Choosing an appropriate location is an often overlooked yet significant aspect of any video production shoot. A video shoot location literally sets the scene for the production and can impact its style, tone, and overall message. Different locations can also allow for or inhibit various technical opportunities. Whether you’re looking to shoot a corporate video or a music video, considering what different locations have to offer is crucial.
Two Types of Video Production Locations
Two general types of locations for a video shoot are on-location and in-studio. On-location means shooting in a particular environment, usually related to your video topic but not necessarily. It could be a public space like a park, a private office, or a school. In-studio shooting means filming in a highly controlled environment, typically a sound stage that may include various lights, green screen, sets, props, and other equipment. You may think of it as filming in the subject’s natural habitat versus a more controlled laboratory. There may be video shoot locations to rent near you, so just do a Google search.
There are a number of considerations to keep in mind before deciding on a video shoot location. The following are a few of those items:
Type of Project – From Corporate Video to Creative
Depending on the type of project you’re trying to film, it might make sense to shoot in a studio, on-location, or a combination of both. If you’re shooting a formal corporate video without many bells and whistles, you may want to opt for a studio shoot. Whereas, if the project is more creative and dynamic, you may want to shoot on-location.
It’s important to keep the scope of the project in mind, which includes items like budget, as well as the desired length of the video. If you have a large budget that allows for multiple locations and it makes sense for what type of video you want, then an on-location shoot might make sense. If your budget is limited and you’re only interviewing one or two subjects, it may be more wise to film the video in a studio.
One question you should ask yourself is, “What would this location add to the video?” If a location is not adding anything to the video, then it might make sense to shoot in a studio instead. However, if a location contributes to the video’s style, tone, or overall message, then shooting on-location might be the right choice.
It’s also important to note that certain elements of what you’re shooting can be replicated in a studio setting. For instance, if you’re creating a corporate video for the purpose of staff training, some of the close-ups of a procedure or task may not need to be shot on the actual site. Rather, these demonstrations can be recreated in a studio setting under controlled conditions, perhaps in a close-up fashion that obscures the surrounding setting. There are various benefits of both studio video production and on-location. Below we discuss several of the advantages and drawbacks to each type.
Benefits of Video Production in a Studio
Much of the benefit of filming in a studio comes from the fact that it is a controlled environment. If you’re filming on-location, particularly in a public or crowded setting, you have to contend with competing sounds and distractions like an airplane flying overhead or people passing by. Even though on-location shooting may provide more dynamic visuals, sound can easily be compromised. Of course, we can certainly use different types of microphones and utilize other strategies to minimize extraneous noise, but shooting in a studio is ideal for capturing the best audio. And remember, audio is fifty-percent of every film!
Another benefit of studio shooting is that it is easier to utilize certain pieces of equipment. For instance, it’s a lot more manageable to set up two or three different cameras while filming an interview subject than to do so on-location, especially if that location is not conducive to stable footing or space for tripods and other equipment. There’s also the additional challenge of transporting all of the equipment to a setting that may be remote, lack outlets for power, etc.. Tailor Made Media’s new studio has all of this equipment in-house and ready to use.
An additional aspect of equipment that can be maximized in a studio setting is the use of lighting. Studios allow for multiple lights to be used in order to illuminate your subject and create a particular mood. Using natural light on- location certainly has its visual advantages, but it can be much more challenging and time-consuming to respond to natural light sources, especially as they change throughout the course of the day. An outdoor shoot may require moving equipment as the sun goes down in order to achieve proper lighting on a subject or whatever you’re shooting in that environment. This could mean spending more time moving equipment, re-checking apertures, and setting up. To a degree, this time and effort can be saved in a studio setting.
In addition to lighting and sound, there are other studio effects that can be utilized, such as the use of a green-screen. Although we have used green screens on location, it is always easier to use a green screen in a studio because it is often already in place and doesn’t require transport. A green screen can be used for various special effects added in post production. It can also be used to modify the background to best fit the needs of what you’re shooting.
An added benefit of studio shooting is that it’s a less distracting environment for everybody involved in the video production. A quiet film studio that only houses the video production crew and the subjects allows everyone to focus on the task at hand. During an on location shoot, there could be numerous distractions including noise, other people, and a variety of other disruptions. Lastly, you won’t need to worry about paying for a permit for a studio production like you would at some on-location shoots.
Benefits of Video Production On-Location
Shooting on-location also has a variety of benefits to a video production. First, an on-location shoot provides more visual options to capture. This can increase audience engagement by allowing for more variety on the screen. It can also help educate or inform an audience by clearly depicting the subject in its natural state. It’s one thing to hear an interview subject talk about something, it’s quite another to see it for yourself.
Shooting on-location can also provide a context for the topic itself and interview subjects. When Tailor Made Media shot its Drained series in the Black Mesa region, it made sense to be on-location for all of the shooting. We befriended the local Navajo people and interviewed them in their homes. Doing so allows the audience to get a glimpse of their lives, which further personalizes their stories and puts into perspective the effects of that area’s dreadful water contamination. Shooting these interview subjects in a studio setting would have kept the environmental aspect of their stories from being seen and thus minimized the emotional impact on the audience.
In addition to providing context to interview subjects, shooting on location allows for capturing b-roll footage. B-roll is footage that supplements the main story that’s being told in the video. During our Drained interviews, we often cut to various clips of b-roll footage. Some of these clips include the natural landscape, coal mines in action, children playing, or precious water being preserved in barrels. This b-roll footage can enhance your film’s message and is not attainable in a studio setting.
Shooting on-location also helps to create a certain vibe. There is only so much vibe-creation one can achieve in a studio. By shooting in the real environment, the audience is given a first-hand depiction of what that setting has to offer. When we shoot videos for the Shipley School, we make sure to capture the positive energy of the staff and students, elements of dynamic learning, and the beautiful campus. Much of these decisions always go back to your overall vision and the impact you would like to have on the audience, so always keep this in mind.
Tailor Made Media’s New Studio
Tailor Made Media has a new production studio that has already gotten a ton of use by our various clients. It’s 1000 square feet with twelve-foot ceilings adorned with a lighting grid that we can strategically manipulate. We use black, gray, and white backdrops, as well as a green-screen for all of your special-effects needs.
The studio space is also dead quiet and includes an isolation booth for any voiceover work. In addition to video, we have the ability to capture high-quality audio and mix it in our Pro-Tools Digital Audio Workstation. Another cool feature of our studio is that we can broadcast live on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
As a video production company, Tailor Made Media has extensive experience with both on-location and in-studio video production, so we wanted to share our insights. We have filmed in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and in the streams of Montana for Semper Fi. We are located in a quiet country area just outside of Philadelphia, so come visit! If you’re considering shooting some type of video but are not yet sure what type of location would work best, then considering these tips above may be helpful for you to keep in mind.
As you can see, there are numerous considerations to take into account before deciding to shoot on-location or in a studio. Both options provide certain benefits and drawbacks. A studio provides a controlled environment with no excess noise to contend with, fewer distractions, various studio effects such as lighting, green screen, and camera setups. Shooting on-location can provide more visual context for your subject, contribute to an overall vibe, and help educate audiences. Once you determine the specific vision for your project, you’ll want to settle on the best location for the shoot. At Tailor Made Media, we are always up for either. If you decide to work with us, we’ll have to decide on, among other things, our place or yours.