A Good Location Scout Will Make Your Life Easier

Insights • May 9, 2018

A good scout paves the way for a great shoot. You’ll look amazing when you can point out where an outlet is to your gaffer, when you can specify which lens you’re using to your director of photography (DP), or when you call the building maintenance staff to kill the air conditioning so your sound operator can get clean audio. The goal of a scout is to anticipate the future (as much as you can) and avoid any possible production mistakes. When you walk away from your scout, you’ll know where your shots are with lens options and a shot list schedule. Technically, you’ll be aware of what equipment you need, including lights, lenses, or any specialized gear. Above all, a good scout alerts you to any and all problems you can foresee and informs how you’ll get around them.

Here are some super easy steps you can take to ensure your scout is a successful one.

Take Photos

This will give you an exact reference point for your shots and will inform your crew what the location looks like if they’re not on the scout. Include these photos in your pre-production booklet so that when it’s time for your shoot, everyone’s on the same page. If your director is thinking of a specific camera move, you’ll need to provide them with the gear they need, as well as a reference image and enough space to pull it off.

Take Notes

Notes are going to work hand-in-hand with your photographs when documenting your scout. Make sure you look for the freight elevator, power outlets, and anything that might get in the way of gear carts. You’ll want load-ins and load-outs to be flawless which means parking information will be important.

Map Your Location Out

If you can get a floor layout from your client, make sure you have it on scout day. You can mark up where your setups will be, areas to avoid, etc. A floor layout will also impact your shooting schedule.

Shoot Sample Video

Let’s say your video calls for some super slo-mo. If there are overhead lights you can’t turn off or if you need to light your scene, you’ll have to check for strobing. If you shoot sample video at the desired frame rate or speed, then you’ll know if there’s a strobing issue. Simple.

Now go ahead and scout like a pro.

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