Reconnaissance is one of the most important pre-production activities when planning to do a video shoot, but it’s something that both videographers and clients often overlook. What is it, why is it important, and how should you go about it?

The fancy term reconnaissance is one of those French-origin words that we all wish we’d get to use more. The original French word is reconnaître, which means to recognize. You can therefore see why the English version means to conduct an initial survey of an area. It is assumed that when you return to an area you’ve surveyed before, you will “recognize” it, hence the borrowed use of the word. When it comes to videography, a successful project is dependent on a lot of factors. The last thing any sensible person would want is to increase the chances of failure by realizing problems or constraints on the day of the shoot itself.

Here are the 7 sets of key considerations to keep in mind and cross-check against when conducting reconnaissance.

1. Access

This is often assumed or taken for granted, but the first thing to pay attention to is access to the shooting location. Here are questions to ask:

2. Shooting spots

No matter how spacious a location is, there’s usually only a handful of spots to actually shoot from. Here’s what you should look out for:

3. Light

The whole point of a lens is to focus light. Without light, there is no visual storytelling. It therefore is essential that lighting be factored in to the reconnaissance.

4. Wardrobe

The idea is not to rummage through someone’s wardrobe during reconnaissance. Many times, the shooting spot won’t even be a place that has wardrobes. Here’s what you need to think about:

5. Sound

Sound is the hidden soul of good videography. Light may be important, but sound can make or break a video if you don’t give it the attention it needs. Here’s what to check:

6. Electricity

Unless you’re still shooting your video with equipment from 100 years ago, you’ll need enough electric power for the duration of the shoot.

7. Food

Last but not least, is food. At our enterprise, we have a rule: though shall not work on an empty stomach. We highly recommend that food considerations be made so that the crew can bring their best selves to work:

Remote Reconnaissance

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic requiring as little in-person contact as possible, it is worth considering remote reconnaissance. Not only is it possible if well planned, it is also a more cost-effective way since you don’t have to spend any amount of time traveling to the location. All you need is good internet connectivity and a willing client or subject on location. A guided video call following the checklist above as the person on location walks around the space can achieve the same results as an in-person visit.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of these pointers? Learnt something new? Or perhaps you have a tip of your own to share? We’d be thrilled to hear your comments below.

Keep the lens rolling.