Why Shoot on Location?
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Today, we’re going to talk about the benefits of filming on location versus on a built-set in a studio or warehouse space. Both built-sets and locations come with their challenges and advantages that are worth exploring. This article will focus on the benefits of on-location shoots.
One of the issues of a built-set in the middle of a warehouse is the lack of natural lighting. Natural lighting at the right time of day is soft and flattering on people and the environment with minimal effort. Even on a sunny summer day, you can diffuse the harsh sunlight with some basic equipment or items that can be found around the house.
At night, you can utilise artificial lights if a place has them, which offers its own unique ambience to the scene, depending on the surroundings.
In contrast, on a built set, you’re having to emulate natural lighting, and don’t already have lights in the environment to use. While you have more control over the lighting in some ways, as you do not have to worry about factors like the time, there is more set-up and more extensive equipment needed.
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Another benefit is the natural sounds that accompany shooting on location. For instance, the hum of cicadas and insects at night. Or a creaking door. Or the sounds of footsteps on stairs and floorboards and on the carpet. The sounds of different rooms. For instance, bathrooms have a distinctive echo.
You can also choose a location that you know will be quiet instead. Not all productions (for instance, student productions) have easy access to a warehouse or studio in an ideal place for sound-recording. It can be very frustrating for everybody trying to film to a schedule when takes are continuously being ruined by planes overhead or a truck huffing outside the window. It also then makes it harder in editing because you often have to settle for the usable shots, rather than the best takes.
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One of the main issues with a built set is it has to be assembled and appropriately decorated to not look like a set. It’s a lot more time-consuming and possibly expensive than just hiring a location knowing what you’re getting and having it all outfitted for you.
Filming on a set just isn’t practical either in many circumstances. If you only need a place for one scene, and you can easily hire a location that fits the bill, then why waste time and manpower building a set?
Shooting in a studio or warehouse isn’t practical for most outdoor shots. Most outside areas just can’t be recreated in a studio without a lot of money and equipment. For instance, a balcony overlooking the bush. Or a sophisticated, open-plan studio apartment.
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Filming on location allows you to use the environment around, such as sweeping views of bushland or the city. Or shots of a full-house. It gives a scale and beauty to the scene that just isn’t possible on most sets without a considerable budget. You also don’t have the restraint of having to mask where the set ends or restrain the movement of performers.
The variety of locations out there means you never have to settle for second best or an area that isn’t quite right. And it means you can find a beautiful spot to shoot in with minimal costs.
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As mentioned above, set-decoration takes a lot of effort and can quickly become expensive or impractical. A loungeroom might be doable. But a bathroom or a kitchen, where you need certain equipment is a lot harder.
Having a location which already fits the aesthetic needs of the shoot, and looks lived-in, means the art department can focus on important details.
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You can choose the size of the location you shoot at, and there aren’t the restraints on the size you might have in a studio or warehouse. It offers a lot more freedom and choice.
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas about the benefits of shooting on location and why a location scouting database like Skoutli could help bring your next project to life. There are many circumstances where location shooting is the best choice out of necessity or practicality. Shooting on location also offers you the benefits of natural lighting, sounds and minimises the costs and labour of set-building and decorating.