How to Pack for an Overseas Video Shoot

I will be flying out of Dulles International Airport near Washington DC tonight with a destination set for Heathrow international Airport just outside of London. Then I’ll go on a short trek up to Bishop’s Stortford, UK. I’ll be filming for Fisher BioServices which is part of the Thermo Fisher Scientific company.

While I have not been on an international video shoot yet, I researched some best practices and planned out what I wanted to bring. Here are some general tips

Rent gear and pay the extra money to get insurance on your equipment just in case it gets lost or damaged on the trip. A number of video production companies will rent gear in the country in which they are shooting. Then there are those (like me) who go for a hybrid approach of using my own equipment with rented gear to supplement.

For packing, some choose to only pack what they can fit in their carry on bags for more gorilla film making. Still, others choose to put their essentials into carry on and larger equipment into checked luggage. There are many options for videographers to choose from based on availability, budgets and the type of shoot you will be doing. The main thing is to know your budget, the required style of production and plan accordingly. Here is what I did and what I recommend based on my pre-flight analysis. (I will write on how everything went later on)

Keep your essentials in your carry on and “personal item” instead of in your checked bag. These things include:

  • Camera(s) and lenses
  • Memory cards and drive to backup footage
  • Batteries
  • Microphone(s)
  • Small tripod if it fits.

Put as many of your valuables with you on the plane as you legally can. Checked luggage is out of your direct control and can get lost and/or damaged without your knowledge. Of course if you’re planning a larger shoot you cannot put everything into carry on, so checking other things are essential, unless you plan to rent all your mid-large gear in the country you plan to shoot.

I’m doing a medical type facility which requires a teleprompter and lighting for interviews. This means I’m stuck traveling with a good amount of gear. Here is what I packed into my suitcases:

DSCN3363 Cropped

I rented the following gear:

  • 200 Kino Flo Barfly light kit (the large case on the left)
  • Canon 6D, (1) 32GB SD card and an extra battery
  • Canon 16-35mm L series f/2.8 lens (for wide angle shots)
  • Glidecam HD-2000
  • Listec iPad teleprompter kit
  • Sennheiser wirless mic
  • Litepanel Crome LED light
  • (4) light stands

I brought the following equipment from my personal inventory:

  • Canon 60D, (3) 32GB and (1) 8GB SD card and extra battery
  • Canon “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8 and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lenses (for shallow focus and longer shots)
  • Rode Videomic
  • Zoom H4n audio recorder
  • Genray LED light
  • Benro tripod with Manfrotto fluid head
  • Genaray SpectroLED-9 light
  • Countryman Wired lapel mic with 25ft XLR cable
  • Lots of AA batteries!

This all fit into two full size suit cases, one carry on duffel bag and one “personal Item” which is the small camera bag on the table. The equipment I will be taking with me in carry on is the following:

  • Both Canon DSLR cameras and all lenses
  • All my memory cards and media storage
  • Camera batteries and chargers
  • Rode Mic, lapel mic, Zoom audio recorder
  • one LED light

This will assure me that if my luggage is lost or missing, I can at least shoot video, do some photography, record audio, light a subject, recharge my batteries and backup all my media. If I had a smaller tripod I would pack that in my carry on too, but I can always find things to set the camera on if needed.

Do you agree or disagree with this list and the planning and packing I did? Maybe you have traveled the world and have more experience. If so, I would love to hear how you prepared, what you rented and if you experienced any problems.

As always, thanks for reading!

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