Farewell Summer Surf Series

Jumping In

This summer we decided to initiate something cool at the office. The days are long and warm in San Diego and being a video production company means we sit and stare at computers for many hours on end.

We live in such a beautiful part of the world, and since our office is right near the beach we felt obligated to take advantage of the opportunity at hand.

The water is a warm 76 degrees at the end of September and this impending El Nino has made the waves great.

But alas, all good things must come to and end. And since the official end of summer was this week in the Northern Hemisphere, we created another fun video as we warp things up. We’ll see you next year for the Summer Surf Series 2016.

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What kind of fun office things happen at your office?

Kickstarting A Career in Film and Video Production

The Entertainment Industry

Cinema (feature films), Branded Entertainment, Video Production all fall under the Entertainment Industry umbrella. And they’re all great for a fun and exciting career that make billions of dollars each year globally.

It can be a little daunting to establish yourself and get on your feet. Where do you start? How do you get a job? Where can I learn and hone my skills or craft?

These are all great questions considering the entertainment industry is largely made up of freelancers and contractors on a per-job basis.

Fluid motion, a career moves in waves.

Here are 7 tips to get started in film and video production:

  1. Work. Do everything you can and go into with an open mind. Be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge & experience you can.
  2. Now. Be in the present, you can definitely have long term goals, but take each gig for what it is and walk away better/more experienced/more networked.
  3. Network. Don’t underestimate the people you know and meet along the way. Don’t overthink this, that’s not being present.
  4. Be Yourself. Don’t get caught up in gear. Having this camera or that lens doesn’t make you a better [fill in the blank, Director, DP, Editor, etc.] It’s about your unique talent that no one else can deliver but you.
  5. Learn. There are incredible resources online to learn filmmaking crafts, some are even better than traditional film school. I like NoFilmSchool.com, LearnStory.org andShane’s Inner Circle.
  6. Fail. Make mistakes. It’s the best way to learn. (AKA Fail Forward)
  7. Have fun. That’s the reason everyone else got into this business.

Follow your light, your career in video production will always move forward with hard work & dedication

Your career in video is not about gear, but it sure if fun being a tech geek

Bonus Tip: Be curious. There’s a story around every corner and you’d be surprised by how many people would like hear it.
If action sports is your thing shoot as many great athletes as you can. Try and connect with up and coming professionals and offer to shoot them. Eventually their sponsors will likely look for content and there’s your foot in the door. That’s how I got my start professionally.
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I’m not a fan of working for free (with very few exceptions) but if you are going to donate your time/services, do it for something you believe in where you can make an impact. Find a Non Profit that you like and see if they need a video.
This is a great way to build your reel and meet people in the community. There’s also the networking group Storytellers, Filmmakers and Video Production Professionals.

What struggles did you had when you were just getting started? Let me know in the comments below.

Samsung VR Experience x WSL Hurley Pro at Lower’s Trestles

The Complete Experience

TAR Productions was invited to shoot with Samsung Mobile at the World Surf League’s event at Lower’s Trestles for the Hurley Pro. As some of you know, we’re big fans of Virtual Reality in general and surfing, and our thoughts on Samsung’s campaign for the World Surf League is great.

So when we got the call to shoot a secret project with Samsung Mobile over the course of 3 days during the Hurley Pro we were ecstatic.

Virtual Reality is really awesome. The experience is awesome, too. You actually feel the emotions of being somewhere or doing an activity, such as surfing- as we are in the pictures below.

Virtual Reality (or VR) technology has finally caught up to the experience. When it originally came to fruition in the 90s the technology was so lagging that it never caught on. Now, with a smart phone and a google set you can be well on your way to one of the best VR experiences available.

The shoot details with Samsung and the WSL are on lockdown, but we are able to share a few behind the scenes photos.

Tim Ryan of TAR Productions thoroughly enjoying himself in the Samsung VR experience

Tim Ryan of TAR Productions surfing in Samsung VR

More VR surfing experiences

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Hurley Pro at Lowers Trestles, part of the World Surf League

The Hurley Pro at Lowers Trestles, part of the World Surf League

Samsung and surfing had made a big impact on Virtual Reality experience

VIP entrance at the Hurley Lowers Pro

VIP athlete area at the Hurley Lowers Pro. Part of TAR Productions and Samsung's partnership in Virtual Reality.

Surfing at the Hurley Lowers Pro, part of TAR Production's Virtual Reality experience of the event.

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The Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, CA. TAR Productions was on hand to create the VR experience.

What are your thoughts on VR? Let me know in the comments below.

How I Built TAR Productions into a Full Service Video Production Company

TAR Productions Origins

This is a special post for the TAR Productions Blog. A short exposé on how I turned my childhood hobby into a career and the wild road that got me there. I like to keep these posts relevant to storytelling, the video industry, and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years, but I’m taking a break to share my personal journey. These are some of the ups and downs in the story of how I built a company from the ground up.

Building a full service video production company or creative agency is a lot of work. It takes years of persistence, trial & error, wins and losses. While that’s the nature of the beast in hindsight there was a better way to go about it.

It’s not something I recommend for anyone. It’s not for the faint of heart. There will be sleepless nights in cold sweats when you’re scared of everything. There will be times when nothing is going your way.

There will be magical times when you feel like you’re on top of the world.


I’m sure I’m far from alone in these experiences and the impetus for this blog was to help educate and spread knowledge. Be sure to let me know about your experiences in the comments below.

Tim Ryan of @tarproductions filming surfing in 1997

ORIGINS: THE VHS SHOULDER MOUNT

I started TAR Productions as a hobby when I was 13 years-old. Over the years it matured into a full-service, award winning production company but the lines are blurred as to how and when that transformation took place.

As a kid, I was a geek. I was enthralled with technology and tinkering with wires, cables – anything with an on/off switch. My Grandmother had given my parents a shoulder-mount VHS camera to record the childhood memories of my sister, brother, and me. It mostly lived atop their closet in the plastic case it came in, but dad got it out for a few soccer games here and there.

I remember the very moment I climbed up above their closet and pulled it out, charged the battery, found a dusty VHS tape, and hit the red Record button. The neighborhood kids and I skated down the street to our neighbors driveway where we did power-slides repeatedly until she kicked us out. We were making a skate movie and I was a bona-fide filmmaker, booya!

I started taking that camera to the beach and filming my friends surf. In the late 1990s there weren’t many kids who would rather sit on the beach with a camera than be out in the water surfing with their friends. I was an anomaly, a dork.

That was pretty much the story of my teenage years, always tagging along to video my friends surfing. I got so lost in the act of filming that years flew by and it was suddenly time to go off to college. I took three Video/Film courses in high school and that’s where I learned you could study film in college; sign me up.

I didn’t know this at the time, but my parents’ influence on me was already there in terms of running a business. They were self-employed for their whole careers and I grew up watching them work 7 days a week, sacrificing family vacations and weekends. This was the norm growing up.

My foundation in film is all self taught. I would put together a short movie and would constantly analyze and iterate on my productions. I always wanted better quality shots, angles, lighting situation.

My production started to include short drama pieces that I would cast my friends in. After seeing Snatch I wanted to make a gangster-like film with gambling and guns. Using a utility light and a card table, I cleared out some room in my parent’s garage and built a set.

I went to the bank and pulled out $400, made up of two $100 bills and two stacks of $1.00 bills. Placing the $100 on top of the $1 it stacks it made it look like a few high schoolers were gambling with $10,000 in cash. No biggie- this was Hollywood.

Because of my parent’s work ethic my parents were adamant that I  get a strong formal education and go to college. Although I cringed when they told me this, I knew it was coming. I wasn’t all that excited about college until I learned that Film Production was something I could spend my time studying.

Tim Ryan of @tarproductions on set in film school in 2005

FILM SCHOOL

My first year of college was a complete shock. I wasn’t expecting so many general education classes like World History and Mathematics 101. This was not what I signed up for. I protested these classes and found a way out of them and into more film classes.

I was becoming fast friends with several professional surfers and began tagging along with them on surf trips all over the world between classes and on school breaks.

A professional surfer named Dylan Graves was my biggest supporter and the one who introduced me to a lot of other guys. I would sneak away on trips at every opportunity. Spring break meant work for me. Winter vacation meant going to Hawaii and grinding it out, shooting all day in the hot sun getting sunburned.

I was enthralled in the surf scene, and what a scene it was. I met great people who I’m still in touch with today and – unknowingly at the time – expanded my network beyond what I could have ever imagined. A lot of the people I work with today are from relationships I developed this time.

Halfway through my studies I realized I should be getting more out of my formal education and started dropping in on classes that interested me like Entertainment Law, Business Law, and Entrepreneurship. These were the classes that interested me. I was teaching myself the in’s and out’s of film production on my journeys around the world but business and marketing alluded me.

I graduated only a handful of classes short of a double major in Film Production and Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University.

Contrary to the suggestions of my advisors, by the end of school I was taking two additional classes per semester. It was out of pure curiosity and interest, and had nothing to do with my chosen ‘career path.’

Throughout my classes in Film and Business I made some of my best friends that I still love very much to this day. These are the relationships that count and when I look back on my time in college, I wouldn’t be where I was today had I not spent 4 years in a very social environment.

Not only did it help me work through my shyness, but it opened my mind to thinking about the world in much broader terms.
I finished film school with a one track mind: make surf movies.

Tim & Adam outside the Depot for X-Dance Film Fest in 2010

GRAD SCHOOL (AKA World Travels)

After graduating from the film program at LMU, I continued as a freelance videographer full time. I remember telling myself at the onset of everything, “Get a freelance gig. Travel. Learn. Have fun and make enough money to pay for the next round.”

I quickly racked up an impressive roster of clients in the action sports industry, videoing surfers I idolized growing up and had since become friends with. The invitation alone was enough to get me to accept the work, even if the pay was below the poverty line (if at all). Ignorance is bliss, they say, and I was flying around the world without a plan or a place to stay just to see how it all worked.

I was able to see the world. Most of my friends from college were sitting at desks all day and I was out living. The list of countries I experienced were incredible and halfway through my 3 year tour I remember thinking to myself that this was the equivalent to Grad School for me. Where else could I get an education like this, something that was so different from my formal education, yet just as valuable.

I learned a lot of life, the pursuit of happiness and myself. I grew so much as a person during this time and my limits were tested time and time again.

It wasn’t always easy. I made mistakes, damaged camera equipment, slept on sidewalks, went broke more than once, got denied access to countries, and approached by men with machine guns but I never got down on myself. I always took these as learning experiences. Looking back on it, some of the situations I got myself into were pretty bad and could have easily been worse. But I was able to travel, see parts of the world I would have never seen otherwise, met beautiful people, and made close friends I’ll have for the rest of my life.

When I shot the Quiksilver campaign I was asked to pack my bags less than 12 hours before my flight- that’s less time than it takes to fly to Thailand from California. I could have never done this with a conventional mindset. Not having a plan can be scary at times, but believing in yourself will trump any doubts in front of you. I didn’t make any money doing this, but I gained a completely different education than what I was taught in school.

Luckily I was in my 20s at the time and lived a pretty carefree life. I was a sponge, soaking up every opportunity I could. I tried to learn something from everyone – even the accounting department.

This meant not knowing where I was going to sleep at times, not knowing where my next job was coming from, but none of that mattered to me. What mattered was the opportunity I had and was chasing.

I actually slept on the sidewalk in Paris, France with all my gear a couple of nights because I couldn’t find a hotel or anywhere else to stay. On the second morning a baker dropped off a bag of baguettes and day old bread for me. He thought I was homeless and felt bad, I guess.

During this time I walked into big media companies and convinced people to hire me. I was put in charge of productions with budgets up to $250,000. Had I been shy I would have never had the guts to do this. Looking back I’m actually surprised it worked, but had I not been a combination of hungry and ignorant I wouldn’t have done any of it.

With my combination of education, experience, and drive, I always over delivered. Everything happens for a reason, and none of my hard work went unnoticed. I knew it would all pay off one day, in some way, shape or form, but you never know how until you put yourself out there.

The culmination of this 3 year graduate program on life arrived with the ultimate opportunity. I was invited to join two friends on the trip of my dreams: make a surfing documentary as we travel across Europe by train.

TAR Production's On A Rail cover

ON A RAIL: EUROPE

I had been dreaming of traveling Europe via rail for a long time. I have always been drawn to the slower pace and the ability to soak everything up. I had spent so many years going to places on strike missions with limited windows to catch a swell and with little to no time to explore our surroundings. That was the nature of the beast when shooting action surf videos.

However, This always left me wondering what life was like in the places I would visit. When On A Rail: Europe came about I knew this was the opportunity to blend my passions: surfing, filmmaking, culture, and storytelling. I was excited to travel by train, talk to strangers and have a home base in each country that would allow us to live more like locals even when home base meant the sleeper train.

The trip came up pretty quickly and I this was right when HD was becoming mainstream. I was pretty indecisive about the trip until the last minute and ended up buying a new HD Sony camera on credit, purchasing the plane ticket via saved airline miles and packed within 48hrs of leaving.

The waves were good, the times were magical and, again, I did it totally on a whim. I didn’t have a whole lot of money at the time and budgeted 20 Euros a day for food and accommodations.

Through the journey I made great friends who I’m still close with today. I slept on the same sidewalk twice, weeks apart from each other. Once with our group and once all alone, camera and belongings in tow. We partnered with Surfing Magazine who ran a cover story and 12 pages of editorial, and distributed the documentary internationally.

Unfortunately, the music licenses have mostly expired and with the status of the independent movie industry these days I can’t seem to justify the expense to renew them.

The year was 2008 and about halfway through filming On A Rail: Europe the stock market lost about 600 points in a day and the speculation about a vast global recession had arrived. I needed a new plan.

The Car Ollie, a huge viral success from TAR Productions early beginnings.

THE CAR OLLIE

I’d like to tell you that this video we shot for less than $400 that went viral and ended up on the homepage of all the major websites at the time racking up millions and millions of views changed my life. I’d like to tell you that when Nike and Axe copied my idea that they called and looped us in but they didn’t. I’d like to tell you that more inquires came in than we could handle but that’s not true either.

It was late 2008 and the recession had settled in and gained the attention of my dwindling pocketbook. My freelance work and travel opportunities had vanished almost overnight and I knew better than to try to keep it going. The good times were great but they never last.

I was editing On A Rail: Europe and hustling video leads in the San Diego area and instead of marketing myself as a freelance videographer, I began positioning myself as a full service production company targeted towards small businesses who appreciated creativity. I needed some pieces to market myself by and gathered a few friends to create something that would catch people’s attention: a “viral” video.

My college roommate had been playing around with Adobe After Effects, a video effects program, and was doing some cool stuff with cars. I told him I thought we could do something similar with a skatboarder ollieing over a car. We created this video with the intention of it going viral and being able to immediately gain millions of views. I was so confident in this that I agreed to pay for everything. The total costs came to a whopping $354.

We created it, put it on YouTube, and waited for the views to stack up. An hour later, they didn’t. A day later? Nothing. Damn, my idea sucked and we have nowhere to go. I decided to upload the video to SkateOrDie.com, a now defunct website dedicated to skating where users could vote on the content.

By accident I hit the “Flag Content” button and immediately thought it would be removed. I shrugged my shoulders and went surfing. When I came home two hours later we had 25,000 views. It was happening. Every time I refreshed the page the view count stacked higher and higher. The editors of the site recognized Zach Miller, the skater in the video, and decided to promote it on the homepage.

Then it started popping up everywhere. View counts were going through the roof. In one day we received more than 600,000 views. By the time the fire died down we had more than 4 million views! Wow! The only problem? The video was ripped by Internet users and reuploaded to their accounts. We were never credited for our work and therefore never gained any traction for it.

Nike and Axe body spray didn’t seem to mind though since they copied our campaign for their own. Of course, the greatest form of flattery is imitation, and I was indeed flattered. The love was fast and short-lived, and there I was again: still in need of a plan without any money.

TAR Productions - Full service video production company

TAR PRODUCTIONS

I finished editing On A Rail: Europe in the spring of 2009 and was ready to have a party to celebrate. I gathered friends in my hometown and took over a local bar and all 26 TVs. Being at that bar watching everyone experience my project on screen was one of the proudest moments of my life.

I finally felt I had achieved a life-long goal: make a surf movie. The following night I drove up to LA and gathered all my college friends, their friends, and the friends of their friends. It was a typical house party with the addition of a big projection screen to show the film. Exposing yourself and your work to crowds even when you know them can feel overwhelming, so I as soon as the film began I walked outside and straight into an old friend from college: Kelly. We struck up a conversation for the rest of the evening and I couldn’t stop thinking how beautiful and wonderful she was. Then, just as suddenly as she had shown up, she was gone.

I was slowly growing my production company as I picked up clients all around town. The growth took its time but it was steady and I had goals just like when I was traveling: make enough money on one job to keep going and build upon what I’ve established.

Over the years I’ve had several employees. I’ve had good times, great times, hard times, and impossible times. But I always keep in mind that with each day and each challenge, I continue to gain experience and valuable lessons.

Today, I finally know that TAR Productions is at a place where we know who we are, what we do best, and how to maximize value for each of our customers. We proudly operate under what’s known as the Hollywood model, with two full-time employees (myself and an Account Manager) and bring on specialists for each unique job. Our shortlist of go-to freelancers are people we’ve met along the way who have greatly impressed us with their talents and are a pleasure to work with. This is why following my curiosity in school and traveling for 3 years like a chicken with my head cut off was so valuable in the long run. It all comes back to the amazing people I’ve met along the way.

A failed experiment from @tarproductions

A FAILED EXPERIMENT

At one point I was approached by an agency to merge our businesses. They were focused on a similar niche with consumer products and lifestyle brands and they had a lot of experience in print. The idea was to serve current clients with a more complete offering and bridge the transition into the digital world, something I had a lot of insight to.

We had some great wins, and I learned more about the agency side of things, albeit print and traditional advertising. It was fun and I grew in new ways, but then I realized something: it wasn’t my focus. I had set out to build a company that created media and branded entertainment for companies living in the digital age. Our creations live on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and others networks.

The match ultimately wasn’t perfect and created a lot of confusion. I had to reeducate our friends, clients and fans as to what we were doing. And when it failed I had to revert back to TAR Productions and do it all over again.

It was a setback, but like any I took the experience for what it was and moved on.

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ADVICE FOR MY 21 YEAR-OLD SELF

Looking back at more than 12 years of experience in video production I’ve learned a lot. That’s one of the reasons I got this blog going: to share my knowledge and better the industry as a whole.

If I had to do it all over again would I do anything different? Probably, hindsight is 20-20, right? But my experience and my struggles have led to my competence and success.

Although I have many hours logged in the classroom, my most valuable lessons and experience have come from doing. In the beginning, I put my hands on every opportunity I could just to get the experience. It wasn’t about the money. Most of the time I was underpaid, but the experience I took home was was invaluable.

Had I been working a traditional job, tasked with doing the same thing every day, I wouldn’t be pursuing my dream and been able to accomplish what I have thus far in life. I’m not saying this is a bad route to take, but I feel the flexibility and versatility has outweighed the drawbacks.

Toughing it out when you’re young and learning as much as you possibly will pay dividends for years down the road. There were tough times when I had credit card bills that far out numbered my bank account balance but it always seemed to work out. There were costly learning experiences but with each of them a takeaway and opportunity for growth.

 

A FEW NOTES FOR THOSE JUST STARTING OUT

  • Learn everything you can. Don’t limit yourself.
  • Pay attention to lighting and sound design. These will increase your production value more than shooting on the “best” camera.
  • You’re a video editor/storyteller, not a Final Cut Pro editor or Premiere Pro Editor – don’t limit yourself to the software available today. Undoubtedly, it will change.
  • Rent gear instead of buying it. Unless you’ll use it for years to come or every single day for several years (such as a computer), it’s not worth it.
  • Build your network. Meet people and keep in touch.
  • Only start your own production company if you really love admin work. Otherwise, be an employee or freelance in a specific field.
  • Specialization is becoming less important as barriers for entry decrease. Areas of specialization are reserved for big budget features, commercials, and branded entertainment.
  • Explore and exploit new mediums/networks.
  • Everyone started somewhere (usually the bottom). You are not alone.
  • Don’t let haters on the Internet deter you from your end goal.
  • Have fun, but be prepared to work your ass off without so much as a “thank you” (and don’t take it personally).
  • Remember, there’s someone out there who genuinely loves the work you’re doing. Keep it up.

TAR Productions HQ in Encinitas, CA

Full Service Video Production Company

I share with you my journey in hopes that it gives you some insight into your own. I certainly didn’t take the traditional route but it worked out in the end through hard work and willingness to learn and understand. I tell you, it’s been an incredibly fun journey that I wouldn’t change for the world.

What does full service mean? It means we dive deep into understanding the uniqueness of the customers we work with. We take the time to understand who the audience is and then come up with creative that speaks to our targeted audience. It means we handle strategy, casting, distribution and everything in between.

The viral video we did for PacSun received over a million views the first week we released it. Was this by chance? Definitely not. We took time to learn their goals and created a plan that would lead to our success.

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I would like to thank all of those who have helped me along the way and made a difference in my life. Without you I wouldn’t be where I am today: have a successful production company, a great and fulfilling life and live near the beach. The best part of my journey? That pretty girl I ran into at the On A Rail: Europe premiere is now our account manager, my beautiful wife, and the loving mother of our children.

TAR Productions is now running on all cylinders and is truly a full service video production company. We’re very lucky to work with great people on our team and on the client side. We tried and tested our process in virtually every production scenario possible and are able to consistently produce great work because of the awesome team and companies we partner with.

Does this provide insight to those just starting out? Let me know about your experiences at the start of your career in the comments below!

Travel Video Production & Checklist

Video Production Anywhere.

We’ve reached an age where geography no longer limits our business potential. Just about any business can reach anyone in the world with a website or cell phone.

This means your customer base is huge. But is it really that easy? No, it’s not, but it can be done and in terms of travel video production I will show you how we do it and continue to do it.

Global Business

The fact that your website can be seen by anyone all over the world is huge. Social media takes this even further, into the palm of someone’s hand. Think about the potential power of this. You can directly deliver a message to anyone, anywhere.

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The crew in Thailand, working with local crew can be advantageous, but storytellers travel.

These connections and touch points can take your marketing to new places that really drive results, that’s the power of digital. This is one of the reasons why video is becoming so popular and instrumental in marketing campaigns. The medium it so engaging that is has the ability to draw customers in and make them fans for a long, long time.

Consumer Products and lifestyle brands are always needing and wanting fresh content. Many of these aforementioned touch points are quick, so having more than a few options to reach your target customer is a good idea.

Where I definitely believe that the Medium is the Message, I believe that production value is always imperative. Having quality media speaks about the brand you’re working with. It tells your customers you have quality products/services and that you are worthwhile.

This creates a huge demand for video production and it’s created an appetite for consumers today. Dormant marketing channels die, social media accounts that are not active are essentially a graveyard. Consumers inherently expect to be impressed with creative campaigns and media makes them feel good about purchasing your products.

Supply and Demand

The basic laws of economics suggests that an increase in demand calls for an increase in supply, which is what has happened in the video production industry. There are many service providers to choose from.

To fuel the fire the barriers to entry have fallen so far that almost anyone can enter the industry. Almost any modern computer is powerful enough to edit HD video, but there is more to being a professional than having the tools. Just because you have a typewriter it doesn’t make you a Hemingway.

modern day video production is about telling a story, which requires skill, creativity, patience and practice.

The side effect is that people who have a decent prosumer level camera believe they are professional. The reality is that modern day video production is about telling a story, which requires skill, creativity, patience and practice.

So where does this leave us? We’re in a world where demand is high, supply is available and noise is abundant.

This means brands can connect with customers in many new ways. Want to tell the story of how your product is made? or where it’s made? It’s easy enough to do this and the ROI is likely there.

This story isn’t simply about how your product is made, but about the passion, love and blood/sweat/tears that went into making it. Customers care about this, and it makes them more knowledgeable in the end.

This is what having an effective marketing strategy is all about- turning customers into fans and fans into voices. The touchpoints need to be leveraged and attended to.

Traveling Crew

There are many cameras available today that are portable enough to take almost anywhere that produce a clean & quality image. GoPro has opened up the world to see things never before possible because their cameras are so small they literally fit anywhere.

But cameras designed for commercial and/or documentary work are now travel ready. Having these tools available opens up the door for more storytelling opportunities.

TAR Productions is based in San Diego, CA and I cut my teeth working for brands such as Quiksilver, PacSun, Monster Energy Drink and others in the action sports world. Often times it was a one-man-band setup and I was forced to put everything in a backpack or I was limited to what I could carry.

TAR crew in Haiti on top of the Citadel with a drone and Ronin.

2x 4K cameras in a small backpack, complete with audio tools and more. Traveling crews are awesome.

Luckily I was young, motivated and ignorant. My backpack was heavy, sometimes weighing more than 20 lbs, which is tough when you’re walking through humid, tropical forests.

Today’s technologically advanced world provides for far better equipment in a much smaller package. When we went to Haiti last year with Helping Haitian Angels, we fit two 4K cameras, lenses, audio recorder, hard drives and a laptop in a small backpack.

I like traveling to 3rd world countries in non-descript bags, and having one that is smaller definitely helps. The other big advantage is that since we fit so many essential parts of our package in a carry on we could take other tools with us, such as gyrostabilizer and drone.

Getting through customs is always interesting. Sometimes you can walk right past agents if you act like you know what you’re doing. Other times, they will look through every bag and pocket and ask about each item.

We traveled to Morocco once and actually had our equipment held in customs for a day and a half until we could obtain proper documentation. It’s recommended that you travel with a carnet to document what gear you have and will be taking with you when you return home.

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These cases will go anywhere. Travel video production is awesome and feasible.

Our Bag

Here’s our typical travel package. It contains all the essentials for a travel documentary shoot.

  • Panasonic GH4
  • Micro 4/3 lenses
  • Zoom H6n audio recorder
  • Sennheiser G3 wireless lavs
  • Rycote Undercovers
  • Macbook Air laptop
  • LaCie 1TB rugged drive
  • Buffalo 1TB hard drive

Map showing where TAR Productions has travelled.

The Differentiation

Brands can hire a video production crew from anywhere. It can be a local team or someone they connected with online. With today’s world being about telling a story, and how you go about finding that story, it imperative to be unique.

Brands will have better luck working with a team they connect with, one that they know will deliver a product that matches their brand and connect with their customers, than working with someone local.

Not all travel productions have to be small. We’ve shipped tons of camera equipment and film halfway around the world and hired local production companies to supply grip trucks and equipment.

If you’re unique, and your style is a differentiator, geography no longer has to limit your reach, for both brands and video production companies.

The Cloud

We’re big fans of the cloud. So much so, in fact, our entire business is run on the cloud. Part of the reason why this is so important to us is that we’re largely a distributed team. Our main office is in San Diego, CA, USA, but our team is all over the place. A majority of our team has been with us for the better part of 10 years, and they’re located all over, from Los Angeles, to London, England or Sydney, Australia.

The cloud helps everyone stay on top of projects. We can easily update the same document, send files over high speed internet or hard drives via FedEx.

The cloud allows us to be creative, with the people we want, while giving everyone the freedom on where they want to live. Sometimes we’re working with writers via Skype. Other times we’re sending picture-locked edits to colorist or sound designers abroad.

It works wonderfully for us, we’ve built a system around it and it allows us to be creative, efficient and effective.

Video Production Travel Checkist

I’m a very forgetful person (I hit my head a lot growing up) so I live and die by checklists like these.  I’ve flown around the world at a moment’s notice time and time again. Without a travel checklist for my gear I would inevitably forget something. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of no where without a piece of gear that is the difference between making it or breaking it.

[OptinLink id=2] Download the FREE [/OptinLink] travel checklist now to use in your business today.

What does your travel kit look like? Does this make you want to connect with brands and customers all over the world?