B2 Productions: Shooting Outdoors – Prep and Patience

June 2, 2016
Blue Buffalo Productions

We are lucky enough to live and work in one of the best climates in the world. Filming outdoors is accessible to us year round and I can honestly say in 15 years I have never had to cancel a shoot do to inclement weather. I love being outside and I love filming outdoors however; if you are considering Mother Nature as one of your locations, keep these things in mind.

  • Time. If you a shooting for an extended period of time, keep in mind your morning, noon and late afternoon shots may all look drastically different and will be difficult to mix or fix in post.
  • Light is very important to consider when you are filming outside. Early morning and later afternoon provide much nicer light and less fuss than the sun beating down on your subject or product at noon. You will want reflectors, a scrim and if your budget allows, a gaffer with a generator and some additional lighting (can you say HMI). At the very least, be prepared with an extra set of hands, a C-stand, and a bounce (card or reflector).
  • Sound. Let me tell you about the time a lovely newscaster agreed to be the spokesperson for one of our clients. When we showed up on location, city workers were cutting down and chipping a giant tree. They were nice enough to stop for a few hours and a few bucks, but when you shoot outdoors, you get planes, trains and automobiles (and sometimes tree guys), which may slow your production down a bit. If you plan to shoot up in the Los Angeles area and go legit with a permit and notice to block or shutdown traffic, be prepared that phantom gardeners will show up and produce unwanted noise until they get a few bucks to go away.
  • Talent. Teleprompters get tricky in the sunlight and can be difficult to see, especially without a hood. Off the cuff or very well rehearsed may be the way to go in the great outdoors.
  • Battery Power. You may have to hike out into the woods to get “just the right shot” so make sure you are fully charged with plenty of back up power.
  • Bystanders or the Public. Unless you live in Los Angeles then be prepared for folks to stop and ask you what you are doing. We usually have a Production Assistant or Producer’s Assistant ready for action to intercept anyone who wants to chat.
  • Bonus. I always travel with a few pieces of chalk in my camera bag. Why? So the talent can hit the mark every time. In a pinch, scour your surroundings for sticks, rocks or anything else that won’t blow away.

In the pic is our buddy, Brad. A great Camera Op and Steadicam Op (double threat). He was flying a Sony F3 for this particular outdoor shoot. We were filming for a new product demo. Even though the day was perfect, with our shot list and product challenges, we were all pretty spent by 5pm. Be ready for anything out there in the elements. Here is a snippet of that piece: