Filming in Studio vs On-Location

West Palm Beach Video Production
on-location of a mini-documentary project for Force to Farm PAC 2020

“Location, Location, Location”.

You’ve probably heard this phrase uttered on every real estate show that you’ve ever watched or maybe even in person when buying or selling property.

The same repetitive phrase is often used in Film production and it’s a big question that must be answered during pre-production.

So when deciding between shooting in Studio or On-Location the answer is usually pretty simple. Studio. Well, most of the time. There’s far less pros to shooting On-Location than one might think.

While there are distinct advantages to each option it really comes down to control. If control was the only factor then a studio far exceeds the capabilities of shooting on-location 99.9% of the time.

Let’s explore this in more detail.

Studios are often referred to as “Sound Stages” and for good reason. Most studios are created to sonically isolate sound from the outside. So the noise you would encounter during an on-location shoot like traffic, planes, generators, etc. are no longer an issue. Sound stages are created specifically for capturing crisp and clean dialogue. You can literally turn the world on and off in a studio.

Even if you manage to take care of a couple of obvious interruptions on-location it’s impossible to have 100% control over the real world.

Our White Cyclorama/White Wall Room/Infinity Wall is available for rent at our West Palm Beach Studio.

A studio environment superiority also comes from it’s flexibility. It truly can become any space you imagine only limited by the skill of the construction and art team. Sets are designed to “fly away” so camera operators, production crew, cameras, microphones, lighting are all taken into consideration. For example if you’re trying to capture a unique angle you could remove an entire wall very easily. I’m pretty sure most locations aren’t cool with you demolishing entire rooms for a single scene for your film.

Logistics also makes more sense. Having a single location vs multiple on-site locations is easier to manage especially if you have a large crew. Nearly every film maker has encountered a logistics nightmare in regards to shooting on-location, however, I’ve never heard of this in regards to shooting at a studio.

Let’s circle back to control.

Another often overlooked factor is weather. No matter how much you prepare you have zero control over the weather on-location. While you can “fake” rain, snow, lightning storms, etc. you can’t “fake” clear skies on a rainy day. If you shoot in a studio you have control of not just the weather conditions which are entirely up to you, but you also have full control over lighting.

Is it daytime? Night Time?

While you can replicate certain conditions on-location it’s extremely difficult for example to shoot on different days that are supposed to be taking place at the same time with the same weather and environmental conditions (not to say it can’t be done… just difficult).

With all the advantages to shooting in a studio why would anyone ever shoot on-location?

There’s really only a couple of distinct advantages to shooting on-location, however, they may be pretty big advantages depending on your project. The 2 major reasons would be your budget and reality.

Let’s discuss the budget first. The advantage of on-location is there’s little to no construction required. The location already exists in the real world. That’s an easy one.

You will need someone well versed in finding locations. In the industry these people are known as location scouts. They usually have a rolodex or portfolio of sorts for nearly every look or style.

Then we have to look at reality. Most films have some realistic qualities. Cars driving by in the background, ambient noise, natural lighting. Most filmmakers focus on very small details that help ground their film in reality.

It’s hard to fake “reality”.

Not so much “hard” but expensive. It’s far easier to shoot let’s say in a building with a window in the back where real cars are driving by then to pay extras, acquire vehicles, time the sequences, etc. This ties back to budget. Not only is reality cheaper to film but you don’t have to budget for it because well it’s happening in real time.

We’ve barely scratched the surface regarding the advantages and disadvantages to filming in studio vs on-location and that is because it really comes down to your specific project. Like most questions regarding film production there’s not a one size fits all answer. That’s why we would recommend you reach out. Contact us so we can discuss your project and offer our expert advice. Regardless of where your film takes place we want to make sure your final product shines and captivates your audience.

You can find the link to our West Palm Beach Video & Photo Production Studio here.