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Shooting in studio vs on location


Written by Esther C

Published Mar 14, 2024

Whether you're a small or large scale production, deciding where to shoot is a major decision that will impact not only the entire shooting process but the creative output as well. Unfortunately it's not always obvious whether shooting your project in studio or on location will be best.

When people think of location shooting they often think of outdoor spaces but it can incorporate any type of indoor venue too, including houses, bars, offices and warehouses for hire. 

Understanding the differences between shooting in a studio and shooting on location is essential for filmmakers to make informed decisions that align with their vision and production requirements. In this guide we give you the pros and cons of both to help you make the right decision for your next production. 


  • What to consider when choosing studio or location shooting
    • Cost
    • Scheduling
    • Control
  • Shooting in studio:
    • Studio advantages
    • Studio disadvantages
  • Shooting on location:
    • Location advantages
    • Location disadvantages
  • Final thoughts

What to consider when choosing studio or location shooting


If you're looking for the cheaper option of the two, the answer is often shooting on location. However there are some important factors to consider. 

Hiring a film studio, whether on an hourly or day rate, generally costs more than hiring a filming location because it comes with all the facilities and amenities you need like storage, bathrooms and Wifi. Basic sound and lighting equipment and technical support from staff are often included too. 

A filming location is also cheaper because it provides you with a backdrop, so you don’t need to build a set from scratch like you do when hiring a studio. On the other hand, a location shoot won't come with any equipment, and it may not even come with a power source, so you're going to need to bring everything with you.

So before you compare the cost of hiring a location with studio rental, you’ll need to factor in the following additional costs as well:

  • Filming permits and road closure permits
  • Equipment and prop rental fees
  • Transport costs for crew, filming equipment and props (vehicle rentals, fuel, parking fees)
  • Additional management staff like security and site managers
image of a camera man shooting a man in a car on the street
Photo by Kyle Loftus


If you have either a short time frame or an approaching project deadline, shooting in a studio could be the better option in order to get your work done quickly. Contacting the studio manager and confirming availability is often a quick process, and once you have shooting dates confirmed you can be certain you won’t experience any delays due to external issues like weather, lighting or sound disruptions.

There is generally a longer lead time required to get ready for shooting on location, as it requires a location scout to pull-together location options first, conduct a location recce, and then get filming permission and permits.

Then there are logistical questions you need to answer when shooting on location, including: Is there Wifi? Where will you park? Where will you setup makeup and wardrobe areas? Is there vehicle access for loading and unloading equipment? You don’t need to worry about any of these considerations with a film studio as these facilities are already built in. 

Another factor to consider is set design. One major convenience of shooting on location is that the set is already (at least partially) built. A film studio is a blank canvas, so you'll need to factor set design into your schedule. If your studio set is elaborate it could take days or weeks to build and install which you'll need to factor this into your shooting timeline.

image of a camera operator shooting in a film studio
Photo by Ron Lach


Another question to ask yourself is how much value do you put on having control over the elements throughout your shoot? A film studio gives you the benefit of total lighting and sound control, but it does come at the expense of certain creative choices. For example, you are confined to the space between four walls so you only have so many shooting angles to work with, and there are only so many people you can fit inside a studio, making it difficult to recreate an expansive backdrop. 

Another option for those with a flexible budget, is to use a virtual production studio. These are large studios with an LED wall which allows you to display any background you like, so you can transport your actors to exotic locations without the need for green screen technology. Virtual production is an expensive option due to its cutting-edge technology, but it has had amazing results for productions like The Mandalorian.

image of an actor filming a scene in an outdoor location
Photo by Vincent Santamaria

Got a scouting project but don't have anywhere to catalog/store your locations?

Our sister company SuperScout is a private location library platform for location scouts, managers & production teams. Upload locations in minutes, tag them in seconds (with ai), then search and share with your team.

Shooting in studio

Studio advantages

  • Studios have adapted to uncertainty around filming duration and can generally offer more flexibility to ensure the production can be completed. 
  • Accessibility at the venue should be easy as there's usually a specific area for loading equipment in and out of efficiently. Many studios are located near transport hubs in London, making them convenient for many people to access. 
  • Studios offer a controlled and predictable environment so you can rely on having an efficient shooting schedule, for example, weather cannot impact or delay shooting.  
  • Studios often have built-in facilities and resources, such as sound stages, green screens, and equipment rental, that make them easily accessible for filmmakers. This can streamline the production process and reduce logistical challenges.
image of director and crew shooting in a film studio
Photo by Ron Lach

Studio disadvantages

  • While studios offer control and flexibility, they lack the authenticity of real-world locations. Set designs and props must be carefully crafted to create believable environments that resonate with audiences.
  • Studios have finite space, which can be restrictive for larger productions or those that require expansive sets. You may need to compromise on studio set designs or scale back their creative vision to fit within the available space.
  • Building and maintaining studio sets can be expensive, especially for large-scale productions or those with intricate set designs. Additionally, studio rental fees and other associated costs can add up quickly.
  • Working within the confines of a studio can impose creative limitations on filmmakers, particularly when trying to achieve a specific aesthetic or atmosphere. Productions must find innovative ways to overcome these constraints while still achieving their artistic vision.
an image of technical crew on a film set in a studio
Photo by Bence Szemerey

Shooting on location

Location advantages

  • Location shooting can provide access to authentic props, architecture, and settings that would be difficult or expensive to replicate in a studio. This can add richness and detail to the production, especially for historical films and period dramas.
  • Real locations often offer stunning visuals that can enhance the overall look and feel of a film or TV show. From iconic landmarks to picturesque landscapes, these settings can provide a visually captivating backdrop for the story.
  • In some cases, shooting on location is more cost-effective than constructing elaborate sets in a studio. This is especially true for smaller productions or those with limited budgets. To find out more, read how to location scout on a budget.
  • Being in a real location can inspire creative ideas and solutions for filmmakers. The unique features and atmosphere of a location may spark new ideas or contribute to the creative process in unexpected ways.
image of a camera man and director shooting in the desert
Photo by cottonbro studio

Location disadvantages

  • Availability can be an issue because the space is only available at the owner’s convenience and hard deadlines could put pressure on the project if it runs behind schedule. Otherwise finding a new location will delay filming. 
  • A remote location can cause accessibility issues depending on what are the roads are like and whether there are convenient places to store and load equipment. Shooting on location often requires extensive logistical planning and coordination, especially when working in remote or challenging environments.
  • There are regulations and permits required when shooting on location. The location scout must get filming permission from the property owner, or local authorities if filming is taking place in a public space. This will need to be done in advance so everything can be agreed before the filming timeline. 
  • Locations can be affected by unpredictable weather, noise and other environmental factors, which can mean delaying shoot days. Even when you're shooting indoors, the weather will impact the amount of natural lighting you get and affects continuity.
  • Filming in multiple locations can lead to inconsistencies in lighting, sound quality, and visual aesthetics, which may require additional post-production work to address.
image of a camera man shooting outdoors in the rain with an umbrella
Photo by Ben Collins

Final thoughts

In the end, whether you opt for studio or location shooting, both choices offer their own unique advantages and challenges. Studios provide a controlled environment, while shooting on location offers authenticity and a touch of adventure. The decision ultimately boils down to your specific needs, creative vision, and budget constraints.

Whatever you choose, embrace the experience and make the most of every moment behind the camera. And if you're looking for the perfect place to film, explore Tutti's awesome range of London film studios and film locations for hire.

Thinking of hiring a studio for your next film production?

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

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