What Equipment Does a Director of Photography Travel With?
Traveling with equipment is always stressful and time-consuming, especially as the amount and cost of said equipment increases. There is always a balance between what you really need and what would be helpful, and often many just prefer to bring as much as they can even if it might not get used. In the video embedded below, Trey Chance, who has made over 100 hotel, tourism, and resort commercials in the last few years, takes us through the equipment he travels with on small to medium projects.
While some of that equipment is well out of the budget range of many readers of the site, plenty of it has cheaper alternatives that may work just as well depending on the project. For example, if you're flying a very light rig, something like the Aviator Travel Jib may work better because of its small size and easy portability. When traveling on airplanes, it's important to pack according to how fragile the equipment is. If you can take cameras and lenses in your carry-on, there is a much greater chance you'll get off that flight with working equipment. There's no telling how hard a piece of gear will get beat up when it's down with checked baggage, so even though you may have insurance, the camera and lenses are the last pieces of gear you'll want to have to replace or rent out when you get to your destination.
You also need to decide what equipment you need based on where you're going. If you're not going to be anywhere near a rental house for a month or more, you might want to spend the extra money and bring as much as you can. Traveling with batteries can be complicated, so you have to check with guidelines to make sure that you don't take more than is allowed. Calling ahead is always better than getting to the airport and finding out you've got to leave behind equipment.
[Update] Trey took the time to respond to some questions that people had about his gear:
All my lighting is in a soft backpack believe it or not. It is the Porta Brace LPB. I fly with the pack fully packed to the rim, and the only protection is the bag, and a few stingers strung out on the top. The sticks, slider, and scrim jim go in Tuff Paks, the jib and my clothes in a Porta brace Studio roller case, and the rest of the garbage goes in a Pellican. I carry on the RED, the MK3, the smaller lenses, and enough to get the shoot started in a Tamarac bag. Always carry-on the bare essentials for your shoot! Should a bag be missing or a day late, at least you can get started while you wait. I do carry audio, it was just up in my room while I shot this little piece. I carry an ME-66, a Rode VideoMic pro, and a G3 wireless. As for the FedEx idea, this could be good too, but hell, I’ve had things lost and destroyed just as much with shipping as I have with flying.
What do you guys think? What additions or subtractions would you make to what Trey is bringing depending on your shooting style or the size of your production?