Travel Film Equipment
You've got your next trip booked and are ready to go...but you don't want to leave your camera behind.
A new country can be the perfect spark for new ideas for filmmakers and who knows, you may meet someone on your travels who would make a fascinating mini documentary or you may find the inspiration for a 2 minute film, with a sweeping, powerful landscape.
The question is...what should you take with you?
My trips usually involved hand luggage only, so I am tailoring this post to those who can only take a small amount of luggage with them, and focusing on the most important pieces of gear you will need.
I bought this DSLR second hand about a year ago and I love it. It is small, light and has a flip-out screen so you can do pieces-to-camera without the need for a camera operator. It may not be broadcast quality, but is great quality for YouTube, online screening and for any festivals you may want to send your film to.
It fits in a hand bag, ready to be pulled out for immediate shooting or a quick on-the-go interview and it does very well with the lens it comes with, although I would definitely advise buying a prime lens to use with it.
DSLR Pool Selfie
I love the clarity and depth the Canon 600D gives...
At £50 this microphone is good for simply whacking on the top of your DSLR and getting decent sound.
Full disclosure, when I use it with the 600D it does have a hiss but this can be controlled by how loud your gain is and can be cleaned up in post very easily. However, if you're thinking about filming an important interview or dialogue scene on your journey, I would definitely take another audio recorder with you.
This audio recorder is light, small and you can either record audio using the built in microphone (pretty good quality) or you can plug an external microphone into it (XLR or 1/8 jack)
If you're having hiss problems with the RODE Go and your DSLR, why not plug the RODE into this and you should get a clear, clean audio.
With the quality of video available now on a smartphone, with clever choices and the right knowledge, you can use your phone as part of your filmmaking gear, especially when travelling. I made a short trailer for a conference during a board meeting a few weeks ago. All I had on me was my iPhone 6 Plus and no microphone. With a quick test I discovered that I could use the microphone built into the headphones of my iPhone to get some great interviews with our board members which I used in the final trailer and they came out beautifully in terms of audio and visual quality.
If you want manual controls when filming with your phone, download an App like Filmic Pro which allows you to focus manually and change the ISO to give you more control. If you're thoughtful about your framing and your placement of sunlight and microphone, you can get some quite striking shots. Don't forget that you also have extra tools at your disposal with an iPhone, such as slow motion, which a second hand DSLR can't provide.
You can get some stunning slow-mo shots of your character walking along a beach at sunset, making your short film really stand out and for no extra cost!
GoPros are so small they will fit into your pocket and are really useful if you are going swimming or hiking on your trip. I love taking my GoPro 2 with me when I'm going swimming, just to be able to get some beautiful and unusual cutaway shots for my vlogs from under the water. The underwater case for my GoPro doesn't make it much bulkier and allows for some variety in my videos.
It's also a great tool for timelapses and landscape shots where you really want your audience to feel the full force of the landscape you're in.
If you're in a less holiday and more politically tense area, they could also be brilliant for more journalistic filming if you find yourself in the middle of a skirmish or protest that you really want to get some footage of but do it discreetly.
I have also used the GoPro for getting footage of a car journey by securing it to the dashboard and getting a wide inside view of the car and it's passengers. You can pick up some interesting conversations in a car but make sure you're recording the audio separately as the GoPro (at least the 2) fails at good audio and is mostly for visual.
Here's a little video piece I made about Lawrence Durrell (have you been watching The Durrells?) when we went to Bellapais one day, using all the gear I've mentioned.
My name is Jay, I'm a writer and filmmaker based in the North East of the UK. If you found this article helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube channel The Director's Logbook where you can find lots of videos about filmmaking for beginners and follow the journey of the making our first feature film.