Part of planning for any production is identifying your vulnerabilities and having a backup plan should something go wrong. The last thing you want is to waste a client’s time and money because something did not come together the day of the shoot. You cannot reasonably afford the overhead of purchasing doubles of all your equipment. There are, however, some key pieces that are worth the investment of owning multiples and traveling with them during every shoot.
An item that connects your microphone to your camera or audio mixer. You would not get sound without it, and it is likely one of the least expensive items you will own in a field setup. This cord is made of wire and pins that will age over time or is subject to damage from being bent or stepped on. When it fails you will get static, intermittent sound until you get nothing at all.
On a field shoot bring one cord for each microphone you will use and at least one extra in case there is a failure. If you can afford it, bring additional cords. Audio cords can be daisy chained together to provide extra length.
If well cared for microphones will last a long time. You will replace audio cords more frequently. If your budget allows for it, an extra microphone or two will not only assure you are covered if there is a failure but it will also add a great deal of flexibility to what you can shoot. There are different microphones for different purposes. As you add the number of people for whom you need to capture audio you eventually need to add microphones to assure the highest quality sound. A few extra microphones in the field kit will have you prepared if people are added to a shoot last minute.
Identify all the gear that requires batteries. Make sure you travel with extra batteries for each item and that they are fully charged. Don’t use battery power unless you have to.
Always travel with the power cords to your gear and use that as your first option. Battery power should be reserved for the times when power cords are not an option such as:
- Tight, crowded spaces where cording is too hazardous.
- Outdoor footage.
- Other locations where there is no easy access to an outlet.
Go into each event fully loaded with all of your power options. Shoots sometime go longer than expected, accidents happen and things get dropped and sometimes atmosphere can drain a battery down more quickly than at other times. You may have been told outlets were going to be available to you, but then the location changes last minute or it turns out the plug does not work. Stay flexible by building options into your gear.
Tapes, DVDs, and SD cards. They will fill up quick if a shoot goes longer than planned or there is just more great footage to capture than anticipated. Sometimes you end up with a lemon that won’t record anything. You can’t make lemonade out of that. If you don’t have a backup you don’t have a show.
It is the thing that attaches the camera to the tripod. They are just so small that it is easy to misplace one. Your backup plan without a tripod would be to film handheld, which would produce shaky video or try to construct a make-shift support last minute which would limit your ability to pan and tilt for shot adjustment. Better to purchase a second shoe as backup.
In general, it is a good idea to test your gear out once a month and again before every shoot. You can still address issues the day before a shoot, even if it is to reschedule it because there was a major failure, like your camera. This is not something you want to discover as you set up for the shoot, if you can avoid it.
Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest