How to Film Marketing Videos in Public Places

Laws differ among states, but you can generally shoot marketing video freely in public places, unless they’re specifically prohibited. Keep in mind the difference between a group of 3 or 4 people shooting outdoors with a single camera and mic and a 15-person crew with all sorts of bags and equipment that can block traffic.

The keys to producing appealing outdoor video are efficiency and discretion — shoot fast and respect the people around you. In fact, follow these rules for shooting outdoors:

  • Practice your scene, and quickly get it right.

  • Shoot the scene twice.

  • Wrap up your shoot and move along.

Public parks are ideal places to shoot because you have lots of varied space to choose from and a certain degree of privacy. If a mundane indoor conversation at a desk can be moved to a park bench or the edge of a waterfall, for example, you vastly increase the video’s production value.

Certain places are definitely off limits for commercial video. Monuments, museums, privately owned parks — all these locations are likely to ask you to shut down and move on if you try to shoot there.

Sound is the biggest challenge in shooting outside. Buy a good microphone, and have someone wearing headphones ensure that sound is being picked up. If you rely on your camera’s built-in mic, you may end up capturing not only your subject’s sound but also every other sound around you — wind, tweeting birds, noisy trucks, and the guy on the bench nearby who’s singing pieces from last night’s opera performance.

A good shotgun microphone (a camera-mounted microphone that records wherever the camera is pointed) can eliminate many extraneous noises.

Do not show a person’s face in your video without the person’s written consent, even if it’s only in the background. People inevitably wander in and out of your shoot, but whenever someone is prominently featured, simply stop shooting and either wait or move a few feet away.

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