How often do you scout a location before a shoot?? For films and commercials it’s almost mandatory but for lots of other situations producers see this a cost, nothing more. I always ask, and often insist, on a Locations scout because I know the value of it. Sometimes it’s not possible due to travel and budget but always try. Even if your going across the globe, travel in a day early and try to hit a few locations before the rest of the crew arrives. The Time saved on shooting day knowing all you noted on the scout is invaluable. Here are some of the things I look for while scouting, in no particular order.
Basically I look for light, power, angles.
* bring a camera along. Pictures will help you remember better and show others.
* bringing a DSLR will give you great metadata such as a focal length, exposure etc to help you in your planning. Most cameras today also have video recording so you can actually shoot a short sequence.
* a great app for your phone is Artemis. It’s basically a viewfinder which allows you to switch between different sensors and lenses to judge composition. Take snapshots and save metadata along with comments.
* a Lightmeter is always nice.
* an app like “360” which stitches together multiple pictures for a great overview of your location which won’t fit into a single picture.
* if you intend to use “house power” definitely Take a picture of the fuse box and other electrical hook ups.
* In an old factory or house for example bring a “power-pen” which lights up and makes a sound if there is actually power in an outlet.
*try to get close to ground floor. Carrying/loading equipment to the third floor takes time and trying to light through a window if far trickier that if you’re on the ground floor. 🙂
* sun scout or sun seeker are 2 apps showing where the sun will be at a particular time during the day. These apps have helped me soooo many times and are remarkably accurate.
* if your not snapping pictures everywhere make a small sketch of the layout including windows etc.
* iPad for notes or sending pictures from DSLR.
* Parking. How close, unloading zones close to the door, meters etc.
* Noise. Your sound person will be pleased to know you considered their job, and in turn saved countless dropped takes. Look for potential noise like the garbage truck the has its daily visit to the hotel across the street between noon and 2pm….
Small things that may seem silly will make a huge difference once you and the rest of the crew show up to shoot.
Ahhh one more thing: look at the actual location if it suits the story, natural lighting works and the angles for your shots will make you look good…. 😉
What things do you look for when your location scouting… ?