Studio vs. Field: Which one is Right for You?

Studio vs. Field: Which one is Right for You?

Choosing a location for a video can be a tough, but there are  ways to determine if it’s time to get out of the conference room and into a studio or even go on location.

When a studio isn’t available, our clients often book a conference room for a video shoot, since it’s convenient and they are able to reserve a space. While it’s nice to have a spot, most conference rooms make terrible studios. No amount of a backdrops, lights, or blacking out the windows and doors can make a conference room into a great studio space. We recommend looking around the office for a quiet, nearby, yet out of the way location to shoot the video. Don’t worry, that booked conference room is incredibly useful  as a storage spot for video gear and the crew headquarters.

If you’re ready to branch out of an office shoot and into the studio or even onto a location outside your office, a.k.a in the field, there are some things to consider. While a studio gives you much more control, location can really help to tell your story. We put together a quick list of things to consider when deciding what’s right for your video.

Who are we interviewing?

If it’s  a high-level executive with a sensitive message, then the studio is for you. Access to the studio can be controlled, and we can limit exposure to the executive who might feel sensitive if he or she flubs lines or if confidentiality is a must. We recommend a studio setting for people who are being interviewed for the very first time since you can spend more time putting them at ease. (Pro Tip: Keep in mind that you do need at least 15 mins of prep for first time interviewees in order to build rapport. The more comfortable they feel with you, the crew, and the environment, the more at ease and authentic your interview will be.)

How long is the interview or video?

Interviewing someone or waiting for the best take can take some time, especially if your script is dependent on getting your actor or on-camera talent to read through the entire script without stopping. In a highly controlled environment, like a studio, we can minimize foot traffic, noise, and control the lighting. When shooting in the field, anything from a passerby to an airplane can interrupt the perfect take. Plus,the lighting changes all of the time if you’re filming outside as the earth moves around the sun. Shadows appear where there weren’t shadows before, so the crew may need to stop and start to adapt and make sure the on-camera talent still looks good, which means more time needed during the shoot. However, if your script or interview is pretty short and you are looking for 5-10 second soundbites, then shooting outside of a studio can be more manageable since you are bound to stop and start  in shorter spurts.

Should we shoot in the field?

Depending on the topic of your video, it may make more sense to shoot outside of the studio. If the topic is related to a location, like a workplace or event, then shooting at the location makes sense. Plus, shooting in an environment people are used to, like in an office or outside in a courtyard, is more authentic and relatable than in a studio setting, which feels more exclusive.

How much time and budget do we have?

Booking a crew costs money and the less set-up they have to do, the less money you spend on the crew time. Most of the time, finding a location in an office, outside, or in a common area doesn’t require as much lighting if there is natural light available. However in a studio, setting up a background, a set, and then lighting the entire set in a studio can require more time and crew than in the field.

It all comes down to this:

Studio

  • Pros: A highly controlled environment and minimal noise and foot traffic provide a TV-like experience for your clients, which they can find impressive, and finally, gives your videos a polished look (AKA more production value).
  • Cons: Studio appear sterile, fake, and less relatable; people who have never been on-camera before can feel intimidated in this setting, which may affect their performance if they are nervous; shooting in a studio costs more than shooting in the field due to rental fees; and also more set-up time is needed in a studio setting if lighting isn’t already set up for you.

Field

  • Pros: Shooting outside is more visually appealing and more natural, your on-camera talent may feel more comfortable being on-camera in a familiar setting; using natural light adds more authenticity to the video.
  • Cons: Uncontrolled environment means more interruptions from things like people, door slams, coffee makers, and planes. People find video crews in public or in a common area disruptive to their working environment; sunlight changes all of the time so the crew may need to stop and reset lighting a few to make adjustments, which may affect the momentum and performance of the on-camera talent. (Pro-tip: Always check the weather. Overcast days are the best days to shoot since the light is even and the shadows are soft, but best to look for an indoor location if rain is in the forecast).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

    Working in the *literal* field.

    Working in the *literal* field.

In summary, think about who you are putting in front of the camera and what their comfort level is, what environment makes sense, and the context of what you are trying to say in the video. Once you know those details, then you can decide the best location for you and the video.