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Old March 13th, 2017, 08:33 AM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 3,840
Do you use public transportation?

As an urban single person shooter I sometimes find using public transportation the best option. I was wondering if others do likewise and how do you decide on your kit in such situations.

When/Why I use public transportation.

In an Urban environment during the business day, I often find driving to shoots takes longer and makes arrival time harder to estimate due to traffic.

I find parking difficult and pulling into a parking lot less than convenient given the potential distance from the shoot and the gear needed to move. If I'm forced to walk a long distance carting a heavy load it defeats any advantage of using a car.

BTW I do have an SUV and do use it when I do a two person shoot. Traffic can still be a problem but at least my assistant can drop me and my gear off at the front door while they find parking. Even if parking is not near by at least they're not lugging the equipment. In the meantime and I start setting and can get underway with the shoot if needed. Of course we're talking about Single Person Crew here and in those circumstances I often find a car a detriment so I'm wondering if others are in similar circumstance.
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Old March 20th, 2017, 04:29 AM   #2
Regular Crew
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 46
Re: Do you use public transportation?

As a fellow NYer I have tried both. However, for anything other than the most basic shoots I have given up on public transport. Mostly because the strain it puts on your body is not healthy nor does it help to arrive on location exhausted with back and hands hurting, and drenched in sweat parts of the year. Not the best impression on the client. With public transport (which in my case includes Metro North trains) I can take a camera bag and a rolling case, however inconsistent elevator access means dragging them up and down stairs. Also heavy rolling cases still put at least 1/3rd of the weight on your body, not the wheels depending on angle. When limited to bag and one case, we invariably test the weight limits because we have to pack tight, only making things worse.

These days when I do work in Manhattan as OMB, I have a formula down. I do drive and park in parking garages up to 5 blocks aways, which I find via based on pricing. The closer to either river, the lower the prices. I average between $20-40, but had as much as $65. It's always billed to the client. If the client doesn't allow travel budget, it's not a good client. Sometimes I make reservations if it's a small garage. I have a collapsible Rock-n-Roller cart which can be loaded up to 700lbs. My old car was a Suburban, but the SUV surcharge, and even more the limited spot availability made it too unpredictable. Now I have a compact SUV (Subaru Forrester) which I never have a problem parking and still can take loads of gear where ever I go. The cart fits into any freight elevator and I arrive less exhausted.

This is from a recent two camera shoot (which I did have a 2nd operator meeting me on location at the Four Seasons Hotel), but it looks the same on many OMB gigs:

The one downside to the cart is, you definitely have to use the freight entrance, which means in many buildings you have to file your CoI with building management which can be an ordeal with some of them.
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Old March 20th, 2017, 06:53 AM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,650
Re: Do you use public transportation?

Subways for one camera no lights, usually taxi for two camera shoots with lights. I have a large backpack that holds the camera, mikes and external monitor (can't remember the brand of backpack at the moment). It has a pouch, which sometimes I use, to hold a small tripod but it's usually easier to carry the tripod separately especially if I decide to use the larger tripod. It's no worse than a hiking backpack although rush hours are not the best time to use it. I had a car at one point but it was too expensive to maintain in Manhattan and too much of an encumbrance for shoots in Manhattan. Now I rent cars or hire a second camera person with a car. If I have a second cameraperson and traffic is really bad, we'll use the subways but that's rare.
William Hohauser - New York City
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Old March 20th, 2017, 09:24 AM   #4
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 3,840
Re: Do you use public transportation?

I have backpack for camera and a couple of lenses (Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera) and mics.
A tripod bag for Benro BV4 carbon fiber legs (about 8 lbs)
A bag for a couple of small lights, Aputure 672s with D-Fuse softbox, DigitalJuice 128) or LitePanels Sola2, small light stands.It might be a little more than 10 lbs.
Goal is to keep it all around 25 lbs give or take.
This is, of course, for small shoots like an interview in an office. I find this covers a fair number of my shoots.

If I need a second person the car becomes a better choice and I can increase my equipment load since the 2nd person can drop me and the gear off while they park. I still find traffic problems much worse than subway though.
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