Preparing for Outdoor Productions

Syndicated from source by Video Production Shop.

While filming indoors may be necessary for certain projects, filming outdoors offers a change in scenery and some options that may not be possible within the confines of 4 walls. And in the age of COVID, the desire to keep distant while working makes outdoor shoots that much more attractive. If you are considering filming outdoors for your next project, here are a few items, technical and logistical, to keep in mind to set your shoot up for success. 



Not every outdoor shoot will require capturing audio, but if yours does, there are additional precautions to be aware of. There will be uncontrollable noise outdoors, from traffic to airplanes, and wind to birds/insects, but these additional noises don’t necessarily need to be a bad thing. Natural outdoor sounds can give the recording a sense of place, but it does need to be managed. Wind noise can tank an interview unless it is managed. Windscreens on microphones can help cut down noise and is a must on outdoor interviews. There are a variety of windscreens and your shooting conditions and budget may affect which one is best for your shoot.


Different types of lighting will affect the “look” of your video. An overcast day can provide a diffused overall look, eliminating harsh shadows caused by the sun. Don’t get it wrong, sunny days can allow for beautiful footage too, but the light needs to be managed. Pieces of gear such as flags, reflectors, and diffusion can be extremely helpful in controlling an uncontrollable light source (the sun). Often large artificial lighting will also be needed to complete an outdoor lighting setup.

The time of day will affect your lighting as well, and knowing when sunrise and sunset happen can be important to your shoot. “Magic Hour” is the time of day just after sunrise or immediately prior to sunset. During this tiny window, there is still light in the sky, but the sun is too low for its rays to strike the subject directly. Therefore, all of the light produced is indirect and soft. Additionally, the light at this time of day is warmer, as the Earth’s atmosphere is filtering out much of the blue and green wavelengths. This additional warmth is something that many find aesthetically pleasing.


Pack Light: Things are almost always on the move and more spread out than a contained indoor shoot.

ND It Up!: It’s a bright day, but the client still wants their shallow depth of field at a f/2.8! Block out that sun to keep images looking pretty and not overexposed with Neutral Density filters.

Flags, silks, and diffusion become pirate sails in even the slightest wind, so extra sandbags and crew are necessary to keep everyone safe.




Even in the summer, Chicago can have unpredictable weather. It is possible for it to be mild and sunny, and then cold and raining, all within the course of a few hours. Therefore, it is wise to have a backup location in mind. For instance, let’s say that we intend to shoot a series of interviews on a golf course. If the clouds are rolling in, and suddenly decides to shower on a day that was slated to be only “partly cloudy”, is there an indoor clubhouse that the interviews can be relocated to? Having this backup already in place avoids the trouble associated with having to scramble the day of the shoot. Unfortunately, relocating a shoot may not always be possible if the scene is outdoor-specific. In this case, keep a close eye on the weather in the days leading up to the shoot. It may be in everyone’s best interest to reschedule the shoot in advance.

Base Camp (and Bathrooms, Water/Food, Power)

If your shoot will be entirely outdoors, you will want to set up a “base camp”. This is the area where crew and cast will meet up and wait between shots. If you have access to an indoor location (for example, the clubhouse of a golf course or an office space near the outdoor location) base camp should be set there. An indoor base camp should provide easy access to bathrooms, craft services, and power. If you will not have access to an indoor location, be mindful of those items and prepare accordingly.


Unless you are filming at a location with the permission of a client or other governing entity, you will likely need a permit. Different permits are required for various productions. You will need to coordinate with local government and/or film offices of the area.

Hair & Makeup

When filming outdoors, specifically with talent or interviewees, a hair & makeup artist is an especially valuable crew member. From fixing windblown hair to addressing shine or sweat, a hair & makeup artist can elevate your project by keeping an eye on these details.

Check out a couple of projects that were filmed last summer. From a golf course to driving the open road, outdoor productions offer bountiful backdrops. Keep in mind these technical and logistical notes, and you will set your shoot up for success!

* This article was originally published here
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