Finding a great video setting is one of the most important parts of the video production process. There are a lot of different elements that go into finding just the right spot.
As you prepare to produce a video, one of the details that probably should not be left until the end is the actual shoot location. Where should you shoot your video? Indoors? Outdoors? Conference rooms? Or rooms with a view? There are several things to you should be sure to consider before making this decision and choosing an interview location for your video shoot.
Get permission first
Before thinking about the creative approach to your interview location, make sure you have permission to shoot there! If you’re hoping to shoot in a public place, you should check with your local government to get a permit. If you’re shooting in an office or the courtyard of your attractive local shopping plaza, you’ll need a release from the owner(s) of the property. Nothing will be more embarrassing than getting set up at a location, only to be chased away by security—or the police—because you didn’t get the go-ahead in advance. Many municipalities and companies in Orange County have gotten very strict about this.
Be careful about distractions
When choosing a location, it’s important that your viewers stay engaged with your video content. Lots of distracting visuals or people moving in and out of your shot can draw the attention away from your primary message. And watch out for those camera-hungry photobombers!
Consider being flexible with your shoot time. Think about scheduling, if in a space such as a manufacturing area, when machines can be powered down, and there may not be as many people talking or moving in the background. Unless, of course, you want a busy, noisy background. Sometimes this is the look/sound you’re going for!
Make it relevant
What background do you want behind your interview subject? Make sure it’s relevant to the style and subject matter of your video. Choosing an appropriate background can really transport viewers to your location and help them connect the dots with what the user is saying. But remember, you can also use supporting visuals (B-roll) to showcase more specifics about the style and culture of your company.
Find a spacious location
Choose a big location with some architectural features for added texture. More spacious locations allow for setting up the shot with a shallower depth of field, giving your video that blurred background effect and minimizing background details and focusing more clearly on your subject, putting the viewer’s attention on their face.
Don’t forget that you are looking for a location that can fit more than just your interview subject. You’ll also need room for your video production team and any equipment as well. While you don’t want an airplane hangar, it’s important to make sure you have enough room for everyone—and everything—involved!
They may be quiet and available, but there is nothing more boring than a flat wall behind your interview subject. Full disclosure: I use them frequently and if that’s my working space for the project, I shoot at an angle against the wall and try splashing some color in the background by adding a plant or art piece, etc. Another tactic is to get as much distance as possible between the subject and the wall so the background can be blurred.
A “heads up” about conference rooms: In many cases they have big conference tables that can be difficult to move. This can limit options when trying to create an interesting or unique look.
Watch the weather
It’s not always best to shoot on a sunny day, despite how tempting it may be. Typically, bright days can mean harsh shadows on the faces of interview subjects. Unless you’re going to blast your subject with expensive lights, or use reflector kits, you may want to avoid shooting on those picture-perfect days. Believe it or not, an overcast day is typically a better day to shoot video outdoors.
Listen for room tone and ambient noise
Once you have found a location that is free from distractions, take a moment to carefully listen. Pay attention to the room tone and ambient noise. It’s important to avoid shooting in overly noisy areas, unless the background sound fits the message of the piece. In other words, if you’re shooting a piece on manufacturing, you probably won’t mind hearing the natural sound from that environment in the story.
However, if your space has a buzz, hum, or echo, the microphone will pick it up also. There are a few remedies to a loud room tone: First, identify the source of the hum. If the hum comes from a refrigerator, air conditioner, or another device that can be turned off temporarily, do that. If not, pro’s tackle these issues by using directional microphones, recording room tone for post-production, or using equalizers, but all those require a level of expertise.
Consider the lighting
What many people may not realize is the strength of sunlight that you see out windows can overpower the light used on the face of an interview subject. Your video production team can help you get great front lighting, but it’s not always possible to make the subject look great AND see scenery out a window. In addition to lighting challenges, many people overlook the fact that wonderful views usually look better while standing at the window peering out than they do as a background for an interview. In many cases, what is actually seen is the sky or some buildings in the distance.
If you are planning an outdoor shoot, try to shoot dawn and dusk, especially in the summer months. The light is more mellow which creates less harsh shadows, plus it can be much more dramatic! If you can, consider a “Golden Hour” timeframe for your shoot. Golden hour is the hour after sunrise or before sunset where the sunlight is more golden and soft and makes memorable and dramatic lighting for video shoots.
Remember, preparation is KEY
You can never be too prepared. If you do all the hard work before the shoot, you can focus on your subjects on production day. Selecting the proper locations for your shoot can make a huge difference in the final product, so give a call and ask about doing a site check — even if it means spending a little money, you’ll be glad you did!