Is it allowed to use a tripod in a National Park ? at DVinfo.net

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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #1
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Is it allowed to use a tripod in a National Park ?

Hello,

Here, in France, when you're using a camera on a tripod, you need an permit from the local authority. Because for them : tripod = professional filmmaker.

I'm planning a trip in some NPs of Arizona and Colorado and would be happy to shoot wildlife with my Sony FX1 on a Bogen 503 tripod. Do you think I need a permit from the National Parks ?

I've phone them and they asked if my film will be a commercial one. Of course, I'll try to make something good enough for cable TVs, but I'm an independant. I have no producer... So is it a commercial film or not ? Do I need a permit in National Parks ? Is there a risk if I don't declare my activity at the entrance ? What do you think?

Thank you!
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Last edited by Ronan Fournier; January 6th, 2006 at 03:39 AM.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:53 PM   #2
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i shoot in national parks all the time with a tripod, and no one has ever approached me about it. they are considered public spaces. camping overnight in non-designated areas usually requires a special permit, and there's an entry fee, but that's about it. have fun, and post us some fabulous footage when you get a chance!

here's the US national parks service website, you can find fees listings and reservation requirements there. http://www.nps.gov
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Old January 5th, 2006, 01:14 PM   #3
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I would be very surprised if anyone stopped you in a U.S. National Park just because they saw you with a video camera on a tripod. In any parks with historical ruins you should be careful to avoid getting too close to anything fragile, but other than that I doubt anyone will pay much attention to you. My advice would be not to say anything to park rangers and just go record what you want; if anyone asks tell them it's for your personal use. If by some chance they do ask you to stop filming, politely do so and move on to another location.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 02:03 PM   #4
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kevin makes an excellent point about the fragility of some of these environments. in addition to ruins, you may encounter cryptobiotic soil, high alpine tundra, and other delicate ecologies which damage easily. you might want to also consider a monopod or better still, a steady stick or dvcaddie. both are lighter to carry, easier to set up, and generate less impact.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 04:16 AM   #5
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Thank you both for your supporting replies. I'll do as you said.
But thanks to Meryem's link, I've found this about filming in Grand Canyon :
http://www.nps.gov/grca/filming/index.htm

I suppose it is the same policy in all the NPs.
It is said :"Filming/Photography Permits - are issued for photography, filming, and associated sound recording to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, or when they involve props, models, professional crews and casts or set dressings."

I suppose that "prop" means somethings like heavy tripod, crane or dolly, isn't ?
Anyway, as you suggest, I might say that it's for my personnal use, even if I'll try to sell the movie to cable TVs later... That's the freelance problematic ! ;)

I've already used a monopod, but the shots were not as stable as I wanted. So the combine of a tripod and of a light steady seems a good idea. I'll try it.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 05:00 AM   #6
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Ronan, like the others I have photographed and videoed many National Parks in America and NEVER have I been asked for a permit. One thing to check, back in 1975 I worked for the summer at Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado. At that time people visiting the USA could get into our National Parks for free by presenting their passport at the gate. Check on this, last summer it cost my $20 US to get into Mesa Verde NP in southern Colorado. And please remember that you can still get snow in the high country of Colorado in the summer, so if you plan on going to Rocky Mountain NP, even in the summer, bring warm clothing. Bob

Last edited by Bob Safay; January 6th, 2006 at 08:19 AM.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 08:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronan Fournier
It is said :"Filming/Photography Permits - are issued for photography, filming, and associated sound recording to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, or when they involve props, models, professional crews and casts or set dressings."
Again, I seriously doubt anyone would approach you about this unless you were traveling with a film crew. One person with a video camera on a tripod is common enough to be unlikely to draw attention.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 09:04 AM   #8
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There are several points brought up here-
Tripod... I doubt the will be an issue, unless it has spikes on the legs that dig into the ground. Silly, but some places take that stuff very serious.

Commercial use... It doesn't matter if you are independant or have a producer. Commercial means you will try to make money of of it, or possibly even mass viewing. In such cases, the Park may just want credit for the location.

Props- If you plan on shooting a car commercial, you will obviously need a car. That would be a prop, as well as any large boulders, statues, etc., that you may use. They want to know in advance if there is a chance for damage and destruction to the habitat.

Their main concern, is prserving the area. If you have any questions, it may take several calls, but you will eventually get to the right person, and they will likely help you out. Did this help?
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Old January 6th, 2006, 09:08 AM   #9
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ronan, the same site says, "Generally, permits are not required for: visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use."

you'll most likely be recording from the rim of the canyon, in which case you'll be surrounded by about a million other tourists, all similarly outfitted! you won't stick out. if you feel ambitious, you can schlep your camera and gear the nine miles (nine miles out, of course) down to the river bed. it is a beautiful hike, best embarked upon before sunrise and before the mule teams starting pooping it up. at the very least, i highly recommend descending into the canyon a little bit, if you want to take shots that don't look exactly like every other tourists' shots. it's a bit of work but worth it to get beyond the surface beauty. get up early--that's my advice. canyon light changes quickly, and changing canyon light is the best palette!!!!!!

anyway, my point is, no one here equates a tripod with professionalism, not when a zillion american and japanese and european tourists and other well-heeled amateurs are all trying to edge you aside for the view with their own big rigs!

seriously, you don't have a thing to be concerned about. you'll be in some of the loveliest places in this beautiful country--relax and have fun!
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Old January 6th, 2006, 11:45 AM   #10
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Thanks again.

It's because I'm a stranger in your beautfull country that I want to be sure to perfectly respect the laws of NPs.
Anyway, I'll stay on the tracks, I'm alone and I'm not sure at all that at TV would appreciate my work, so...

In France, everything is so complicated with the administration ;)
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Old January 6th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronan Fournier
I suppose that "prop" means somethings like heavy tripod, crane or dolly, isn't ?
Hi Ronan, and welcome to DVinfo. Actually, in its common usage, "prop" is short for "property" and it refers to something that actors would be using on camera. Examples might be: a table, a chair, a sign or a fake dinosaur ;-) In other words, they don't want you to make a movie or a TV commerical in the parks without a permit. I can't imagine they would object to you and your tripod unless your brings road cases full of gear and setting them up with a crew.

Enjoy your trip and don't worry about it. Worst case, a park ranger might ask you to refrain from whatever you're doing, but I seriously doubt you'll have any problems at all.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 08:07 PM   #12
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Tripods are not an issue

In most National Parks you will see many cameras and spotting scopes mounted on Bogen tripods. In some parks, such as Katmai in Alaska, they will limit the amount of time you may be set up on the decks, but that's more due to the limited space than anything else.

Just try not to block access trails or pathways and you should be fine.

Also, unless you have already sold the film ... I'd claim tourist status, no issues there unless you are running a crew.

I'm leaving for Yellowstone on Tuesday and will post if I have any problems
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Old January 7th, 2006, 11:33 AM   #13
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I can certainly understand why the question was asked.

I was on a tour of Greece and I knew that a tripod would not be allowed. But they actually tried to tell me that I had to take the microphone off of my Sony FX1 because only professional cameras have microphones. Yeah, right.

I spoke to a supervisor, explained it was a consumer camera, and that the Mic does NOT come off. They let me in.

Elsewhere, I was using a tripod at the ruins in Corinth, and was told to pack it up. Being prepared, I had a DVRigJr with me as well. Not great, but better than handheld.

However, I have never had problems at all anywhere in Hawaii or any other park I have been to in the USA.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 10:54 AM   #14
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Using a tripode

I have more and less the same question because I want to make a wild life film in New Zealand. Does somebody knows if it is allowed to use a tripode in the New Zealands national parks?
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Old January 10th, 2006, 06:20 PM   #15
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I took a tripod on my last trip to New Zealand and used it without encountering any problems.I guess its all about common sense .If i'd hauled a Bogan 503, XL2 and all the associated gear into a protected tundra area then maybe somebody would say something. Keep things compact and simple and no one will care.
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