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10 Tips in Searching Shooting Location

Original post is from KFTV

A successful shoot begins with selecting the right location. In fact, one of the most important steps in producing a high-quality video is scouting.

Most of the time we forget to check if the places we want to include in our video are actually really suitable for filming. But bear in mind that this process is as important as making sure your equipment functions.

Here are TEN essential tips that will help you when shooting out on location.

1. MASTER YOUR STORY. It is important to get familiar with your story plot so you can choose the best setting that will match every scene. This will serve you as a guide in selecting the best location. Always get back to the main reason why you are searching for a location: I have a story to tell my viewers. So, you don’t want them confused because of a not suitable location. Many locations will be available for you to choose from but there will be very few that will best fit your story. Story first before going out and scout.

2. TAKE DOWN NOTES. Get your pen and note ready-handy. You will need them as your best friends in scouting location. No matter how sharp your memory is, you have to take down all your observation as you go to every location that you want to check. You will come across many settings when you walk, drive, travel with family and friends or just even by observing. Places will have similarities, differences, advantages and disadvantages so you have to write all important points.

Along with your notes, taking photos or shooting video clip with audio observation will help a lot as actual representation of the area. After a long journey of travel, use your notes, gathered information, photos and videos to compare and contracts locations.

3. FORECAST WEATHER CONDITION. Natural environmental factors such as rain, snow, sun, wind and temperature are very crucial in selecting location. These may improve or destroy your output depending on your story line.

Do not forget that your shooting facilities are also sensitive to these factors. For instance, exposing video cameras to rain, beach wind, or even moisture from water fountains or waterfall may cause damages not only to the equipment but also to your output. Too much brightness and hot temperature cause by sunlight can also damage your equipment if left exposed for too long.

Moreover, cold weather or low temperature can drain batteries quickly. This is true to all type of batteries but some perform better than others. So if you really need to take some scenes in very cold temperature consider using external battery pack as well. This will give you a chance to warm your batteries under your jacket.

Make sure to be prepared for these factors to avoid serious damages to your equipment and to secure smooth flow during shooting.

4. PAY ATTENTION TO AUDIO IMPACT. Use your camcorder’s microphone to check sounds surrounding a location. Silence can contribute a lot in achieving great audio results in your film. Also test wireless microphones, boom mikes, and any other audio recording devices at the site so you can listen closely to any interference. Always remember that high- quality sound is very important in making a video.

Consider noise caused by the environment including traffic, running water, echoes, and even movements that your microphone may catch. Going back to your story, choose the location that best fit the scene and the sound that you need.


INDOOR . There are settings that provide lower or higher amount of natural light without the help of electricity. Looking back into your story, it is important to figure out the lighting capacity of every location. Indoor locations such as rooms, homes, function halls, auditoriums, churches and temples, have lower amount of lights. You can try sample shoots to figure out what’s best thing to do in the area. If you need more light, check every corner of the location. You can open windows and curtain blinds to add light. In some cases, you may also add light equipment or consider replacing light bulbs. Just make sure to coordinate with somebody who is in charge of the place.

OUTDOOR. Natural light in any open air locations is challenging because it changes in any moment at any time. Check whether your ideal location is exposed to full sun during daylight, or covered by a tree or building shadows. Remember the basics of camera and equipment protection: Do not expose too long in high temperature. Bright sunlight is not good to people’s eyes (actors and staff) and can also cause automatic camcorder lenses to underexpose shots because full sunlight can surpass light colored background. Small amount of sunlight can also be tricky since almost of today’s camera are producing not so good contrast in this outdoor condition. Consider those fully shaded location because it generally gives better result.

6. SECURE POWER SOURCE. It is always ideal to be prepared especially with your power supplies. Even you have multiple battery packs reserved, the need to check nearest electrical connection is essential for a smooth shooting. There are outdoor and indoor locations that lack power connection so you have to consider its availability in scouting locations.
You might be needing power supplies for you additional lightings, battery charging and even cellphone charging. A location that has enough power supply is an advantage.

7. CONSIDER SPACE. In scouting for location you also have to consider adequate spaces aside from the place that you will use as a background of your film. Simply put, do this for your production equipment. Indoors may have extra rooms for your things, dressing area, and place where other staff working behind the camera can stay. Make sure outdoor locations have enough space too, where you can set up your shooting gears. It is important that you can move freely in these areas for comfortable working environment.

8. CHECK NEARBY FACILITIES. Checking facilities around the location is essential to ensure smooth flow of activities during shooting. These include the availability of telecommunication signals for your mobile phones or payphone in case of signal outage, food chains/shops just in case you need food, banks/ATM if you need extra cash, electronic stores for electrical supplies, medical clinics/hospitals, fire, and police stations in case of emergency.
Knowing these facilities will help you prepare for any challenges that will come across during the actual shooting. Problems are unavoidable, but preparation is just within reach. Be ready!

9. DOUBLE CHECK PROSPECT LOCATION. When you have already prospected possible locations, you need to double check. Visit again the places that you want to include in your film to check whether they are still suitable for your story most especially during the time of the shooting. Remember that conditions of locations change inevitably depending on the season, time of the day and even the day itself.

Checking again the factors that you like about your prospected locations will answer the questions: Are they still the same? Or not anymore? Will they be fit for your story? Or no? Will you still use the place in your film? Or will you remove it?

Again, situation of a certain location depends in so many factors, so, rechecking its availability and appropriateness is really a must.

10. OBEY LEGALITIES. Some of the places that you would like to know more about will require you legality works so try paying attention to this. They might require you black and white letter asking permission so you can fully check the area, or some may require you permits before you can go inside a prospect location. Better know if there are legal requirements because this will give you the confidence of fully evaluating the area.

On the other hand, if you are not required of those things, it is always better to ask permission verbally. Many owners will help you if you will tell your intention and will even assist you until you are done.

Along with this, also ask if there are things you need to do for legality sake prior to shooting especially if you will be using public sites such as parks, highways, cemeteries, government offices and private owned areas such as groceries, residential houses, and others.

This is very important to avoid interruption by authorities because your shooting is legal.

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