Video production equipment for social distancing

The global crisis that is COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions put in place here in the UK and further afield have put strains and instigated change in businesses of all shapes and sizes, not least the video production industry.

With the vast majority of our work conducted on-location and in industries that have been heavily impacted, such as education, travel and hospitality, we’ve seen unprecedented changes in the way we’re able to work.

That said, some things haven’t changed – or to be clear, haven’t needed to change.

Most of our video productions were more or less contactless pre-COVID, albeit a friendly handshake on arrival. For interviews, cameras are and were set at least 3+ metres away to achieve depth of field, with interviewers and other crew not much closer.

For closer work, particularly involving models or actors, we’re taking all required precautions, starting with ‘not doing it if possible’.

But the video production equipment we use, and were using pre-COVID, also enables this, and in this post we’ll run down some of our ‘must haves’. None of the links are sponsored or affiliated; just what we currently use and would recommend.

Audio and boom microphones

I would say 75% of the time we would opt to use a boom mic over a lapel mic for a variety of reasons. The use of lapel mics is now particularly troublesome, with teaching a contributor how to correctly attach one the one way of maintaining social distancing.

Our go-to is a Rode NTG-2 Microphone, Rode Blimp 2 Rycote Shockmount and Manfrotto 420B Combi-Boom.

We’re also using a Sennheiser SKP 100 G4 when cables can’t be used due to distance, location or health and safety. Audio is monitored and recorded separately from the camera, enabling our crew to maintain distance too. We haven’t broken the bank on this, and due to our reduced crew sizes – which we’re also adhering to with COVID-19 – we simply use a Zoom H6 for most video productions.

Wireless video monitoring

Wireless video monitoring enables crew to maintain social distancing, with the director, DoP, producer or any other crew members to live view and view recordings without all pearing over the camera operator’s shoulder.

We’re currently using Teradek Ace 500s, though there are others in their range suitable for different requirements or budgets. The Ace 500s are able to output from our RED Helium 8K via HDMI up to 500ft away with less than 1ms delay.

There are various wireless video monitors on the market for various budgets: many for astronomical prices because they have the word “video”, “pro” or “cine” in the name. One of the ones we use is a Lilliput A7s-2, a handheld 7″ 1920×1200 monitor, perfect for crew and clients alike to check the shot.

Follow focus and cinema lenses

Although not essential, cine lenses and a follow focus system in conjunction with the above wireless video monitoring allow a focus puller to operate the camera without being stood next to the operator, enabling crew distancing and reducing the number of crew that need to be near (or even in the same space) as any contributors.

We use a Samyang XEEN Cinema Lens Kit with a Canon mount for use with our RED Helium 8K. They’re great lenses, falling into the affordable bracket compared to some other cinema lens brands.

We use these with a PDMOVIE Remote Air 4 follow focus system which are an affordable, reliable option for any cine-lenses.

Video production still from University of Bristol
Rode boom mic being used on a video production for the University of Bristol.
Video production still from The Royal Mint
Lilliput field monitor being used outdoors on a TV commercial video production for The Royal Mint.
RED Helium 8K with XEEN Lens
RED Helium 8K with XEEN Cinema Lens.
PDMOVIE follow focus system being used by focus puller (pre-COVID).

By Russell
Video Production

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