Tips for finding the perfect location
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Trying to find the perfect place that fits the brief of you and your client’s needs can be difficult. You need first to know what you’re looking for before you can use a location scouting database such as Skoutli to find the perfect shooting site.
Here are some tips on what to look for in a location:
Aesthetic and Needs
Before searching within location databases, you need to have a precise idea of the appearance of the area you want and the atmosphere it should evoke. For instance, to appeal to a middle-class audience in advertising, you might desire a modern family home. Or you may be looking for something more specific, such as an English-style rose garden, or a dilapidated shed.
The atmosphere of a location can make or break a shoot, which is why pinpointing what you want is so important.
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Size and Accessibility
When picking a location, you want to keep into account the practical needs of the shoot. For instance, if it is a film shoot that has a ten-person crew, there needs to be room for those crew members in the location. Be aware of equipment space as well, keeping in mind the safety of everyone there.
You also want to keep in mind accessibility. If the location has stairs, it may be too challenging to shoot at in some circumstances or require additional set-up time. Again, remember the safety of those involved, including yourself, when thinking about getting equipment onto the location site.
The accessibility of the location is also necessary for the inclusion of people with specific mobility needs. If your shoot involves an elderly couple, then having the shoot at the top of a steep staircase may make it inaccessible. Similarly, for someone on crutches or in a wheelchair, or with other mobility restraints, accessibility is essential.
Accessibility is also a crucial part of doing an OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) risk assessment before the shoot. If a location does have an accessibility issue, then this needs to be given extra foresight to minimise the risk of injury.
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Like choosing the aesthetic, the location of a place helps set the atmosphere and can make or break a scene sometimes.
While you might be drawn to certain locations, you also want to select a location that everybody can get to, and keep in mind travel distances and accommodation if needed. You also want to be aware of the physical challenges an environment may present so these don't cause major problems during the shoot. If you have any concerns about a location, you should contact the host to ask questions.
The location of a place may also influence lighting and sound. If for instance a home is located in the middle of a city there may be sounds of traffic, trains or planes. On the other hand, if a location is regional or in a garden, the sounds of wildlife may be louder. Similarly, light pollution may be a preferable feature or an issue for different shoots.
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As well as the general lighting features of a location you want to keep in mind more specific details of lighting. For instance, natural lighting inside is preferable in many shoots as it offers soft light that is flattering on people and the environment, and requires a lot less set-up for a gaffer. However, in a climate like Australia’s, natural light can also pose its problems.
For instance, on sunny days in Australia, especially in summer, it may be necessary to bring equipment to defuse the harsh and unflattering sunlight. The solution may be as simple as a white sheet if it’s a low budget shoot, but this equipment still needs to be secured or held up.
The best time for shooting during the day is called the “golden hour”, which is the first and last hour of daylight every day. The “golden hour” is when the sunlight is muted and soft and ideal for lighting people as a result. Daylight hours change throughout the year, so it is crucial to keep that in mind when booking a spot in advance.
For locations inside where natural lighting is preferred, you may want to find out the vantage of the room or ask the host about the best time to film. A north-facing room is ideal for a lengthier day shoot as it will have natural light for a longer time. Also, make a note of the windows in the room and light fixtures.
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As mentioned above in Geography, different locations offer different bonuses and issues as far as sound quality goes. Important things to watch out for are potential sound issues, such as heavy traffic and flight paths. You also want to watch out for possible weather issues. Locations that are high up or near bodies of water may be more prone to wind and that can affect or ruin the quality of the audio.
Inside acoustics can also be important. For instance, you may or may not want there to be an echo, depending on the shoot.
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As mentioned in sound, weather is critical to plan for as much as possible. Filming in the rainy season comes at the risk of washing out a shoot. On the other hand, an outdoor shoot in the middle of a hot summer day poses health risks like heat-stroke and dehydration and lighting challenges.
Once you’ve taken all of these tips into consideration, you’re ready to start searching for the perfect shooting location. Keep in mind that these are just general tips to keep in mind. Your specific shoot may differ or be more specific. To find locations that suit your shoot, an online location database such Skoutli can help you find precisely the place you’re looking for in your next shoot!