A company asked us to shoot a video in its lobby. In the area, people were walking in the building, going up and down stairs, going in and out of a nearby bathroom and in general, heading to and from places connected to the lobby. Employees often are talking to each other, looking down at their smart phones or lost in their own personal worlds. Our first task wasn’t setting up the shot. Our first task was setting up the shot safely.
We needed an electrical outlet for our lights. But the nearest outlet was around a corner where people were walking in and out of the bathrooms. We needed to stretch not one but two extension cords to the outlet without tripping people. We ran one extension cord pressed against a wall and taped it down in several places to ensure it was as flat as can be wedged into the corner of the floor. We stretched the second cord from the wall across the walkway accessing the bathroom to the outlet. We taped down this cord as much as possible to avoid it from buckling upward. We grabbed two bright orange sandbags and placed them on top of the extension cord on each side of the walkway. The orange sandbags were an extra layer of safety, grabbing people’s attention before they even stepped close to the extension cord.
We set up our lights and used a sandbag to weigh down the light stands to help prevent them from toppling over. We never place our camera on top of the tripod unless someone is standing next to it to hold it. It also helps when you have extra help who can direct people around the area. When estimating your time to set up a shoot, you can’t just assume you walk in and set up. You must allow for time, sometimes a lot of time, to devise a strategy on how to shoot video safely. Some people aren’t paying attention. They aren’t expecting a tripod or lights around the corner. You don’t want them to get hurt. You don’t want them to damage your equipment. You might shoot a beautiful video, but not taking safety precautions will quickly turn the day ugly.