Video Shoot Location Scouting

So, you’ve got the perfect idea for your next Internet video series or TV commercial campaign. Your budget has been approved and your boss has finally signed off on the whole project. Now, where do you plan to shoot it? There are a number of factors that play into this decision.

There are certain elements that can effect the art of recording quality video footage. The first is the available light in the chosen space. If the room is totally dark, specialty lights can be brought in to create the look you are going for. If the space has lots of windows that cannot be covered with sheets or other barriers, then your team will need to find a way to incorporate that light into the scene that you are setting up. Likewise, if you are shooting outside, daylight (or a lack thereof) must also be harnessed into the overall look.

The noise and ambient sound that comes with the space is just as important, if not more important, than anything else you’ll need to account for, especially if you are recording a scene where someone has dialog. There is nothing more distracting than someone delivering a heartfelt interview and suddenly a motorcycle revs up in the background. For scenes where someone is going through a motion sequence or action, then there is a degree of forgiveness here, but in most circumstances, things as simple as a highway next door or an air-conditioning unit can greatly reduce the quality of the audio captured.

While there are still practicality aspects to take into account, such as being able to load in equipment and provide power, most video crews should be able to build in to any space that you can physically walk to, as long as you give them enough time to do so. In the middle of a parking lot: no problem. The grip truck could drive right on set and you could be shooting in a couple of hours. On a distant mountain peak with a 6 mile hike in between it and a drivable road: no problem, if there is enough time to walk in the equipment in by hand or on a gator, bringing along battery support. Just pray that it doesn’t rain.

The type of project you are working on will greatly influence where you will be required to setup your scenes. If you have real control over your subjects to the point that they will show up when and where you tell them, and the backdrop is something that you create from scratch, then you will be able to use a space such as a soundstage or large warehouse. While the cost of this route is often higher than the alternatives, your ability to control the shoot goes up exponentially. However, if your subject is the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, more than likely you’ll be setting up on his/her terms, in the location that they specify, which will inevitably be a conference room right next to a break room that has a coffee grinder turning on every 3 minutes.

Lastly, availability of space is going to play a major role. In the Midwest, especially in Northwest Arkansas, quality spaces that are built specifically for video production at an affordable rate are few and far between. In many cases, you’ll need to rely on your video production team to turn a space that was meant for something totally different, into a studio for a couple days. This is why at Vista Productions Inc. we pride ourselves on always keeping an open mind about the locations that we are required to work within, and being adaptively versatile for whatever ideas our clients come up with.

– Sam McDonald
Video Producer