Video Production Equipment to go Shopping on Location

Video Production Equipment Needs

The use of visualization techniques will help you
remember your gear when preparing for any video production. Visualize
your camera equipment, then the subject of your production. Talk
yourself through every shot.

It may seem a bit simplistic, but think through
every step of the video process and ask yourself key questions.
Start with the image that is going to go through the camera lens.
"Do I need more light, additional lenses, lens filters, special
effect items, etc.?" Then visualize the signals reaching
the recorder. "Do I have tape, am I recording sound from
the camera mike, do I need an additional mike? At each step, stop
and gather up the necessary items. Once you’re satisfied that
you have all your camera gear and accessories, add lighting requirements
to the mix. Use the same process for lighting as you did for camera
equipment. Start with the lighting unit. Do you have bulbs, barn
doors, gloves (barn doors get hot), gel kits etc.? What are your
power requirements?

Continue this visualization process for each additional
piece of equipment. Every item in your production is related in
some way so use the relationships to help you remember the items
you will need. It might seem redundant, but there is nothing better
than knowing you have what you need when you get to a location.

Facility Needs

You will need to do some scouting prior to arriving
at any production location. Some key information you should gather
includes: What type of location is it (business, hotel, parking
lot)? Is it indoors or outdoors? Is there ample lighting? Is electricity
available? Are there other facilities, such as an electronics
store nearby?

A good rule of thumb for any production is to maintain
your own level of self sufficiency. Prepare for all scenarios
and don’t count on someone else having what you may need.

The type of location you will be at will help you
understand your preparation needs once on location. At business
sites, the environment could range from well-equipped meeting
facilities to converted basements. Your research will tell you
which it is.

On every production location you go to, find a contact
person who can give you some guidelines on what to expect from
that location. If there is no contact person, it would be best
to visit the location prior to your actual production date.

If your production is at a hotel or convention facility,
there are generally departments that function to assist you. Many
hotels have A/V staff, electricians, banquet personnel, and housekeeping
departments, which can help with many items you may need for your
production.

One of the most important elements on any location
shoot is access to electricity. On outdoor shoots you may need
to use a generator. If that is the case, you’ll want to make sure
you have ample extension cords and power strips. No matter how
many outlets you are allotted, you can always use one more.

Your anticipation of lighting needs will also be
a mark of your pre-location preparation. You can generally count
on needing some type of lighting for an indoor shoot. At the bare
minimum, you’ll want some type of portable light that either attaches
to your camera, or operates independently from it. You may want
to bring a lighting kit, or a full blown grip truck, depending
on your production requirements. Always allow for ample set-up
time and beware of other people’s opinion of what is enough light.

Preparing for Murphy’s Law

Solving problems on location is another test of good
preparation. Complete self-reliance may be required. Anticipation
is the key to successful location shoots. Anticipate:

  • all possible power requirements. Bring extra
    batteries, extension cords, power strips and other electrical
    supplies.
  • all safety issues. Bring grip tape for taping
    down cables.
  • all possible audio requirements. Be prepared
    to tap into the house sound system. Have your audio adapters handy.
    This includes RCA/XLR and 1/4" plugs, as well as extra wires
    and mike/line level pads.
  • staying longer than you had planned. Bring water,
    a snack and a book.
  • equipment failures. Always plan for alternate
    arrangements and know who to call.

Personal Needs

Even a one-man show needs help now and then. Finding
assistance is often as easy as asking the hotel staff, a fellow
participant, or another associate to do something as simple as
helping you find a table for your gear.

Depending on your environment, finding the right
person to help you may require some insight. When working in hotels
for example, it helps to know the operational structure.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • A/V Staff
    sets up full-service audio/visual facilities.
  • Banquet Department
    provides table settings, seating
    arrangements, as well as food and beverage orders.
  • Concierge
    can give directions and tell you about
    alternate accommodations, nearby stores, etc.
  • Engineering Department
    takes care of all the electrical,
    air conditioning, heating, plumbing and the hanging of fixtures.
  • Front Desk/Information Desk
    knows room locations,
    guest registers, function times.
  • Housekeeping
    room supplies and laundry items.
  • Security
    responsible for equipment safety, security
    measures and deliveries.
  • Transportation
    arranges shuttle buses, taxis and
    limos.

Preperation Payoff

Preparation is the key to a successful location production.
The use of visualization techniques may help you gather your equipment
without the use of exhaustive checklists. Scouting locations will
provide an accurate gauge as to the depth of some of your location
needs. Anticipating trouble before it occurs will certainly pay
for itself in rescued productions. A basic understanding of how
a facility operates will help you in your production. Even if
you only want a glass of water, it helps to know where the location,
location, location of the banquet department is.

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