How to Choose a Location for Your Shoot

Bratton_infront_mirror_smlFor many of us, there aren’t that many choices where to shoot, because we live in New York and space is at prime. But looking for and finding a good spot to shoot can make or break the “quality” look and feel you may want to portray of yourself and your company.

Here a checklist, not unlike one a location scout will go through – most likely on a much bigger scale – before committing to a shoot location. If we assume that it’s a one-person shoot and it’s more or less a do-it-yourself affair, these are some good questions to start with:

Do I have permission to shoot in this location? If it’s your home or office, do you have general liability insurance, or a homeowner’s policy, just in case someone helping you hurts themselves?

What is the background I’ll be in front of?

  • iPhones, and most non-professional cameras you will not allow you to throw the background out of focus. Keep to a neutral, non-distracting background, or invest in a white backdrop kit. They sell for under $100 on Amazon and are, I’m sure, a bit flimsy. A solid colored wall is probably your best friend.

What is the lighting situation?

  • If there is a window does it have direct sunlight? If so: what hours of the day? Can I shoot what I need to shoot while there is no direct sunlight?
  • Are there shades that can control the outside light?
  • If there is no window, do I have a few lamps I can “play” with?

What is the noise level in this room? Listen for, or ask about:

  • Air conditioning
  • Heater noise
  • Street noise
  • Hallway noise
  • Elevator “ding”
  • Thin walls to neighbors

How big is the room?

  • Do I get enough distance in length between the background and me, and between the camera and me, so I won’t cast a shadow on the wall and the camera won’t cast a shadow on me?
  • Do I have enough width to not see the side-walls in the shot?
  • Can I set myself and the camera up such that I’m close enough to camera for good sound?

Do I have enough time to do what I need to do?

  • 1 page of traditional script format (1 audio and 1 video column) equals 1 minute of video. Give yourself an hour per page, then add an hour for set up and 30 minutes backing up footage and breaking down the equipment.
  • Are there enough outlets and is there enough power for all the ‘stuff’ I’m plugging in? Do I need to bring extension cords?

Next week we’ll look at setting up camera, you (or your talent) and, some lights.