This is a master list of all the equipment Cloth Map might bring into the field on a trip. Every item has been tried and tested but this is definitely an evolving list (hence the "2017" in the title). Hopefully this will shed some insight into one of the many, many ways to skin the travel-video cat, and/or provide a good launchpad for those just starting out. Enjoy!
Being a one-man traveling production crew means I tend to maximize for versatility rather than ability. This means I don’t use things like gimbals or shoulder mounts, or travel with a wide array of lenses. Instead, I focus more on “bang for your buck” in pretty much everything; it all needs to be useful in multiple situations.
Note: if you're wondering what kind of personal items I bring traveling with me, that list is here!
CAMERAS & LENSES
I bring two cameras: a small one and a big one. The small one tends to be the one I use for things like airplane rides or any place a large, professional-looking camera would attract unwanted attention. It’s much easier to blend in with since it looks like I’m just a tourist with a simple point-and-shoot (despite the fact that it can shoot 4K video). The big one is for everything else.
Using a 24-240mm lens means I can get wide shots (like selfies when I need to address the camera) and far-away stuff that requires a zoom. A lens pen is super handy for dust but I found a simple microfiber cloth to be better at cleaning off raindrops.
Lens Pen: this one is similar to the one I have
Having an ND filter is CRITICAL when shooting outside. Since getting that artsy depth of field requires cranking open the aperture, you need something to cut down on the sunlight or else your shot will be too blown out. Having a variable ND filter means I can just leave it on the lens all the time and dial it in as I move through lighting changes (going in and out of buildings in Chernobyl, for example).
ND Filter: Tiffen 72mm Variable ND Filter
Special thanks to Joey Fameli for recommending this one!
The Joby GorillaPod is pretty much ubiquitous in run-and-gun productions like Cloth Map and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it a highly versatile tripod, it functions as a sort of multi-angle grip, enabling you to hold your camera in different ways. This changes up the muscle groups you use while shooting, which is a godsend when you’re spending hours holding your camera in front of you out in the field.
I used to bring two Jobys, one for the big camera and one for the small camera, but I never found myself using both of them at the same time. Now I just bring the big one.
Big Joby Tripod: JOBY GorillaPod Focus Tripod
Big Joby Head: JOBY GorillaPod Ballhead X For Focus
Small Joby: JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom
POWER & MEDIA
Before the first trip I had to make some educated guesses about what I would need in regards to media and power, but this ratio of SD cards to batteries to chargers seems to have worked out so far. The a7S in particular EATS batteries, so I’ve been glad I brought so many (and so many chargers).
a7S Charger (x2): Newmowa Dual USB Charger
a7S Batteries (x5): Sony NP-FW50
RX100 Batteries & Charger: Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Dual Charger
64GB SD (x3 for RX100): SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB SDXC UHS-I
256GB SD (x4 for a7S): SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB SDXC UHS-I
My M.O. for media management on the road has been to copy each SD card to the computer after every day of shooting, then copy those files to an external SSD. This SSD in particular is incredible. Two TB and no external power!
Portable SSD: Samsung T3 Portable SSD (2TB)
So far I haven’t actually used any lavalier microphones in the field; it’s all been boom mics or internal camera mics (I know, internal mics are terrible, but the RX100's can sound alright with some EQ-ing). If I decide to use lavs, rather than have to deal with hooking a wireless kit up to the big camera (and hefting the increased load), I would probably use a wired lav and keep an audio recorder in my pocket. This is the setup I use when shooting at home.
Boom Mic (for a7S): Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone
Wired Lav Mic: Rode smartLav+
Wired Lav Adapter: Rode SC3 3.5mm TRRS to TRS Adaptor
Audio Recorder: Zoom H1
Mic covers (for RX100): Micover Stickover-Mini Universal Windscreen
Since I edit while on the road sometimes (and record podcasts), I take a USB mic with me. This one also comes with a little foldable stand, which is convenient.
USB mic: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB
I went with this bag mostly because it was recommended to me by someone who loved it and I've got to admit it's growing on me as well, despite some quirks.
It's highly customizable on the interior and can accommodate all kinds of cameras and lenses. It has two side pockets for smaller items but it's clearly designed as a gear-centric bag first, personal bag second. There's just no good place to put small things that you need to access quickly or frequently. For example, my smaller point-and-shoot camera just ends up bouncing around next to my big camera in the central area.
Those gripes aside, it's really well-made and surprisingly comfortable, even with a heavy load.
Camera Bag: Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L
And that’s it! There are a number of other items Cloth Map uses in the production pipeline that don’t travel, but that’s for another time. By the way, if you’ve somehow come here without knowing what Cloth Map is, we make videos with the fantastic support of our friends on Patreon!
Hopefully this list will help some of my fellow video brethren out there hustlin’ on the road.
Just never name it “_final.”
In case you're wondering, nobody has paid me to talk about any of these products. Most of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which means I get a kickback if you buy something, but it doesn't affect the price of the item. It's kind of like a tip, only you don't pay it! ;D If you think that's weird for some reason you can tell me about it here.