The Minimalist Video Production Kit

For decades, the video production standard was to have a large pile of big, black cases on a shoot: lighting kit, audio kit, grip kit, camera box, monitor case, stand bag, cable bins, etc. But it takes at least a few people to move those cases around, and the “new normal” in corporate video production seems to be the “crew of one” or “one man band.” It’s difficult and time-consuming for one person to load, unload, and rummage through a bunch of heavy boxes.

Because of this, I’ve been whittling down my kit to the bare minimum. I’ve managed to get to the point that I can shoot a typical web video with little more than the contents of one standard-sized toolbox, plus a camera case and a cheap golf bag full of light stands.

The camera case contains a camera (currently a Panasonic AF100), with lenses, memory cards, microphone and headphones. Nothing particularly special about that. But the contents of my toolbox might be interesting to folks looking to build their own minimalist production package. Here’s what’s in my kit!

 

This is just a normal, medium-sized toolbox that I bought at K-Mart. It’s about 24″ wide. The only real criterion I use when shopping for a toolbox is that it must have two metal clasps. Plastic clasps are unreliable, and a single clasp isn’t strong enough.

This particular toolbox has storage compartments in the outer lid. I find that these flimsy plastic doors tend to flop open, so I don’t put anything too small or expensive in them. Here I have some electrical tape (for fixing frayed cords and marking my cables) and extra clothespins (for lighting gels). This stuff could easily go inside the box, if I didn’t have the lid compartments.

Most toolboxes have a tray that lifts out. I use it to keep small and delicate items from rattling around. Here, I have the following items:

Spring clamps.
One spare bulb for each of the lights in the box.
Two “ground lift” adapters, so that I can plug three-prong cords into old, two-prong outlets.
A bunch of rechargeable AA batteries wrapped in a plastic bag.
A bag of audio adapters.
A Sony wireless lavalier microphone, with extra clips & windscreens, and a few strips of moleskin.

In the main compartment of the toolbox, I’ve stuffed the following:

A sturdy XLR cable.
A triple-head extension cord.
A roll of gaffer tape.
An assortment of cine lighting gels, clipped together with clothespins.
A white Tota-Brella
Two Tota lights (with power cords).
One Pro-Light (with power cord).

Underneath all this, I have a towel lining the bottom of the case to shield its contents from shock (and to clean up accidental spills).

Here’s a better look at these items, spread out on the floor.

Obviously, the toolbox is too small to hold a microphone boom pole,  light stands or c-stands, which is why I use a $25 golf bag to roll them around. Generally speaking, I can carry the camera case, toolbox and pull the golf stand, all in one trip from the car.

In future posts, I’ll show how I use the contents of this toolbox to light interviews and corporate videos.

  9 comments for “The Minimalist Video Production Kit

  1. June 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Alex. Very informative.

  2. January 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I wish I found this site before I went out and bought a 3 light arri kit; while they are great lights they are massive and a bit unwieldy to carry around. Thanks for sharing!

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