It’s not easy for clients to know which locations are most suitable for filming.
Whether you’re an international company with several offices all over the country or a small startup working from a shared office, choosing where to shoot your next video depends on more than just appearance.
A location recce eliminates all the guesswork when deciding where to shoot your video. It allows the production team to find out exactly what the positives and negatives are of any given space, long before the cameras are rolling. This guarantees that the chosen location, or locations, are ideal for filming and means you can avoid wasting money on unnecessary reshoots.
The location report produced after the recce, outlines a detailed breakdown of all aspects that need to be considered when choosing the location. Having a location report allows you to objectively see what the best space for the project is, rather than relying on memory or second-hand information.
We’ve filmed at hundreds of locations across the globe, from primary schools and canary wharf offices, to Silverstone race course and African safaris – and needless to say each location is unique! Even if a location seems perfect, a location report can identify all sorts of surprises that you never thought would impact the filming day!
Let’s take a look at a few things that are on our checklist when scouting out locations for a video.
Getting there and getting in!
When checking out locations for your video, investigating the logistical aspects are just as important as sounding out the more creative aspects of lighting and sound.
It’s the basic things like, the time the location can be accessed, or are there loo’s nearby for the cast and crew? What are the neighbours like? If your location is next to a building site or a busy road, you’ll need to make sure the cast and crew are safe from all hazards.
These points are equally important if the location is outdoors where shelter, vehicle access or access to power is restricted.
For example, if you’re filming on a sports field 10 minutes walk from the nearest building during a wet weather period, setting up a gazebo for shelter and hiring a portaloo would not just make it more comfortable, but you waste less time on the crew disappearing for loo breaks!
Locations may also be tricky to find, especially if arriving in the early hours when it’s either dark or quiet. Making a note of landmarks, exact locations for parking and including a ‘Google Street View’ image or map reference in the report, helps ensure everyone arrives on time and at the right place!
‘Sounding out’ your location
Keeping an ear out for the sound when searching for filming locations is vital. This can be split into two main areas – sound within a location, and sound outside of a location
When thinking about sound within a location, you want to find a space that echoes as little as possible. Rooms with soft furnishings are ideal for this as things like sofas and curtains absorb sound and dampen any echo within a space. That’s why bathrooms and other rooms with hard surfaces are so echoey! If you’re not sure on how suitable the space is, give a loud clap and listen for the echo!
To rate the sound outside the location, the easiest thing to do is to stand in the middle of the room, open your ears and close your eyes! What can you hear? Is there a busy main road outside the window? Perhaps the London mainline is right outside your office?
Also make sure to note anything you can control and things you can’t. Is the air conditioning centrally controlled or can it be switched off for your room? Can the phones be put on silent and nearby rooms booked out so no noise drifts through into the location?
Not every sound issue can be solved, but the more we know in advance, the better chance we’ll have during filming to crack through everything with minimal interruptions.
Let there be Lighting
Lighting isn’t as much of an issue as people tend to think when choosing a location for filming. So don’t worry too much if your space is a bit dim or has huge floor to ceiling windows.
A big part of achieving great lighting is shaping and working with the light you have. Creating a look that feels naturally lit is vital, and knowing how much natural light and artificial light is within a space is the most important thing.
You might not think it, but mixing natural and artificial on camera can look odd. It creates either excessively blue or overly orange tinges to the footage. So scouting out what lighting exists within the space ensures the film crew pack enough lights, diffusion and other tools to make it work.
There is one thing that people tend to forget when it comes to lighting, and it usually happens around October time every year. The shorter days and reduced daylight hours can put a lot of pressure on outdoor filming days, with over 8 hours less sunlight than in the height of summer. So any filming that relies on sunlight will need to start as early as possible in the morning!
Grabbing snaps and notes
Producing a location report for every location on your shortlist means that you’ll make an informed choice when shooting your corporate video and you can’t do that without snapping plenty of photos and making detailed notes!
When we’re out on a recce, we make several notes that are added directly into the location report itself. Once it’s complete, the report is laid out in a way that all the information is easy to understand so at a quick glance, anyone can find the information they need.
We’ll link to a bunch of photos in the report too. We’ll snap pictures from all corners of the location and sometimes use a 360-degree camera to capture it in more detail. Identifiers for the location, such as landmarks, access doors, emergency exits and room numbers, are useful too, as is snapping the wifi code or canteen menu!
Researching your locations properly is time well spent, as it only takes one problem with the location to ruin your entire filming day and put your project in jeopardy. Things like the room being too small, noisy neighbours and simple things like not being able to access the location when needed, can easily scupper a filming day and lead to additional costs.
Plus, it might transpire that you need more than one location, for example, a busy office is perfect for capturing general shots of your team hard at work and showcasing the tons of talented team members in your business, but the same location might be too noisy for a sit-down interview or presenter piece to camera.
A location report sorts out all of the faff in advance and we do them for every new location we shoot in. So most importantly, for every filming day we know where to find the nearest coffee shop!