For those who have never been on location for a video shoot, you should know firsthand the commotion that is part of this activity. Accordingly, being aware of the many variables and possible issues goes a long way to a successful outcome. If you know the term, “Murphy’s Law,” I am convinced that “Murphy” lives on location sets! Getting in and out is no easy task, but following a few guidelines can help all involved parties stay organized and keep disruption to a minimum. In all reality, one or more things will likely go wrong on location (“Murphy”), but these suggestions can help you weather the storm and keep everyone content with the process.
Location Scouting: From the get-go, making sure you know where you want the shooting to be done and having at least a layout of how you want a company to film at the specified location can go a long way. If your story is complex, create storyboards and/or scripts, and at the very least, please have or develop a shot list!
Logistics: While it doesn’t actually have anything to do with the filming process, it’s just as important. This is all about the necessities of keeping production personnel nourished and hydrated. Whether its food, water, or simply a bathroom, the logistics of a location play an important role in the functionality of your shoot. It’s a good idea to find a specific area where these needs can be accommodated, as you don’t want to interrupt your normal business routine.
Non-intrusive Location Setups: This is where knowing your location helps the most. The layout of your locations as well as its real-life function can help determine how the filming can be accomplished. It also helps if you’ve run through the setup and location aspects with the production company you hire—hopefully, First Impressions Video. When everyone understands and is on the same page, it makes everything run smoother and more efficiently. If you’re in an office building for instance, allowing the use of a loading dock (where applicable) is key to getting equipment in and out efficiently without disturbing employees (and possibly other tenants) in the building. This makes moving equipment easier for you as well because it provides a space and area where the crew won’t disturb anyone while being provided with enough room to get everything they need in one place. When setting up for individual shots, it’s ideal to create as familiar a shooting environment as possible, which helps keep your subjects (often, employees of the company) more comfortable because everything may still look the way they had it before the cameras, lights and microphones are set up.
Again, anticipation is crucial in minimizing the “Murphy factor” and the best way to do this is to have a checklist (or lists). This can help to avoid last minute panics and ensure for a smooth day of shooting!
Location Filming Guide
- What to Wear on Camera:If an investment is being made to hire a video company to produce a professional corporate video, everyone that will be on camera should dress the part. Help project the message you’re intending to convey…if your video is professional, your outfit should be too. Muted colors work best and it’s a good tip to avoid fine lines and checks such as herringbone cloth. SIDEBAR: In earlier blog posts, I’ve commented a great deal about this, for both corporate and wedding shoots.
- Building Entry and Parking:Make sure points of entry and exit are clearly pointed out, along with specific areas for parking. The closer to the building, the better.
- Electricity: Please make sure you can provide the necessary electrical output for all the equipment and be aware of the use of long extension cords being used. Power demands are not as severe as they used to be, but there should be plenty of outlets serving the area where filming is to take place.
- Microphones:In most cases, if people are going to be interviewed, microphones will likely be required. They should be placed up by your collar and out of view; the microphone cord should never be seen and it looks unprofessional if it’s hanging outside your shirt. A second option, budget permitting, is to have a sound person with a mic attached to a “boom pole” that is usually positioned above the subject and out of the camera’s field of view.
- Setup Time:This just as important for the video team as it is for the client. Being aware of the time needed to setup and strike a set is important, so having full knowledge of what the plan is and the time needed to execute it makes it all the more efficient for everyone involved and allows the client to plan what will happen while setup is taking place.
- Ambient Sound and Additional Visuals:Both these things can be crucial to a video, keeping noises to a minimum helps make sure that the audio in the video is as crisp as possible, so make sure the director is aware of any possible noises that could or would conflict with filming. Things like machines, heavy doors being opened and closed, heating and air conditioning systems in a building are important to know about, as well as things like nearby construction, airports or other loud outdoor noises.
Additional visuals are just as important as almost every video uses “b-roll” to enhance a video. Allowing the crew to shoot people at work and doing anything else interesting that would add “polish” to the video is important to the finished product, and we will often request in advance photos, logos, signs, or anything else that can positively benefit the completed project.
- Permission: Please make sure you have the necessary authorization to film at your location! Unless you own the building where shooting will take place, you may need the OK from the building’s owner to do so. Nothing is more embarrassing than being challenged by a building owner’s security officer about what we’re doing, only to discover that we may not have approval to shoot! A company’s interior spaces are usually not the issue, but common areas are often where “Mr. Murphy” might appear!
- Contact:Include the necessary information for a person to contact on site, but remember to include an alternate phone number as well as an alternate contact if the first can’t be reached.
- Facility:Make sure the everyone on the project knows the address and how to get to the location.
- Parking:Make sure you provide and identify an area for the production vehicles, cast and crew to park.
- Equipment Loading:Provide a specified area for production equipment to be loaded and unloaded from vehicles.
- Security:Make sure your security personnel, if you have them, are aware of the crew and provide a contact name and phone number of a member of your security to the production crew.
- Equipment Storage:Make sure the crew is aware of a place where equipment that is not being used can be stored, a room that can be locked.
- Furniture and Electricity:Make sure all crew members know whether or not they can move things around and where circuit breakers are as well as what else is on circuits they are going to use.
- Noise:What noises are present at your location? Are any of them overbearing to the point where they would distract and create conflict with shooting?
- Personnel:Make sure you have a list of everyone who needs to be on set and why they’re there. Also know who the decision makers are as they are the ones any questions should be directed to.
- Other:Restrooms, drinking water, snack area, etc., make sure there are places where the little things will be available, production will run much smoother and your location needs to be able to provide for “the basics.”
By being aware of these simple yet sometimes overlooked tips, you can save your company a lot of time and you will have a greater understanding of what to expect when having a video production company film at your organization’s location.
And let me know if we can ever be of service!