What’s in my bag? BaGG? – Which one?
Well I like to travel light – who doesn’t? But I have several bags of gear – each fulfilling the needs of a different aspect of video production – bear with me here…
There is the Lightweight camera bag, for shooting on location; a Studio camera bag for shooting tutorials or multiple camera setups in studio-style settings; a Sound bag (well actually two – a walkabout location sound bag and a studio sound case) but we will count this as one bag to keep things less complicated; a Grip bag for all the necessary camera support gear and the associated tripod bags; we’ll call this one bag too. And I am sure I really need a few more bags to go along with the additional half dozen that sit empty, ready to be filled for a particular task in a particular location. But I digress. Let’s look at the stuff in each of the four highlighted ‘bags’.
1. The Lightweight (??) camera bag
the one I use most often – or certainly like the best
– 2 x Panasonic GH4 cameras. My workhorses and all-round current favourite camera for both video & stills
– 1 x Panasonic GH3 as back-up
– Panasonic MFT lenses: Slow but functional zooms: 14-140, 100-300, 45-200, 7-14; Faster primes: 20mm pancake (great lens), 14mm, 8mm Fisheye (for my Schewe-style one-handed candid shots)
I often shoot as many as 5 cameras simultaneously, thus the apparent duplication in focal lengths. And after shooting Canon for a few years – it’s great to be able to access so much lightweight glass!
– Olympus Zuiko lenses (love these guys): 45mm ƒ1.8, 12mm ƒ2
– Voigtlander 25mm ƒ0.95 (because you never know when the lights are going to go out)
– 2 x MFT to Leica M lens mount adapters. For when I am close enough to Michael to cadge his Leica glass ))
– 2 x bubble levels – the real Horizontal and Vertical axis ones not the single dome blister ones. I really just want to know that I am level on the left-right horizontal ‘x’ axis
– Lots of Polarizers, Variable NDs and step-up rings. Kevin calls me Mr Jangles.
– Sennheiser mini shotgun mic for camera shoe mount – reasonable quality sound but lousy mount build backed up by a Rode shotgun with equally lightweight and fragile mount system… Sound seems always to be the weak link unless one is prepared to spend THOUSANDS! Better yet: hire a soundman!
– Lots of SD Cards & Card wallets marked EXPOSED & UNEXPOSED
– Lots of batteries and chargers
– BlackRapid strap for walk-around and my favourite PortaBrace neckstrap which is a great big chamois-covered beast that eases neckstrain over a day’s walkabout shooting. It’s the animal around my neck in the photo above.
– Gray Card, lens cloths, lens blower, extra base plates, 1/4 20 to 3/8 thread adapter, flashlight, garbage bag for sandy or rainy spots, and often – if I am toting the ThinkTank Aiport Addicted roll-on bag – my MacBookPro Retina wil get in there as well as a Kindle for airport layovers.
2. The Studio Shoot Camera Case
for multiple camera shooting
– 2 x Panasonic AF100 Video cameras. These are Real Video Cameras with all the niceties that DSLRs, MFTs and the BMPCC lack – namely: built-in NDs, White Balance presets, full manual controls, XLR inputs for sound, sound meters and input level controls, focus peaking, the ability to save user preset looks and operating presets, video waveform meters and histogam, dual SD card slots, good build quality. Need I go on?
Does it sound as if I like these Panny AF100 cameras? I certainly do! They are now older but still give great service. MFT lens mount btw. The other great feature about these cameras is that they can be stripped of moulded hand grips and top handles. This makes them much more easily packed. Panasonic really made a winner with these cameras. It seems that the family will not be extended which is a great shame.
– associated AF100 batteries, chargers, AC adapters etc.
3. The Sound Bag(s)
yes, more sound gear Alice. It really is the better half of video production
– Zoom H6 Audio recorder. This is a great low-cost high-quality solution for recording location audio. I would love a Sound Devices multitrack mixer & recorder but the price is as high as the quality (occasionally I rent one from Trew Audio). The H6 has 4 XLR inputs, each controllable. It also has a selection of on-board modular mics for self-contained recording and the battery life is now excellent. A really neat little machine that goes into my Nova Mini LowePro bag attached to my waist.
– 2 x Sennheiser ew 100eng G3 radio mic transmitters & receivers. Great quality & build for a reasonable price. This system has the upgraded Tram TR-50 lavalier omni mics – well worthwhile.
– 2 x Sony WRT-822 radio mic transmitters and old WRR-805 receivers; Sony ECM-77 lavalier mics. This Sony sytem gives very high quality sound (far better than the Sennheiser/Tram system) – but it is hugely impractical, with very poor rejection of stray radio waves and reflections. Alas, this makes this system almost unusable in an urban environment. But they make a good back-up to the Sennheiser system and allow for two additional channels of audio recording (thus the H6 above).
– Rode Smart Lav mics. These little wonders are decent quality lavalier mics that plug into an iPhone. I use them with the associated iApp Rode Rec. When you are in noisy & busy places with too much radio interference, these mics allow close recording of interviews – recommended.
– Azden SGM-1000 XLR shotgun mic. Super quality for the price
– Audio-Technica AT897 – XLR short shotgun mic for MFT use
– Various Rycote windjammer socks (dead cats!) and sleeves for all mics
– Sony studio style enclosing headphones for monitoring and Sony ‘sports’ head phones for outdoor use
Cables, cables and more cables….
4. The Grip (camera support) Bags
handheld, monopod, tripod, heads…
– Sachtler video tripod and fluid head. Now rather ancient and heavy but superb build quality (as it should have been for all those DM (no euro then!)
– 2 x Gitzo carbon fibre tripods, 3 section & 4 section. Both tripods are often equipped with 75mm half-bowls & levellers which are essential for video head use.
– 1 Gitzo monopod; 2 tabletop tripods; guerilla pod
– Manfrotto 519 video head – not perfect but a reasonable compromise of cost vs. functionality
– a custom-built 2 camera mounting plate. I use this with simple lightweight ball heads for mounting 2 cameras on one tripod as close to each other as possible when filming a ‘talking head’ directly addressing the viewer. The cameras are framed for medium shot & close-up. If the subject looks at a spot between the two lenses, there is no awkward eyeline shift on a cut from MS to CU.
– various other RRS and Gitzo heads. The most important piece being an Acratech leveling base.
– A Magic Arm. For mounting a camera in one of those awkward remote angles where the camera needs to be outside the view of another shot. eg over-the-shoulder in tutorials
– nifty little wrist strap with 14/20 screw for base attachment. Useful for handheld work when walking about town
– Base plates, base plates and more base plates and the hand tools required to install!
OK. That’s enough – my back is hurting already