Let’s start with the definition of “Hybrid.” What I mean by this term are productions or assignments where one or two people are required to be the photographer, filmmaker, sound recordist, producer, and even editor. These gigs are becoming increasingly popular. It sounds crazy and these sorts of shoots can be. One of the keys to making them run smoothly relies on effective planning and working with equipment that gives you more control in less time. It also helps to team up with other people who can complement our weaknesses.
I just got back from a three-day “hybrid” shoot in Montreal and as I write this we are packing for a 10-day hybrid assignment in Washington and Oregon. The Montreal job was for an architect and soon-to-be author who’s writing a book on how to travel comfortably around the world for very little money. I was hired to create a 30-second trailer to promote his book and to capture great images from known and off-the-beaten-path locations in an already popular destination. Even though the client was with me he was simply a guide and all the videos and stills were my full responsibility.
One substantial challenge for photographers shooting video is how to travel as light as possible while carrying a full production and post-production setup that is literally on their back. Here’s a picture of my backpack, which contains every single piece of gear that I’d need for three days.
1. Media Credentials which sometimes, but not always, can give you special access, get you discounts and the most important part, allow you to travel with some heavy or oversized gear without paying a fortune. Here’s a link to Delta, American, and United Media Baggage policies.
2. Two external portable hard drives.
3. Audio field recorder like the H4n to capture interviews and my own production notes.
4. Camera A for video, in this case a Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens.
5. Camera B for video, another Panasonic GH4.
6. Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens.
7. Camera for stills; I always carry my Fuji X100s.
8. A Tenba Tool Box 6 to pack all the batteries, chargers, cables, adapters and other small accessories.
9. Small tripod that sometimes serves as an improvised handheld rig. A car mount works great for time lapse and even to hold the H4n or small lights during interviews.
10. Rode VideoMic to capture some ambient sounds.
11. MacBook Pro with Adobe Creative Suite and Shot Put Pro [add link to Shot Put Pro article].
Here’s my typical outfit and setup for some of these solo assignments.
1. My good ol’ Columbia jacket/vest has been traveling with me to more than 40 countries. It has lots of pockets, a hoodie, and because it has a self-stowing pocket, it sometimes doubles as a pillow on the road. A priceless item, to be sure.
2. Benro S4 Video Monopod. Small, relatively light, and sturdy. Works great.
3. Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens.
4. Rode VideoMic Shotgun
5. I always bring gloves unless I’m going to the Caribbean in July. Montreal was pretty cold and wet!
6. Obviously, the most important tool if you are crossing any borders: the passport. This website compares the “power” of passports from many different countries, and, as Americans, we are blessed to have the most powerful one.
7. I like to dress in layers and in dark colors when shooting on the road. Black hides dust and stains very easily. A cashmere sweater is worth its weight in gold.
8. Camera for stills: I always carry my Fuji X100s. This one is especially handy after a very long day, when I don’t want to carry more gear but still want to capture a few night scenes of nice-looking dishes during my evening meal.
9. A hat—another essential item.
For the next 10-day hybrid assignment in Washington and Oregon I’ll have two more people with me, a gaffer/grip and a second camera/DIT. I won’t need to carry everything on my back, but we definitely need to pack as little and light as possible.
Besides one Tenba Transport Rolling Tripod/Grip case [add link http://bit.ly/1bn5COk], which contains a Benro S8 tripod, a Benro S4 monopod, a Cinevate Pegasus slider, some grip accessories and all the charges and cables you can imagine, I have one rolling carry-on case with my clothes and a Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag. The brilliant design of this bag allow me to treat is as a standard rolling carry-on with the most precious and expensive gear with me, but I can also use it as a (very heavy) backpack on uneven terrain, subway stations, etc.
Here’s my complete setup for Hybrid assignments when I don’t need to carry everything on my back.
1. Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag.
2. Media pouch with ten 64GB SD cards.
6. Two external portable hard drives.
9. Rode VideoMic Shotgun
10. H4n Audio field recorder
11. Panasonic GH4 body with Metabones Speedbooster
12. Panasonic GH4 body with Varavon cages
13. USB 3 reader for Solid State Drives
14. 6TB G-Tech External Hard Drive
15. Atomos Shogun
16. My sharpest and heaviest lens, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
17. Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens and Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens. These lenses are the equivalent to a 24-70mm 2.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8 but super light and small.
Well, there you have my little setups for hybrid assignments. I hope this article benefits some of you involved or interested in run and gun, single-operator scenarios like weddings, events, corporate shoots, documentaries, red carpet premieres, product launches, sporting events, video podcasts, and even student films.
Eduardo Angel is an independent Technology Consultant, Educator, and Emmy Award winning Visual Storyteller based in Brooklyn, NY. He currently teaches at The School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography, and mentors the photography program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Eduardo is a co-founder of the idea production company The Digital Distillery, author of popular filmmaking courses on Lynda.com, and regularly shares his thoughts on technology, photography, and cinema on his website eduardoangel.com