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Whats the best way to shoot large areas?

By January 19, 2016January 20th, 2016Video Production Advice

How To A Shoot Big Area

Every project brings it’s own particular challenges which are dictated by the subject matter. For example the skill set and technical equipment that we need to bring to the table to shoot a Formula 1 film would differ greatly from those that we would require to shoot a 5 storey building or a series of interviews. It’s important to us and our clients that every production is handled in a way which is appropriate to the material required and that the dynamic of the shots produced suits the end product.

Getting The Right Crew

Your production company should assemble the crew for your project based on your particular brief (in very much the same way that a cast of actors is assembled for differing movies requirements). You should also expect your production company to have a solid foundation of its own in house producers, directors and editors, but the remainder of the team may hand picked from a pool of expertise to suit your shoot.

A great example of this was a recent project where we were asked to produce a film to introduce and showcase the strengths of what was, essentially, a sprawling industrial area in the midlands! Now industrial areas by their nature aren’t the most pretty of things to capture on film so we needed to capture footage that conveyed the dynamics of the site and its busy day to day nature. We also needed to produce the film in such a way that enabled us to shoot shots of the different industry types on the estate and convey their unique attributes in a few seconds of footage. On top of these challenges the client had a super tight turnaround schedule that would only really give us one day of shooting to cover a truly vast area.


Our solution was to use 2 camera units working on different areas of the site at the same time. One of the units was a standard tripod/ground shot with a small dolly to add movement. The other was the 30 foot jib crane which we’d spec’s up with a RED epic camera to really give the client some sweeping hero shots of the estate.

Aerial Shots

Aerial shots are essential when filming any landscape, grounds, or external area. Without them any large scenic panoramic type shot looks flat and boring if simply shot from the ground. I would guess that everyone of us has taken a photo of a beautiful vista or landscape whilst on holiday only to be hugely disappointed that the printed photo that we took didn’t look anywhere near as good as the real thing. This is because filming or photographing landscapes from the ground always gives us flat (dull) results that never really do the actual scene justice. In order to truly show landscape and scenery we need to get the camera up into the air.

As soon as we elevate the shot (even by a few feet) the scene starts to look instantly better. If we can then sweep the camera from low upto heights of 30 ft or more then we really starting to get something beautiful (even on an industrial estate!). A great example of this can be seen in any of Peter Jacksons helicopter shots of the New Zealand landscapes used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Forward Planning

We planned most of the shots prior to shoot using the site plans and the magic of google earth and along with a dawn patrol recce we were able to schedule all the shooting for the day very tightly. The 2 units were able to work in tandem to ensure we got the right type of footage at all the different locations the land area had to offer and that the project was delivered successfully.

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fortyfoursixteen films

fortyfoursixteen films has over 15 years experience producing high quality video content for leading brands and organisations throughout the UK. Headed up by lead producer Neil Waddington we aim to create innovative, inspiring and engaging video for a wide variety of digital delivery platforms.