How to Location Scout for a Video Shoot

Learning how to location scout for a video shoot can be daunting. But we are going to give you some veteran tips to make your video shoot go smooth. For this article we are going to look at how to location scout for a video shoot that’s focused on interviews or testimonials from customers.

Why are we qualified to tell you how to location scout for a video shoot?

We’ve been shooting corporate video for over ten years and we’ve shot hundreds of corporate interviews. We’ve personally done hundreds of location scouts for video shoots. However, our clients don’t always have the budget to take us along on location scouts, so we get this question a lot. Here are a few key tips on how to location scout for a video shoot. Let’s talk about indoor location scouting first:

  • Indoor video shoots are typically more efficient
  • Look for a big space
  • Look for a quiet space (this is critical)
  • Don’t worry about lighting
  • Look for a space with visual appeal
  • Send pics to your production company
  • Lower the A/C in anticipation of turning it off while shooting

Indoor video shoots have several advantages, the first being that circumstances can almost always be more controlled than outdoors. That helicopter or grounds crew or gaggle of loud geese have interrupted our shoots more than once.  However, they’re no longer a factor indoors. If you need to maximize your limited time with a subject, it’s typically best to go indoors.

Learn how to location scout for a video shoot indoors

Look for the biggest room possible so you can get some separation between your interview and the background. This produces that nice soft background look that keeps viewers focused on the subject (who is talking about your product!).

Next, stop what you’re doing and listen. If there’s an air conditioner that kicks on every 12 seconds and sounds like a jet taking off it’s time to find a different space. This will ruin your audio and distract viewers, and there’s almost nothing you can do in post production to fix it. Same goes for people who might be walking by. Extra people will ruin good takes and it’s often hard to divert them.  It’s best to find a room without a lot of nearby foot traffic.

Don’t worry too much about lighting when you’re first learning how to location scout for a video shoot indoors. Your videographer should bring a lighting kit that can work wonders no matter the lighting conditions.

Next, take that big, quiet room list (usually a short list) and narrow it down by visual appeal. A big window can be great, but it can also mess with the camera’s exposure if the light is changing in the middle of a good take. An interesting background is always nice, and can typically be accentuated with a little lighting. Try to find anything but a blank wall. As a professional videographer, blank and boring background walls with no other options are what keep me up at night.

When you find a handful of options, it’s best to send pictures of them to your production company. Then you need to talk to your production company so they can point out potential pitfalls and plan for what level of lighting is going to be necessary.

The day of the shoot, make sure you crank down the air conditioning in the room ahead of time. This way you can potentially turn it off when you start shooting and it’s still a comfortable temperature for the video shoot. Air conditioner noise may sound faint when you’re in a room every day, but it will almost certainly be picked up by the microphone. If it’s picked up by the microphone it will end up in your final video.Outdoor Interview Location Scouting

The next thing to consider is shooting outdoors. This is a whole different animal so make sure you stay tuned if you plan to location scout for a video outdoors.

Learn how to location scout for an interview outdoors

      • Weather is a factor
      • Consider the lighting
      • Scout at the time you’re going to shoot
      • Find a quiet spot
      • Find a spot in the shade
      • Try to get some separation between the subject and background
      • Darker backgrounds are better than lighter ones
      • Send pics to your production company

We’ve heard it from so many clients.

“Outdoors! Who doesn’t want to be outside? We’re in offices all day, wouldn’t it be nice to shoot our video outside?”

Well, it could be, but there are some big things to consider. First of all, temperature. If it’s 4,000 degrees outside (which it often is when we’re on a video shoot in Florida), your subject is going to be way too uncomfortable to formulate sentences, and they will sweat like it’s their job.

Next consider the light at the time you’re going to shoot. It’s best to location scout for your video at the time you’re going to be shooting so you know where the light is going to be. If that’s not possible, consider using an app like SunSeeker to figure out where the light will be. You typically want to be in shade if possible. It’s going to be more comfortable for the subject because they won’t be squinting as much (videographers want the light at their back to get light on the subject’s face, which puts the sun in the subject’s eyes) and they won’t be as hot. Another important point for staying in the shade is that your great take won’t be ruined by a cloud. If the camera is exposed for sunlight and a cloud comes through, that bit of video is almost certainly not going to be usable.

Consider the noise level. Noise is almost always more of a factor outdoors, so try to limit it as much as possible. Foot traffic, auto traffic and even animal traffic can be seriously time consuming. Every take that gets ruined by external noise means you have to start over on that question. Put it this way, if I had a few bucks for every time I’ve had a take spoiled by outdoor noise on a video shoot I wouldn’t be writing this post right now because I’d be sitting on an island somewhere sipping a margarita.

When you’ve found your spot in the shade, try to find an interesting background that’s a little darker than the spot your subject is going to be sitting. If you can bounce a little light off a reflector and onto the subject’s face while the background stays nice and dark the subject will command the viewer’s attention like nothing else.  If you can also find a spot with a little separation between the subject and background you can get that soft focus look on the background and you might just win a daytime Emmy.

And don’t forget to send some quick pics to your production company after you location scout for your video shoot. They should then be able to give suggestions and narrow down what will work and what won’t.

Consider these points and you’re well on your way to a successful location scout for a video shoot, but remember there can always be bogies that come up so it’s important to have an experienced camera crew that knows how to punt when the time comes.

We’ve been location scouting for years and we would love to hear more about your project. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a quote or to talk about your project.