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Sound Stage or Location - What is Best For Your Next Project

Corporate Video Production

Will you choose to film at a Sound stage or on location?  What is best for your next project?

Business demands continuously evolve. This implies a creative application of resources to get the right engagement and ROI.

This applies to your use of video content for brand engagement, content generation, or whatever your needs may be. One of the major decisions to make regarding creating video content is determining whether a studio or location would be appropriate for the shoot. There are several points to consider, which we will delve into below.

Budget: Budget will often dictate whether we work with a studio and build what you need or work with a location and pay a minimal location fee or no fee at all if it is at a company location. Sometimes you need to work on location because certain screen elements cannot be replicated in a studio. Sometimes you need both, depending upon the complexities of the shoot but either option will require insurance.

Stunts and Special Effects: If your shoot requires stunts and special effects, coordinating this in a studio is easier when you compare it to being on location. Both require managing logistics, but a studio offers a more controlled environment. The interference of natural elements and potential safety issues are greatly reduced in a studio.  Also determine if any of what you want to accomplish can be done in post.  Which is more cost effective to your overall budget.

Space: Be definite about your needs. Studios offer more creative freedom and control, and with a location, you need to work around preexisting elements (indoor and/or outdoor elements like furniture, weather, crowds, safety etc.).  However, filming on location may be a better option if it provides the right backdrop for your project. Locations can provide certain qualities that cannot be easily replicated in a studio, while a sound stage can often give more flexibility for shots/lighting/sound.  Your project will dictate the type of space you need.

Gear: Whether in studio or on location, you need gear. The amount and type are determined by the project. A studio will often have gear on site, and it is often pre-lit, prepped and ready for use ahead of a shoot day.  When filming on location, you are not always afforded the same luxury. Often, you are unloading everything you need at the location on the day of the shoot. If the location is secure, you may be able to drop off gear and other essentials to prep the day before, but this is not always an option, as businesses have different structures and time constraints. Whether in studio or on location, you are working with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and that carries a very dynamic degree of risk regardless of where you shoot. Other factors to consider include the added expense of transportation, storage and insurance, etc.

Take a moment to imagine the logistics of shooting a night scene in the rain on the streets of New York City…. Exactly!

Lighting: Stages are often pre-lit and locations are not, so you’ll have to figure out what you need and provide it. In-depth location scouting is important to determine what you need. A studio will allow for the pre-lit space to be adjusted as needed.  Some projects require ‘natural’ light. While beautiful, the natural stuff is not often dependable, leaving you with a bit of uncertainty if you are limited on time. There are only so many hours in a day. Recreating natural light in the studio gives you full control but can be tricky to manipulate from scene to scene, as varying techniques are needed to create that special look.  So, plan accordingly. 

Audio: An audio mixer is needed regardless of which you use. The type of production, the space, and talent involved will determine the way you record audio and which equipment to use. Another factor to consider is your ability to control background noise. A studio allows for full control, where a location may or may not allow for that and you will need to work around outside noise.  Also, what type of audio is needed? If VO (Voice Over), then consider a private sound booth for best quality. Proper planning and scheduling are key in whatever your plan for audio is.

Talent:  When working with professional actors, it does not matter if they are working in a studio or at a company location because they go where they are needed. On the flip side, if you are working with ‘real’ people, e.g. using members of your own team or client base you’ll need to consider availability, preparation time, and company hours.  When working with children, or animals, there are rules and laws to consider on set.  The scope of the project and number of people involved will dictate what is best.

COVID Compliant Practices - on location or in studioAs I write this, we are more than halfway through 2020, the year COVID-19 brought the world and film production to a standstill.  While film and video production has started up again, on set safety protocols have changed and now require a new crew position; Covid Compliance Officer (C19CO) to oversee on set practices including social distancing, hand sanitizing, temperature checks, crew sizes, food prep and more.  We have created remote filming options as well for our clients that allow us to continue working and minimize large, in-person interactions when possible. Quality is never compromised, and extra steps have been taken to prepare accordingly. Whether COVID-19 is a factor or not, rest assured, we always follow safety protocols during filming to ensure a safe environment for talent and crew.

Any questions? Give us a call today to learn more or get a quote!

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