Should I record video in-studio or on-location?
Choosing to record video in-studio or on-location can be a critical decision to make during pre-production. To begin, answer this question:
What kind of video story are you trying to tell?
Depending on the type of video story you are creating, your choice between studio or location, or a combination of the two, will emerge like caramelized onions in a savory rue. It takes time in the pre-production saute pan to make a decision that is best for your message, budget, and timeline. So let’s consider four factors that will give you awesome sauce on the screen.
The audio environment
The most important factor when choosing between a studio or location shoot is the audio environment. Professional microphones used for video production “can ‘hear’ at lower and higher frequency ranges than our human hearing,” so they often pick up sounds that we don’t notice. For example, the hum of a refrigerator or the air rumble from an HVAC system might be inaudible to you, but the mic will hear them. Once you edit and listen to your video, you’ll likely hear the hum or rumble that will detract from your message. If you want excellent sound quality, choose the studio location.
Pro-Tip: Record video IN-STUDIO for the greatest control over the audio environment.
Lighting your subject
How you light your subject should be directed by the story you are trying to tell. For example, if you need a well-lit, clean and crisp looking, person on camera, or if you need perfectly illuminated product shots, then the studio is a better place to record. If your production schedule requires a lot of time with the same camera and lighting setup, then plan on the studio because you know: the day waits for no one. If your story is better served by showing a person or a product illuminated by natural light in the context of the real world, then plan for the location shoot. Keep in mind the best time of day to take full advantage of the position of the sun. Bonus Pro-Tip: use an app like Sun Surveyor to accurately determine the position of the sun at a particular time of day so you can plan for the changing light.
Pro-Tip: Record video IN-STUDIO to guarantee consistent lighting.
Availability to record b-roll
If your video story includes references to people, products, or procedures, then you will need b-roll to tell a better story. Spend the time in pre-production figuring out how to create amazing b-roll. If it makes more sense to have control over the audio, lighting, or even the time available to capture the b-roll, then use the studio. If the story is better served by showing the person, product, or practice in real life, then plan for a location.
Pro-Tip: B-roll has greater potential ON-LOCATION, but it is possible to tell a good story IN-STUDIO.
Importance of authenticity
Using natural backgrounds or locations gives your video authenticity. The success of YouTube and Vimeo has generated an all-time high demand for authenticity. Of course, you can create an authentic video in-studio where the focus is on a talking head speaking candidly about a topic. However, if your message relies on the factory floor, an office space, or an outdoor setting, then plan on a location shoot.
Pro-Tip: Record video ON-LOCATION to maximize the authenticity of your story.
Now it’s up to you. Let the type of story you are telling control whether to record in a studio or location. Keep in mind that the story and its impact on the audience are always paramount. Good storytellers can utilize a studio or a location to hook, engage, and evoke. Follow the process, put in the work, and be willing to push beyond the obvious, and your next video story will be successful in the studio or on location.
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For more info on the process: