What's In My Bag for SXSW 2019

The gear mentioned in the video:

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Hey, guys, it's Giovanni. In this video I'm gonna show you what my social media photographer's kit is for South by Southwest 2019.

All right, so you guys, you need to bear with me on this video. This is really not really well-planned out, as I'm already stumbling on my words here. But I thought... I just got an idea to shoot a video really quickly to walk through what the gear is that I take with me on trips. 'Cause I'm sitting on top of three different travel videos that I'm in the midst of cutting and pulling together, and thought it might be a good idea in the midst of those to go ahead shoot this video because we got South by Southwest, as I shoot this video, a few days away. And I'm gonna be spending... Looks like about nine days down in Austin covering different events for a sponsor of some of these events that's a client of mine.

So let's walk through what I take with me. And this gear, I've got a post on my website which is actually probably... It's without question the most heavily trafficked post I have on my website, which is called the social media photographer's kit, where I walk through what my desktop and studio setup is. And certainly a lot of the stuff that I take with me on the road falls into the same category. I don't go and have a set of cameras for the studio and a set of cameras for the road.

And while I feel kind of weird because it feels like I have quite a bit of stuff right now that I use for my social media for clients, I really do actively work on trying to keep a very small footprint, and eke out the most functionality of all the gear that I use so that I'm not taking too much stuff. And it's gonna be weird because as I walk through this stuff, it's gonna be like, "Holy cow, get a camera and a tripod and be done with it." But there are different situations where I need these different pieces of equipment, and I've chosen them because no other piece of equipment does what these things do, number one. And number two, because after doing this for over 20 years, these are the things that work the best for me.

So before I get into the backpack, on the camera that I've got set up here with my podcasting setup, I've got the Rode VideoMic Pro Plus. I questioned initially why I would spend the extra money on the Pro Plus, and now that I've got it, without question, if you can spend the extra $50, $60 on this microphone, get it for the simple reason that it has auto on and off. When you plug this into any camera whatsoever, this microphone is smart enough to sense when you turn the camera on and it turns the microphone on. I don't know how many times I've shot videos, and I've gone back and realized that I forgot to check audio before I shot, and I've just wasted all my time. So not only does it turn itself on... And this is just from a regular microphone input, but also five minutes after you shut your camera off it turns itself off to save battery and the battery's rechargeable. So fantastic piece of kit that I've finally found, thank goodness. I love it to death.

Let's walk through the bag and what I take with me on typically trips, and things change a little bit. Now, whenever I get home from a trip, every single time I will go through my bag and I will look at all the stuff that I took with me on the trip, and I will pull out the stuff that I didn't use. And unless it's something that I know that I need to have in the bag, maybe a pocket knife or something that maybe I just didn't use it on that trip, but maybe if it's... I brought a new ball head or I brought over an extra strap or an extra microphone and it's just not getting used, I need to pull that out and save space, because this is the Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW. That's supposedly a medium-sized backpack. That is as big as I ever wanna carry anywhere. That's an amazing backpack. I had their two previous versions of this thing, and I've really fallen in love with the line. But once you pack it and you pack it tight, the thing is very, very heavy. So I need to save space and weight wherever I can. So just know that the next time I do a what's in my bag type of a video, certainly half of the stuff that's in there now I'm going to... I will have evolved into doing other things, and I'm sure that that's true for everybody that does photography.

So the bag is a ProTactic AW 40, and I'm going to apologize for the audio 'cause I know my office has got no fabric or sound baffling at all. I'll do what I can to clean up the audio in post. So ProTactic AW 450, inside the front pocket I will have my specced out MacBook Pro, the 13-inch, and that machine is 2-terabyte hard drive. Everything else is maxed out completely on it, it's a 2018 model. One thing... Because I shoot a lot of video on the road, one thing that I have to take with me on the road, but obviously I leave it in the hotel room, is I take the BlackMagic eGPU with me because when I'm cranking out videos, especially when... You'll see that I've got a couple of 360-degree cameras, those are 5k videos that come out of that thing that need a lot of processing power to crank through them.


And so while I'm taking the laptop with me... And there's a whole history of how I've ended up with a 13-inch laptop and nothing else. But it doesn't have the horsepower it needs to crank through. Even if I was doing a regular 1080p video, that thing needs help to crank through video quickly, and when I'm out doing events like this and I'm traveling on the road, I'm typically having to shoot and produce and distribute a video per day, and that's a heavy workload. And especially, typically, [chuckle] those editing sessions are happening late at night, and I'm extremely tired after being outside and in the sun for 12 or 16 hours, so having a machine and the eGPU available to crank through the video is super important for me.

So laptop. I've got two different SD card cases here. Very simple system here. The blue ones are fresh cards that are already formatted and ready to go. The red ones are cards that have content on that need to be transferred to a hard drive for backup. So if I'm outside and I burn through a card, I don't stop and download it to a hard drive, I stick it in the red case so I know not to touch it until I get the content unloaded. Business cards and a backup set of old school wired Apple headphones in case my wireless run out. These are the day-to-day head phones, they're the Beats earbuds, they're amazing. I keep two of 'em available to me, and I've got 'em named under my Bluetooth connection as the white, the other ones have black tips on 'em. But one's always charging and one's always around my neck, I guess, unless I'm shooting a video.

Okay, so the gear for the most part, let's start with this bag. I use Think Tank bags to keep all my stuff organized easily, so it's easy for me to see what I've got and get to it quickly in the bag. This is full of batteries for my cameras and my light. Then I've got three rechargeable batteries. This is an Anker... I think it's a 26,000, and these two are 5000 each. This is used for laptop charging and phone charging when necessary out in the field. These two are used to charge up batteries for phone or for cameras. So I'll go out and I'll set up a camera at an event, at an activation, something like that. I'll put it on a tripod or a light stand, and then I'll tape this with gaff tape to the pole of the camera, the stand, and then I'll just charge up the camera and keep the camera rolling for several hours instead of just burning through the battery of the camera.

Second bag, this is the catch-all, it's a mess bag. Everything from an extra mobile microphone to a couple of flat lay camera mounts, GoPro stuff, ball heads, levels, all kinds of random stuff that doesn't go anywhere else. This is probably the most important compartment as I'm traveling around... Hey, there's extra battery. That's good to know. Because I can reach it easily on the side here. These are all my wall warts for power, one for the Mac, one for the iPhone, one for charging up the battery here, there's a fast charger for the batteries, and a 10 watt charger here for my second iPhone. I carry my daily driver with me, then I've got a second iPhone that's used for controlling different things that I'm about to show you. And then I've got a second bag that matches that one, but this is nothing but cables and adaptors, dongles and cables.

Over here, we've got circular polarizers and neutral density filters variable. All of the lenses that I use have step-up rings, these are 72 millimeter. So all of the lenses that I have have a whatever millimeter it is natively step-up to 72 so I can just use the same polarizer and ND filter on all the different lenses. I'm not either walking it off the big, huge, massive filter setup, or I don't have a single filter for every single lens, which is a complete nightmare. Mac back-up Apple Magic Mouse 2 for when I'm on the road. This is... Give away my cameras here, there's a couple of lenses there. This is a Deadcat for... I've got a Rode mic, VideoMic Go in here. That's the Deadcat for it. Off to the good stuff.

These are the Viltrox L116T lights, which I'm actually using for this podcast. I love these things to death. I've got them right now, I've got one posted on actually a microphone arm for use whenever I'm doing web conferences or video conferences with folks. I've got three right now, I've got one right here on top of me, I've got one off to the side, then I've got one down here that's shining down on the... You can't even see it. [chuckle] Shining down on the backpack, which is absolutely useless 'cause you can't even see it. So I'm just gonna move it. [chuckle] That's amazing.

But this guy, as you can see, the lights are really super-soft, these things are dirt cheap. If I was on the road and had to use them for something, and I knew that I was gonna destroy it in the process, I wouldn't even think twice about it, A, 'cause I've got five other ones here at the house, and B, I can have one delivered to my house by Amazon next day for the light and the battery and the plug for less than $30. It's an absolute ridiculous steal for videographers. If you guys don't have something like this, you're missing out.

This is a mount that I use on the back of my laptop. Sometimes if I'm vlogging and I'm on the road and I'm sitting in a Starbucks or something, the mount for this actually sits on the head or the top of my laptop, I plug this in, then I've got a one-quarter ring here that I can put or bolt here. Then I can put a GoPro or an Insta360 or something else on there and I can vlog from it. On the sides of the bag here, on both sides, I've got... This one I've got a carbon fiber monopod or tripod extension. I've also got a couple of the Manfrotto desktop tripods that I use for all kinds of weird situations, I pop 'em anywhere.

And then over here on this side, which is gonna give away one of the cameras I've got, I've got the Bullet Time monopod extension. This thing is ridiculously amazing, and I'm probably gonna get a second one, although I don't think it'll work the way I think it would. Never mind, I won't get a second one. But this thing's amazing because how far it extends out, look at that. Stick your camera on the end of that. And then how far it collapses down. So it's funny that this thing's about four times as long as this when it's fully extended, but look how much shorter it is when it's collapsed. It's a little bit heavier than the carbon fiber. The more I think about it, I actually... I might get a second one of these because I hardly ever use two of the carbon fibers together, and this guy when it's fully extended is much longer than two of those carbon fibers. I'll sort that out and let you guys know later.

All right, so one other thing that always goes with me is good old-fashioned paper. I don't think this is anything fancy. Oh, this is a Moleskine. Okay, well, we got something... I'm a hipster. Good old-fashioned paper. I tried for a while to kinda be digital and keep all my notes on my phone and an iPad and all that kind of stuff, and there's just something about just having a paper and a pencil and just writing stuff down helps stuff stick in my brain easier. So that's always in the bag with me.

And then the camera. So let's start off... I dropped my Essence oils. Outside on the strap that sits on one of these sides on my shoulders, easily accessible, is a GoPro Hero 7 for using in situations where you would use a GoPro Hero 7. Camera-wise... Where'd they go? Oh, here they are. I take with me... And this is kind of my... This is my secret power, my superpower. I take two Insta360 ONE Xs with me. Not because I'm into 360 video, and I don't produce any 360 video for clients. This is for use where I can put this on a monopod, or on a light stand, stick it somewhere in a scene, or put it on one of those Manfrotto desktop tripods, and walk away. This thing, it's a 360 camera, it captures everything that happens around it. I get myself out of the shot. I'll go and hide behind a column or a wall or a tree or something, and I'll let it roll for about five minutes, and just kinda get atmospheric B-roll. And then after the fact, I'm able to go in there and cut 16:9 or a 9:16, whether I'm shooting for Instagram Stories or something like that, or I'm shooting for regular video, you can cut after the fact, the pieces that you want out of it.

And the beautiful thing about this is that when this thing is sitting, it's usually not on a tripod, it's on a smaller stand like this, but this... When this thing is sitting somewhere in a room, people don't even acknowledge or notice that it's even there most of the time. I put tape on the lights so the lights don't capture people's eyes. There are times when I do want people to see it and to interact with it. For the most part, though, it's just kind of like B-roll stuff. So I can just set this down anywhere, and people will see me set it down, but I notice almost every single time, within 15 or 20 seconds, they lose attention, they lose sight of the fact that it's sitting there, and they go about to do whatever they're doing. And because it's so small, most people don't even know what it is. They think that I've just set something down on the table. So it's a great way to get very candid event-type photos, videos. And I can control this from a phone, so I can stand away from it and either get snippets... What I can do is I can... If I'm at an event where someone's going up to an activation and they're trying a beverage or a fruit or whatever, I can set this at the activation and only roll video when I see someone approaching the booth so I don't have to sit there and sort through an hour worth of content just to get the magic moments where people try the stuff and like it.

So that is a... These things are $400 a pop. There's a ton of accessories with them that ends up making 'em cost more, but these things are absolutely magic if you've got the horsepower on your computer to edit them. 'Cause here's the problem, these things come out as almost 6k files, and so cranking through this on a computer is quite processor-intensive, so you've gotta have the ability to edit this stuff. And if you're gonna go on the road, you really... That's why I've got the eGPU.

The cameras... And this is the last part of what's in my bag, this is... Now, I spent... And this is part of my social media photographer's blog post. I spent about three years shooting on iPhones only. I didn't even have a laptop on the road. I took an iPad with me. That was about two and a half years of iPad and iPhone only. And I've come to my senses. I busted my tail trying to make that setup work, and no one ever can blame or accuse me of not giving that a shot. And I figured out a lot of tricks. But even after using that setup for three years, there were still too many times where it took me six clicks or six actions to do something that would take me one action on a laptop. So I finally just got frustrated and gave up with it.

So I started on Canon DSLRs, I moved into Sony, then I... Or, Sony. [chuckle] I moved down to Fuji for about a year and a half, then I did the iPhone experiment. And as I was moving out of the iPhone experiment, I started trying a bunch of different point and shoot cameras because the quality was getting so much better, and after shooting for two and a half years on phones, the point and shoot cameras were an upgrade in quality to me again. I've probably owned four or five Canon G1, GX1, G1X mark whatevers. G7. The Fuji X100 Ts, X100 Fs. What I've settled on now, and this is the best setup that I've come up with so far... When I'm on the road now, and I would say beginning January of 2019, all the content that you see out of me for all my brands now is shot on Fuji XT2s. I didn't get the XT3, not a sport shooter, I don't need that extra horsepower. And the last XT series that I owned was the XT1, so this is an upgrade for me. And also you can go out and get these things used for a fraction of the cost of what they... And I think when they came out, there were $1800, these things ran me about $600 a piece used when I got 'em on eBay.

So two Cannon... Or two Fuji XT2s... In the bag. That's a problem. In the bag I've got one... This is my workhorse everyday camera that I use for most of my content. This has got the 16 millimeter... This is the 1.4? It is. The 16 millimeter 1.4 lens on it. That is the everyday, most easily accessible camera in the bag. Camera two, which you see has a Roman numeral two on top, has got the 50 millimeter. I think this is an F.2. Then the only other two lenses that I carry with me... I used to shoot music photography and things like that quite a bit, so I had... In those days, I would have either the 40-155 which is the Fuji, or I'd have the 70-200, which is the Canon lens. I don't need those now 'cause I don't shoot sports or music. I'm shooting events and things like that. So the only other two lenses I carry with me is a 23-millimeter F.2. This has got the MCEX-11 macro adapter, which I can use on any one of these lenses to be able to shoot macro photography. And then this guy is the 90 millimeter. This is not a macro, is it? No. This is a 90-millimeter 1 point... Or 2.0.

The one thing that all these have in common is that they're all weather-resistant. Most of the events that I shoot, I'm running around outside. A few times a year I'll get caught in the rain, so the bag is all-weather, that's what the AW stands for in the ProTactic 450 AW. It's got a raincoat built into the bottom of the backpack. You can pull it out and wrap it over. The GoPro is obviously water resistant. All the lenses I use are water and dust resistant. The Insta360s I've used in the rain. I wouldn't submerge them, but I've used them in the rain and they've come out just fine. So that's one of the critical things for me when I look at the cameras that I'm using. Like this Canon M50, it's a really nice camera, but it's not weather-resistant, so I would be very nervous about taking that out if I got myself... Like last weekend I spent four days in Marfa, Texas, which is a desert town in Texas. And the very superfine dust that was flying around the air probably would've destroyed this M50.

So that's it. That's what's in my bag. Oh, that's not it. There's a few more things. A, the tripods I take with me, this thing is an absolute elder. It's probably the oldest piece of equipment I own. I've got three of these. This is the Manfrotto 055XPROB. It's aluminium. It's... I think it's right at about five and a half pounds, which I'm used to it now. I've always thought about going and getting a carbon fiber version of this, but when I go to the store and I pick up the carbon fiber version, I think those are like four pounds, I just don't feel enough of a difference to spend $400 on a new tripod when this guy... I've had this guy for 15 years at least. The tripod that the podcasting setup is on, I bought that the same year. I've got another one that I bought about a year later. These things are absolute Sherman tanks. And if you could find one of these on eBay, I think you can find one of these for about $100 on eBay, get it. They're ridiculously amazing.

And as far as heads go, on all of my equipment I'm using these Manfrotto 492, little tiny ball heads. I don't mess with the big, janky, gargantuan video heads that add twice as much weight to the monopod or the tripod. I understand the benefit of them, but I'm running and gunning, I'm moving. Like at South By, I'll probably hit five, six, seven events per day, and so I've gotta drive, I've gotta get my gear out of the car, I've gotta get to where I'm going, and I've got to just be comfortable with A, the overall weight that I'm carrying, and B, these things work fantastically. This has complete control over where the ball head goes, but it's super tiny, low footprint. I'm using mirrorless cameras. And these also work really well for the Insta360s, because they... Except for this knob here, they hide pretty well underneath the tripod and the 360. So that's the tripod. I'll take one of those.

I will take three of these with me. This is the Manfrotto 680B. Again, aluminium, it's a monopod. It's got the mono... The Manfrotto fluid pan feet on the bottom, these were aftermarket. And these are used for everything from GoPro to... I'll put the Insta360 on 'em and I'll... If I'm at an activation or something like that, I'll have a roll of duct... I always have a role of gaffer tape with me so if I need to, I can secure this thing down, because if you're in a crowd, these things could get moved around. So three of those go with me in the back of my car. Monopod. You gotta get shots to set up where you're at, so we take the DJI Spark. The interesting thing about the Spark is that it works like a charm, I'm shooting nothing but mobile-first content so the video that comes out of this thing is just fine. I've used it on several projects before. I tricked myself in thinking that the small size of this thing would allow me to stick it into my backpack. No go, because you need some extra stuff to make it work, right?

So I think that's it. That's what I'm taking to South By this year. I hope it's enough. It's always too much. I never use it all, but it's nice to have it with me so I feel good about myself. Hey, if you're gonna be shooting at South By this year, I'd love to meet you. Leave a comment in the video. And on Twitter, I'm @giovanni, easy to find. But hey, yeah, I'd love to find where you're at, connect up with you. I'll be bouncing around to a bunch of different events, maybe we'll run into each other somewhere. I'll be there for nine days. I don't know how to end this video.

Okay. So that's it with this video. Do me a favor, please, please, please, I've actually explained it on my previous videos, I have deleted my 12 years of content on YouTube back in December, because I wanted to play a cruel joke on myself and see whether or not I actually know what I'm doing on social media or not with YouTube. So what I've done is I've deleted my entire history, and I've started a brand new channel, which is where you're at. So the biggest thing you can do for me to help me out here is to subscribe to this channel. Heck, you might even give it a like or leave a comment, that would be super helpful. And if you're really crazy, you might wanna click on the notification bell, then you will be a part of the A-lister's club, which means absolutely nothing. But it would make me feel good, and it would help me with my channel, so. I still don't know how to end this video.