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When you have a video or photo shoot to do, how do you choose your location? In this course, discover how to carefully select sites and accurately plan for your shoot. Creative pro Rich Harrington teaches the key principles and techniques for finding a location for your next video project, while mitigating risk and reducing costs for a production. Rich introduces topics like logistics, shot blocking, important iPad apps and other measurement tools for surveys, and most importantly, the creative goals of a site survey.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We are honored to host this content in our library.
The next sets of questions that you need to get answered are pretty straightforward; they're the logistic questions: the where and the when. What you need to do is figure out these practical answers so your production will be successful. When it comes to the where, quite simply, you need to understand, where are you going to be shooting? Now, some of these may come from the location scout and you have lots of potential locations to review. In other cases, you may be given a single location from the client, like, you have access to our entire hospital, or you can use anything within our corporate office with the exception of these floors.
In this case, you need to go through and look for the best shots. This is where bringing a DSLR camera on set can be helpful and you want to go through ahead of time and determine the best locations to shoot, the ones that are going to provide interesting backdrops without too many technical challenges. Equally important, you need to understand where you're going to store your equipment. The hardest thing here is that you'll often have more gear than you need for the individual shot. We'll typically bring rolling carts on a production, making it easy to roll our equipment with us from one location to another.
We also try very hard to not leave anything laying around as both a potential risk for someone to trip or that we might have some of our equipment stolen. Make sure you discuss a potential place where you're going to store the equipment, preferably something that has a lock on the door. This location shouldn't be too far away from where you're shooting as well, so you're going to want to make sure that it's accessible and secure. The next thing to think about is the when. Some locations are going to be better for certain times of day, based on the available light.
For example, the location might look awesome at sunrise and completely boring at sunset. Other locations may be better suited when the sun is high in the sky, as opposed to flying through the window behind your subject, creating an awful backlight. You're going to want to make sure that you evaluate the locations and be comfortable using things like a compass to show you where the sun is going to be at certain times of day. Now, you might not have your orienteering merit badge, but it is important that you actually get familiar and know, where is the sun and where am I? We're going to talk about these specifics a little bit later, but sun position and time of day critically affect how well that location is going to work.
You also need to think about the best time of day for sound. Some locations are great when it's not rush hour; other locations may be really busy at certain times of day, like the lunch break. You probably don't want to set up a shot in the main lobby for when people are arriving for the start of work or during their lunch breaks, because you'll have too much foot traffic. You want to make sure you evaluate locations and if you're going to be recording dialogue or critical sound, many locations will get ruled out, simply because they're too noisy. The last thing you have to consider is the availability of the location.
Some locations may not be available during the times you want to shoot. You may have to be open-minded. Some locations will be perfect, but you might have to use them on a weekend or shoot in the evening or early morning. Other locations just might be off limits at all times of the day. Getting a crew into a particular location can be difficult, and I generally try to minimize the size of the crew. Never underestimate the impact you're going to have on a location. So when you're trying to secure location, you're going to have to convey things like the crew size and just how long you're going to need that location.
So with the when and the where, make sure you evaluate all of these situations and decide if the shoot location is going to be a good fit for your type of production.
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