many locations will have what you need if and when you experience an emergency.

Another option is to use cheap equipment, a throwaway camera, discount store tripod and on-camera light that uses regular batteries, stuff you can resell to recoup expenses, give away or survive the loss if it is stolen or damaged. Better that than your expensive main equipment; job requirements permitting.

Planning ahead, developing a strategy for minimization of equipment, thinking about the possible alternatives to taking it all can make this location gig an easier endeavor … almost like a vacation.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.


  1. Check out this backpack.  I looked at all the video camera bags at B&H, and even the higher end ones offered little more than a place to store your video camera.  I wanted one bag I could grab and go….if that's at all possible.  I walked over to the camera section and found this National Geographic backpack.  I'm able to fit my Panasonic HMC150, and have plenty of other pockets for things like my lavalier and shotgun mics, color cards, reflector, cables and extension cord, clamp, Leatherman, etc.

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