Anyone can shoot good video with enough equipment and crew behind them, but the real masters of the video craft are people who can move and shoot fast. Bill Pryor has some tips for those who need to get their shots and move on.
-Set up your gear before you get to the site or sites–ie., daylight white balance, put your ND filter on; take tripod out of case, extend legs, put on handle…So all you have to do is jump out of the car, set up tripod, snap on camera, turn it on and shoot.
-Use a zoom lens to avoid time changing primes. If you have to change a lens, get the shot first with the lens you have, then switch. Example: I got a grabshot of something today involving a truck parked outside a building. Got the shot with my 24-105 zoomed in all the way. Wanted a tighter shot, so I switched to the 70-200, but by the time I got that done the damn truck had left. No problem, I had a shot that was good.
-Act like you belong there, don’t sneak around. I’ve found it’s better these days to set up a tripod in plain sight, get your shot quickly but not rushed, pack your stuff away calmly without rushing, and drive off in a normal fashion. If you do a hand held shot leaning up against a tree, propped over the hood of a car, etc., they might think you’re up to something. If you act like you have a legitimate right to be there, they usually will leave you alone. I think this is particularly true if you’re shooting things like buildings in a big city.
-Take business cards and a script if you have one. Be prepared to tell people what you’re doing. Don’t tell them more than they need to know.
-Be careful when shooting things like construction zones, asphalt plants, power plants, etc. These places may have been busted for pollution violations and they’ll think you’re trying to give them bad PR.
-Be careful about private property, where you stand and where you park. I only park at a business if it’s closed, or if it’s a really public place like a strip mall or a grocery or convenience store, etc., then that’s probably OK. I park in their lots all the time. I think it’s best to be standing on public property when shooting.
-If possible, let someone else drive. If you have a second person, he can drive, you can jump out and grab a shot without having to drive around looking for a parking place. You can also do drive by shooting when appropriate (don’t try that without a driver).
-Try to avoid hand held (unless it’s appropriate to the subject) but be prepared to go handheld. If you have a lens with I.S. and a shoulder rig, you may be able to get shots you can’t get when you have to set up a tripod. Also, there are places where if you use a tripod, somebody will come and tell you to leave, or want you to get permission and/or pay money. Malls, for example.
-In my opinion, I have found it’s often better to get the shot and then apologize if you have to. If you ask permission, that can become a time consuming hassle. Malls, for example. “You can’t shoot video in here!” “Oh, sorry, OK, no problem, I’m leaving” (you say after having got the shot). Disclaimer: I’m not saying you should do this, I’m just saying I have.