Backpack Filmmaking Gear List

Producing videos on the road requires the minimum of gear. When I travel I must carry all my gear myself. On the ‘El Camino’ in Spain, I walked 750km with 17 kilograms of gear. On my last trip overseas, I think I was lugging close to 30 Kilograms, including laptop.

Here is a list of my current backpack filmmaking kit:

I am currently using the Canon XH-A1. I like this camera because it has a 20x lens, a great optical stabilizer and despite it’s small size, has the same imaging sensor as the more expensive XL-H1.

xh-a1

For my style of filming, I like a camera that doesn’t look expensive and allows me to get candid ‘street shots’ without detection, verite style. I’ve looked at reviews of various HDV 1/3 chip cameras, and all are fairly similar in picture quality. For me the Canon wins out mainly on the strength of it’s class winning huge zoom.

I also use a hoodman for the LCD monitor, and my custom made shoulderlander, so I can rest the camera on my shoulder and get nice steady shots.

High Definition requires quite a bit of computer grunt, at least 2 GB of RAM. I’ve been a mac man since 1998, when Apple revolutionized video editing by bringing out the imac, the first computer built from the ground up to handle firewire loading of video footage. I have an Apple Mac Book Pro and edit with Final Cut Pro Studio.macbookpro

My travel kit also includes one shotgun microphone (Sennheiser ME 66), one lapel wireless mic (Sennheiser EW100 G2) and one lightweight tripod (Velbon CX-686)

This influences my filming style, I don’t have a proper fluid head tripod, so I tend to avoid pan (panoramic) shots, or do them from the shoulder.

The Sennheiser is a great mic, but stands out like dog’s balls, not something you always want to do when filming in the rough end of town! A smaller Rode mic may be more appropriate for those purchasing a new kit.

To the untrained eye, 1/3 chip mini dv or HDV cameras capture footage that looks the same as their more expensive 1/2 chip big brothers. But where they do fall down is in scenes of high contrast. To avoid this problem, I travel with a small light kit, the paglight C6.

Finally, one of my most important piece of kit I travel with is my old Akubra Cowboy Hat. Seriously, sometimes I believe wearing my Hat has saved me from being mugged, people don’t know how to take a guy traveling round the world in a huge hat! It gives me a crocodile hunter-like mystique.

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7 thoughts on “Backpack Filmmaking Gear List

  1. Congratulations on this, Overlander! I’m looking forward to it.

    I’d like to create a travel netshow myself. Do you have any advice for beginners? (I’m already fluent in FCP and h.264 encoding.)

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi Kekoa

    I received the book, ‘Alby Mangels Beyond World Safari’ for Christmas. He was one of the first adventure travel filmmakers.

    Reading the book, I’m amazed at the many hardships he faced on his travels and in trying to get his film released. Yet he never gave up, he continued on, and finally found success.

    With regard to doing a travel show, leave yourself open to change stories, take things as they come, and enjoy the ride.

    Make sure you get your microphone in nice and close for interviews. Viewers will forgive poor quality imagery, but sound is associated with emotion, so it is important that you get it right.

    In the end, just do it, the road will teach you what you need to know, when you need it.

    best of luck

    Mark
    The Overlander

  3. Thanks, Overlander. I really appreciate it.

    And I’ll remember your advice.

    Best of luck.

  4. Hi overlander,
    I am starting a new career in filmaking through travel, but on a limited budget. Would it be okay to start with either SONY HVR A1U or FX7 or Panasonic AG HMC40.

  5. sorry, D’nalor, don’t really know much about these cameras

  6. Great video! It’s nice to see others trying to cram as much gear as they can in as small of a place as possible, as I do when I’m on the go around the globe on shoots.

    One thing I’ve noticed an abundance of lately is those of us in the video trade loosely throwing around the word “film”, as in “We were filming yesterday”. It’s sounds nicer and more professional than saying, “I’m making a video”, but all shooters holding a video camera should back off on the usage of the word “film”. I actually went to video production school instead of film school, I guess that’s where I get it from.

    Loved the video! Keep up the good work!

  7. Thanks for your comment Jon

    Using film as opposed to video is a bit like using the term video instead of dvd. Filmmaking does sound better and perhaps has more resonance with people than video production.

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