Organizing Your Video Production Gear

Working in video production, you’re going to have a lot of gear. It’s important you keep it all organized and these are the best tips & tricks to keep track of everything.

I’m obsessed with organization. You can ask anyone around the office. More than once have a fired off an email exclaiming how tired I was of gear not being put back in its place. And believe me, I’ve tried to make the process of putting gear back in its proper place as painless as possible.

And as the self-proclaimed organization czar around here, I thought I’d share some of my tips for keeping track of all the equipment that video professionals like us need to keep around.

Label Everything

And I mean everything. As soon as a new piece of gear comes in, a number of labels go on it. First things first, an ECG Productions sticker. It’s got our logo, so if we’re out on a production and there is gear that isn’t ours, it’s clear what belongs to us and what doesn’t. Next, it gets labeled for what it is. The light stand is labeled with a little sticker that says “light stand.” It may seem redundant, especially for the more obvious equipment, but trust me, it’ll start making a difference if you have a new intern or PA, or even client, on set. When someone asks you what a 150 LED Fresnel is, it is much easier to say, “the one that says 150 LED Fresnel on it” than start describing the minute differences between your various lights. Oh, and when I say label everything, I mean every side of every piece and every side of every case. I want to be able to look across the set, and see what any case or piece of equipment is at a glance. This also means making sure the labels are big enough to be read from a decent distance away.


labels are important for organizing your gear
Look at that sticker and label! But why is there a purple band?

Color Everything

This is another little trick. I color code everything. We buy multi-pack rolls of colored electrical tape, and I wrap those suckers around everything we own. You know what’s easier than saying, “the one that says 150 LED Fresnels on it?” Saying, “the purple one!” This is especially handy when it comes to packing gear up. The cases are labeled with the same colors, so when you have hired hands on set who don’t know your gear, you just need to tell them to look at the color, and match the gear to its case. The lights with yellow stripes go in the case with yellow stripes. The flags with blue/red stripes go in the bag with blue/red stripes. And because I’m obsessed with organization, even the color schemes I use have a meaning. Single band colors are for cases with lamps only. Dual bands are for bags with stands only. Can you guess what triple bands are used for? That’s right, full kit cases that contain both.

Notice the color on 1×1 Cube Kit A in the back there? Guess what color the gear inside it is.
Blam! Also note how we should never have to guess what type of light we’re grabbing.

Label Everything Again

Here is where everything in the warehouse gets labeled. We have so much equipment, and the warehouse is only so big, so everything has a very specific place. And you can bet that all those places are labeled. We don’t keep an inventory sheet. It requires an extra step, which means an extra step that can be missed and lead to more confusion as to where equipment may or may not be. The shelves themselves are our inventory system. If something is missing, we know right away, because there is a giant hole on the shelf. You can see it. And it doesn’t require any special knowledge to know what is missing, because the giant label beneath it describes exactly what should be there. And for any large cases that have multiple pieces of equipment in them, this process is repeated on a smaller scale within the case itself.

Look at all those labels and colors! The Grip Case comes apart into two pieces, which is why you’ll see two labels on every side of it.

My whole goal is to create an organizational system that requires absolutely no institutional knowledge. How many times have you been on set, trying to help out a production crew and someone has to tell you, “Oh, that only fits together a weird way,” or “Actually, we keep the gobo heads over here with the ballasts.” By creating a system where the knowledge is explicit and immediate (through the use of labels and colors) you allow your team (and guests as well) to work efficiently. Also, who wants to waste brain space on where gear goes?

In my opinion, there is no reason anyone should have to be the encyclopedia for where gear goes and how it is stored. Of course, I still get asked all the time where things are, but I don’t mind going to the back and showing others. I like entering the warehouse with the confidence that I can quickly find anything I need, and I don’t have to store any of that information in my brain. Not only is it easier for me, but I like to think it is easier for anyone stepping into that warehouse. There are already plenty of things to worry about in video production. Keeping track of your gear shouldn’t be one of them.

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