Four Steps of Preproduction: Part 02

(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 17)

Summary: In Part One Ryan discussed how reading the script and meeting with the team impact the lighting choices you’ll make on your projects. In Part Two we go over the second two steps of preproduction: location and tech scouts; and ordering cameras and lights for the production.

Length: 8:18 minutes


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I’ve heard it said before that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Nowhere is this more true than in producing video content. That’s why the preproduction process is key to great lighting. In part one I showed you how to read the script in order to look for lighting cues and how to work with your team. In part two I’m going to cover how to location scout and how to place an order so you can have the tools that you need in order to walk away with the images that you see in your head.

Step Three: Location and Tech Scouts

Location and Tech Scouts (LC117)

There are two types of scouting trips you’ll do during pre-production: the location scout and the tech scout. The location scout is simply to find a suitable location for the project. Something that fits the look and tone of the project. After the location has been decided, the team returns to do the tech scout. The tech scout is to determine what challenges the location presents and what the technical requirement are for that location. So the tech scout is all about logistics at the location. While these two scouting trips are normally done separately, they are starting to be done at the same time, especially on a smaller project.

Talking with your gaffer and grip team (LC117)
As you scout the location, hopefully you’ll have your key team members there: the director, production designer, gaffer, key grip, and audio. The fewer people on the scout, the more responsibility and the more information you’ll have to relay to the rest of your team so that they can fully support the demands of the location and production.

Smartphone apps for preproduction (LC117)

Regardless of the type of scout I am doing, I’ll bring along my two essential scouting tools: my iPhone and my light meter...

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Tools We Used

Smartphone Apps

Camera / Audio

Behind the Scenes (BTS) Cameras

Lighting / Grip Gear

How To Cinematically Light A Corporate Video (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 20)
How To Light Quickly (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 19)
Lighting For Extreme Frame Rates (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 21)
12 Crucial Questions Before Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 15)
3 Strategies For Lighting Your Night Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 14)
5 Essential Strategies To Lighting Day Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 12)
10 Tips To Lighting Day Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 13)
How To Light A Small Commercial (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 23)
Where To Begin Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 18)
12 replies
    • Ryan E. Walters
      Ryan E. Walters says:

      Thanks Alex, I’m glad you like the lessons. We use a bunch of applications, depending on what our needs are. Here are the ones we recommend: pCAM, Artemis, Sun Seeker, Light Meter, Cine Meter II, Shot Lister, Dark Sky, & Photosynth.

      The two that you see in the video are: Artemis & Sun Seeker.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

  1. Ajit
    Ajit says:

    Hi Ryan:

    This is really good. What’s the name of the director’s viewfinder app that you use? I couldn’t find it in the Apple App Store . . .


  2. 5mars
    5mars says:

    Hi, thank you for your work, I learn a lot.
    I never used a light meter and I would be really intersted to know more about how you use it and how it affects your choices.
    The right way to expose for skin tones, log, natural and artificial light.
    A in depth lesson focus on this tool would be great !

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      That is a really great question, and is something that we hear a lot. A few years ago Ryan devoted an entire page discussing using a light meter, specifically the Sekonic 758 Cine. Here is the link: The page starts off talking about creating your own profiles for your camera/lens choices, but if you scroll down past that you’ll find a video called: “The Cinematographer Series: Lighting 101: Using A Meter.” Many of your questions will be answered by that video, so I highly recommend checking it out. Then, below the video is even more information about using a meter, some tricks, working with LOG and RAW, and then more about creating meter profiles. (We no longer are creating profiles to post here, however we GREATLY recommend learning to create your own profiles. It really isn’t that hard and in the process you will learn a lot about light, meters, and cameras.)


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