Outdoor Location Scouting for Video Production

When developing your video production creative brief, one of the most important elements to decide on is the location for your video shoot. The location helps to set the tone for your video, communicate your message to your targeted audience, and give an insightful look into your company and brand. Since location is so important (it’s the three L’s, after all), it’s critical to the overall video production process that the correct location is chosen. If the wrong location is selected, it can create a confusing and disjointed message to your audience and misrepresent your business.

There are many different kinds of location scouting, all of which have their unique tips and tricks, but we’re diving in deeper to go over the ins and outs of outdoor location scouting for professional video production. Finding the right outdoor location can save you time and money. For example, if you decided to build a set or transform a studio into what you need, the cost to build it from scratch could be prohibitively high. We’ll go over these various aspects to consider when performing your own outdoor location scouting. 

Although you can technically undertake outdoor location scouting on your own, there are many critical elements  to be taken into consideration, and we advise against it. Getting this step right often necessitates the expertise of a professional location scout, and if you value your end product, we strongly recommend going the professional route.

city streets outdoor location scouting video production

Considerations for Outdoor Location Scouting

Once you’ve got a few locations picked out and ready to view in person, keep in mind there is more to consider than what simply meets the eye. While the aesthetics of the outdoor location are one of the most important aspects to get right, as it’s what will impact your target audience the most, below we go over other considerations that will help you choose the best and easiest location to shoot your professional video in.

Noise

While taking in the area of your possible outdoor location, also note what is around the area. In big cities, there is typically a lot of car, pedestrian, and sometimes airplane noise. While not a complete deal breaker, this can be hard to edit out of the final product as sound is one of the hardest aspects to correct. Choosing a location that has little to no extreme background noise will help the day of the shoot and post-production aspects of your video production go smoothly, helping to save a little bit of money in these areas by getting it right in the original recording.

Natural Lighting

If you’re planning on shooting your video at 8 in the morning, be sure to scout your location around this time to get a good idea of what the lighting will look like. If you scout it at a different time, you could run into unplanned shading and color casting.  Scouting your location at a time different than when you’re planning on shooting won’t give you a good idea of how it will look for the final product.  Scout your location during a few different times of day if you’re not sure what time your shoot will begin. This will help determine what time is the most ideal for where you will have your crew and actors set up.

outdoor location scouting natural lighting video production

The timing and lighting of your outdoor location is especially important when it comes to how your subject’s face and shading will look. If they have too much direct light on them, they’ll probably end up squinting and have some pretty harsh shadows on their face⁠—probably not the final look you’re going for. While this can be corrected with a few pieces of gear during the shoot, starting your day earlier in the morning or late afternoon will also help avoid this.

Film Friendliness

This refers to how easy it is to work with the the city government to get proper permitting to ensure your shoot is legal and by the book. Some cities are very film-friendly and make the permitting process easy—others aren’t and can make this process pretty painful. These entities operate quite differently in terms of their availability, permit requirements, lead times, and cost. Depending on the timeline for your shoot, some location’s permitting process could take too long to match up with your desired shoot day. Keeping in mind your overall timeline and budget for your video production schedule will help you determine if some cities and parks will just take too long to make them work for your project.

Logistics

Some videos require the use of multiple locations to communicate their message accurately. If you’re planning on having more than one location utilized for your video, keep in mind the logistics and time you’ll need to travel between the two or more points. We’ve seen many logistical nightmares of companies booking their actors and crew across multiple days of travel, only to have it turn out they booked them too closely together. The lack of planning (or thorough planning, that is) lead to an increase in their video’s overall cost due to overages in lodging and meals for their crew they didn’t originally take into account. Without proper outdoor location scouting beforehand, it can be difficult to tell if the chosen locations will be too hard to make work within your given time frame and budget.

outdoor location scouting logistics video production

Depending on what kind outdoor location you choose and what your crew composition looks like, it might be difficult to find access to an outlet to charge up your phone, laptop, or camera equipment if you aren’t properly prepared beforehand. All equipment should be charged and ready to go with additional batteries, regardless of location, but this is especially important with outdoor locations since the possible remoteness can make any dead batteries a production nightmare. Hiring a professional video production company will also ensure you’re not put in this unfortunate situation.

Types of Outdoor Locations

Outdoor locations have the biggest variety in where your video will actually be shot and the kind of mood and message it will create. As opposed to a residential location that you’ll generally know what to expect with it, outdoor locations are very diverse in not only what kind of outdoor location, but also the look and feel of it. This is great for professional video production since it gives the creative development stage a lot of leeway with what the location will end up being, hopefully ensuring it aligns with the message and company’s brand as well.

Public Spaces

Choosing a public space for a professional video shoot is one of the most common options due to the variety. If your desired outdoor location is something along the lines of downtown streets, skate parks, or other urban areas, you’ll need to check with the city to see what kinds of permissions you’ll need to legally shoot in the area. This goes back to the film-friendliness aspect of different government entities, so make sure the permitting process isn’t prohibitively long.

outdoor location scouting professional video production park

State and National Parks

As beautiful and ideal a state or national park might be for your video, chances are that it’s off-limits for your commercial video use. Unfortunately, countless thousands of acres of protected wilderness tend to be completely off-limits for commercial video purposes, and some parks even ban the use of drone footage for recreational purposes. While this isn’t the case with 100% of these outdoor locations, chances are you’ll have great difficulty, if it’s not entirely off limits already. An experienced local location scout is particularly recommended for these types of shoots, as they will know immediately what is and is off limits your professional video.

Professional Video Scouting for Outdoor Locations

As you can see, outdoor location scouting requires a ton of knowledge, effort, and preparation to get just right. If any one area of your outdoor location scouting is not up to par, it can have a huge negative affect on your overall video shoot and cause issues in post-production. It’s imperative that you get your location selection perfect, and hiring a professional video production company is our recommended way to do it.

At MarzMotion, we have extensive knowledge and years of professional experience in many different kinds of video production. We can help you craft your professional video from inception through production to the final product, which can involve outdoor location scouting too. Contact MarzMotion today to get your professional video project started today.

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