If you’ve ever been involved in video production, then you’re probably aware of what a “recce” is.
Recceing is an important part of the pre-production process that’s integral to the success of the video production. But have you wondered what’s actually being done during the recce?
In the article, we sat down with Yana Li (Assistant Producer @ Big 3 Media) to talk about the different recce types, what the recce entails, and share some of her unique experiences while being on recce.
Ming: Thanks for taking the time to chat! Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up working for Big 3 Media.
Yana: I joined Big 3 Media about 3 years ago when I graduated, starting out as an assistant producer before moving on to become a junior producer.
Ming: For those new to video production, could you explain what a recce is and why it’s so important?
Yana: I actually just went for a recce yesterday! (laughs) Basically, a recce is when we visit the location where filming will take place; often taking photos so we can use them later as a reference.
There’s usually 2 rounds of recce; one general recce, usually logistical in nature, and one technical recce before shoot day.
The purpose of the first recce is for our Creatives a.k.a. director, scriptwriters to get a better understanding of how the location can be used. This is more applicable to long-form videos, where the location often plays an integral part in the script development process(as we’ll be spending more time filming scenes at the same location).
However, for corporate and commercial videos, the first recce is a good opportunity for the director and producer to look around the client’s office/cafe/various locations to get an idea of what visuals are possible, what logistics need to be ironed out, ask questions, etc etc. This helps us make better decisions on how to structure the video and see whether the client’s requests are feasible.
As its name suggests, the purpose of the technical recce is to work out technical details like lighting conditions, acoustics, space, etc etc. This is especially important for clients that want us to shoot in more challenging locations like a factory or laboratory. In such cases, the technical recce helps us determine what can and can’t be done in the shoot.
Ming: Who’s involved in the recce?
Yana: Early recces will involve just the producer and director, but for technical recce, we involve the director of photography (DP), camera assistant (CA), gaffer, and sometimes the sound recordist if the situation demands a more technical ear to advise on the location acoustics. This is so that all departments can identify any potential issues ahead of time to ensure that the production goes smoothly on shoot day.
Ming: How do you shortlist locations to use for your shoots?
Yana: It really depends on the project! Usually, once the base script has been written, the director or producer will give us an idea of the locations they’d like to use.
Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of locations: indoor and outdoor. For indoor shoots, it’s usually either the client’s office space (which means our options are limited) or an indoor studio (in which case we can find a studio with an aesthetic that we like).
For outdoor shoots, we usually refer to past projects for inspiration or use our network to source for new locations to shoot at. People in the film industry often exchange information; either by word of mouth or online platforms like Facebook. There are even websites like Filmplace which help you find locations based on the duration and scale of your video production!
When shooting at public spaces, we usually need to apply for a permit, but in some cases, the client can help get the permit for us (if the shoot is to promote a shopping mall, for example).
Ming: What are the exact details that you’re looking out for during a recce?
Yana: The number one concern is space. Firstly, we need to see if the location can fit all the equipment and people who will be on set. Then, we need to check that our equipment can be transported to the location (for instance, whether an indoor location has doors that are big enough). Lastly, we need to consider the cost and duration that we have the space for!
While on recce, we’re also looking at the aesthetics of the location to determine what props our art team will need to provide in order to make the final video look appealing. An example of what happens in a technical recce is if we’re shooting overnight, but the scene is set during the daytime, then we’ll also check with the gaffer whether we can light the location to make it look like daytime.
Ming: What should clients do during a recce?
Yana: Clients aren’t always involved in the recce unless we’re shooting at their office. In such cases, we usually ask our clients for recommendations on how to make their office space more presentable and aesthetically pleasing.
Ming: That was really informative! To close off the interview, could you share some of your favourite locations to film in Singapore?
Yana: (laughs) It’s hard to narrow everything down, but I do enjoy shooting at Chun Tsubaki, a creative agency that rents out their space for events and shoots. It’s got a nice, minimalistic, Japanese aesthetic, as well as a really nice kitchen that’s great for shooting scenes set in a home environment!
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