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Flying.. gettting around

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#1 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:02 PM

Not only am I a newb to flying the camera (in a shot) Im also new to traveling with the gear

So I maybe dong a little trip both EU and USA

In the past as a still photograper ive just rammed everything valuable into my hand lugguage and stashed the other bits in a cheap plastic unmarked suitcase

Generaly Ive casualy walked on smiling with my little bag that wieghs 15kg carrying it like it was a feather and smiling some more

A couple of times Ive got nailed for a few $ excess baggage

What is the proper way to do this?

Pilot follow focus, some cameras, maybe three peli cases of valuable toys

I could even DHL the cases in advance ?

What abut customs /imports paperwork etc

We are talking one man band here .. not feature


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#2 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:17 PM

BTW my longest item seems to be my pilot post which is 56cm

I also have Vlock batteries but they are supposedly the within the flyable watt/hours rating

my gear currently lives in 'really useful' hard plastic boxes, all perfect sizes,very un glam, I could just strap them shut


Edited by Sam Morgan Moore, 16 June 2011 - 02:25 PM.

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#3 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 02:08 AM

no one?
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 12:10 PM

Well, lots of questions here. I've done some international traveling but not tons, and the only time I traveled with my rig was in the US. International travel and domestic travel carry different issues, and traveling to small, impoverished, 3rd world nations carries its own challenges.

Seems like the "big 4" issues for international travel are

1. Security (as in TSA)
2. Customs (declarations, delays and in some cases corruption)
3. Theft (by baggage handlers or at the baggage claim)
4. Physical protection (including poor repacking after security screenings)

So, I don't have a comprehensive answer but here are some thoughts to get the conversation going:

1. Whatever cases you choose, use a TSA lock. Since a Steadicam is a mysterious-looking object I'd pack a brochure or manual in the case, to help them figure out that it's not something dangerous.
2. Search the forum for "Carnet". Lots of useful info. I've only done a Carnet once, it's not hard but a bit inconvenient. Carnets are useful only in some countries. Best to keep a low profile when traveling to countries known for hassling professional video/film crews. The US State Department has excellent travel information on their website. Hard to pass off a Steadicam as amateur equipment but I would think that the more non-descript your cases the better.
3. How do you combat outright theft of your entire bag? You can't, and I've noticed that security at baggage claims seems to be worse than in the past. Locking the bag helps obviously. Non-descript bags that don't advertise expensive contents, of course. When I flew earlier this year through Johannesburgh, SA, there was a service available to essentially shrink-wrap your bag, to discourage tampering. Seems like a good idea so I did it.
4. Well, it's a balancing act. When I traveled to Africa I wrapped up some batteries, chargers, a small tripod, and bracketry in among my clothing, and took my DSLR and computer as carry-on in a backpack. If I was traveling with a Steadicam I think I would have a proper foamed-out case, not trying to stash the sled in a suitcase with improvised padding. At best, you risk damage, especially from security mis-repacking after an inspection, at worst you look like you are trying to hide something.

Hope this helps, and I would love to hear others' experiences traveling with a rig.
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#5 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 03:08 PM

Alot of what Mark said is perfect, and the Brochure is an EXCELLENT idea.!!
I'll add a few things.
I've traveled quite a bit out of the US with the rig and you never know when you'll get a pesky TSA official who's never seen one and wants to wipe the entire rig down and do the explosives test with the wipe.
Having cases that have nicely cut out foam for each piece, will help assure the parts go back in their proper space. Unfortunately that means more cases. Sure you can comfortably pack a few extra things safely in the cases to further PAD the stuff, but the TSA agent will not re pack it with the care you did. So the only extra packing I add to the case is clothing. In each Pelican case I distribute Underwear, socks, and T Shirts to further pack the stuff.
Normally if you use zip ties and they need to cut them off, they will replace them, so at a quick glance you may not be able to tell if they cut yours off and replaced them with the same color, so I use the ugliest color ties and double up. I'll run a yellow and pink, or green thru each hole. so at a quick glance when I arrive at the baggage claim, I know whether the case(s) was/were open. I don't use super tough Zip ties, cause if they want to open them, they will, and replace it with the small skinny ones.
As for TSA locks, it's all the Luck of the draw there. I've had them opened and replaced, and I've had them literally torn off the case to open them, rendering the locking system unusable, so I sent the case back to pelican and got a new one. Even though they were TSA locks, If the person doing the inspection doesn't have the key for whatever reason, they'll cut the lock and you have no re course.
When travelling out of town, be SURE the company on the receiving end/city is there to meet you at the airport, and TELL them you are bringing equipment and the REAL value of it, If they ( the company or producer) tell you to say or declare anything less than the actual value of the equipment, REFUSE. you'll be stuck if you say something lower than the actual cost 1. for lying about a value that sets the customs import bond or duty, which would be a crime in the country and 2. if something goes wrong and they decide to pay you for it, well, they'll offer to pay what you said it was worth.
I've landed in the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and both of those countries took me and the gear to a seperate room, away from everyone ( Armed National Guards from each country) opened everything up, asked me for the bond, started telling me I had to pay a bond to bring the gear in, and continued interrogating me about what I was doing there and whether I was selling the gear... Until the "Handler" arrived with the proper paperwork from the company. In Trinidad I actually saw the handler pass cash to the lead guard. In the Philippines, they asked what I was doing, I said a Movie, they smiled, said very cool, and I moved on. So you NEVER know.
Even here in the US sometimes they don't open the cases at all, and sometimes everything has been gone over.

As for carnet's, Just like you'd have a complete list of every piece of gear for your insurance carrier, have an extra copy with you. if in the US and leaving, Get to the airport super early, or sometimes the previous day and take the paperwork to customs, and be prepared to bring all the gear with you, they'll stamp a copy, and when you come back in to the US, show them the stamped list and you'll be good.

Also, remember your transporting gear under the plane, with that in mind. when you get off the plane, head straight to the baggage claim, do not stop and grab something to eat, head straight there. being there before the bags come out, will help you see/grab your bag the moment it comes out. Lessening the chance of it being whisked away by a baggage thief. In the last 10 years I have never been asked to see my bag claim tickets when walking away from the claim belt with all the gear. If I was eating or delayed in any way and a potential thief see's everyone grab their bags and your cases are still rolling around, they'll know your not around... so plan accordingly.

Some buy actual luggage that can fit the cases in them, so they don't look like cases, that's a personal option too.

So finally... Have your gear insured always!, Have great cases for everything, Make sure the receiving end has someone there, in the event of it being a different country, to get all the import paperwork done.

And for fun, Spread all your Dirty Underwear and socks and Dirty shirts after a job around your battery case and arm case, they'll hate going thru that case!
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#6 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:59 AM

Thanks - Im British BTW - never been the the US so all very handy

One page I have found .. http://www.britishai...hk/public/en_gb Gives some sizes

Thanks a again

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#7 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 03:47 AM

I'm on season 8 of the Amazing Race, 12 countries, 5 continents twice a year all done in 3 weeks each time. That's about a country every day and a half all with steadicam Gear, Camera gear, Audio Gear, grip and lighting. We pack everything in Peli and storm cases including our personal stuff. All I can say is all of these things these guys have said are all valid points and good advice.

Some countries are Carnet and some are not, you can get that list of which ones online. Make sure you have a comprehensive list and serial numbers. Sign in and sign out your carnet with your gear. Make sure you have insurance and lots of patience. 9 times out of 10 they only ask to see the serial number of a big item, like the camera or the rig. I gave up on locking the cases and knock on wood, to date I haven't lost anything . . . . fingers crossed! It always helps to have an airport handler that knows the ins and outs of the airport. Sometimes it takes hours to get cleared and sometimes your through in minutes. One time in Russia I spread my cases out and made a bed and went to sleep for 4 hours while my partner went to some other terminal to find the guy who apparently had the stamp to release us. You just never know. Nicely packed cases are a huge help.

Hope that helps a bit

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