Studios vs. Locations

As you know by now my internship is with a freelance production company called Showbizz productions. In earlier posts about my internship I discussed the differences between the three different types of settings where shoots can occur. The three types are studios, sets, and locations. In my internship I have experienced two of these settings which was studios and locations. I am going to discuss the differences of producing content at the these two different types of settings.

Filming at studios is probably where I have had the most experience during the course of my internship. The good thing about shooting at a studio is that it is very easy for my crew and I. For my experience every time over the course of my internship when we shoot in a studio it has always been using a green screen. Shooting with a green screen backdrop is the reason why my studio shoots have been fairly easy and not to stressful (depending on the amount of time allotted for set-up.) You typically arrive at the studio, carry all the gear to the studio then set up, wait while they film, then break down and load up. It is really that simple. Now there is a lot of specific techniques that goes into where to set up everything, which I have discussed in earlier posts. Other than the set up and making sure the picture quality, lighting and audio are perfect everything else is simple.

The one disadvantage of studio shoots in my eyes is that they may be a bit boring. They are boring because after you set up the studio and get all the equipment in the right places and configured to the producers desire you have to sit and wait while they film the content. Most of the time I am just watching and trying to learn from my boss who is the director of photography, and see how he adjusts the camera and runs the show. But there has been times where they have asked me to step in and operate the B or secondary camera and keep the content in frame and adjust it if needed, which adds a little more excitement. The main thing is that there is little to no outside variables when shooting in a studio because you are indoors and do not need to change the set up because they can digitally change the location in post production, because of the green screen.

When it comes to location shoots on the other hand these can be a bit challenging. They are challenging because there are so many different variables and elements you have to take into consideration. First of all you are outside which is a whole different ball game. The weather is always changing during the day and this forces you to adjust. For instance during one take there will be to much sunlight in the shot, so the director of photography has to adjust to that. Then during the next shot the sun could be covered by a cloud making it to dark for that take. Sound is also a crucial factor when filming outside. Many times the audio operator will have to interrupt a take and signal the producer that the take is unusable due to noise in the background. So knowing when and finding the perfect time to shoot it a big part of it.

Location shoots for me personally are much more different because usually we go to many different locations in one day. For example we shot in Central Park last week and within Central Park we shot at about 6 different locations and that is not including b-roll. So every time we change to a different location I have to forget about the last one and focus on the details of this specific location. It is harder for me especially in the beginning of the day because I do not have a routine done yet and I am still trying to figure out the pace and how that specific producer likes to operate. Once the day starts to get underway I usually have a better sense of what the producer and my boss is looking for from me. One trick I have started to get the hang of is anticipating what the producers or the DP needs ahead of time. For example if the producer has been doing 5-6 takes for every location around the fourth take I will be ready to breakdown the equipment and move to the next location, or I will already be breaking down other equipment they decided not to use for that take.

Another big factor for locations is the speed and pace that you work at. Typically these types of shoots are longer than studio shoots because they want to utilize every aspect and element of the location within the time given for the day. So for the shoot at Central Park we had 10 hours to shoot at 6 locations and each location had two different scripts they wanted performed plus the b-roll. When you have a time limit like this producers will almost always work fast because it is better to be done early and shoot extra takes or b-roll than to be rushing at the end and possibly not even shoot everything on the shot list. So at that shoot at Central Park we were working pretty fast because that is a ambitious shot list for that amount of time. One thing my boss stresses is never let the talent and/or producers wait on the production crew. Meaning that we should always, and I mean always, be set up before the producer is ready to roll or the talent is ready to perform. This makes our company look professional and helps keep the producer on schedule. If we are slow and holding them up all day I am almost sure we would not get a call back from that company or network.

So in my opinion studio shoots are easier but boring, and location shoots are hectic but more exciting. I am very comfortable in a studio setting and can say that I have almost mastered the process, but still could use a few more times to perfect it. When it comes to the location shoots I am still trying to get the pace and process down in general even though it differs from location. Looking back on my internship I am happy my first five shoots were studio and not location. Overall though I have noticed that I have learned so much for both of these types of shoots and have seen drastic improvement.

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