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Location Scouting

Location scouting is an important part of pre-production. The right location works seamlessly in your video or even adds another layer to the story. The wrong location can distract from your message and bring down the entire production. Keep the following in mind when it comes to location scouting.

First Things First

Always get the script together first. Once you have the framework of a script, then look for suitable locations. It seems obvious, but we’ll go ahead and say it: without a script, you’re just guessing at what will work for your shoot. If an east-facing twenty-foot window is in the script, you know what to scout. Trying to adjust a script around a location is much harder than the other way around.

Lookin’ Good + Sounding Good

location scouts
Scouting is like shopping for a wedding dress

There are two types of scouting: location scouts and technical or tech scouts. Sometimes these scouts happen in conjunction, but most of the time the location scout precedes the tech scout. Think of it this way: the location scout is looking for a wedding dress and seeing some beautiful choices. The tech scout is trying on the dress and making sure it fits.

A tech scout is mostly about the technical aspects of a shoot. Does the location meet your tech specs? Can you set up lights, plug in equipment and charge batteries? Have you chosen somewhere without a lot of extraneous noise and do the acoustics work for audio? Is there natural light?

Tech scouts are also about the practical aspects of a space. Is the physical access good? Can you haul equipment to the area, move around freely, and do you have enough room for staging? Are there bathrooms? What about parking?


A really important part of scouting is timing. Visit your site at the time of day and year you’ll be shooting. Assess the light quality. Is the area overrun with people or is it a private oasis? Spring may provide a beautiful backdrop of flowers, while fall may give you a colourful array of leaves.

Location Scouting
Shooting in the fall will look different than shooting in the spring

Permits, permits, permits! Make sure you find out whether or not you’ll need a permit to shoot in your chosen location. Nobody wants to do a lot of planning and then get shut down on shoot day because of a permit issue. Permits can even affect your budget, so be sure to look into this before deciding on a shoot location.

When you’re scouting, take notes and  photos. That way, you can more easily remember each location and share your findings with other project stakeholders. If your DOP is with you, conduct tests to check audio and visuals. This approach not only means you’re prepared for shoot day, but you’re also building a location dossier for future shoots.


Before heading out on a scouting mission, check some online resources. Your city may even have a website dedicated to locations in the area. Using a site like Flickr can also be a great way to scout locations from your office. Type in your parameters and get ready to be wowed.

Location Scouting
Does your chosen location permit drones?

One more word on the pre-scout: check into drone regulations in your area if you want to capture aerial footage. Rules and regulations are changing for drones, so avoid any surprises on shoot day.

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to locations, Key West Video can work with you to pick what works best for your project. Call us today for a free quote.

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