Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a shot list and shooting order, part of Effective Site Surveys for Video and Photo Projects.
When you get on location, one of the things I recommend you start to build is your shot list-- or, if you already have a shot list, that you work to put it in the actual order that you'll be shooting. Now, there are lots of factors that will affect both of these. When it comes to your shot list, obviously you're going to start with the script looking for the necessary B-roll, or if it's going to be a shot, how that script breaks down, from wide shot to medium shot, et cetera. What you really need to consider though, are limitations of your talent. Do you have restrictions on the time that they're available? This might affect the total number of setups you could pull off, and it might affect when they're available for a particular scene.
You might need to structure your shot order based on when the different actors or your subjects can be available. You'll want to think about continuity issues. When you cut from one camera to another, are there any jumps? For example, you might be working in a situation where the sun is rapidly changing. Maybe it's about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and you're getting closer to sunset. In this case, you may need to minimize the number of angle changes or move very quickly. Or perhaps you artificially add light and don't work with the sun, but rather, create your own lighting.
What becomes important is that you strategize how the available light and the light you're going to add will work with the time of day. And as such, you might find yourself considering going to a multiple-camera shoot. The benefit of multiple cameras is that you can get coverage from multiple angles simultaneously. While you're building your shot list and your shooting order, also think about the availability of the location. How much time will you have to get to that location? How long will you need for set up? Is that location available to you around the clock, or do you need to structure your shots based on the time of day that you can gain access? You'll also definitely want to minimize movement.
The more you have to move from location to location, the longer it takes. I like to go for maximum shooting time. As such, I find it important to minimize my locations. I'll often bring two sets of lights, so that while we are at one location, the lighting crew can break off and go to the next location and start to set up. Otherwise, I try to make sure that we don't have to move unnecessarily. One approach for this is called shooting in the round. By shooting in the round you are choosing locations that involve simple movements.
For example, you might point the camera in one angle and use one backdrop, then simply rotate the camera 90 or 180 degrees, pointing it into an opposite area, and find another great shot. Maybe you can swap the backdrop or just move a few pieces around and get a different look. Essentially, try to pick locations that minimize the overall movement. The more time you are stationary, the more time you're shooting. Setting up all those lights and having to break them down, load them up on the cart, and move them to another floor in the building really adds time.
You might want to choose a location that means you can get multiple shots right there, or simply pick the lights up and walk them a few feet down the aisle to another place. Minimize the total movement and you'll maximize how many shots you can get.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We are honored to host this content in our library.
- Why do a site survey?
- Planning camera positions
- Making lighting decisions
- Securing permissions
- Assembling a crew
- Deciding on your gear
- Understanding the technical considerations