There are a handful of accessories that have become an essential component of video shoots that you always want to carry on a day shoot. These essentials will offer the most versatility and adaptability to the type of footage you can collect, as well as arm you to overcome any obstacle that may present itself while on a day shoot!
When heading out for a video shoot, preparation is your best bet. The best way to pack your camera bag is to carefully plan exactly what is being shot on that day, taking into consideration, environment, weather, time of day, and other variables. So, what are some essential accessories that can help you create professional-looking videos during a day shoot? As a quick disclaimer, this list is about accessories assuming that you've packed a camera and the right lenses.
5 Camera Bag Essentials For A Video Day Shoot
This one is a no-brainer, an absolute must, and a tool that should be packed first into your camera bag! Choose a tripod that has a fluid head, which means you can pan-and-tilt to physically move the camera without any shakiness. Admittedly, there's incredible image stabilization inbuilt into many modern cameras along with chest rigs for long mobile sequences that records footage without jerks.
However, the simplest and most affordable option is a sturdy tripod with a fluid head. It's perfect for capturing motion from a static point. It always depends on the type of shot you’re capturing but the trusty tripod is invaluable in most situations.
Another great feature of having a tripod on a shoot is its versatility. You can attach a slider for long pans. Sliders have seen a great deal of use within the film industry but especially so in documentary work. Using a slider combined with time-lapse film is a fantastic way to condense a long period of time into just a few seconds. The BBC’s wildlife documentary team uses this tool to great effect when capturing growth and movement on the forest floor for example. Not only do you get sped-up footage which helps watching things come to life but the scene also changes and develops as the camera pans along with the slider.
The BBC has a lot of battery-powered extras in their camera bag in order to capture scenes like this, but you get the idea of what can be done with some imagination and a well-placed tripod.
There’s a good reason why the popular phrase "Lights, camera, action!” has lights at the beginning. It's all thanks to proper lighting that we can capture quality footage on our memory cards. Having a good set of lights can often be essential when the weather can’t be relied on or the sun is setting and you’ve got to record footage for the day.
What light kit to carry really depends on the scale of the shoot where you might consider a basic on-camera LED light kit or more bulky production lighting.
It’s worth mentioning that choosing a light kit that has the option to be battery-powered is quite important to give you the most adaptability. You’ll want something that offers versatility and thankfully most modern LED light kits offer that.
There’s functionality that includes adjusting color temperatures, brightness as well as a whole range of customization options including diffusers, softboxes, filters, and more. Some of the shooting modes can offer advanced functions such as replicating lightning or gunfire. While you may not use them on a day-to-day basis, it's good to have these features if you ever need them!
Thanks to the continuous technological advancement of LEDs, portable lighting solutions are quite affordable with a basic LED panel costing around $100. Higher prices will offer a great deal more lumens though and if you’re shooting outdoors, it might be necessary to fork out that bit extra to get visible results, literally!
If you’re shooting professionally then you already know that generally speaking a high price tag means a good investment as the product should last and have a good warranty too. It goes without saying but always do your research when looking into bigger ticket items.
Recording audio means more peripherals, perhaps even more than lights but at least they are more compact! Peripherals mean items like headphones. You can choose between a shotgun mic, either a hotshoe-mounted one or handheld. A handheld edition can also come with a boom. Another choice is a lavalier microphone that you can clip on to the subject to record their voice. It may even be that the on-camera microphone will suffice depending on your project. Though the lavalier and shotgun mics both have their limitations, generally you’ll want one of these two to begin with and can then expand your selection from there.
It's essential to know what you’re getting while recording audio so you could even consider a separate digital recorder to record and store high-quality audio off-camera.
A gimbal is a real game-changer in video production and is an item that we highly recommend. If your shoot requires camera movement beyond a fixed point, a gimbal is a must. Today, with the sophistication and comfort of chest-rigs and handheld gimbals, it’s an item that allows for great versatility with the shots you take. You can capture super smooth sequences that look like Hollywood shots! A vast amount of content created using a gimbal is seen on Youtube, Tiktok, or Instagram.
A chest rig allows the wearer great control over what’s in the frame while the substantial camera weight is off the arms.
Gimbals are also seeing great success in the smartphone market, as decent quality video production is quite achievable with a smartphone. In fact, it’s quite amazing how much can be done, editing included, on a smartphone only. So despite this list being for more “serious” videographers looking to expand their possibilities, don’t ignore the fact that imagination and the phone in your pocket can create fantastic projects.
5. Tool Kit
Now that you have the basics covered and are ready for any video shoot, another thing to pack in your camera bag is a simple toolkit that can take care of small mechanical faults swiftly and seamlessly resolved.
For all the purely mechanical problems like tripods, gimbals, booms, and anything else; a screwdriver, hammer, wrench, and duct tape will likely resolve the issue long enough to complete the shoot until it can undergo proper repairs.
Some problems with more technologically advanced hardware (cameras and recorders) will require professional attention and would be tricky to repair on the field. Personally, I’ve always found duct tape to be the answer to most equipment failures.
Along with a basic tool kit for emergency repairs, you can’t go wrong with an extra set of batteries. Batteries might be the first thing you’d pack anyway but spares are always recommended as a lot of camera equipment is particularly power-hungry and will most likely deplete over the course of a day.
Ready, Set, Record!
Speaking from experience, the best way to pack your camera bag for a day shoot is to carefully plan and research exactly what you’ll be doing, when and where, and for how long. Preparedness as a camera operator is one of the best skills because you need to be able to record challenging sequences no matter what the circumstances. The first step is having the above suggestions in your bag as a great start!
Good luck on your day shoot!