5 Things to Remember When You're Location Scouting

October 26, 2016
Tips and Techniques
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At ShareGrid, we care about filmmaker success beyond the rental process. That’s why we’re giving you tips for a successful shoot. Brent Barbano, one of the founders of ShareGrid, also happens to be an award-winning cinematographer. Today he’s sharing five things to remember when you’re location scouting.

Brent frames up a shot on location.

1. Natural Light

“Determine where the sun is at every hour of the day. What time of the year is it? How long are your days? Does the sun set at 6pm or 9pm? What’s the sun arc? What time will it be behind that building? These are all questions you need to ask yourself while scouting. You can get away with A LOT if you utilize natural light. Need a hand? Download Sun Seeker on your phone and always know where the sun will be wherever you go."

 

2. Practical Light

“This is just as important. Practical lighting refers to what exists within your space. Such as a desk lamp or overhead lights. Are you going to use the lights the location has (or the Art Department is providing) in your project? If so, what color temperature are they? What size? Can you dim them? Practical lights can really add a lot to your production value if used right for your story. Further, they save you money when your budget limits you to rent studio lights. I always prefer lighting my subject organically from a practical light that’s in-shot (if it looks good) versus emulating the look I want with a studio light off-camera.”

 

3. Sound

“What sound disruptions are you going to face? It’s so easy to look at location photos and forget that there might be a construction site or a dog park right next door. Make sure you scout for sound and prepare accordingly. If you can bring you sound mixer on the scout, even better. It's also important to scout at specific times of the day to observe traffic noise or planes flying overhead. If you're shooting exteriors in the morning because the lighting is ideal, scout at that time and make sure the sound is ideal too.”

 

4. Communicate with the Host

“Whoever is letting you film at their location probably knows a thing or two more than you do. Communicate with them. Ask them questions and schedule a visit ahead of time. This will not only better prepare you for the shoot, but it will also prevent any miscommunications that might sour your relationship with the host and put your shoot in jeopardy. Further, by building that relationship, so hosts tend to be lenient on certain things such as time, cleaning etc. Never take advantage of someone but if you go over schedule by 15 minutes, some hosts may let it slide if you have the right rapport.”

5. Take Your Own Pictures

“While you’re visiting the location, take your own pictures. You're the filmmaker, don't let somebody else's photos define your location and your overall vision. Find the frames you need, and see if they work for what you're trying to capture. After you've left the location, you will need references with your team to determine setups, coverage and overall compositions. It’s very easy to let your eyes trick you into thinking something is possible until you see it through the lens and realize it isn’t. Bring a camera. More importantly, bring a DSLR with a zoom lens so you can frame up certain shots at various focal lengths. It's better to emulate your game plan as much as possible while on the scout which will save yourself many headaches.”

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Brent L Zaffino

I am a filmmaker out of Atlanta, Georgia currently working as a freelance director and videographer for music videos, short films, and corporate videos.

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