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These days, when it comes to modern media production and photo shoots, cost is a huge issue. There is a lot of downward pressure to keep the prices low. And unlike the old days where you could have director's chair sitting around and a large craft service table while people were just happy to be on the set and let the creative juices flow, these days people expect things to be fast and efficient. Now, you may have the benefit of finding yourself on one of those shoots with luxury items, but for the most part, it's all about get in and get it done, and so people want to save cost in modern productions.
One of the advantages of your location scout or site survey is that it's going to help you find out some of the issues. The biggest one for me is that it ensures we only bring what is needed. For example, it you're working with the director of photography and he or she doesn't know what type of shots you're going to need or where the cameras are going to be positioned, they may bring extra lenses just to be safe. Or you might find yourself bringing additional lights on set that you don't need. The advantage of going to the location and looking at it, particularly for things like camera position and lighting, is it's going to make sure that you understand how you're going to achieve the shots that are necessary.
You'll then bring only what's needed. One of the other major benefits is it will reduce the time from when you first get there to when the shot is ready. One of the things that I hate is getting on set and sitting around while people figure it out. You want to know exactly the order that you're going to be shooting, where the equipment goes. The producer or the associate producer on set needs to be able to tell everyone else what to do: "This goes there, our first shot is right here. This is the equipment we need to pull off the first shot." You want to plan before you get there so it becomes simple deployment.
Do your logistics before you arrive in the field and you will get twice as much done. Another advantage is that you can eliminate locations that are going to be too expensive to shoot with. For example, an inexperienced location scout may find a beautiful scenic lake. However, it's going to take you two miles of hiking the equipment in, and all the power's going to have to run off of batteries. Well, you might choose a lake that's not so scenic or one that has easy drive-up access and has a perfect view when you're just looking at that one part of it.
Remember, a location doesn't have to be beautiful in 360 degrees. Some of the best locations look good on camera but not so good when you look around. You are simply creating the magic, and you need to find a location that's a good balance between what you're shooting and how hard it's going to be to actually shoot there. This is one of the ways that you'll save the most money: making sure that the location is easily accessible and has the amenities needed for a successful video shoot.
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