9 Helpful Tips for Choosing Corporate Video Locations
Locations for Corporate Video
On corporate video shoots the location is often provided by the client. Which makes sense. For instance, it could be where the actual work that’s the subject of the film takes place or it could provide a central location to gather interviewees from different offices. It also saves on film location fees.
If you’re not ready to choose a filming location because you’re still writing the brief then we can help you with our video briefing guide.
What Makes a Good Location?
If you don’t work in the industry it can be difficult to know if a room is big
enough or how much noise is too much or what should be in the background. We’ve put together this guide to help you avoid some of the pitfalls and help the locati
on selection contribute to a great film and a smooth filming experience.
This photo below and the right hand side of the header image were very kindly provided by Director of Photography Matt Harris, who’s got plenty of experience in this area.
We’ve got plenty of experience in corporate video. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s to let the location work for you, not against you.
A good example of a great location is from this shoot we did for tech startup Sunswap at their new offices. There was plenty of room around the subject and a huge amount of depth.
1. Filming needs more space than you’d think
Filming equipment such as lights and tripods are easier to set up when there is more space. From a safety point of view this means people are less likely to trip over cables or pull things over by accident. But from a lighting perspective having more space to work with means the Director of Photography has more control over the lighting and ultimately this will make the film look better.
If the room is very small then the lights need to be very close to the subject. This means they’ll shine very harshly on the subject. There’s much more room to finesse the image if the lights can be further away.
Furthermore, the slightly intimidating effect that filming can have on some interviewees is accentuated when all of the equipment is basically on top of them.
Larger rooms make the video images look better and the video content appears better.
2. The Shot Will Look Better if there is Depth Behind the Interviewee
It doesn’t look great if you shove someone up against a wall. There
are a few reasons for this. Firstly, we normally like to put some lighting behind the subject of a film or video. This is called a backlight. Anybody in the camera department worth their salt will tell you that backlight makes people look cool. It separates subjects from their background and a bit of light through the hair has a visually pleasing effect.
But also… bokeh. That’s a Japanese word that photographers use to describe the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. This is why portrait photography looks so delicious. But it’s harder to achieve on digital video cameras so putting the background further away means it’s more out of focus and creates a better bokeh.
It’s better for the film too because our eyes and attention are naturally drawn to the in-focus parts of an image. The greater the difference between the sharp, in-focus subject and the soft bokeh of the background then the easier it is for the speaker to hold the audience’s attention.
But you can’t do any of this if there’s no room behind the interviewee. And pointing back to the first point, this is much harder in a small room.
3. Background Detail improves the image
If you have a plain white wall in the background of your corporate video shoot then it won’t matter how out of focus it is. It’s always good to have some detail in the background.
If you check out other companies’ corporate videos you’ll probably see a surprising preponderance of large office plants in the background. If you look really closely you might find the same plant popping up in different positions or locations. It’s almost always an effort on the part of the crew to combat a boring or plain background and the ubiquitous office cheese plant is the perfect combination of ‘complicated shape to break up the background’ and ‘easy to drag into position’.
4. Sound is 51% of Any Film
Modern microphones are really good. But even the sophisticated, directional microphones used by film crews for corporate video can’t isolate the voice from ambient noise. So we should consider the sounds in the environment in which we film.
We will always try and turn off the aircon where possible. But slamming doors, phones ringing, and loud conversations nearby will all be picked up. In a normal environment, our brains are very good at identifying sounds and discarding them if they’re unimportant. But when we’re watching the video back in post-production that sound of the lift doors closing will probably rule out the shot.
Also, worth noting again that some interviewees don’t respond well to the pressure of the corporate video production environment and will need extra help. Having a perfect answer spoiled because we’re trying to shoot next to the cafeteria only adds to their difficulties.
The best thing to do is go into whichever room you’re considering and just listen for a few minutes.
5. Poorly Chosen Locations Ensure the Film is Harder to Make
Some people take to being interviewed for a corporate video very well. But as we’ve mentioned a couple of times not everyone does. So all of the factors we’ve mentioned above can have a possible impact on the person being interviewed. If our interviewee is reluctant and feels pressure then external factors such as noise or having the lights and camera crowding in on you can exacerbate those feelings, making the process more stressful. We had a recent example where the video location turned out to have roofers working directly above us. One interviewee was Danish and being interviewed in English seemed to suffer the brunt of the noisy boots on the tin roof above. After he’d got halfway through an answer we could see him anticipating the answer being ruined and he’d falter. That meant more takes and each one slightly harder than the last.
There was no way the client could have predicted this but it does show how environmental factors can have a negative impact on video production.
6. Rely on Us
We’re here to help. If it’s feasible then a recce always helps. But not every budget allows for that so let us help.
Of course, you can theoretically fix absolutely everything in post-production. But the more complicated it is to fix, the more it costs. And some of the things you can fix require millions of pounds of visual effects to do, so let’s try and avoid it in the first place. If there’s something about the location that you’re wondering whether or not it will be a factor, just ask, and we’ll let you know.
7. Big Windows are a Blessing and a Curse
Big rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows can make a wonderful corporate v
ideo location. However, the light outside can change quickly and often and this will have a dramatic impact on the image.
It’s probably counterintuitive but if you’ve got lots of light coming in from outside then you need more light inside. This is because we need to balance the strength of the light outside so it doesn’t just put the interviewee into silhouette.
So you’ll need even more space for lights!
Proper crews bring quite a lot of stuff. We’ve shot on top of a mountain before and it was pretty hard to get all of the equipment up there. Time spent lugging kit up and down stairs is time not filming. As part of the pre-production process, we’ll ask if there is lift access and parking, but it would be good to consider it when you’re beginning to think about a location.
9. Health & Safety & Facilities Management
Most corporate videos don’t tend to involve anything too tricky. But this is often a blocker to getting in the building. Please ensure you start clearing the shoot with Facilities Management and Health and Safety in plenty of time. In our experience turning up unannounced has tended to be the hardest part of many shoots.
Finalising Locations for Corporate Video
That’s quite a lot to think about but choosing the right location for your corporate video is integral to success. In the past, we’ve had to change locations at the last minute and we can make anything work. But finding the right room in advance always makes life easier.