When it comes to the world of outdoor video production there are plenty of things to consider before you dive into the shoot.
Many of these considerations are the same no matter what sort of video content you are producing and where it is being shot. However, the addition of an array of uncontrollable variables that filming outdoors throws your way, means that some considerations are doubly important to bear in mind.
The Importance Of Planning An Outdoor Video Production (Pre-Production)
In the world of video production and filmmaking, we like to refer to the concept of pre-production. Pre-production can be defined as;
The important word here is “planning”.
The term “pre-production” may sound overwhelming if you’re new to the industry, but what we’re essentially doing in the pre-production phase is planning everything that is needed to produce the video or for the “production” phase.
Planning any video shoot in detail is always highly recommended. It’s like anything in life, the more consideration you put in beforehand the more likely you are to reach the desired outcome that you have in mind.
Yes, the world of video production can be fickle and push you to improvise and change things on the spot. Crikey, some of the best moments and developments that have taken place in the history of the industry have been improvised. Don’t let this notion restrict your desire to be agile and spontaneous.
The reason why planning is important is exactly for this reason.
The more you plan and prepare for your shoot the less open you are to encountering unexpected and unwanted obstacles along the way, therefore giving you more space to be creative and play around with ideas on the day.
Thinking about how much time you have for each shot beforehand as well as building contingencies around these plans being curtailed will go a long well to help you be as productive as possible.
When entering an outdoor video production, you have got a lot more uncontrollable variables to deal with than say filming in a studio. Because of this, being prepared for events that are out of your hands will make you more resilient and able to weather the storm (sometimes quite literally) of what an outdoor filming set might throw your way.
Here are some of the variables that might come your way during an outdoor video production project and what you should take into consideration to ensure your shoot runs smoothly.
Creating A Shot List
The first consideration is a shot list. A shot list is exactly as it sounds, a list of each shot you need to capture during filming and how it is going to be filmed.
Again this can feel like unnecessary admin curtailing your inner creative drive. I absolutely felt this way when first starting out.
However, as I mentioned before, something as formal as a shot list will actually help in allowing you to be creative.
Time is of the essence when shooting outside, you don’t want to waste it by filming unnecessary shots or wasting time considering what you need to film whilst on location. These are all variables you can consider before filming, giving you more time and freedom when you actually come to film.
Going into a shoot with no idea of the shots you are going to get is a dangerous game. It’s much better to have the safety of the shot list behind you.
This way you are guaranteed to get what you need plus the safety net of the necessary shots allows you more freedom to experiment with ideas that may come to you in the moment.
When (figuratively) shooting in the dark, every decision you make is a gamble. Make the wrong gamble, and you could miss out on a key shot that will ruin the whole throughline of your video.
Knowing you have that safety net behind you enables you to take those risks in the comfort that you haven’t missed out on the shots you absolutely need.
On top of that, the changing environment of weather and light that filming outside serves up means that time is of the essence. The more time you can shift to pre-production means the more time you have to work with before those external variables shift against you.
You wouldn’t want to miss out on that killer shot you’ve visualised for months just because you couldn’t squeeze it in before the rain came. That brings us to the next consideration, the weather.
The Role Of Weather In Outdoor Video Production
Think of it like planning a trip to the seaside in the UK. Anything can happen. You, of course, have your swimming costume packed for the optimistic dip in the cooling sea, but you also have your waterproof travel mac crammed in the bag for those all too frequent downpours as you’re about to get your sun lounger out.
Filming outdoors opens you up to all of these shifts in weather conditions. Just in this situation, you have a lot of expensive electrical equipment and you’re trying to establish a setting that might look nothing like the environment that currently stands before you.
Again this comes down to planning and being adaptable. When preparing for your outdoor video shoot;
- Prepare for the worst
- Protect your equipment
- Have an open mind and be prepared to change your plans
I know it may sound like I have just lifted these from the Scout’s handbook, but that is pretty much the mindset that needs to be adopted when filming outdoors.
As much as there are a lot of little things that can be prepared to ensure the weather doesn’t ruin your shoot, it’s the overall mindset that will see you through.
You have to be prepared for things to go wrong and for plans to change. This is true of every video production but it is even more true of outdoor video productions. This is the practical element of your shoot and not everything will go your way. But if you plan and be prepared to be agile, more things will go your way than won’t go your way.
Lighting An Outdoor Video Shoot
Alongside weather in general, lighting is also a key consideration going into production. Lighting is one of the most creative parts of the filming process and has the power to turn ordinary shots into something spectacular. But when working in a situation where the lighting can’t be consistently controlled, extra consideration has to be taken.
Three main things to bear in mind when considering your lighting set-up that will help on an outdoor shoot are;
- Knowing which lighting you want to use
- Being aware of the changing natural light
- Identifying what look you want to achieve with the lighting
Again, these seem like obvious video production considerations, however, in a setting where lighting won’t be consistent, these considerations are key to getting to the end goal.
You may need to adapt the lighting you use to something more versatile or more appropriate for lugging to remote locations. It may also be that you need to adapt the scene to work with natural light changes or cloud cover in the moment of a scene.
The main point to consider here is the look you want to achieve. If the conditions aren’t in your favour you may need to find other ways to achieve the visuals you have planned.
But as long as you have been versatile with your lighting choices and are aware of the variations that the natural light could offer, you’ll be in a strong position to achieve the look you are after, even if it does take a bit of on-the-spot imagination.
Appropriate Equipment For An Outdoor Video Production
It’s not just lighting that needs considering, other equipment choices are key. Often filmmakers find themselves in a position where they rock up to an outdoor location with all the equipment they would usually use but immediately hit stumbling blocks such as;
- Lack of power sources
- Difficulty in transporting the equipment
- Lack of resistance to weather
These are just a few pitfalls that a filmmaker can come a cropper to if the equipment isn’t right for the job.
This is by no means saying you need to go out and buy new cameras, stands, lights and accessories every time you shoot in a different location, but just be aware of what the restrictions of your set are and how best you can use your equipment to get around this.
If you don’t have access to a vast amount or even any lighting options that can be battery-powered, plan all your shots to work with natural light.
If for instance, your A cam is bulky and would be highly impractical to take to your location, consider the limitations of your B cam and shoot the scene with its strengths and weaknesses in mind.
This isn’t about having a rental house worth of equipment so you can pull out the perfect piece of equipment every time conditions get a bit tricky. It is about the same principles that apply to everything during an outdoor video shoot, work smartly and you’ll get the best out of the situation.
Bringing In Extra Professional Support
If these tips have been helpful, but you still feel you want to raise the production level of your outdoor video shoot even higher, bringing in some professional support could be the way to go.
Extra freelancers who specialise in lighting, camera operating or set design can really lift the production level of your outdoor set. Likewise, a production company with experience in this area will have the know-how to pull all of this together.
At Glacé Media we are constantly working on outdoor video productions and know just what it takes to get the most out of them. If you’d like our support on your next project, we’re just a virtual conversation away.
Get in touch now as we’re always happy to chat about all things video and start putting some plans together.