Location Scouting with Launch Media Producer Chris

June 11, 2020

The number of production days is one of the most important factors in a video project and one of the biggest influencers on your budget.

That’s because a lot goes into a production day. Each production day involves the time and energy of a lot of talented and hardworking folks. You need a director, a producer, camera operators and at least 8 (but often 10-12) hours of their time per day.

Ultimately, our job is to work within your budget to give you a great piece of content that will matter to your audience and give value to your message.

Location scouts are part of what we do to ensure that we’re prepared for those precious production days so you get the most bang for your buck. So, we sat down with our producer Chris to get a better feel for what a location scout is and how it might factor into your projects.

What is a location scout? 

A location scout is a survey of an area. You go out, and you look at potential locations and get a feel for what fits. 

You’re looking for where the sun hits and things like that, but you’re looking at aesthetics to figure out if this fits the concept. It’s really more about a feeling that you get from a place.

For NCCER’s Build Your Future project, we had a lot of back and forth about the location for the basketball court. We had one in mind, but logistically we just couldn’t make it work. We wanted to shoot at a court that was somewhat dilapidated, but that had a live construction site right next to it. That’s not the easiest to find organically. So, we actually borrowed someone’s basketball goal and brought it to a location near a job site. 

What is the goal of location scouting? 

The goal of a location scout is to find a place that can most accurately represent the director or the creative’s vision for the area. 

So, what do I mean by that? Let’s say you’ve got a hospital setting, like we recently did with BYF. We had a scene where the father and daughter walked down a hall together, so we needed to think about hospitals where that was logistically possible and also where it would be aesthetically pleasing. And, Woman’s Hospital was perfect for that location. 

But, sometimes you’ve just got to make it work. So, you’re trying to pick and choose the best pieces of those locations and highlight them to the director’s vision.

To be successful, you’ve got to always be open to a new location. When you’re on a schedule and a budget, you can’t afford to be narrow-minded and refuse to be open to different ideas. 

What do you need to keep in mind on a location scout?  

  1. The position of the sun and time of day are both really important factors, especially if you’re doing a place with a lot of windows and a lot of open facets to the building. If you’re shooting at that location all day, the lighting inside will change a lot and you can’t always control that. But, if you’re prepared for those lighting changes, then you can adjust production accordingly. 
  2. Reflective surfaces is a big one. You don’t want your editor to have to spend extra time editing out the crew in a mirror behind your talent.
  3. Logistics of the space… that’s really important. You want to note where the trafficked areas are and figure out if and how you can safely block them off for the crew. Like in a hospital, you can’t shut anything down, so you have to improvise as production occurs. 
  4. Aesthetics. This one sounds rudimentary, but it’s vital. You want a place that is an over-exaggerated version of what the concept is trying to convey because it’s way more visually interesting for your audience.
  5. Functionality of the space. It’s simple. You need to have enough room at your location for your crew to do their thing.

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