A Quick Guide to Being on Set

When working on a set, you’ll quickly learn the carnal truths of production, the most important of which is that every shoot is different. For most, this is exciting and one of the many reasons people choose video production as a career.

From an outsider’s point of view, however, the many unique challenges presented by each and every shoot can seem daunting and overwhelming. For a professional videographer, though, there are many ways to prepare for, avoid, and ameliorate these daily obstacles.


Think About Parking

Many people are often surprised by the amount of equipment needed for a single shoot.

Large light kits, crates of extension cords and sandbags, camera rigs and accessories, sound mixers and booms, dolly tracks, monitors, light meters, and more are set for regulars to expect.

Transporting all of this can be a nightmare if the crew’s van is not able to park as close as possible to the shoot. It is imperative to account for an equipment haul in your schedule and logistics.

Set Safety

If there are certain safety risks on a particular shoot, such as location hazards or the use of dangerous equipment, the director or the assistant director will have a meeting with all crew and talent to address the danger and outline precautions.

If such a meeting does not take place when there are considerable safety concerns on set, the director can be held legally responsible if someone is injured. Awareness of your surroundings is extremely important on any set, so always be alert and cautious when on one.

Long Setups


When setting up a new shot, it’s not as simple as angling the camera a new way.

Everything needs to be adjusted, especially the lighting. Lighting a scene is by far the most involved and time-consuming part of setting a shot.

The intricacies of how a subject is lit go a long way in setting the mood and telling the story. For instance, high-key and high-contrast lighting will produce a damask and noir-esque scene. Angling the lights and diffusers to capture the subject in just the right way will require some experimentation and patience from everyone on set. 

Respecting the Location

Wherever the shoot is taking place is the office for a crew, but as comfortable as one may feel surrounded by equipment, cameras, and talent, it’s important to remember that the location must be left better than it was found.

This is particularly important when shooting at an outdoor location because people will feel less like guests.

Having a designated smoking area with a bucket for cigarette butts and several easily accessible garbage cans is essential to avoiding an unnecessarily long clean-up after wrapping.

Most crews will have equipment that can be modified depending on the type of surface they’re working on, like, for instance, tripods that have spikes for grass shooting and rubber sliders for hardwood.

If working in a narrow space, being careful not to bump or scrape walls or doors is important. Many people will even apply soft mats to them before moving equipment in.

Whether you are producing an online marketing video in a studio or a corporate video in the middle of Fenway park, challenges will arise, and the ability to adapt to changes in the plan is necessary for the shoot to soldier on.