Mobile Units vs. Flight Packs

Mar 30, 2017  |  by Andrew Ryback

When we scope out a project, one of the biggest considerations is the

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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.

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