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Old April 8th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Beijing, China
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Your advice on equipment list for 3 mths trip China to Germany

Hello all,

Two of us will be traveling overland from Beijing, China to Berlin, Germany this summer to shot a road documentary. I would like all of your inputs and advice on the list of equipment to take on this trip. I'm not a professional videographer having only shot about 80 tapes so your advice is highly appreciated.

There are two of us but only one will be shooting at a time. We would like to travel as light as possible since it'll all go on our backs.

1x Canon XH A1
1x Canon or Sony HD Hard Disk Handheld
2x BP 970G battery for XH A1,
2x Battery for the Handheld
1x 0.8 wide angle - don't have it yet due to the price, how critical do you think it is to have?

1x Condenser Mic
1x Set of lavalieres

1x Acer or HP netbook Intel Atom 1.6Ghz 1GB RAM with firewire adapter
2x 500GB 2.5inch portable harddrive
Can anyone tell me if they are capable of running video applications that will upload to portable hard drives? Premiere CS3 too much to ask? If not what other software then? I won't be editing but just digitizing and backing it up as we will probably send the tapes to Germany via Fedex on the road.

150x DV tapes (buy more on the road if needed)
1x Tripod
1x Raincover
1x Charger

Also, should I buy a Tenba Shootout backpack to put everything? I currently have a shoulder bag with dual zipper top opening.

Would love to hear your suggestions!
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Old April 8th, 2009, 11:15 AM   #2
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Location: Cornsay Durham UK
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I just got a canon HF11 which shoots onto on board 32gb memory or SDHC class 6 cards.

It would a great 2nd cam as it is very small and you can plug in an ext mic or radio mic.

It shoots up to 1920x1080i 50i or 25p at 24mbs.

The HV30 may also be a good 2nd cam if you need tape but the HF11 is so small it may be ideal for your situation.

I also just ordered a .45 wide angle lens to go on it.

I agree with you idea of portable hard drives you could transfer the rushes to them on a daily basis and with 16gb SDHC cards at less than 20 you could even just keep the cards as rushes if you chose to shoot at lower bit rates.
Dont know your edit software but I use final cut pro and it ingests the rushes in pro res 422 and the tapeless aspect will be a lot easier than using tape.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #3
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I would recommend getting a backup video camera. We've had experiences when arriving in China our camera was confiscated....but it was a big camera. We got our camera back after a couple of days, but it's a major inconvenience. If you can get in incognito (looking like a tourist) that would be a good thing. Split both cameras up between you two.

Also check your battery charger to make sure you don't need a transformer to convert the power. Ours worked, but charged very slowly...and we lost a couple batteries in the process.

If you're doing any plug-in lighting, there are specific light bulbs that work on their power cycle.

Good luck!
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Old April 8th, 2009, 04:00 PM   #4
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Location: Miami, FL USA
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You might want to check for system requirements, I think your 1.6ghz and 1 gig ram is a little light for CS3...particularly if you want to to hdv...adobe publishes the minimums for their software, however, go by what they say, not me...I second the idea of taking a backup camera, hv30 an excellent companion to the xha1 I think. The rain cover is a must for the xha1, I got caught in a little shower one day with mine, no water damage outside or inside that I could find, but it shut down and had to go back to Canon for $1100 US repair.....Depending on how complicated your edits and output may be, you might find Adobe Premiere Elements sufficient for on-the-road work...less demanding of your computer and lots less expensive than two cents. ...../ Battle Vaughan/ video team
PS about the wideangle, I use it all the time, but I'm doing news sometimes in close quarters, your situation might be different. It adds considerable weight to the camera but the Canon w/a is a great piece of glass if you need the extra coverage. You might think about the lot-less-costly and weighty w/a adapter for the HV30, should you choose that camera, it's pretty good. Also, consider a spare charger, if your only charger gets fried you are dead in the water....

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; April 8th, 2009 at 04:06 PM. Reason: addendi
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Old April 8th, 2009, 07:00 PM   #5
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Spend time reading the Home away from home section of DVInfo:
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Is this a home movie or are you trying to produce something better than that?

<soapbox on>
Equipment, while important, won't make up for lack of story telling, lighting and audio acquisition skills. Since you are in China, you probably have a handle on cultural issues and hopefully you have an idea for a story. Ya, it'll change but with research, you'll be prepared to figure out responses to what you encounter. I was in Shanghai, got my story but while there, the Tibet incident occurred (last year) and I was ill prepared to take advantage.
<soapbox off>

If you plan to do man-on-the-street interviews a dynamic handlheld mic will be needed for a quality soundtrack for something better than a home movie.

Your kit is sorely lacking for lighting. If you shoot someone other than yourselves outdoors, you will have someone to hold a reflector and it will make your subject better. Attached is a screen shot from Pudong that would have been sooo much better with a reflector. You can see a group in the background setting up a diffuser for a photo shoot in the square. But again, the equipment itself won't help if you haven't learned to do it. Reflectors are easy to learn to use, inexpensive, light/small and make a big difference.

Lastly, the A1 + accessories takes a lot of room in a backpack. Frankly, I can't imagine you carrying all that stuff plus clothes, tent and food backpacking from China to Germany.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 03:42 AM   #6
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Kit Essentials

You definitely need some lighting. If you could get some sort of LED light or anything that is small and puts off a lot of light off of batteries. I also second any reflectors or silks that are expandable. That will help out a lot. If you get a WA adapter it will help smooth out your handheld a little.
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Old April 16th, 2009, 09:10 PM   #7
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I have to agree with Les - ditch the A1. It's big, heavy, unweildy, a trouble magnet of major proportions on a trip like that and it's just not suited to the task.

Worst of all - there's only one of them.

Go for two, identical, really good dinky cams of your choice, get one really good wide angle, ditto tele converter, small but usable tripod, reflector/ small light system.

A couple of decent mics, spare batteries, tapes or cards as required and you're good to go.

Everything fits everything else, everything backs up something else, one failure, or even two, won't stop you in your tracks.

If you're taking tapes I can see no reason for the laptop - one or other.

I've done the trip going the other way with a shed load of kit, but using the above formula.

It works.

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Old April 17th, 2009, 04:46 AM   #8
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I did a travel doc in India this winter and brought along my HVX and HV20. Am editing now and the HV20 footage fits well with the HVX footage. From this experience I can highly recommend the HV20 or HV30 !! I am going to get another one just because its so small and "tourist" like and makes excellent footage! Capturing into FCP was smooth as well with FCP indexing each take and making separate clips automatically. I would definately look into getting 2 Canon HV30!!
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Old April 17th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #9
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Are you taking the siberian railway from Beijing to Moscow? If not, I highly recommend it!
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 07:27 AM   #10
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Yeah I agree with Chris, get two small camcorders such as the Canon HF11 or HV30 as it will be easier to carry and equipment such as wideangle lens etc. will be cheaper.

If you go for a solidstate/harddrive camera then the netbook will be a good idea. And as you wouldn't be using tape all you would have to do is copy and paste the videos across either via USB or if its on SD cards even easier through the SD card reader. Also the netbook will come in handy for other things, like accessing internet when you can etc.

I've decided myself to take a Sony SR11 instead of a Z1 next week for a trip to Spain. I know its not quite as adventurous as your trip but still I felt it made more sense taking the SR11 over the Z1 as it would be easier to carry, I wouldn't have to take tapes and I can use a lighter tripod.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #11
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USA to China 11 times in 13 months...

Im gonna chime in here, I have traveled from USA to China 11 times in the past 13 months. I shoot industrial videos of manufacturing facilities, and when I have time I like to shoot the beautiful ladies...(fashion is my background)

My first 3 trips were with a PElican 1510 case packed with a GL2, Sony UWP wireless mic case, Digital SLR and misc lenses.

The Pelican 1510 case is rugged, waterproof and warranty for life. Guarenteed to fit in all overhead storage bins by the FAA....NOTE I said FAA not CAA (Chinese Aviation Authority)

They made me check my pelican 1510 case with my gear on a couple of domestic china flights (China Air) and i only had one item get broke and that was because i didnt pack it properly. They also have weight restrictions on carry on bags so be ware of this as well.

Two trips with my GL2 and that was the end of that...I purchased a HV30 and love it. I do mix the footage on it often with my GL2.

It was a lot easier for me to get around with my HV30 then my GL2. FWIW...
Vegas 8.0c (Build 260)-(Upgraded to Sony Vegas 10 pro)Canon GL2, Canon HV30, HF200, HF20-Sony UWP Wirelesss Mic Kit, Intel Core 2 CPU-6600@2.40GHz-3.00GB Ram
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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:21 PM   #12
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I second the 2 HV30, they are great little cams. Get 2 Senn G2 , 2 canon d50 or 2 atr35.
Some 30 tapes (you will find sony dv tapes almost anywhere). A Wide Angle, one small tripod and one gorilla. 2 hoods for screens, some filters. Clenaning kit and a cleaning tape. 2 Bescor bracket and 2 mini litepanels.
Pack each kit in small Kata bags and Bon Voyage.
Measure twice, cut once!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:50 PM   #13
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 3
Thank you all for the great advice

Sorry I had some problems logging on to the site although I've been thoroughly enjoying reading the advice. Going to take a 20W camera mount light for night time shooting with small battery attached, rain cover for sure, and will try to convince the director to go with smaller HD cameras instead of the A1. Also found the Tenba large shootout backpack with wheels to be a good backpack since we'll be on walking for long stretches.

In case we take the A1 has anyone had custom issues taking it into another country? I never had problems going into China or the US but I'm worried if they'll make me pay heavy taxes for ex-Soviet countries and eastern European countries.
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