Choosing the location for your video is another vital step in the pre-production planning for your shoot. Where you choose to shoot matters – it really is all about location. There is such a distinct power in visual language, and the backdrop you decide to use communicates so much before the first words are even spoken.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right spot. Price, availability, time, ease, and comfort are just a few. For the video itself, you must ask if the location suits the feel you are going for and the audience you want to attract. Your options can be boiled down to five: House Call, Green Screen, Studio, Exterior, and Interior.
A house call is when you go to someone’s home and use any or all areas of the house for your shoot. This option has several benefits. It requires very little set design or decoration. If your client is the homeowner, you can work there for free or very cheap. You’re able to leave equipment in your car and only bring in what is really necessary. Last but not least, if your client is the homeowner and also happens to be starring in the video, then he or she will gain a certain comfort from being in their own home.
The drawbacks depend on the situation. For example, the home can be far away or hard to reach. There’s also the worry of possibly breaking something or blowing a circuit if too many lights are used. The set-up may also just not work for your needs, and you may have to either bring in extra props or leave it as is.
A green screen can really be anywhere – you can buy a sheet and hang it against a wall or go to an actual space that has a green screen room. This option is for if you want the background of your video to either be a certain single color or a picture or even a moving video. Green screen allows you to really be flexible with what is behind the talent. Beware, though. If you go down this road, you must have someone that understands and is proficient with green screens – in both production and post-production. The lighting needs to be done in a particular way, and the clothes of the talent cannot have any green on them. In post, if the editor or post-production artist isn’t skilled at seamlessly meshing the talent and the background to look like they belong together, the end product might look quite shoddy.
This means going to an actual studio that has multiple backdrops and props and equipment for you to rent out for the day(s). This option is the convenient yet costly one. It gives you a lot of freedom to work with a blank canvas and design your own space exactly how you see fit. There’s also no worry of people coming around and ruining the audio. The power usage will still be a worry, but studios are designed to handle a lot more than your typical house or interior location. A studio is perfect if you have a lot of footage to get through and very little time.
This is very broad because this option gives you the freedom to shoot anywhere outside. That can mean a city sidewalk, a park, at the beach, and on and on. You have the ultimate flexibility. Plus, you most likely will not have to pay anything, especially if it is a public space. Make sure that the shoot is not a problem to others in the area and that you respect the public around you.
When shooting outdoors you must consider the general inability to set up lights. That might be a pro in terms of renting and carrying heavy equipment, but it also means that your camera must be able to work with the natural light available to you. Weather can also be a concern because, as we’re all aware, it can be very unpredictable, and rain may ruin your planned shooting day. One last consideration is audio. Noise from wind, cars, and other people in the surrounding area can really hurt your audio, and having good audio is a key component to the overall success of your video.
As with the Exterior option, Interior is just as broad but a bit more limited in terms of options. It means that you will pick a specific interior space and shoot there. This can be an office space, a warehouse, a mall… anywhere indoors. It lends the video a certain specificity and texture. Because it’s not a “manufactured” setting, it’ll end up looking much better than if you used a green screen or an artificial space. You may not even have to design a set at all if you like the location’s set-up.
Some problems can arise if the space is active, meaning that there are people milling about and possibly getting in the way of your shot or ruining the audio. There also may not be enough room to fit all of the equipment and people or get the types of angles that you may want for your shots. As with the House Call, you also need to be aware of how much power you are able to draw from the outlets.
As you can see, there are a lot of options and, as per usual with video production, the decision really depends on the individual need and scope of a shoot. What can help with the decision no matter what, though, is taking the time to scout out locations beforehand. Go to multiple locations, take pictures, and really sort through all of your options. This decision really affects the rest of the shoot – how much equipment will be needed, the transport, the budget, and more – so don’t let it sit on the back burner!