From unexpected weather capers to noise pollution: Here’s how we cope with difficult outdoor shoots
The fact that it might be winter in a summery web video or social media clip is not something users think about – our filming team does, because they are often confronted with situations similar to this in their work. Sarah Fischer, Teamlead Moving Image, and Janika Nyncke, Producer, explain in their guest article how field shoots work in reality and how our film crew deals with such difficult conditions.
Shooting is coordinated months in advance: the shooting schedule is carefully planned, the crew orders and loads the appropriate equipment, the actors and actresses are booked and arrive, but then this: bad weather. Rain, clouds and strong wind. A situation that no one wants – but of course we know it.
It is not uncommon for large summer campaigns to be produced as early as winter, or for winter campaigns to be produced as early as summer. Difficult weather conditions included. Here it is important to be well prepared. But with the right tricks, selected props, good lighting and clever color correction in post-production, the audience always ends up in the desired mood.
The art of summer enjoyment despite adverse conditions – an extraordinary recipe shoot
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In April, our crew of four went back to our mmmake roof terrace for filming. And that at just 14 degrees outside temperature. The menu included summer barbecue recipes such as steak with chimichurri, tuna carpaccio and many other delicacies. With the grill going and warm thoughts, we got to work. But April held another special challenge in store: fierce wind. But after the shooting was already postponed twice due to rainy weather, definitely the lesser evil.
Since the sun kept disappearing behind the clouds, we unceremoniously enhanced it with additional lights to create the look and feel of a sunny barbecue day. The set moved from one corner to another, depending on where the wind was most merciful. Equipment, props/equipment and food – all behind. And when they had to, our crew resorted to unconventional solutions to keep the food in place.
You can see the summery results of the “Quick & Salty” shoot for yourself on Bad Reichenhaller’s social media channels.
But what to do when filming really threatens to fall completely through the cracks? How do we make summer look like winter and vice versa?
Preparation (flexibility) is everything!
Weather on outdoor shoots is a crapshoot. Especially tricky: sudden rain.
Once it has started to rain, it is usually already too late to take safety precautions to properly protect the equipment.
So if you already know that the weather is not good and that there is a high chance of rain on the planned shooting date, it is advisable to bring along necessary accessories such as cases, tarpaulins, pop-up tents, umbrellas, etc. for the shooting in advance. Or to apply waterproof mascara to the performers. Apart from that, summer campaigns in winter often lead to a tremor among the protagonists. It’s not easy to convey the right atmosphere in such a situation. Once your jacket, trousers and shoes are soaked, your mood is in the basement.
Weather is not everything. There are so many factors at play:
- Different landscapes: In winter, many landscapes are covered with snow and have a bare – just winter – aesthetic. In summer, on the contrary, they are green and colorful. When shooting for the opposite time of year, set designers often have to do a lot of work with the production team to shape the landscape to look like the appropriate season. This can be anything from the use of artificial plants to artificial snow.
- Weather conditions: In winter it is often cold, the sky is gray. In the summer (mostly) the sun shines and we have a blue sky with warm temperatures. Clothing as well as make-up, for example, are always coordinated with the season that is to be depicted. So you can imagine that it is not always easy for our performers:inside to give the impression of warmth when they are standing in the cold with a T-shirt at 10 degrees and wind. Just like when you need to get into the Christmas spirit in a turtleneck sweater in the summer when the temperature is at its highest. Weather is and always will be the absolute biggest challenge for shoots.
- Prop availability: What to do when fresh strawberries are needed in December? What to do if you need a ski area operated now in the best case scenario, and it’s summer? Two extreme examples – but it is precisely for such cases that even more planning and organization is needed to ensure that the desired shots can also be equipped with the desired props. And when the props are there, the wind sometimes blows them away.
- Lighting / lighting mood: The natural light differs in each season. The days in winter are shorter. A sunrise or sunset must be shot at a significantly different time than in summer. Creating the desired look and atmosphere to match the concept requires absolute know-how on the technical side. Lighting design is one of the most important plans for beautiful shots and should not be underestimated (especially) for outdoor shoots.
- We’ll call it gently: ambient noise. Outdoors, there is a multitude of sounds. Traffic noise. Wind. Birds. Aircraft. Rustling of leaves. Wind – and much, much more. The sound man does not have it easy in the outdoor area either and has to prove technical know-how and flexibility in order to generate clean recordings. He therefore has a decisive say when it comes to having scenes repeated simply because of the sound. Because, as we all know: The tone often makes the music.
As you can see, the film is tricked here and there in order to maintain the illusion for the viewers. These challenges require expertise, technical know-how, creative problem-solving skills, and good collaboration within the team to deliver the highest quality shots as planned.
Mobility, pragmatism andflexibility are absolute prerequisites for this.
The weather may be unpredictable, but with our experienced film team and a dose of improvisational talent, we can master even the most challenging filming conditions. Contact us and let us convince you of our practical and flexible approach. We are well prepared 😉