Travel Video Gear: Putting Together a Run-and-Gun Travel Video Kit

Travel Gear

Since starting up Hilah Cooking, we’ve been very careful about keeping our production costs low. I am a firm believer in low-overhead and zero debt, so we try to keep our gear as minimal as possible.

We started out with a camcorder we had laying around and our only real upgrade was gear we won from YouTube. But when we lined up the deal to do Hilah’s Texas Kitchen, I knew it was time to (hopefully wisely) invest in a little more gear. This is still a micro-budget project, but we needed a little more firepower. I would be a one-person crew, and we would be shooting in awkward situations with very tight time frames.

My goal was to put together a run-and-gun travel video kit that would be easy to transport and allow me to shoot really fast whenever the opportunities presented themselves. This is the package I put together and it’s worked really well for me so far.

LowePro X200 Rolling Camera Bag

loweprox200I wanted something that could hold safely transport all of our gear and was easy to use in the field. This bag has been incredible. I’ve always been devoted to Pelican cases in the past, but I ended up with a bunch of cases holding individual pieces of gear. This case let me jam everything I needed into one bag with wheels. It even has a kickstand so if you’re on location you can set it up at a tilt and easily access whatever you need. Even though I’ve only had it since the beginning of the year, it’s seen some serious miles and been in some rough situations. It’s still in great shape and has done an awesome job of protecting the gear inside.

Canon XF100 Camcorder

canonxf100Buying a small sensor camcorder in this new age of DSLR video seems very old fashioned, but I needed something for run-and-gun shooting. The XF100 has been great. It’s small, has XLR inputs and shoots great images (once you take the time to figure out the picture profiles). I use this primarily for the interviews where we are following people around kitchens or other locations. The real unexpected joy of this camera has been the 4:2:2 50Mbps Codec. In post this footage feels very thick (in a good way). You can do a lot of color correction without the image ever breaking down. My only real complaint with this camera is that it doesn’t have dedicated focus and zoom rings. Instead, they’re combined into one ring and there is a switch to toggle it back and forth.

Rotolight LED Light

rotolightThis is a little round light that you can mount via hot shoe or directly onto a shotgun mic. The design is kind of weird and clunky but it’s really come in handy in a couple of dark locations. It’s not very powerful, but it’s enough to add a little light to your subjects. (TIP: If you’re shooting in a smoky BBQ pit, this is not going to be enough light.)

Sennheiser Wireless Lav System

sennheiserFor almost three years, I very proudly used only a $20 wired lavalier mic. We upgraded to this Sennheiser wireless kit a few months ago. It was the first time we actually bought new gear. This is pretty expensive, so it was a big deal. Thankfully, switching to this wireless kit has been absolutely life changing. I can’t recommend it highly enough. In fact, when we were commissioned to produce a series of kids cooking videos, I bought a second kit so I could mic both people. For most of our travel shoots, we just leave Hilah miked up and start rolling when a good situation presents itself.

Rode NTG1 Shotgun Mic

rodentg1I use this to record a second channel when I’m shooting with the XF100. I just turn it on and try to make sure the levels don’t go too hot. For our first batch of shoots we only had one wireless mic so I relied on this to get the vocals for whoever Hilah was talking to. I’ve been happy with it so far but haven’t had time to mix the sound on these videos yet.

Canon 60D

canon60dThis is the same camera we’ve been using for quite awhile. I wasn’t crazy about shooting video on it at first, but I realized on our first trip that I’ve really fallen in love with this camera. I thought I would primarily use the XF100 but if it was a shot that didn’t require tricky focus pulls, I kept coming back to the 60D.

There are some other odds and ends packed into the case – including a MacBook Air – so this really gave me a complete production kit in a rolling case. Not pictured here are a couple of Manfrotto tripods, but other than that all the gear we used to make the travel show is in the photo above and it’s worked out great. The only things I’ll definitely be adding before our next trip are some ND and Polarizing filters.

Now that I’ve geeked out about all of this gear, I’m excited to get back on the road and back to shooting!

NOTE: I want to thank Mark Shea at Overlander.tv for his helpful posts on lightweight travel gear.

I’d love to hear what YOU are using to make your videos. Also, am I missing out on anything obvious pieces of gear that would increase my either production quality or overall quality of life? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 comments

  1. Gary Palmer says:

    Christopher, Thank you very much for sharing this information.
    Have you thought of using a gopro ? Julie and I are using go pro’s on our boat and fishing show, the new model the HERO3: Black Edition -has a mic input and captures ultra-wide 1440p 48fps, 1080p 60 fps and 720p 120 fps video and 12MP photos at a rate of 30 photos per second.
    We are doing a future episode in the ocean on a commercial crabbing boat and I plan to use the go pro for most of the interview clips and also the action clips.

    • Christopher says:

      Hey Gary! The GoPro is definitely on my list of cameras to check out. I haven’t personally tested one but the footage I’ve seen looks pretty amazing. It definitely seems like a perfect camera for shooting a fishing show!

      I’d love to see your upcoming crabbing boat episode, so let me know when that goes live.

  2. Kendra says:

    Very nice Kit. I’m still looking to get my first DSLR camera and some quality lighting. However, I told myself from the start that my YouTube videos are going to have to pay for new equipment. I’m not about the debt either. BTW excellent advice from your newsletter. I’m glad you have time to write it now. You really know your stuff. Thanks.

    • Christopher says:

      Hey Kendra! Always great to hear from you. I think it’s a great move to hold off to buy new equipment until your videos somehow pay the way. We really held out for years before we got new equipment – which was really tough for me because I love new gadgets!

  3. Marty says:

    This is unbelievable! I’m working on my own cooking show (I’m also a one-man crew, but I am the on-camera talent as well), so I was checking out Hilah’s show. I was admiring the animations and the video and trying to figure out what kind of equipment could have been used. Then I see your link posted on her site, and now all of my questions are answered. Thanks for being so generous with your knowledge. You do great looking work, and this is a fantastic site.

    I do have an equipment tip, but this piece of gear is now very hard to find. It’s a Phillips memo recorder (Voice Tracer LFH0652). It records uncompressed PCM audio, but it comes with a lavaliere that is so cheap it has a tie clip molded to the capsule. However, I’ve compared it to my expensive and highly regarded Countryman B6 lavaliere, and it sounds better. I use it for 80% of my work. Honestly, I think the sound quality the manufacturer got with this was probably an accident. Here’s a video I did with it. I’ve hidden it under my collar. If you watch just 30 seconds of this you’ll be able to tell how great it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3bLZIrG0ic

    Anyway, thanks again. I’m looking forward to scouring this site and soaking up everything you’ve put on here.

    –Marty

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