• Jay

Field Doc Tech Gear Recap

I spent 3 weeks in SE Asia working on two documentaries. I’m going back again for almost a month in October and I have another one I’m working on for the Middle East. What would I do different?

I won’t bother with listing all the gear and how I packed it. You can find that here which might help in building some context: [gear] and [packing].

It worked fabulously. I even had time to roll out some HD vlog updates while I was over there.

But I can’t really cut back on anything gear-wise or it would probably end up being smaller, lighter, same capability items like cameras and sound. No can do…

So, what can I do?

Step 1: Weight loss Solution: SSD ExpressCards. Offload via FW800 CF reader to SSD expresscard slot in the Macbook Pro. Dump all footage to mirrored RAID at the end of the day. Start out fresh next day.

I need the RAID box to offload my footage so I can carry an HDD copy with me on the plane while the back up is in checked luggage. I DON’T need it during the day. I can offload when I get back to my accommodations. I shoot 1080 to CF at 25Mb/s CBR. 8-16GB CF cards at 300x (I use the Lexar Pro cards) are way more expensive than 8 or 16GB SSD expresscards from Lexar or Transcend.

Now that I know how much I shoot during a given day, I need only 16 and MAYBE 32 more gigs of space so I can recycle one or two of my 4 16GB CF cards (I have 2 8GB cards as well). Carrying those slim, light, little SSD buggers is way better than hauling around a RAID box all day.

Step 2: Reposition Solution: Carry smaller stuff on waist vs. in bag.

I carried absolutely everything in my really awesome, durable and waterproof Chrome bag. This included power, extending power, rain gear, necessary tools, batteries, storage, lighting, sound etc. What can I get out of the bag and reposition somewhere else on my body? The first thing that comes to mind is tools and storage. I can carry my little light, screwdrivers and Leatherman on my waist. I can also carry my CF cards, and even batteries on my waist. This relieves a lot of weight from one central location. A nice touristy, bum bag may do the job just right.

Other things I could consider later on:

  1. Conversion lens adapters vs. entire lenses

  2. Creative composition: easier to set that camera way back and zoom way in than carrying around 35mm adapters? can the camera be placed at certain location, in a certain way to get a unique shot vs. dolly, jibs, cranes glidecams etc.?

  3. Location rental: easier to rent that mic, lights or even camera vs. bringing your own?

  4. Spending the extra coin on smaller and lighter gear.

There you go. I’ll put up a new post about the setup I’m going to use in October. I haven’t finalized it yet since I’m going to have to do some location logging/edting with a co-producer over there.


©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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