Have Drone, Will Travel!
San Francisco, Orlando, Indianapolis, Virginia, Los Angeles…… Ahh the glamour of travel!
Wait…Glamour…Traveling with a drone ain’t what its cracked up to be!
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people is “How do you travel with your equipment”.
I can go on about all the places we’ve traveled both near and far from race tracks to desert canyons with drones, batteries, cameras, generators, monitors and host of other equipment we might use on a shoot.
We approach each travel date the same, with a checklist in hand to make sure that we know everything that we will need for our shoot and to insure that each sensitive item (like batteries) are discharged and packed correctly regardless if we are traveling 5 miles or 5000 miles.
Our list of gear will vary based on each and every shoot, our main plan is to be prepared no matter what might happen. The rule is to try and have at least 2 of everything
If we are traveling with Inspire’s, these tend to be the easiest since we have our trusty GoProfessional Landing Mode cases (goprofessional.com ), these are without a doubt the most well built cases available and the foam inside protects all of the sensitive stuff very well.
When traveling with S1000’s or X8’s it gets a bit tricky since you need a good amount of support equipment from monster 22,000mah LiPo packs to charging station, tools, parts, extra props, cameras, cables, tripods, monitors and most importantly a cart since the SmarteCarts at the airports just don’t cut it!
For almost all of our gear we use Pelican cases, we’ve found these to be the best cases for the money and the warranty is great should you ever need it
When you get to a certain level having the very best equipment matters since time IS money when you’re on set.
Using SmallHD monitors, Atomos Converters, BNC & HDMI cables, Lenses, Batteries, tools and other gear means being prepared and in order to do that you need to pack it well. We take the time to inventory each and every case and label everything in it’s own individual pouches and so forth to make everything easy to find. This is a huge time saver in the field
Local trips are of course a bit easier since the long and short of it is, throw everything in the truck and done! You can never have too much on a shoot and redundancy is your friend in the event that something, anything happens.
One great thing I highly recommended with any amount of large and or heavy cases is to have some sort of dolly to be able to carry all your gear. We use a Film tools expandable cart when traveling but when we stay local we like to have a good-sized production cart to carry our copters, cases and accessories. This makes moving around a set much easier and your back will thank you at the end of the day
Flying can be a bit tricky and well…EXPENSIVE. Since we travel with multiple large and heavy Pelican cases size and weight restrictions can be a real bummer. On occasion we’ve had to pay over $500 in luggage fees but there is a way around these insane airline prices!
Get a Media Pass!
If you find that you are reguarly traveling with all of your gear for jobs, a Media Pass is one of the best ways to avoid the crazy high fees.
Another option is to fly 1st class (this is my preference :-), having gained so many frequent flyer miles first class is now a free upgrade for me and with that upgrade comes the ability to carry on extra bags and even heavier bags at no additional cost. We’ve never had an issue with TSA while traveling, we occasionally will get questions but nothing has ever stopped us from getting all of our gear to a job. While TSA doesn’t tend to have the best reputaion, they’ve always been good to us and easy to work with by just answering a few of their questions when asked.
LiPo’s on a plane, in some cases yes, you can bring your LiPo’s on board the aircraft as long as they meet the TSA requirements and in many cases TSA doesn’t check them, they may if anything swab them for any residue but that’s been our experience.
If the job calls for a bunch of LiPo’s than your best plan is to ship the batteries in advance with FedEx or UPS using the proper HazMat procedures. This will insure that your batteries arrive safe and intact before your shoot day.
I hope this has given you some insight into how to move your gear from location to location in the easiest and safest manner possible.
I will be offering more articles about Drones and Production in the coming weeks and months and showing both the fun and exciting parts as well as giving you the real download on how the business works for drones in show business!