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Mobile Units vs. Flight Packs

Mar 30, 2017

When we scope out a project, one of the biggest considerations is the Read More Add A Comment

When we scope out a project, one of the biggest considerations is the production equipment. You need gear that’s going to accommodate the needs of the project, can scale easily (because we all know there are going to be last minute requests) and fits within the required budget parameters. For multi-camera live productions, we often have two options to consider: a mobile unit or a flight pack. When answering the mobile unit vs. flight pack debate, there are many considerations. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons for each and how we determine which approach to take.

Mobile Units

Pros: We always prefer to work from a production truck when given the option. Mobile units offer a much more controlled environment to work from because you’re inside and out of the elements. In general, setup for mobile units is faster (depending on the scope of the project) since all the monitoring and systems are already in place. And mobile units tend to have extra horse power and spare equipment on-board for accommodating last minute changes.

Cons: Mobile units tend to be more expensive than flight packs, so sometimes they’re eliminated from a project based solely on cost. Mobile units have a much larger footprint, so permitting and parking need to be addressed. And depending on the scope of the project, mobile units may require a generator. If house power isn’t an option, this is an additional line item on the budget.

Ideal Application: Mid to large-scale projects with ample parking available.

Flight Pack

Pros: Flight packs can be a great option for the right project. Flight packs can be setup anywhere inside a venue provided there’s adequate power and connectivity. This eliminates the need for additional parking or permitting. In general, flight packs are more budget friendly, though that largely depends on the scope of the project. And flight packs can be custom built to accommodate the technical needs of your project.

Cons: Setup generally takes longer with a flight pack since you don’t have pre-built and pre-cabled systems like you would in a mobile unit. While you don’t need to worry about parking and permitting with a flight pack, you do need ample space to setup the equipment, which can be a challenge when working in smaller venues. Mobile units come with on-board AC, but flight packs don’t, so aside from the physical equipment, you need to be mindful of the overall environment where your equipment will be housed.

Ideal Application: Small to mid-size projects that don’t have a lot of production variables.

The mobile unit vs. flight pack debate hinges on a number of factors. If you’re looking for assistance determining which equipment package is the right fit for your live production, give us a call. We’b be happy to help.

No Comments
  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2018-03-07 21:55:41

    We're glad you found this to be useful, Margaux. Let us know if there's anything we can help with.

  • Margaux Ford Reply
    2018-03-07 05:57:06

    I appreciate the tips on hiring a production staffing company to have more time to focus on the creative aspects of the project. Hiring a production crew is a tedious task, and can take up much of your time. We're currently working on a huge production, and I'll share this article with my boss so he'll consider on delegating the recruitment to a staffing company. I like that you mentioned that staffing company can ensure to have the right team onboard for the project. Thanks!

  • Robert McWilliams Reply
    2017-10-31 19:05:18

    Todd:I have an ad agency in addition to our production company. We put one of our clients on OTT two months ago up in Nevada. Seems to be working!Thanks again for the work earlier this month.Rob

  • Nicole Rohde Reply
    2017-05-27 22:28:45

    Hey Andrew, Any word as to whether or not the Jokers will be back for Comic Con this year? Please let me know. Thanks!!!

  • Aaron Estabrook Reply
    2017-02-23 16:26:57

    I'll be tuning in for sure!

  • David Patton Reply
    2015-01-16 13:16:02

    Interesting blog post Andrew. For those who are nearly ready to cut the cord, but still want access to key channels such as ESPN, I'd recommend checking out Dish Network's new service, Sling TV. It provides access to a handful of channels for $20/month.https://gigaom.com/2015/01/15/sling-tv-details-price-devices-networks-resolution-bandwidth/

  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2015-01-13 14:44:19

    Go for it! I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive about pulling the plug at first, but honestly, the transition away from DirecTV has been seamless. The only missing link is live sports, but there are a few work arounds depending on what sports you watch. Good luck!

  • Gregory Hart Reply
    2015-01-13 06:35:00

    While I am part of the 55 year old demographic that still has TV boxes and does TV viewing, I do my viewing using DVRs and networked PCs playing video files from an in-home server. I too have noticed that I view a handful of shows on a regular basis and have found various other sources for these shows. And now it has gotten to the point to where I am seriously considering ending my very long relationship with DirecTV and going streaming. Working in the TV industry also helped to open eyes to this as well. This transition from "old" TV is coming and the networks (Les Moonves, I am looking at you!) had better plan for it.

  • Gary Reply
    2013-08-08 09:44:39

    You've left out a HUGE part of this story by not mentioning Howard Stern's effect on the Sharknado buzz! #siris-ly

  • Marybeth Harrison Reply
    2013-08-07 14:46:29

    I can almost hear the theme song from Jaws as I read your post!