View Full Version : Video in the jungle?

03-16-2005, 05:52 PM
My niece is headed to the Amazon basin this summer to record, via video and tape recorder, the history and life of an indigenous group of indians living there. They have invited her to visit them and study their group, and she is very excited about the opportunity.

She will be there for 2 1/2 months, living a seven days by canoe from the nearest civilization. She has been there before and knows what to expect for living conditions and food and such, but she is very much concerned about the equipment she must take and how well it will survive the harsh conditons.

The last time she went she took her Apple iBook and it survived fine. This time she is taking her Panasonic PV-GS400, lots of tapes, CD's to backup what she records, and foldable solar panels to recharge her batteries. We hope to get her an extra camcorder and laptop as well.

Is there any better way to backup what will presumably be hundreds of hours of tapes by the time she is done. There are small, portable, battery powered hard drives made for backing up media, but presumably their total capacity is small compared to what she will record. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions that might be superior to CD's (or DVD's, if we get her a laptop with that capability)?

We haven't purchase a backup camcorder yet. Is any brand known to be particularily durable?

Mainly I'm trying to find out if anyone has experience working with high-tech equipment in harsh jungle environments. What can she do to protect and maintain the gear she takes in? Any hints or tips or suggestions will be very much appreciated.

03-20-2005, 08:53 PM
I wanted to give some reply. I have no long term "jungle" experience, but have done a few media missions trips. One problem she could have is humidity and of course dirt/rain. As far as backing up is concerned, anything other than another camera is time consuming If it must be backed up, firewire to another DV camera would be fast and painless (could even make it a
"selects reel"). It would also serve as a back-up in case the original camera crashed (or was crushed). Tape is cheap. And you never have enough batteries. The only people I can think of who might be able to help would be National Geographic or maybe Wycliffe Bible Translators (they send people to the middle of nowhere!).
Hope this little bit helps.


03-27-2005, 02:08 PM
Maxtor (http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=22-144-365&depa=1)- It's not small and will require AC power but you can't hardly beat the backup capacity.

04-01-2005, 10:23 AM
Here are my simple suggestions.

A compact foldable umbrella to hold over her camera and head in the rain.

A Pelican camera case http://www.pelican.com/cases/cases.html

She might consider buying a consumer DVD camera as a backup. She can use it as a backup camera and to backup her tape. She could use a firewire and connect her primary tape camera to the DVD camera to backup to DVD. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001MAB06/104-9579959-5253520?v=glance

I'm curious as to the solar panels that she plans to use. Can you provide me a link to the type that she will use.

07-11-2005, 02:00 AM
I'm shooting a doc in a remote island in the Philippines. It is rainy season right now. I've been here for 8 months so far.

I suggest:
- Apple PowerbookG4
- Lots of dessicant (check out the container store or Home Depot) for laptop case, tapes, & equipment case
- Pelican Case (as someone already mentioned)
- Possible solution for backup: LaCie 200-250 gig FireWire Hard drives for back up (capacity is 5 mins/gig), use these drives for backup (of selects only) instead of the extra camera because then she can edit from that footage digitally without touching the originals, which are prone to drop out everytime they are played.
- Garbage bags for wet ground & emergency hard rain situations
- Tough, thick zip-loc baggies to store tapes (or a rubbermaid container) with dessicant inside
- Golf umbrella
- Camera assistant (a local resident perhaps) if she wants to get decent footage & a reflector
- See B&H photo webpage for camera rain jackets
- Light tripod or monopod

Almost everyone I know who has brought a computer into this region has had major computer problems. CDs are useless for backup because they don't hold much uncompressed video and don't store time code (which is absolutely necessary for editing DV). If she's going to backup in the field, for sure use a timecoded backup system: either another DV camera (perhaps the same one -- so that the footage looks the same as the original if she needs to use it as backup) with the appropriate cables or Firewire drives.

Filmmaker & former lab teacher, Digital Media Labs, Univ. of TX