Gear Transport?
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Old 03-24-2013   #1
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Default Gear Transport?

If this is the wrong forum to ask in, somebody please direct me to the right one!
Here is the problem. I've a shot at an event that is potentially very lucrative, but, is quite a distance out of my normal travel area. It is also at a time of year that driving is absolutely and totally out of the question (this chick don't do no snow!).
So, I need to fly. In addition to me, and the camera, I also need to take studio lights, stands, backdrop, 2 or 3 monitors, and my printer. I know that my baggage is going to be over weight etc., and am good with that, but need to determine the best way to ship the electronics so I don't end up with a bunch of worthless junk at the other end. I did look into renting, but, the area I'd be flying into does not have anything of that nature.
Thoughts??

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Old 03-24-2013   #2
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Not sure what you are asking. Are you wondering how best to pack the monitors/printers for shipment or are you asking if it's better to ship the equipment with you through the airlines/tsa or through an auxiliary shipping service such as FedEx or UPS?

I have looked at having my gear shipped ahead of time using pelican cases 650 with FedEx and have always found the price still to be higher than extra bags with the airline. If anyone knows any secrets I'm all ears.

Pelican cases although bomber proof are quite heavy in themselves and I have been searching for a new lighter case I have yet to find one that fits although there are some nice hard bodied luggage cases that might work kinda small for packing multiple strobe heads. For stands/tripods either a snowboarder's case or golf case works.

I have been hit with some big baggage costs when traveling of course I've talked to some video production crews that really have horror stories when it comes to baggage cost. Under 1,000 miles and I'm driving I'll take snow any day over the tsa.

p.s. you'll want to double check this but I think it's better to have an extra bag than allow one of your cases to go over the airline's weight/normal dimension guidelines.

p.p.s. I swear some of the airline's weight scales have a fat thumb on them (being polite) make sure your case are easily under the limit. 49 lbs on your scale can read high on theirs
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Old 03-24-2013   #3
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Sorry - was not being as clear as I could be (it was after midnight!). I need to be able to fly these items with me.
I know the 'heavy thumb' concept - I found it most interesting that my absolutely not more than 40# carry on suddenly became overweight, and removing one lens (and stowing it in my purse) made it easily within weight.
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Old 03-24-2013   #4
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Check out Porter Cases: Porter Case - /catalog/

Or consider renting your gear from a service who will have it shipped to the location.

Or consider hiring a local assistant or digital tech that could rent you his/her gear.
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Old 03-24-2013   #5
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Here's an updated copy of an old post of mine based on my experiences working as an assistant and a photographer, slightly edited:

-------

It's impossible to take studio lighting and/or grip equipment on as a carry-on, so you have to either ship it in advance or check it in, or otherwise leave it at home. Insurance or leaving it at home are the two best ways to have peace of mind.

When checking your gear in, make sure it's well protected inside a sturdy case designed to withstand the rigors of cargo. Pelican, Portabrace, Lightware, and Versa-Flex are some of the top options available.

Pelican cases (and other hard plastic cases) and the blue Portabrace cases (for the cinema-inclined) are fairly recognizable as containing expensive equipment. Thom Hogan suggests putting your Pelican case in an old green army duffel bag to disguise it. Probably a better idea than my friend's, "Put a biohazard sticker on your Pelican case," idea, especially if it's going into the cargo hold.

Also, Pelican cases are almost completely rigid, and don't do a great job of dissipating shock even with lots of foam inside. Rather, they transmit the vibrations and shock, which is harder on your gear. Also, the hard sides of the plastic case will do a number on drywall, car interiors, your knees...

Instead, use something like a Lightware MultiFormat or Versa-Flex MultiUse air-shippable case featuring a hard "tub" and lid inside a soft-sided cover. The tubs from either manufacturer, in conjunction with the corresponding dividers, are designed to protect the gear while dissipating the vibrations and shock, reducing the amount of impact on your gear. The soft-sided cover protects your hotel rooms, feet, cars, other people, etc.; also when it wears out, you can remove the tub and place it inside a new cover, which helps make up for the cost of a Lightware or Versa-Flex case.

Lightware and Versa-Flex products are very expensive, but they are the gold standard for traveling with still equipment. You spent a ton on your gear, didn't you? Why buy $4000 worth of strobes and complain you need some $400 cases to protect it all? It's sort of like buying a $6000 camera, some $2000 lenses, and complaining that a good camera bag is $200, or that buying new software to process the raw files from the new camera is $250. It is all part of the cost of doing this kind of thing.

Versa-Flex's cases are somewhat tougher than Lightware and are somewhat better at protecting your gear, but at the expense of weight, and with the airlines cracking down on weight, Lightware may be the way to go. Lightware has the added advantage of being readily available from the major camera stores like B&H, while Versa-Flex essentially must be ordered direct, and is made to order.

The cases will, however, most likely outlast you, and someone else will be able to enjoy them as the second or third owner. I've only met one person who's ever managed to destroy a Lightware case tub, and that involved many, many years of traveling by air every week. He switched to Versa-Flex cases for his heavier gear and has been unable to break them.

An added fringe benefit of Lightware and Versa-Flex is that, unlike Pelican cases, they're not as readily identified as photography gear, and outside of major hubs they are more likely to be mistaken for giant suitcases rather than cases of gear containing stuff worth months and months of someone's paycheck.

Tenba makes a competing product called "Tenba Air" or something to that effect, and the cases look almost exactly like the Versa-Flex and Lightware cases, but they stink in comparison. The tubs inside the Tenba cases are (depending on vintage) cheaply-made plastic, styrofoam, and/or cardboard, and they crack and fall apart pretty easily. Also, they don't easily lift out, so once the case is busted, it's busted, unlike the Lightware and Versa-Flex cases, which allow the replacement of components.

Pelican's one big advantage over the semi-soft cases is that the Pelican cases are watertight (with a fresh, undamaged O-ring; trust me on this one), so you can go to a wet location without taking significant extra precautions for your gear (when it is inside the case), while you'll need to protect the Lightware or Versa-Flex against heavy downpours.

--------

Some additional thoughts:

If you need some insight on how to pack gear for air travel, here are some good places to start looking:

In The Bag: How McDonough & Murph Roll (look at the pictures; the article's more about what they bring)

Leading Off: Air Travel Is A Bitch

Personally, I have my lighting stuff (well, most of it anyways) always packed for air travel, which is ironic since I never fly anywhere with it.

My monolights live in Versa-Flex MU1724.08 cases which each contain one 600 w/s unit, one 300 w/s unit, a pair of standard reflectors, a grid holder reflector, a set of grids, four Pocket Wizard units, extension cords, some A-clamps, sync cords and a portable GFCI plug. These cases weigh just under 40 pounds each, and technically come under the limit for international check-in. Of course, I'd probably strip out some of the components to make it more generously under 40 pounds, but it'd be good to go for the less persnickety gate folks.

I keep my hotshoe-type strobes in a Lightware MF case (I forget the model; I think it's MF1623) with some small softboxes, mounting hardware, etc., and there is room to throw in some Pocket Wizards. I've flown internationally with this set with nary a peep from anyone, but it weighs quite a bit less than 40 pounds.

Personally, my current M/O is to rent/scrounge stands, large light modifiers, etc. on location, but eventually I will work something out to travel my stands better. Currently, everything I do is by car, so I kind of stopped spending money making all of my gear air-worthy.

EDITED TO ADD: Your gear is insured against theft/loss/etc. for replacement value, right?
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Old 03-25-2013   #6
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

thanks for the replies, there is some great advice, and good food for thought here.
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Old 03-25-2013   #7
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Here are some videos from John Harrington for you to look at for some more ideas on how to travel your gear to your assignments by air and have it get there in one piece.

Two ways to get some stands there safely:



Some ways to pack lights:



Extensions cords? I guess they don't really need all that much protection. I usually just leave mine inside the case with the lights, but I do have a duffel like the one in the video with extra cords like the ones shown:


Monitors:


Carts to get your gear around once you're there. I've used both the KartMaster 800 and Rock 'n' Roll Multi-Cart extensively, and can recommend both of them. For smaller operations the Remin Kart-A-Bag is adequate and it walks up and down stairs once you get the hang of it, but bungee cords are no fun.

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Old 03-26-2013   #8
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Default Re: Gear Transport?

Shipping lighting and computer equipment Fed Ed insured.

Hand Carry Camera Equipment

http://www.casesbypelican.com/1654.htm


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