I was surprised how many times a days we all move positions in film. Anywhere from once to dozens. Since this is unusual to a live event person, I thought I might tell you a few thoughts on strategizing your cart. There are things you absolutely need and a few important things to keep in mind.
Your cart is nearly as important as your choice of console. It will contain or facilitate everything you need all day and for a variety of weather conditions. There are many price points to jump in at. You could go the top of the line route and buy your own Inovativ ($3600) or Proaim ($2200) cart. Mid-tier is a converted Magliner cart ($1400) and cheap is to customize a Rubbermaid cart. I’ve recently decided to buy my own Magliner, since the features offered are in line with how much it costs. It allows fairly easy customization because of its solid construction and carries some serious weight with tires that are meant to go anywhere.
You need a good chair. There is a much wider range of camping chairs than I knew about, and that’s great. There are some tall chairs (necessary with the heights of the carts I’ve used) that also offer a side fold out tray to keep your drink far away from your console.
My monitor currently stands on its own, and it’s annoying how often it falls during transit. I’m currently ordering a monitor stand to make this less silly.
Attaching a keyboard tray buys you some important cart real estate. Since seemingly everyone in the electrics team at some point will dump stuff on your cart, having all the space available maximized is a great idea.
Be sure to think your cable management through when you are building your cart. There will be many pieces coming and going and you want to keep things neat and easy to track in case something goes wrong. To speed things up on setup, I have all of my cables stay attached to the cart and set and strike the console, monitor, and fader wing each day.
Not the shipping company, the Uninterrupted Power Supply. Since you will move so many times in a day, you need a battery backup that can keep your whole system running for at least 15 minutes. You can decide yourself if you wish to have a rack mount solution or one of the awkward chonky versions. I’ve been doing the awkward shapes because they are much cheaper and easier to source. I’m now leaning towards a rack mount.
You will have your ethernet cable for the wireless transmitters, an ethernet cable to the drop package, and you will need spare ethernets and DMX cables just in case. A few cable hooks help keep your space more organized and uncluttered. I found some great S hooks at Lowes that work really well.
You will have many devices that will need to charge via USB. Maybe grab a multi-output charger and give some thought about routing the cables to keep things neat.
A Place to Stow your Chair in Transit
If you can rig some appropriate hanging setup to hang your chair from while in motion, you will move faster and easier.
You will be outside. It will rain. A Bag-it is a large visqueen bag that is a practical, if inelegant, way to protect your console and yourself. Opt for one of the bigger ones since you will have to tuck under there with the console to keep programming. A bungee cord will help you secure it neatly to the side of your cart and out of the way.
Your cart needs to be able to store your cases for containing and securing your console. It’s impractical to stow your empty cases on the shorty truck, so spec your cart to fit your empties. It should be able to hold your gadgets for solving problems as well as a variety of clothing for when temperatures radically change
Small Creature Comforts
You may want a travel tea pot, a portable espresso maker, or maybe just a cup holder. Pictures of those dear to you, silly little toys to serve as console buddies- anything that reminds you of your life outside of work is also a great idea. Spend a thought to your comfort and what would make each day a little more pleasant.
A cart is the kind of thing I find really tough to plan. It’s incredibly important, but it takes time to figure out what you really need and the best way to accomplish it. I hope this gives you a good starting point. Are there things you can’t live without on your cart I didn’t include? Share in the comments so we all know!