There are many factors to consider when choosing a location for your production. When it comes down to it, choosing a location is all about controlling light & sound, access, and cost. So, should you shoot on a studio stage or in a practical location?


A studio location is a blank slate, where we can create exactly the look you’re after. The lighting is always consistent, access is a piece of cake, and there is no ambient noise to deal with. This results in more up-time during your shoot day, meaning we get more shots in the can and make the most of your budget. However, all of this convenience and control comes at a cost. Studio rental fees and set design costs can be significant.


Practical locations can provide the right look without having to create a set from scratch. However, they’re often more difficult to work in, requiring more time to load in & out, set up & run power, and control ambient light & noise. This can result in more down-time when compared to a studio shoot.

The best practical locations can function as smoothly as a soundstage and provide a unique look. But they require a lot of attention to logistics and other details. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a practical location.

  • Provide dedicated on-site parking or dock access for production vehicles.
  • Ensure a level path from the truck to the set. Our gear travels on wheels or carts, so gentle ramps and freight elevators are OK. Stairs and narrow doorways are not.
  • Set aside a staging area as close to the set as possible, and clear it of furniture and other obstructions. Gear carts, equipment cases, and production support will take up more room than the set itself.
  • The set should be as large and as flexible as possible; open concept floor plans are ideal.
  • Creating depth along the camera axis is key; a longer rectangular space is often more preferable to a square space of the same square footage.
  • Any windows should face north to avoid the impact of direct sun. Windows should also have working treatments to control ambient light levels. Alternatively, eastern exposures can be shot in the afternoon while western exposures are best in the morning.
  • We often place lighting and grip equipment outside windows, working from the ground. So, ground-floor sets are ideal and second-floor sets are doable. Going any higher off the ground makes any necessary exterior rigging more expensive and time consuming.
  • When shooting outdoors, have a turnkey “Plan B” in the event of bad weather.
  • Power should be accessible and plentiful. Note the location, amperage, and unused capacity of breaker boxes and grounded outlets.
  • Ambient noise should be minimal and manageable. Your set should be far from ringing phones, busy corridors, planes, trains & automobiles. HVAC and refrigeration equipment must be accessible & controllable. Nothing at a location busts more takes than stray noise.