On seeing the word recce a military operation comes to mind. The word comes from reconnaissance which in the video industry, refers to visiting a location in advance of filming video content. If you are shopping around for video estimates for your business you will have seen words like ‘pre-filming recce visit” in a few proposals. If you haven’t, we think it might be a red flag and you may want to have another chat with your potential supplier. But is it really worth the extra time and expense?
Does my video really need a pre-filming recce visit?*
Preparation is key to any video production. The more preparation ahead of a shoot, the more efficiently the day will run and the less likely that something will go wrong. Plus the better results the client will get.
A pre-filming recce is one of the crucial ways of preparing ahead of a shoot. Particularly due to budget constraints, visiting a location is the perfect way to assess any risks before filming.
We’re all so pressed for time that using precious hours in a pre-filming recce might not sound great but when compared to what it would cost if something were to go wrong, it’s more than worth it. Most projects involve a crew, talents, equipment and location. Organising all of that only to realise on the day that the location is not perfect or unsafe, would mean very expensive delays.
*It’s a great question to ask your production company
When requesting prices for a filming job, ask the production company if a recce is required for your particular project. It is not *always* the case. Pre-filming recce visits are more commonly used for example in live streaming projects and in general for larger budget commissions where there’s a need to really make the most of a specific location.
What will a pre-filming recce visit reveal?
You want the crew to see the location with their professional hat on. They will be able to spot any potential issues and come up with solutions and alternatives. There’s always the risk of a location being totally unsuitable but it’s best to find out ahead of the actual filming day. Maybe the place is not ideal considering the equipment required, or there might not be proper sound insulation. Perhaps there might be insufficient space for crew and kit, or safety issues like faulty electrics or slippery surfaces.
Top 3 issues to watch out for:
- Sound: Crisp, clear sound is a key component of a good video. Environmental sounds such as traffic, air con units and such can be easy to overlook. Experienced filming crew will spot trouble
- Lighting: Good lighting is crucial to a great end result. Whether natural or artificial, lighting can make or break a video. During the pre-filming recce visit, the crew needs to check existing light sources and make an assessment of what kit they will need to bring on the day.
- Electric power: Video production is a power hungry operation. These days most kit will run on batteries for a good few hours. An experienced crew will know to come prepared for any contingency though and the best tip is to walk around the location and identify all power outlets, always double checking they are in good working order.
If the pre-production team does spot any issues, they will suggest strategies to resolve them. Sometimes briefs can be tweaked to suit. In any case, a pre-filming recce visit allows for this approach to be been taken ahead of filming day, rather than having to deal with nasty surprises later.
It’s not all negative though, a pre-filming recce visit will also be a source of inspiration. Some of the best ideas our crew has had are born on location whilst preparing before filming day. A great video maker should really be able to make the most of any particular setting in terms of space and lighting.
We have set rates for pre-production, production and post-production based on the time we spent on each task. A pre-filming recce visit will always be less expensive than a filming or editing hour. One member of our team will set aside 1 or 2 hours depending on distance and project complexity.
We really do think a pre-filming recce visit is worth the cost, as it can really make a difference on filming day.