Location, location, location – how to choose where to film your company video
It’s day one of your corporate video shoot. The CEO knows her lines. The crew has tried and tested all their equipment. The caterers have fresh croissants and coffee. Everyone is ready to roll. Except no one can find the location. One camera assistant gets lucky and stumbles upon it, only to discover there are no plug-points and it’s full of old office furniture. Phone calls are made, fingers are pointed, time passes and the light changes. The entire production schedule loses a day and you spend the night combing budgets to cover the overtime.
Choosing where to film your video is as important as writing the script. Neither is easy and honestly, both are better left to the experts. While the executive boardroom may look good to the naked eye, its fluorescent strip-lighting overhead, or its proximity to the construction site over the road, make it an immediate no-no for the camera.
At TopLine Film, our very experienced corporate video production team has navigated some tricky shoots and follows one very important rule: wherever possible, recce the location beforehand. It’s not always doable and can ruffle some feathers, especially if the chosen location is the CEO’s office, but it does pay-off in the long-run, saving our clients from dull-looking videos that may not present them in the best light, literally.
If you’re looking to make a company video that sticks to the schedule and budget, delivers on the brief, and doesn’t cause unnecessary stress, consider where to film it carefully. We’ve put some handy pointers together to help you.
Seeing the light
It’s your company video which means shooting it at your offices is the preferred location. However, bear in mind that most offices, even the über trendy ones, suffer from the sin of fluorescent lighting and cheap energy saving bulbs. The light they cast may look white but it’s actually tinged with green or pink – which the camera can pick up. Crews can spend hours fighting with light rather than controlling it, especially in offices where one switch controls a whole floor. When choosing where to film, opt for a space in which the light is dimmable and isolated. Faces that look bilious or sunburnt can be fixed to some degree in the edit, but avoid adding that to the post-production and choose a location with the right light from the start.
Climbing the walls
If you want to drive your production agency dilly, give them a room with four white walls to shoot in. Plain white walls are, quite simply, plain. And reminiscent of a lunatic asylum which we doubt is the look you’re going for. Unless your CEO looks like Halle Berry, a boring backdrop will lose audience interest and there is not much a camera or edit crew can do to liven it up. Our video team has seen this mistake time and time again, and has spent precious minutes running around trying to find an office plant to artfully throw in shot. If you’re not sure where to film, choose a couple of rooms that are aesthetically appealing and let the crew in to check them out beforehand and make the final call. Ultimately you want to create a video that holds your audience’s attention for its full duration so don’t let the décor let you down.
Go big or go home
Bigger rooms are better. Unless they are filled with big, heavy, expensive, shiny, immovable boardroom tables. Production crews work faster when they have space to play with angles and lighting, and space to store all their gear with them.
If your company is on the 22nd floor of a central London skyscraper, security and parking issues can cause irritating delays. Whatever the size or location, always clear the production crew with security beforehand, be there to meet the crew and show them where to go, and provide them with all-day parking permits as close to the chosen shoot location as possible. We’ve experienced lengthy back entrance security sign in processes for our gear and crew that were completely unexpected and unplanned for – should this be protocol, inform the crew so that they can arrive even earlier and no time is wasted.
Drop a pin
Whether in the city, out in the country, or somewhere in between, your production crew needs to know where to go. Use Google Maps Drop Pins to share your location. Nothing wastes more time than getting lost.
Don’t just look at where to film. Listen too. The perfect location is immediately undone by uncontrollable noise levels. We’ve often arrived on set only for our sensitive audio equipment to be drowned out by construction either next door or in the building. Air conditioning can be a problem too, causing lots of background noise that is impossible to separate in post-production. Also, it’s worth remembering that air conditioning is like office lighting; often controlled by one switch per floor.
Mirror mirror on the wall
Too many windows or well buffed surfaces can cause numerous hassles for crew, often reflecting them into shot during filming. A good crew will check this in their recce and come to shoot with the right equipment called ‘flags’ to block the reflections.
Come rain or come shine
The weather can cause havoc whether shooting indoors or out. A sunny day is great – until a cloud passes over and changes the exposure. This makes continuity a challenge, especially if the video is being edited. Time of day is a factor too as the location’s natural light will be impacted by the direction in which it faces: a 5pm shoot when the sun is lower in the sky may result in unwanted lens flare or overexposure. By visiting the location before the shoot, and at the same proposed shoot time, the production crew can assess any issues and plan accordingly.
Going the distance
How far away is the location? Remember that the crew needs time to set up before the shoot, and time after the shoot to wrap up. If the location is too far from base and it’s a two-day shoot (or longer), then overnight accommodation will have to be budgeted for in the production costs.