written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/21/2010
Here are some practical tips to follow when you are out traveling with video equipment.
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Video Equipment Today
Digital video equipment is a financial step down from the film equipment of the professional film industry's past. The tens, to hundreds, of thousands of dollars that film equipment used to run made just the prospect of using it in a practical situation very trying. Now digital video equipment, though not cheap, is much more realistic to travel with for production needs. If you are traveling with video equipment you are still going to have to be aware of several issues that may come up, not to mention the care you must take with the equipment itself so that it will not be damaged in transit. Here are a few tips to help you when you are traveling with video equipment in different capacities.
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Taxes, Fees, and Approval
When you are working on a film or digital video project with a commercial focus in other countries you will often have to be aware of taxes and fees that you will have to observe. Oftentimes, you will have to get approval from the government themselves, apply for permits, and pay the kind of money that your production budget simply does not have the ability to support. When you are traveling with video equipment you will find that this is unavoidable if you declare your video equipment, and even if you do not, any large scale video equipment is going to cause you issues at customs. You have a couple choices then if you are traveling with video equipment abroad. First, you can figure out what the official rules and laws are in the area you are traveling to and then observe those. Second, lower the level of video equipment you are traveling with and then bring a lot of it with you as carryon baggage. If you are questioned about it you can then state that it is for personal, not professional, use. Taxes are always a major part of professional video production, but you want to avoid them as much as possible if you are working independently. These are really only going to be part of the hidden costs that are region specific when traveling with video equipment.
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One of the biggest risks if you are traveling with video equipment is the possible damage to the video equipment itself. If you are using air travel then you have special issues that are going to come up, especially because of the temperatures that your video equipment will be subject to. You can insulate the packaging that your video equipment will be traveling in to both secure it against trauma and to try to protect against temperature changes, which can end up damaging internal components on cameras and digital video monitors. When possible you will want to take the camera on board with you, which will also help you financially when traveling with video equipment.
If you are traveling with video equipment in a more manual setting, such as in a car you control, then you will actually end up being safer in a lot of ways. Here you can control the video equipment care that you have and see to it that each item is treated in the way that is required. You will again want to make sure that it is never left in the car unattended in a place where it could be stolen and, most importantly, it is never left in the elements. Make sure that when traveling with video equipment you take all of the equipment into the location where you will be at all times. This means in your hotel, in your shooting location, and even possibly a location where you are spending recreational time.
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Traveling with video equipment is never an easy task, and it can leave your video equipment open to damage or theft. Here are a few tips to help reduce this chance when you are traveling with video equipment.
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There are a lot of different ways that are going to determine what video equipment you want to travel with, but no matter what, you are going to want to cut down the equipment size. It can be expensive to bring a large quantity of video equipment with you when traveling, not to mention the risk to owned and rented equipment rises exponentially. You want to then bring only the essentials, which is going to be different on every shoot. Make sure that you only bring the exact components necessary for your purpose when traveling with video equipment, but you may still need some back up equipment since you will not be near the normal cache of usable devices. Make a full equipment list, simplify it, and then follow the remaining suggestions.
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Insurance may be the wisest thing to do when traveling with video equipment, especially if it is rented from an equipment house or checked out from a film school. Since you are opening yourself up to video equipment damage or theft you will want to cover your tracks, and it will also free up your mind so that you can concern yourself with the creative work ahead of you. This video equipment insurance tends to be fairly inexpensive, but do not assume that your renter's or home owner's insurance will already cover this video equipment.
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Know the Equipment
Since you are going to be taking things in and out of secure cases in locations that you do not know well, you will need to know what is there, how it works, and where it goes. This will allow you to keep track of all of the video equipment you are traveling with so that you can care for it properly. You can do this by going through all of the video equipment that you are taking with you ahead of time, making checklists, and then following them when you are actually using the equipment in the field. This is actually not a bad idea every time you use this equipment, but when traveling with video equipment you are going to need to support yourself in this way so that sensitive items will not end up left behind.