Get ready. Set. Go.

An enthusiastic online friend recently traveled to an exotic country to shoot a documentary. He is not a professional, but he wants to be one. Unfortunately, inexperience strikes fast when doing such leaps. The friend arrived there pretty much with just enough tapes, the HV20 and a tripod. But truth is, there’s more than that needed if you are after a professional result. Here’s a list of things you need to get with you if you are shooting serious documentaries away from home:

1. Your HD camera and the stuff it came with. ($700 to $1500).
2. Enough tapes. Maybe about 25-50 of them. ($150).
3. A steady, fluid, tripod. It’s important to be ultra stable. ($200)
4. A shoulder bracket. This is needed for “reporting-style” shots. ($50)
5. Two ND filters, at different strengths. ($100-$150)
6. A polarizer filter. ($50)
7. A good wind-shielded shotgun stereo microphone. ($200)
8. A stereo lavalier mic and wind-shielding for it ($50).
9. A wide-angle lens (for scenery). $250
10. A telephoto lens (for wild-life). $250
11. A fast laptop with a firewire port and enough RAM able to capture the footage and let you review your tapes at the end of the day. If an important scene didn’t come out right, you must re-shoot the next day if possible. ($1500)
12. A 500GB external USB 2.0 hard drive to backup your tapes. ($200)
13. A 5-in-1 light reflector to be used on interviews. ($30)
14. A second battery and a travel charger that works on the country you are going to. ($50)
15. Headphones to review the audio recorded. If your audio was problematic during an interview (e.g. too much wind), you must re-shoot. ($20)
16. The appropriate firewire and USB cables, and an HDMI or component cable that will allow you to potentially review your footage on a TV if required. ($30)
17. A big enough camera bag that will let you carry some of the stuff mentioned above. ($30)
18. Cleansing gel and cloth in the event your lenses need clean up. ($20)
19. A cleansing tape in the event your tape head needs clean up. ($15)
20. Travel insurance. A license that will allow you to shoot professional stuff on other countries, as well as “image release” contracts for your interviewees. ($?)

Good luck with your documentary or travel video. Get your wife to carry all that stuff… 😉


Kevin wrote on November 28th, 2007 at 10:28 AM PST:

I would also recommend warm and cool cards for white balancing. Depending on how much indoor shooting he is doing a light kit would be good. For field interviews shoe mounted lights are pretty good.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on November 28th, 2007 at 10:56 AM PST:

You are right, a white balance gray card is needed ($5). Lights I wouldn’t recommend as they are too big to carry around. We are talking about 1-2 man projects.

Marshall wrote on November 30th, 2007 at 8:49 PM PST:

1 spare battery? What if you cant recharge? I’m going to Hawaii and I figure I need at least 5 for a couple days of camping.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2007 at 9:28 PM PST:

Well, if you can’t recharge, obviously get more batteries, however batteries go down even if you don’t use them, so you better find a way to charge them anyway.

Comments are closed as this blog post is now archived.

Lines, paragraphs break automatically. HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

The URI to TrackBack this blog entry is this. And here is the RSS 2.0 for comments on this post.