When you’re configuring a camera rig, it’s a good idea to think about how you film. Are you going to be locked down on a tripod most of the time? Do you need a field monitor? What kind of audio gear will you be working with? Do you need to be mobile?

I figured it might be helpful to go through the thought process I used when putting together one of my rigs. The Idea behind this configuration was event coverage, which means I will be running around a crowded area, grabbing quick interviews and product overviews then darting off. So I started with a stripped down CPM FILM TOOLS cube cage.

A field monitor will add to much weight to a rig that has to be carried all day so removing that gives you room for wireless audio and a mixer. I’ve found that the easiest way to cover event audio is to keep a lapel mic on the actor and a hand held mic on the person being interviewed. This allows you to avoid passing the microphone back and forth. It also seems to keep the person being interviewed focused and cuts down on overly enthusiastic hand motions.

There is always a lot of noise in a crowded room and the audio mixer allows you to control levels and split your audio up into left and right channels. This will make life a lot easier in post when you’re trying to clean up audio and remove noise. One trick I’ve found very useful is to record about 4 minutes of crowd noise with a field recorder. In post you can clean up the camera audio, then layer back in the crowd noise. This helps in a three ways. First, the crowd noise covers up the effect of noise reduction filters on the camera audio track. Second, it allows you to keep volume levels consistent between cuts, which makes the transition from interview to interview smoother and Third, it gives you filler when you need to cut sections out of the camera audio track.

I know I’ve mentioned it a few times before and here it is again. Keep a back up camera with you! DSLR cameras provide great video, but when filming long clips in a hot room the sensor can over heat. You might also want to record something longer then 12 minutes, like a guest speaker, or a zombie walk from the back of a gulf cart. I always have my and a hand full of batteries with me as a backup. I configured this Rig to work with either camera so the change out is simply a matter of pulling one camera off the quick release plate and sliding the other on.

I usually only bring 2 lenses to an event, a prime for low light and a zoom for a little bit of range. I normally reach for the Canon T2i, the Sigma 30mm f1.4, and the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. I stay away from L glass at large events to keep the dollar value of the equipment on hand down. If someone runs off with the T2i, Sigma, and Tamron, I’m out $1200, which sucks. But It would be a lot better then loosing a Canon 5d with a Canon 50mm f1.2 and a Canon 24-70mm f2.8.

No matter what rig configuration you use, it’s always a good idea to think about how that rig’s style will fit with the subject you plan to film. Just because you have the gear doesn’t mean you need to be loaded down every time you leave the house. Consider what you actually need and go from there. Otherwise you’ll end up lugging around huge bags of gear for no reason at all.

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