Find the Perfect Shot: A Guide to Location Scouting for Video Production

15 March 2024
 location scouting

In video production, the set is as much a character as those acting in front of the camera. A dull or misfit location can detract from the narrative, while a stunning backdrop can elevate a story to new heights. This is a reason why location scouting is a critical aspect of the filmmaking process that cannot be overlooked.

What is Location Scouting?

Filmmaking is as much a visual art form as it's a story-telling medium. Locations set the scene and tone for the narrative. Location scouting is the process of finding and securing the right physical place to shoot scenes that will later be part of a film, TV show, commercial, music video, or other forms of visual media. It’s essentially the foundation upon which the aesthetic and often logistical success of a production is built.

Location Scouting in Video Production

Essence Meets Objective

Each location serves as a character in the video narrative. The backdrop could convey historical significance, reflect the protagonist’s emotional state, or simply provide a visually striking canvas that enhances the dialogue. The first step in location scouting is understanding the role each setting plays in your story. Are you seeking a decrepit alley to reflect a character's plight, or a vast, sun-kissed field to symbolize freedom? The essence of the location must align with your production's objectives.

Scoping Out Versatility

A location's capacity for versatility directly impacts the production's efficiency and creativity. A single location that can convincingly transform from a bustling city street in the 20th century into a serene, untouched wilderness drastically reduces the number of physical moves required during shooting. Similarly, spaces capable of serving as different interiors provide flexibility and a cohesive visual narrative that can be challenging to achieve across multiple venues.

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Things to Consider When Choosing a Location for Video Production

Aligning with the Narrative

Your location must be in harmony with the script and genre. Take into account the subtle and not-so-subtle cues that the setting will provide. Is the tone of the location matched to the story’s intended mood? A mismatch here can dilute the impact of the narrative.

The Technical Nitty-Gritty

Beyond looking great, a location should be practical for filming. Check for factors that can affect audio quality, such as ambient noise and echoes, and ensure there are facilities nearby to accommodate the crew's needs. Consider whether lighting conditions can be manipulated to suit the cinematography without extensive, potentially disruptive setups.

Legal & Safety Considerations

Always secure the necessary permits! Ignoring legal requirements can halt production and land you in hot water. Safety is paramount when dealing with a crew and especially with equipment. Assess any potential hazards a location might pose and have a plan to mitigate them.

How to Scout the Perfect Location for Video Production

The Initial Search

Begin with a broad search online, leveraging photography websites and social media platforms, which can provide a wealth of visual material. Understand that these initial sites are a starting point, and the real scouting work happens on foot.

Planning the Scout

Once you’ve identified potential locations, start planning your visit. Make a list of what you need to see and capture during the scout. Schedules, photos, videos, and detailed notes will be crucial to decision-making back at the production office.

The Scout Itself

On the day of your visit, observe the location intently. Look for visuals that may not appear in photos, such as anything that might interfere with shooting angles. Assess the natural light at the time of day you intend to shoot, and imagine how it might evolve.

Bringing It Home

After the scout, review all the visual and logistical information captured. This ensures nothing is overlooked when deciding on the final choice for your shoot.

The Human Element in Location Scouting

Forging Relationships

The search for the ideal location is a team effort. Building a strong network within the local community ensures you have access to a wide range of options. Location owners can become valuable allies, offering repeat access and insider knowledge.

Crew Input

Involve your crew in the scouting process; after all, they are the ones who will need to make the location work on the day. Different departments might spot logistical challenges or creative opportunities that others haven’t considered.

Final Selection

The bottom line: go with your gut, informed by all the scouting data. Remember, this is a creative decision as much as a logistical one. Ensure that the location not only works but also excites the team.

The process of location scouting is arduous, yet rewarding. Seeing the right location transform a script’s words into a visual marvel mirrors the magic of cinema itself. Careful scouting not only saves time and resources but can also breathe life into a production, making the final cut that much more captivating. Whether it’s the breathtaking beauty of a mountain range or the quiet charm of a forgotten back alley, the search for the perfect film locale is a quest for the sublime in the everyday.

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