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Old February 9th, 2008, 02:34 PM   #1
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Tips on shooting in Shanghai? A1 or HV20?

Decided to post here because while there's a gear issue, it's more about traveling with gear than the gear itself. Hoping there's experienced travelers monitoring this forum. I've read what's here already and have some questions:

I have been waiting for a reason to start the switch to HD. I learned this week that in 3 weeks, I have go to Shanghai and Singapore for a week each. So I decided to start the switch HD. I'm reading and absorbing as much as I can. 15" MacBook Pro is enroute.

1) My cover letter for the PRC Business VISA includes photography and video for my employer but I want to shoot for myself nights and weekends. Will I have the freedom to wander Shanghai and shoot/interview in public as I would in the US without permits or guides?

2) Other than the Bund, are there some must see locations that would be good for some "man-on-the-street" interviews?

3) Is Shanghai (generally) safe enough to step away from the tripod and shoot myself? Singapore?

4) Are there some cultural no-no's I need to know as a producer?

5) My SD kit has been an XL1s and a Sony TRV-900 for many years. My HD plan was to move to an A1 and HV20. The only camera I've ever flown with is the Sony. I'm a little concerned with the size of the A1 considering I'm also taking a 20D with a couple lenses, and an SKB case filled with tripod, Spiderbrace, a variety of mics and a small light kit. So, I'm considering taking an HV20 instead and rigging it out with a wireless mic bracket and dual hot shoe bracket for both shotgun and Frezzi micro. Given a 3 week runway to acquire and train on the HD equipment, would you:
5a) Rig out the HV20 and suck it up about consumer manual controls?
5b) Get the A1 and concentrate on production values because the skills transfer from the XL1s to the A1 is high, the cost of Aleve is low and US chiropractors need the business?

TIA
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Old February 9th, 2008, 05:24 PM   #2
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Hi Ernest............

Been debating how & whether to post on this subject as my China experience is somewhat out of date (2 week after Tianamen for 3 months).

I imagine things have changed considerably but there are a couple of things in your post that are a bit of a worry.

The Chinese are some of the biggest shutterbugs on the planet and wherever you go there will be (litterly) herds shooting away at their mates and every monument. So far, so good.

What you are unlikely to see is bods videoing "man in the street" interviews, especially if the interviewer is a Westerner and "the man in the street" is Chinese (how is your Chinese, BTW?).

Something makes me think such actions just might attract the attention of a passing PSB (Public Security Bureau) agent and lead to an interesting confrontation. But, I could be wrong.

Getting an accredited translator/ guide etc MAY solve this problem, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

The next thing is the late move to HD. Whether your SD - OK support gear is going to OK for HD will only be known when you start using it. Not leaving a lot of wriggle room if you discover your tripod/ head isn't up to snuff.

I'm not entirely sure you've got enough time to make more than a dent in all the differences between SD & HD before you take off, maybe, maybe not. It is, hoewever, a question mark.

Lastly (I think), are you going to be travelling with a team of native porters? How are you going to lug all this stuff around? You've got enough gear for a team of four.

I'm going to give the "video - stills camera don't work together" bit a swerve as, if it works for you now it may work for you there, but that's double trouble on the gear front and you really will need a minder to stop some of it going walkabout/ just to carry it.

Bottom line, I would say that the A1 and a big stills rig is OTT this late in the game, and likely to produce average stuff from both. Drop the stills and take just the A1 OR keep the stills and take the HV20.

Ooh, forgot, if the flight between Shanghai and Singapore is a "local" one (ie. not originating or ending in the USA), you'll probably be limited to the local baggage allowance, usually 20 kg. Excess baggage can get real expensive, real quick.

Probably a shed load more I could say but think I'd like to hear from someone with more up to date knowledge on the two ports of call.


CS
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Old February 9th, 2008, 06:15 PM   #3
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Ernest,

My only suggestion would be to travel as light as possible, so that you can enjoy the experience.

Below is a link to some frames I have grabbed from a recent shoot in Shanghai, they were shot using a XL2, I pretty well used the wide angle zoom all the time. You will have no problem taking shots of your self but as in any country keep an eye on your gear, with all my trips to Shanghai I have never had a problem.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jingbar...7603721089915/

Bob

PS: I would go with the HV20 and stills. You may even consider going with just the HV20.

Below is a link to stills taken with a Canon HV10 (same picture quality as HV20), these were taken in the far western part of China around Kashgar.

The Canon XL2 would have attracted too much attention so it was left in the hotel. The HV10 footage was fantastic

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jingbar...7601960742606/

You will find further example of HV10 stills taken in London on my flickr site
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Old February 10th, 2008, 02:08 PM   #4
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These are good postings. I'm rethinking everything now. Chris....thanks for being real. I'm interested in everything you have to say on the topic. It's clear to me I was overloading myself so while redressing the whole plan, I'm happy to hear more. I hadn't even considered the luggage problem between PVG and SIN. That alone was worth some green.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 04:37 PM   #5
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Hi again...........

OK, here's more bad news. Acording to this lot:

http://www.worldweather.org/,

the mean temperature in Shanghai in March is between 5.1 & 12.7 degrees C, tho' currently, temps are running well below this. Ergo, you better pack those winter woolies. Ergo, that 20 kg isn't going to go too far.

I got around this very problem on my massive expedition by packing one light woolen jumper/ sweater and a pure down filled mountaineering jacket. That could be squashed/ rolled down to the size of a box of tissues, but when realeased from it's bag exploded into something that would do the Michelin man proud. The combination was good down to -30 degrees C (which was just as well).

If you buy polycotton super lightweight mountaineering trousers, shirts & t - shirts you will save a shed load of weight there as well (positively, NO cotton jeans etc!!).

What I didn't mention in my last post is that it seems airlines everywhere but the USA are imposing carry on max weights of 7 kg. So, somehow you need to get everything you're taking into 27 kg, if you want to escape those excess baggage charges.

It may sound like a lot but I think you'd better start planning and weighing NOW.

You didn't mention which airline between Shanghai & Singapore, suffice it to say that the most common translation of China's national airline mnemonic (CAAC) is "China Airlines Always Crashes". Fly at your peril. I say no more.

Can't really add too much to this till I hear your thoughts after your investigations. Feel free to drop me a line if there's something specific I can help you with.

I'm sure Bob can give you chapter and verse on the current situation in Shanghai, reckon there's a few more bods here as could add stuff as well.

Can't really help with Singapore though. I've transitted through it about 40 times, but never gotten out of the airport. How sad is that?


CS
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Old February 11th, 2008, 07:54 AM   #6
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More good points. Thanks. I'm sticking to AA, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Quantas airlines. My colleagues inform me that I can check two bags although Singapore Airline website is unclear about how many bags but is very clear about your point of max weight for checked and carry-on.

I revamped my thinking and bagged the 20d+lenses to:
XH-A1 with WA and Portabrace slicker
Frezzi micro-fill
Libec TH-M20
one light stand
one lowel pro
Sennheiser wireless lav and handheld
Canon G6 point and shoot
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Old March 15th, 2008, 01:25 PM   #7
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Just a followup ... Chris and Bob, thanks for the advice. I'm glad I took it.

My trip completed without incident. There were no hassles or inspections in customs or anywhere as far as equipment goes. My Kata backpack for camera and mobile audio gear flew totally under the radar and the 38" SKB case had about 35 Lbs of worth of tripod, and some minimal lighting equipment for indoor shoots I had lined up ahead of time. Otherwise, I could have done without the SKB case. 80% of my shooting was run and gun using a Lowepro street and field harness with the camera hanging off my chest on shock cords. With a coat, it just looks like I have a big black camera on a neck strap but the rig provided a decent platform/

The A1 neither looks consumer nor pro and so drew looks from everybody but you get that as a laowai (foreigner) anyway. The only unwanted attention were the people (mostly girls) who wanted to practice their english by engaging in conversation or scam you. It started within 2 minutes of walking out of the hotel. They will u-turn and pepper you with questions until the cows come home. Apparently they learn to do this in school. They use the same questions and begin with "Sir or gentleman" and ask "What country you come from". They are pushy and don't understand why you don't stop and meet their demands.

After I tired of this, I pointed the camera at them and they usually ran away if they were scammers or said something like "ok my voice but no make movie star" if they legitimately wanted to talk. Overall, the people didn't mind being "filmed" as they went about their business but as a rule did not want to communicate on video.

My objective was to get B-Roll and there's tons of it everywhere. The architecture alone in Shanghai is worthy of a few days but is greatly hampered by the air pollution. Thanks again for the advice to travel light and use a carnet.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 04:42 PM   #8
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Ernest,

I am glad everything went well, Shanghai is a fantastic city but the crowds of people can be a little overwhelming.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 06:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for the update Ernest, glad it went well.

What gear did you carry on board what aircraft and what went as check in? Thx.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 08:05 PM   #10
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In asia, I flew on a Boeing 747, 777 and an Airbus. Carry-on in a Kata 103 was:A1, Li-Ion batteries, Sennheiser wireless, shotgun, Canon G6 and a Frezzi Microfill. In checked SKB, there was Tripod, Light stand, Lowel Pro, NiMh battery for Frezzi, misc lighting and audio accessories. I had to pay excess baggage between Singapore and Shanghai.
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