• Filmmaking Post Advanced Filmmaking An Ideal Setup for Shooting in the Field
  • Gear for Filming in Remote Locations

    If you’re a seasoned filmmaker you probably have a kit that you bring with you on location. It works for you, and you know exactly where everything is. However, if you’re new to it, deciding what to bring on a field expedition can be a daunting task. Here I’ve laid out what we bring, things that have worked for us on many an expedition. This is what we took on a 12-day expedition in the Grand Canyon, with little ability to recharge batteries (solar recharging wasn’t an option), in a harsh environment, requiring minimal setup.

    kayaker taking photos in grand canyon

    Check out this short trailer from the trip, then read on about the equipment we used.

    The Camera

    Jonas and I each brought with us our Canon 5D Mark II/III. I highly recommend DSLR cameras as they double as both a still camera and a video camera…and take amazing photos like this:

    Paddling the Grand Canyon - light painting

    Granted, these two cameras are in the 2-3K dollar range. If you’re trying to cut costs, I’d recommend the Canon 70D. It is newer than the Canon 5D and has some amazing improvements, such as a flip screen that will allow you to film yourself. It’s only about 1K!

    Lenses

    Lenses are key to making an awesome film with a DSLR. However, the most important thing is to cover your entire zoom range. If you have a kit lens, bring that. Our lenses included the following:

    Lenses for field shooting

    Batteries

    When I went on expeditions in the past I would worry about how to charge everything. With these DSLR cameras though, you can simply buy a ton of off-brand batteries. (Our friend Neil Losin, who did a similarly long expedition, sent us 20 batteries to pack and use. Thanks Neil!) You can get them on Amazon for about $15 each.  In total, we took with us 25 batteries for 12 days. With time-lapses, we ended up using 22 of them. They don’t last forever, but they’re not bad!

    Audio Gear

    I brought two pieces of audio gear. The main one was the Rode Videomic Pro. We also brought a wireless mic setup, but we probably wouldn’t bring it again. It was hard to get people wired up, so we didn’t use it that much. We just filmed our subjects close up, enough to get the Rode mic to pic it up.

    Time-lapses

    Don’t forget to bring an intervalometer to shoot amazing time lapses. Here is a little short I did in the canyon describing my method:

    Extra Gear

    There are a few extra things I brought, that  really made the difference.

    1. A tripod: I used this one, with a pistol grip!
    2. A slider: A two foot slider like this Rhino slider works awesome!
    3. A GoPro: Jonas shot a lot of his canyon film here, with a GoPro.
    4. A Waterproof Bag: I preferred the Watershed Ocoee bags.

    I hope this helps as you plan a filmmaking expedition. Leave us a comment if we left anything vital out!

    Jonas Stenstrom light painting untamed science

    Written by Rob Nelson

    Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is also an award winning filmmaker. As principle director of the Untamed Science productions his goal is to create videos and content that are both entertaining and educational. When he's not making science content, he races slalom kayaks and skydives.

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