Whether you’re shooting a big budget film, or headed into your backyard for some home-movies, there are some utility accessories that will always come in handy when you’re on site or on set. Granted, a professional camera crane and full crew, new lighting rig, multi-million dollar budget, and custom built set will definitely go a long way in making you and your video look as professional as it gets. But, if there’s a budget to be mindful of, or you’re new to the business or new to videography in general, here are 4 things that should always be in your camera bag.
It may seem obvious, but they are often overlooked. There are many different kinds, colors and styles, but three major types: A single-use plastic strip, an elastic band, and the velcro cable tie. If you pack a bunch of the single-use strips, they’re disposable, but the other types of cable ties can be reused and will come in handy, often! I prefer different colored ties so I can make things color-coded and stay organized on-set. Regardless of your cable tie style choice, make sure they find their way into your bag before every shoot.
If you’re new to videography, some of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll need, after your camera, of course, will be your lighting. Eventually you’ll to graduate to carrying lighting filters, gels and diffusers, and other lighting options that will improve the shots and create a more professional product. In order to get to that point, however, lighting stands and lighting clamps are needed! Boom stands and boom extenders are relatively cheap and there are a handful of lighting kits that come with lights and their respective stands. But the clamps are really the game-changer here. Having 6-12 (or more) different sized clamps in your bag will always ensure that you’ll get the perfect shot, because lighting will never be a problem. With clamps, you can get creative and adjust to your surroundings so the job gets done regardless of the obstacles thrown your way. Plus, if you don’t need them for lighting, you’ll certainly find other important uses for the clamps when you’re on location.
If you’re indoors and there is a bathroom or sink with running water, there is less of a cleanliness issue at hand. Being able to stay cool, and rinse your face and hands makes for a much more enjoyable 12 hour work day. However, often times the location is outdoors, or in some abandoned building, or in one room without access to other facilities. When this happens, baby wipes will be your best friend. Known by multiple names, bath wipes, or adventure wipes will keep you feeling refreshed or save you when something spills all over you. They’re soft to the touch, and very cleansing. So when you’re outside on location all day, a quick wipe-down will help get you to the finish line comfortably.
Everybody has battery powered equipment on-set, and some maybe more than others, but we live in an electronic world. Thankfully, most of these technology upgrades have made for much better videography equipment. The drawback to having these electronics is that those contacts need to be cleaned, and they’ll need to be cleaned at the absolute worst possible time. Out on location, high up in the air, when the deadline is fast approaching, or when you don’t have an eraser handy. The solution? Electronic contact cleaners. There are dry scrubbing and liquid sprays and I would recommend carrying both. Better safe than sorry!
In addition to your big items: camera, microphone, lights, and headphones, and the accessories listed above, there are a few other tools that should always travel with you. A gaffer’s kit can be bought online, but I always preferred to make my own. If you choose to customize your gaffer set, be sure to include a couple different colored rolls of the gaff tape. A multi-tool, Swiss army knife, or Leatherman-type, with a sharp blade. A pocket full of permanent markers–sharpies or something similar, and a solid pair of work gloves. One flashlight isn’t enough either. If you have two in your bag, you’ll save the day more often than not, and will be remembered and rewarded for your consistent professional preparedness!