Photo Credit: Shark Pig Blog
Finding the right location can be really trying, especially when you have limited time and manpower resources. There’s no hard and fast rule on what makes a good or bad location to shoot in, and some creators may have a really specific aesthetic they want to go for in a particular scene that can only be found in a specific place, for instance. But here are some factors to look out for when choosing a location:
- Depth and Space: Shooting in a bigger location offers you more room for experimentation, both literally and figuratively, but when that’s not an option (like shooting in a bedroom), there are ways to create the impression of depth and space in a small place, such as:
- Working with different angles: Incorporate geometric shapes and leading lines into your background by experimenting with where you, the camera and the background are positioned against each other. The idea is to create a sense of shape and some contours to your surroundings. Unless you’re going for a Wes Anderson-type of shot, avoid a flat background as much as possible.
- Using the right lenses: Depending on the type of shot you’re going for, a prime lens and a wide angle lens can create a sense of depth and space in 2 different ways. When shooting a solo subject in a room, a prime lens can help isolate your subject from your background through adjusting the depth of field and focus, making the room seem bigger. When shooting a scene with multiple characters, a wide-angle lens captures everything in the room in its entirety, and while that may expose just how big or small the room really is, it also highlights the dynamics of the scene as well as the details in the background.
- Lighting: Indoor shoots are much easier to manage as you have more control over the external lights that you can bring in to create the look and feel that you want. Bright-coloured walls bounce off light to a certain degree, so you can actually use them as reflectors to your available light sources. Darker walls absorb light and hence are great for isolating your lighted subject from a darker background. As for outdoor shoots, you have to mostly rely on natural and ambient light, so plan your shots according to the amount of sun and harshness of shadow that you want to achieve. As per in photography, you could never go wrong shooting video in the golden hour of 5pm-6pm.
- Background: As a rule of thumb, you’d want your background to straddle that fine line between clean and simple, and visually stimulating enough. You wouldn’t want your background to be too fancy or cluttered as the rest of the surroundings would end up vying for your eye and take your attention away from the subject, nor would you want your background to be too plain and boring that it would end up making your shot look ‘dead’.
- Permits: This may prove to be the most gruelling part in the process, and a major reason why you might not be able to shoot where you want to, whether it be due to the venue being unavailable, your permit application didn’t get approved, or that it was simply too expensive. Just make sure to apply several weeks in advance to give yourself ample feedback time to find other locations in case your desired one doesn’t fall through.
Last but not least, manage your ambition and expectations. Always ask yourself, “will not shooting in this location affect the story or message I’m trying to tell in any way?” If it doesn’t add anything particularly significant to your video, or if the trouble to secure it far outweighs the reward you’ll get from it, then you might want to reconsider. You may not always get the locations that you want to shoot in, and as important as beauty is, practicality has to take precedence in a budget operation. As a matter of fact, it actually forces you to innovate and find the beauty in any setting that you can find, which is definitely a more challenging but overall more exciting prospect as a creator.