One of the best ways you can add production value and ensure your production runs smoothly is by completing a location scout. Whether shooting b-roll, interviews or a specific scene, a location scout allows key members of our team to plan ahead and tell the best story possible.
An Overview of a Location Scout
Plain and simple, a location scout is when we send a few of our key team members to the shoot location before the actual production begins. Typically, a location scout includes our Creative Director, Director of Photography and a client representative. Our team arrives on-site well in advance of the shoot so we can look into these key things:
- Look for places that offer color and depth
- Identify areas that support the story/script
- Locate sources that offer power for lights and gear
- Determine how busy the area will be during filming (foot traffic)
- Test audio conditions
- Identify opportunities for set design (what props, furniture, etc. will be available?)
- Determine how the crew will load in and out
- Finalize where equipment will be staged
- Confirm the protocol when arriving on the day of the shoot (who to check-in with, contact numbers, etc.)
What Happens During a Location Scout?
Primarily, our team walks around with the client and any location representatives. In most cases, the location rep. helps us navigate the facility and informs us of key considerations. During the scout, we have at least one team member bring a camera to take pictures of the location. We use these pictures to identify the potential locations for the actual shoot and establish initial framing/composition of our shots. The images are shared with our other team members before the shoot and are also shared with clients. In many cases, location photos help clients visualize how various shots will be captured. Ultimately, depending on the size of the space and how many locations we are viewing, this process can take several hours or even a full-day.
How Does a Location Scout Help a Video Production?
Scouting a location is a tremendous help to our creative team. As mentioned above, we share images from a location scout with team members. By viewing images of the location beforehand, our team has a chance to get familiar with the surroundings and understand what the production is trying to achieve. The location scout gives our team the ability to plan lighting and develop a schematic for how the cameras and other gear will be setup.
Basically, a location scout enables our team to maximize time during the actual shoot date. The last thing a client wants to do is pay for a large crew to walk around a facility. On the shoot date, we don’t waste time looking for the locations because we already have a plan. We understand the lighting requirements and our crew can get to work faster. Our time is spent perfecting the lighting and background versus roaming around a facility.
In addition to the “look and feel”, a location scout allows us to make sure we bring all the right equipment. And it allows us to leave some equipment back at the office. For example, not all locations can utilize a slider or jib and we don’t want to waste time with the equipment if it is not going to add value. There are a lot great tools out there that help tell stories but can’t be used in all situations. Seeing the location first ensures that we don’t miss out on any great shots we could get with the right gear.
In the end, a location scout benefits our client and helps us tell the best story. It doesn’t matter what we are filming, when shooting on location, a scout makes a huge difference in your final video. We are able to get the most out of any location and use the precious time on the shoot for perfecting the video.
In addition, a scout also helps our creative team. We can take the pictures and develop a more accurate storyboard. We also can prep our team members and ensure everyone is on the same page during the actual shoot day.
But, most importantly, many clients comment on the fun they have on a location scout. A scout is a great way to build rapport with the team and get an inside track into how the production unfolds. Location scouts are informal and provide an avenue to let creativity surface. We love hearing stories about locations and getting history lessons. Think of it as a field trip for adults!