08 Jun 2018
Things You Should Remember When You Plan a Recce/Location Scouting
Selecting the perfect location is the first profound step on the path to a successful shoot.
Every Filmmaker has had that disastrous shoot, where the memory card filled up or the battery died at exactly the wrong moment, and we vowed never to let it happen again. But there's one kind of readiness you might not have thought of, and of course, it's as essential as keeping spare SD cards and batteries. Yes, scouting locations are as important as keeping the batteries and SD cards in spare, a vital and much important pre-production step that will help you meet almost any challenge when you plan to work on a shoot for your project.
So, we are here with several tips that will help you make things better for your next film project
Make sure that there's sufficient space for you to set up all of your gears so that you're able to get the shots you have in mind. When you are scouting for a potential location, always look for enough space for the lights and the camera and the small group of people who will sit behind the monitor. If you’re carrying a camera such as the Arri Alexa, then you might also need to make allowances for the size of the camera track you will need.
While scouting the location, keep your ears open and listen to the surroundings carefully. Clean and high-quality sound is critical in making a video that rises above the ordinary and sometimes there may be a requirement of noisy location. Hence, hear all possible sounds coming from the surrounding.
The noise of moving water and the echoes of voices and movements are all soothing, but they can all get in the way of high-quality audio. When you scout a location, check for any of these conditions by listening to your camcorder's microphone pickup through headphones.
Locations like restaurants, bars, offices, or any packed indoor spaces feature a very low amount of available light. You may test the location using your camcorder to get an instance and visibility of the location on-screen so that you can arrange the necessary light and equipment which are needed according to the conditions. Eventually, outdoor location with adequate sunlight can also be a challenge, hence we recommend you to study the sunlight and the movement of the sun to get more idea about the outdoor lights.
Mostly when you plan for an outdoor location, you face the problem of power supply. In such locations, carrying multiple batteries can help, but you still need to find the sources at nearby locations so that you can convey and get help.
Lights, cameras, sound equipment and there are a lot more such essential things which are totally dependent on electricity. Most filmmakers carry their own power resources like generators to avoid dependencies and unnecessary troubles and complications.
Permissions are one of the most important factors you should keep in mind while scouting the locations. If you are out for scouting public properties like temples, forests, roadside, or any government offices, take care of the permissions to be taken from the specific authorities, which then, won’t create problems while shooting. It's better to get permission in advance than to have a shoot interrupted by the authorities.
The toilet is the most important part while shooting a film, hence you must keep in mind while recce to see that there are working toilets nearby. If your location doesn’t have toilets then you absolutely can’t film over there. You might need to hire a portable toilet. However, if you only have a small crew you might consider shifting your production office to a nearby working center like restaurants or coffee shops which may allow you to use their facilities. But, if you have a crew larger than five people we wouldn’t recommend this approach.
When to scout the location?
Always remember the location changes with time. A location which you may feel is suitable for your project this morning, can appear totally different in the evening. The climate and the weather can also affect the appearance of the location. These factors can produce surprisingly large changes in the suitability of a location.
Hence, while you are out for scouting a location, spare an entire day at the location to get a feel of all the changes through-out the day.
Examine the climate
The weather can create a strong impact. Sun, rain, snow, wind, sunlight, moonlight all these elements can either help or can make your work hard. It also depends on what you want to capture and how you want to capture. For example, shooting in rain can generate problems for electronic devices like video cameras and sound equipment. Cold weather can drain your batteries. And there are many such conditions which can either hurt you or can make you feel good. Hence plan and keep the required equipment according to the weather which can help you out if anything goes wrong at the location
Note down everything:
After you visit such a location intentionally or if you are in the middle of vacation, try to note down all possibilities and your views, including dos’ and don’ts. If possible try to create a scouting report and include all the above-discussed points with date and time. Try to get some stills and small video clips to examine it later.
All the best for your next shoot and start recce here!