Travel Checklist: Essential Video Kit For Filming Abroad
By Freelance Video Collective
From time to time, travelling abroad can be a little stressful - especially when it comes to packing. If you’re planning on filming whilst aboard, you’re giving yourself a whole ‘nother bag to pack.
So, to make things a little easier for you, we’ve put together this essential video kit list for you to check off before you fly!
Let’s start off with the no-brainer. If you forgot this one, we’d be a little worried. Pack your DSLR camera.
There’s a whole host of great options out there from the Sony A7siii to the Panasonic GH5 and we could pitch for all of them. You’ll need to figure out which system works best for you but as a general rule of thumb, you’re looking for something that’s very compact and lightweight - that’s the key to all of this. Pick gear that’s lightweight and small, therefore easy to transport.
Preferably, it’ll also have good stabilization and can perform well in lowlight.
In an ideal world, we’d all want to take as many lenses as possible, right? But you need to think practically here. What lens is your absolute essential? What’s the one you can’t shoot without? Pack this one.
Ideally, we think you should look for an all-in-one solution - something with a bit of range such as a 24-70. This way, you have the important ability of being able to capture wide angles, mid-range and close-up shots.
At a push you can perhaps pack another prime or long-range lens, depending on how big your bag is and how much weight you want to carry. We like long-range lenses because they allow you to really punch in on subjects and capture them naturally going about their day-to-day. But, perhaps you’re not looking to focus on people in your film?
You need to think about what exactly you’re looking to capture and these decisions will help you pick the right lens.
Another essential. Although in-house audio for a lot of cameras are relatively decent, you can’t beat having a solid shotgun mic on board.
It will give you clean, crisp audio that’s essential for any good travel film whilst blocking out unwanted noise. If you’re shooting in wild locations you should be particularly cautious about the wind. A shotgun mic with a dead cat fitted on will help shield you from this.
Furthermore, if you’re looking to shoot interviews with people, we can recommend a lapel mic. This will cut out all non-essential background noise and really hone in on your interviewee’s voice.
For example, if you’re doing a piece with a local shopkeeper on the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam, you don’t want all the interference of those mopeds and bikes zooming by. Apparently you need to beep the horn every other second over there...
Whether this is an essential or not ultimately comes down to each individual but, we really think drones are a critical part of any travel filmmaking kit.
In general, beautiful aerial imagery is always going to be a winner. Drones help you get a birds-eye view of locations, giving your audience a different angle that they haven’t seen before. Wide-angle shots help to set the scene and introduce the location whilst shots panning forward - across the ocean, for example - indicate movement from one place to another. Cutting your travel footage with drone shots helps to keep it fresh and exciting.
Of course, you need to think about how much space you have in your bag. Choose one of the smaller drone models on the market - something that can fold away nice and compact.
No problems with weight or size here. GoPro continues to be the best option in the action camera market. No matter what you’re doing, whether it’s hiking a volcano, diving on the great barrier reef, skiing down the alps, a GoPro is going to come in very useful. It puts your audience right there, in the middle of the action.
We’ve found them very useful as point-and-shoot cameras too. They won’t get you the cinematic shots that your DSLR is capable of but, all you need to do is press one button and you’re rolling.
It’s hard to ignore how useful that is when you want to fire off a quick piece to camera in the moment. Because let’s be honest, halfway up a Himalayan peak, you may not really have the capacity to think about exposure, focus or anything other than putting one foot in front of the other.
This seems obvious, right? You may be a little offended we’ve even put it in here because who in their right mind would manage to forget their chargers?
Trust us. It happens. Pack your camera battery charger, your drone battery charger, your every single piece of gear charger. Pack them and then check again. And again.
And one more time.
The last thing you want to do is get to your location and realise you can’t shoot your film because you can’t recharge your batteries.
Speaking of batteries, make sure you have a few spare. More often than not, when travelling, you will find yourself out all day, for long hours. You won’t have access to electricity and charging points so you need to ensure you have enough juice to see you through the whole day.
Depending on how you’re shooting, this may not be a necessity but we feel they’re pretty important. These days, you can buy very strong but lightweight tripods so there’s no excuse not to bring one. Travel tripods offer you stable shots and a multitude of different angles - including the all important ‘look at us on top of the mountain’ shot!
Another one where you’re probably thinking… "Really?"
We know. We highly doubt you’d ever forget this but it really is an essential so it’s on the list. Make sure you bring your phone.
It’s your ticket, it’s your contact to home and the rest of your crew. It’s your accommodation confirmation, it’s your satellite navigation and it may even be an extra camera for you to shoot on! Super important.
Camera cleaning kit
Whilst out there on your travels, you’ll find yourself in a host of different locations from beaches, to deserts, to volcanoes and rainforests.
It’s very easy for grains of sand and all other types of dirt to make their way inside your camera and lens. Furthermore, changing temperatures can leave marks on your glass as moisture comes and goes.
Bring a camera cleaning kit to get rid of all that and keep your gear in grade-A condition. The last thing you want is to get home, into the edit to find a huge black mark that has ruined what you thought was the perfect shot of a tropical beach.
Water bottle & food
Perhaps the most essential things on this whole list.
Whatever you’re shooting, stay hydrated and maintain energy levels. Filmmaking is demanding work and your body will need to be well fuelled in order to operate at 100%.
If you’re not doing this, you can start to get sloppy and make mistakes. Make it a priority.
Remember earlier, when we mentioned thinking about what your film is going to look like in order to know what shots you want and which gear to take?
We have another tip for you. If you know what music tracks you’re going to be using, it again helps in forming that essential shot list. You’ll know the vibe you’re going for, how you want each sequence to flow and how you’re going to cut it to the beat.
So, have a trawl through our extensive music library here at Epidemic Sound and identify the right song for your travel film. You’ll come away with footage that’s much more focused and aligned with your vision!
Whether you’re looking for Film & TV production jobs or need professional freelance film crew for a shoot then checkout the Video Collective. We also have a free resources section, course directory, blog and discount codes. Made by freelancers, for freelancers.