Site Production Checklist

Equipment Checklist

This list is designed for the equipment used at the Urban School but can obviously be adapted. Print this and be sure to physically check off every item before setting out.

Video Camera

  • camera
  • power adapter (cord to camera, adapter, cord to wall socket)
  • battery
  • tripod (check for loose connections)
  • tripod mounting plate
  • lens cleaner
  • blue card for white balance
  • tapes (3 mini dv) - pre-label (Name, Date, Tape "#X of X") and pre-install first tape

Computer (for direct camera to computer recording)

  • computer
  • power adapter and cord
  • external hard-drive
  • hard-drive power cord
  • connection cable - camera to computer (one from below)
    • 4:6 pin firewire to MacBook version (NOT MacBook Pro)
    • 4:9 pin firewire to MacBook Pro version
  • connection cable - external hard-drive to computer
    If computer has TWO available ports (one from below)
    • 6:6 pin firewire
    • 6:9 pin firewire
    • USB (check to be sure correct end to external hard-driv
  • External Hard-Drive (for direct camera to HD recording)

Note - for laptops with multiple firewire inputs, connect one to the camera and one to the hard-drive instead of BOTH cables to the hard-drive

Sound Recording

  • lavelier microphone
  • lavelier microphone clip
  • wind screen
  • microphone back-up
  • fresh batteries
  • battery tester

    If camera has xlr inputs
    • 15' XLR cord
    • 15' XLR back-up

    If camera does not have xlr

    • XLR-1/8" converter
    • audio converter back-up
  • headphones

Still Camera (for still shots of group and during interview)

  • camera
  • fresh batteries
  • digital card (cleared for space)


Main Light

  • box light
  • light cord and switch
  • light stand
  • light stand connector
  • back-up light and/or extra bulb
  • egg crate
  • light diffuser
  • white foam-core reflector board or collabsible reflector
  • reflector holder grip
  • reflector stand

Highlight light (optional)

  • highlight light
  • power cord
  • stand

Background Light (optional)

  • background cloth (felt)
  • background post
  • 2 background stands

Miscellaneous but Important

  • ground plug adapter (for 2 prong to 3 prong)
  • powerstrip
  • extension cord
  • painter's tape (for securing cords)
  • notecards, pen
  • "slate card" with name, location, date
  • sign for doors "Interview In Progress"
  • 2 mini grips


Set-up Guide Reminders

Prep Light, Reflector and Stands

  • tape all cords
  • set reflector card just barely out of the image area when zoomed all the way out
  • strive to set chair as far away from background as possible to aid out-of-focus background

Prep Camera & Mic

  • pre-load dv tape
  • tape all audio cords at camera/tripod area with painter's tape to alleviate all cord pressure
  • tape to floor with painter's tape all cords to avoid tripping
  • set additional DV tapes nearby
  • situate monitor so subject and other interviewers can not see image
  • set white balance manually with light on
  • frame head and shoulder shot (use someone other than the subject) to avoid distracting background lines (watch for lines intersecting head)
  • set manual focus, zoom all the way in, focus and zoom out (in most sit-down interviews, this will be sufficient and this avoids the phenomenon of focus shifting when the subject moves out of frame temporarily)
  • set microphone attenuator to "on" (this lowers the volume and mic sensitivity, but helps to eliminate background noise)

Prep Computer

  • sleep - turn all energy savers off
  • screen saver - turn off
  • virus software - disable
  • launch iMovie, make new project, save to external hard-drive
  • restart at site (always perform restart prior to capture)

Test All Connections with Subject in Place

  • microphone on and verify via headphones connected to camera
  • double-check no background lines behind subject's head
  • verify focus (zoom in - focus - zoom out)
  • loosen tripod knobs for smooth tilt and pan

At time:

  • nature of the mic - interviewers need to speak up
  • history reminder:
    • ask single questions
    • stick to chronology - stick to topic or move to next logical
    • focus on personal experiences

Turn all on, shoot the slate card, and go!

Back to Interview Checklist