If you are creating video content there are a few things you should always have, regardless of the project. The ultimate survival kit, if you like, and the bare bones needed for filming any sort of video content while out and about. The size of the project doesn’t particularly matter – videos are videos, and if you are filming while traveling then the same advice applies.
This goes without saying. Of course, the type of camera you will be using depends greatly on the type of video you are making. Filming some extreme sports? Rigging up some GoPros or something with a high shutter speed might be more apt, to capture the action. Filming an interview or tutorial video? A standard DSLR or HD camera will serve you just fine.
A tripod can elevate the quality of a video enormously. It often separates amateur content from professional content. It is worth investing in a sturdy tripod – you can pick one up for around a hundred bucks – that will last a long time and lock the camera in place to prevent shakiness. If you are filming some action or following your subject around then some wobbly handheld motion is forgivable, but if you are just filming an interview? A tripod is a must.
Again, this is very much a matter of choice. Lavalier mics that can snap on to an interviewee’s collar or t-shirt are perfect for recording dialogue. If you are looking for a more run-and-gun approach then external shotgun mics that plug into the camera work nicely. You can even secure one to the end of a boom (a long pole for microphones) if you have a spare pair of hands on the shoot. This will keep the microphone pointing to the subject, high out of view of the camera, and without picking up the clicks and whirrs of the camera itself.
Maybe an obvious one, but one that is all too often overlooked. Keep plenty of batteries with you for when electrical equipment gives up on you. Keep used batteries separate to prevent you having to try batteries one after the other only to discover each one is dead. Have a spare battery camera and charge it when you are filming.
Take the same approach was with batteries: you can’t have enough of them. Videos take up a huge amount of data storage, so pack a few big ones – 64GB or higher. From the same perspective, make sure you have a card reader or a laptop with a built-in card reader so you can offload footage during the shoot. There’s not much that can grind a shoot to a halt more than running out of memory.
If you’re shooting with a DSLR or something with multiple lenses, presumably you will be changing them. Fingerprints and dirty hands can smudge lenses, and even if you are not swapping lenses shoots can get very hands-on and grubby. Carrying a pack of lens cleaners allows you to keep a clear, crisp image all day. Use it liberally if you need to. A spot of dirt in the wrong place on the lens can really ruin a shot.
Filming making tends to involve a lot of cables. Especially when you start adding lights into the mix. A sturdy roll of gaffer tape means you can fix cables down (making a safe work environment), quickly repair loose equipment, or set something up on the wall for the sake of the shot. Maybe a poster or some branding elsewhere in the filming location would look good on the wall behind the speaker. Just stick it up there temporarily.
Notepad and pen
Was one take particularly good? Was one take particularly bad? Is there something you’d definitely like to include in the edit or something you need to tell the editor? A notepad and pen helps keep things organized for later on in the process.
Of course, video production isn’t a hard and fast set of rules. Your kit is going to vary a lot depending on what exactly you are filming. But keep these few simple items close, and you won’t go far wrong. It is better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.