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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #1
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Traveling to remote TX

I've received an offer to be flown to TX to help finish the filming of a documentary a small non-profit group is working on.

This is will be my first trip out of the state (for filming purposes) on someone else's dime. So I want to be sure I'm fully prepared.

I will be shooting with an XL1s, as of now, it's totally stock. We will be filming assorted reptiles amphibians down there, and much of the film will be at night (we will have lights and such).

I have a few specific questions first, then if you all can think of anything I need to take into consideration before I go, I'm totally open to advice. We will be in a very remote area, and I want to be sure I am fully prepared.

1. I have a poor tripod. The majority of my filming consists of stationary shots, or shots from the shoulder. Not only to I want to invest a minimal amount in the tripod, but I need one that is fairly light (Almost all of my filming consists of filming in remote, difficult to access ares). Best tripod that satisfies my criteria for under $200?

2. I need a backpack to lug my beast around in. It needs to be able to handle rain, be fairly sturdy, but most important, it needs to be comfortable and light.

3. I'm content with my current audio set-up (stock), especially for what we are doing. My only complaint is, handling the camera can be fairly noisy. I'd like a CHEAP shock-mount (for an on camera mount), any ideas? Worst case scenario, I could build one. Also, what inexpensive mics would be considered an upgrade for my camera? I've seen people use $100 mics on XL's before, are those actually better than the stock mic? If so, what brands would you suggest?

4. What's the best battery set-up system for what I am trying to do? I should have the ability to charge batteries every day, but will be filming for a large portion of the day at a time (8-12 hrs).

Aside from tapes, and personal items, what else might I forget to bring that is important?

I appreciate the help, ANY INPUT WHATSOEVER IS MORE THAN WELCOME!

Thanks in advance.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Andrew Gizinski View Post
I will be shooting with an XL1s... Not only to I want to invest a minimal amount in the tripod, but I need one that is fairly light (Almost all of my filming consists of filming in remote, difficult to access ares). Best tripod that satisfies my criteria for under $200?
In all honesty, there is no such thing as a good $200 tripod for a camera the size of a Canon XL. Light weight means carbon fiber which should run about $2500 for a respectable set of sticks and head.

This is a frequently asked question -- please refer to this thread for more input:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=18019

Also, everything you're asking here has already had very heavy discussion many times before. Please research our Canon XL1 / XL1S forum and our Audio forum for tons of existing threads which really go deep into these topics.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #3
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Chris, I appreciate your input.

In all due respect, I trust the information is on the forum, but when you are talking about 300+ replies, actually reviewing the thread becomes difficult. I tried to be fairly specific in regards to my situation, and was hoping for some specific replies.

I will continue browsing through the threads you listed.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #4
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Dear Andrew,

The mic on the Canon XL1s is actually fairly nice. I would not attempt to replace it with a $100 mic.

However, for most shooting, a mic on the camera is not going to give you the best sound. It is always better to get the mic close to the sound. Generally, this means using a boom pole, but there are other options. Chris's advice to read the audio section will show up lots of advice, even a way to extend the XL1s mic, using two cables, so it can be taken closer to your subject.

Wireless microphones, using a good lavaliere can sometimes be placed near your sound.

The Canon batteries such as the BP945 last over an hour. Do a search for batteries, you will find some low cost batteries that work very well. I like www.power101.com. Be sure to check out their chargers, which are a bargain and will allow you to charge your batteries from your vehicle.

You will need at least four batteries, six would be better. But it all depends on how long you will be shooting in a day.

Remember it takes a long time to charge these batteries, so plan on having one charger for each battery that you plan on using in one day. So if you may use four batteries in a day (or night) plan on four chargers. (If you get an expensive battery system, such as Anton Bauer, this does not apply.)


The Canon XL1s has a 16x zoom lens and generally requires a good tripod. It may sound strange, but sometimes a good tripod costs as much or more than the camera.

There are field or wilderness tripods which can work, but are only around $500. I have not priced them lately. Please read the section on tripods.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 06:42 AM   #5
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Dan, I appreciate your help. We will be filming around 6-10 hrs a day, and 8 hours a night. Im thinking Im going to need a fair amount of batteries...

Thanks.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 07:06 AM   #6
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Dear Andrew,

You are most welcome.

Please post any other questions you may have.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 09:53 AM   #7
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I know your asking about camera equipment, but you should also consider
what to bring to protect yourself....

I'd be getting a pair of rubber boots, you can get those down here at any good sporting goods shop... remember, we have snakes. So you might want
a long walking stick to push the brush away in front of you as you go out.

I'd be getting a bottle of insect repelent, deet should be in it.. the bugs down here will eat you alive during the night and during the day you will have to contend with the chiggers and ticks...

A good hat will come in handy.

A few of those mess t-shirts, its very very humid this time of year.

A good pair of sun glasses.

And some good sun screen.

And I'd get one of those lamps you wear on your head that you find in the camping stores. my wife has the one that fits on the bill of a baseball cap.

A handheld GPS unit might come in Handy....

And a good flash light or two...
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Old May 11th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #8
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I was tempted to recommended wrap-around "snake chaps" for your legs, or a good pair of snake boots. But, I assumed that since you mentioned filming reptiles you were properly protected.

I would do research on "rubber boots" before I considered them any type of protection.

I have researched this area quite extensively as I used to be involved in search and rescue. We had snake chaps for our volunteers. If I remember correctly, we paid under $30 for a pair of truely snakeproof chaps. These protected the lower leg only, not the foot.

Also, if you do get snakebite, the old "cut and suck", and tourniquet are no longer recommended, if you can get the victim to a hospital within one hour.

A little research and preparation goes a long way.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 08:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Gizinski View Post
2. I need a backpack to lug my beast around in. It needs to be able to handle rain, be fairly sturdy, but most important, it needs to be comfortable and light.
I've used a Petrol PCBP-1 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._DV_Hiker.html in remote areas of Panama and Honduras. Holds a DVX-100A and lots of accessories and has external straps for tripod. Reasonably comfortable. Don't know how it compares in weight to high-end packs, but I had no trouble with a 6-mile round trip to a mountain village in Panama.
Whatever backpack your get make sure it has a waist belt, preferably a well padded waist belt. If you're actually going to hike any distance then you want the same features in a camera backpack that you would want in a camping backpack. Any of the camping / backpacking websites can provide info on features.
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