Look to the Horizon: Summer Means…Outdoor Video Shoots

Megan Bell

Megan Bell

June 07, 2012

Living in central North Carolina means beautiful weather in spring and bright sunshine in the summer.  And with that lovely weather comes more opportunities to conduct interviews in exterior settings, capture outdoor events, and incorporate outdoor backgrounds into b-roll. 

Certain tips are true no matter where you will be shooting your video, but here’s five tips that will help your outdoor video production be a success.

PLAN FOR UNPREDICTABLE MOTHER NATURE
Unlike the temperature in your nice studio, you can’t control the weather.  In fact, the Horizon team recently experienced strong rain, fast-moving storm clouds, winds, bright sun, thunder, partly cloudy skies, and bright sun again… in a single afternoon. 

Plan your production for multiple weather types so that if the weather changes the day of, or even during, you can adjust and continue to get good footage.  Check weather forecasts for the day and the day of.  Pack rain gear for YOU and your GEAR.

PACK ONCE AND CHECK TWICE
If you are standing outdoors in a remote location, you can’t pop into the video closet and pull out extra cables. Know what gear, equipment, cables, and extras you will need and take them.  And if possible, take extra.

Your camera of course, and along with it a tripod.  Include a reflective board, or even a big white posterboard in your kit to use as a bounce. (Check out this handy article and video on bounce lighting: http://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/145/lighting-with-a-bounce)

You should consider not just the video gear, but audio as well.  Extra headphones, adapters, and even external mikes might save your day.

And never ever forget to consider power.  Batter chargers, extra batteries, and if needed for your equipment, A/C adapters as well.

All of your effort is wasted if you don’t have a means to record.  Depending on your camera, you might need disk, tapes, or memory cards.  Have on hand more than you need, so that you can switch out as needed or replace any faulty recording media.

Your kit is almost complete.  Include your “hardware store” as well – screwdriver, duct or gaffers tape, needle-nosed pliers, and a utility knife.

THAT BIG LIGHT OVERHEAD

Sure, the sun is a wonderful, natural light.  But it can also totally ruin your shots.  When creating outdoor video of a person in front of a background, do NOT position the person directly under the sun nor facing the sun.  This will help you avoid creating shadows around their face or them having to squint. Do NOT place the sun directly behind your subject either – it will create a halo around them and put their face in shadow.  

With overhead, facing, and behind eliminated, you can now assume the best way to use sunlight for your outdoor shoot is from the side.  From the side, the sunlight adds depth without too many dark areas or shadows.

And remember that reflector or white posterboard mentioned in packing your kit?  Use it as a bounce to enhance your lighting.  (http://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/145/lighting-with-a-bounce)

Here’s the recap of some outdoor video shooting tips:

PLAN AHEAD

  • Check weather forecast before day of production
  • Check weather forecast the day of production
  • Pack rain gear for YOU and for your GEAR

PACK YOUR BAGS WISELY

  • Weather gear, camera, tripod, light reflector or white posterboard, audio cables, mics, batteries/power cords, recording media, screw driver, gaffers tape, utility knife

USE LIGHTING TIPS

  • Do not place your subject underneath, in front of, or facing sunlight to prevent dark shadows, odd halos, or squinting faces.
  • Use the sun as a side light to enhance your overall image.
  • Use a bounce to leverage the natural sunlight.


The Horizon team works with each Client to ensure that no matter the location, everything is in place.  We want our Clients to enjoy the day and focus on the content without worrying about what gear is needed or how to adapt to changes in location.