A frame of video from the Chinese New Year festival event
In this post I talk about why I chose certain gear for this event, packing light so you can move around easily but still have everything you need to capture great footage.
Chinese new year festivities are just around the corner and I have been tasked to capture the action and energy of the event. This is then to be edited into a 3 minute highlight video to help the promoter get more business’s to join next years event.
The goals were simple, to capture:
- Important presentations at the main stage
- Food and business stalls that appear to be getting a lot of happy customers
- The cultural diversity of people attending the event
- Lion dancing and other significant cultural action
- Street interviews
Choosing gear for this Job
Normally I would use my Sony FS100 or Sony EX1 camera but for this particular event which I covered last year I chose to go with a small DSLR (Sony a7s). The main reason being it’s very lightweight, easy to get around crowds and that the video didn’t rely heavily on audio driven content (mostly edited to music) aside from the street interviews.
Gear I selected for the event to pack light but still have the right options available.
Everything to pack into my backpack except for the tripod.
I broke it down to the essentials and an added production value tool, all of which would fit in one backpack and a tripod bag. I chose the sony 18 – 200 lens over my canon 24 – 105 because the extra reach is more important than the depth of field. As this is a daytime event with fast moving action I will keep my aperture at f6.3 or higher to help keep things in focus and another plus with the sony lens is it acts as a constant f6.3. None of that horrible lens flicker you get from the canon variable aperture lenses. A sigma 10-20 to get an epic wide angle perspective of the action and to pair up nicely with the stabilizer. I packed my smallest tripod encase I have to set up shots for an extended time.
Beachtek XLR audio adapter with a handheld mic (handheld mics are the best tool in terms of hearing what people are saying during a loud event.) I also have a rode video mic pro to capture any audio grabs cleaner than the internal mics if needed.
Mobility with gear – bags, crowds and security
I am a sucker for bringing too much gear, which is a good thing… sometimes. I like to be over prepared rather than under prepared. When you can’t leave your gear unattended in a public space you must have it on your back or near by to lower the chance of someone borrowing something from you permanently.
Learning from last year the event had me moving from a main stage tripod setup to in among the craziness of street lion dance festivities around noisy masses of crowds. It was very inconvenient to carry around a heavy tripod, huge shoulder bag, get through the thick crowds holding a FS100 (there is also no way to see the screen if you hold it above head height.) So I had a lot of people accidentally bumping the long camera and my bulky shoulder bag etc. This year I have condensed it into a DSLR, backpack and tripod bag which makes my profile slimmer and much more agile, I am also less likely to be sore at the end of the day.
Fatigue – Don’t take too much
Pack water and snacks
Events can be unpredictable so I always have a water bottle and some snack bars handy. You never need to leave your gear to get a quick refuel into your body especially on an extremely hot day.
- Check your brief and decided what gear is appropriate to use.
- Pack essentials then see if you can comfortably carry them all day if need be.
- See how best you can minimize what you carry, don’t take too much if you are solo shooting with no safe place to leave gear.
- Keep hydrated
A lot of it comes down to the style of event, I normally shoot with cameras like the FS100 where I have audio and video all reliably packaged into one unit. It’s a great tool for a huge variety of work but this time the compact nature of a Sony A7s DSLR and a complete small gear package will allow me to work my way through thick crowds quickly and comfortably with all the gear I need on me at all times. This way I can focus on getting to capture all the awesome shots that sell the event without the bulk slowing me down.
What tips do you have about packing for event filming? Share it with us in the comments section below.