How to Film in Art Galleries: The Ultimate Guide
Updated: Dec 1
In this blog post, we, at ShootLab, a leading video production company, want to share our knowledge of 'how to film in art galleries' we offer invaluable insights gleaned from our extensive experience of filming in art galleries and museums and producing video content for the Arts and Culture sector.
Our video production team (shootlab) has produced art video content for numerous gallery exhibitions, art openings, and more and worked for clients including Bloomberg, Charleston, Dezeen, Artsco, Dazed, UAL, Obama Foundation, Ravensbourne, Goldsmiths University and Sussex Modern. We have filmed interviews with high-profile artists and designers including Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, Stephen Shore, Jimmy Choo as well as high profile figures in the industry. We've navigated the complex permissions processes required and we’ve learned about some of the best practices for filming smoothly and respectfully in arts and culture environments without disrupting fellow patrons and the art!
If you’re looking to produce video content for your art gallery, to film interviews, B-roll, or create other video footage in an art gallery setting, read on for our advice . With the right preparation and approach, you can too can produce beautiful art gallery videos without hassle. If you aim to film video content in an art gallery or museum, let our experience filming in museums and galleries guide you.
How do you shoot in an art gallery?
Setting up to shoot in an art gallery: When filming in galleries, your setup must provide quality video and audio without disturbing visitors. Here are techniques we use to achieve this balance:
Lighting a Gallery or Exhibition Space for Video
At ShootLab, we rely on specialised lighting techniques when filming in art galleries to enhance the artwork without causing damage or disruption. We often use LED lights for their ability to accurately render colour. A key reason we choose LEDs is they provide a superior colour rendering index compared to other light sources, ensuring the colours of artworks are authentically represented in our footage. We always bring spotlights to precisely control lighting and highlight specific pieces. Strategies like wall washing and spotlighting accentuate particular works while guiding the viewer's eye through exhibitions. When selecting LEDs, we carefully consider specifications like colour temperature and CRI to choose options that replicate natural light and faithfully convey colour nuances. Controlling glare and direct sunlight is also critical to prevent over-exposed footage. Methods like curtains, shades, and angled lighting enable us to achieve optimal video lighting that flatters both the art and our shots. Lighting makes or breaks your footage. We've perfected lighting techniques to highlight artworks without disruption:
LED Lights: Energy-efficient and cool-burning, these are ideal for galleries. Position LED panels to cast soft, even light on art.
Spotlights: Use narrow spotlights to accentuate details. Avoid shine or glare on pieces.
Manage Sunlight: Direct sun can overexpose shots. Use scrims and silks to diffuse light.
Understand Color: Know the paint hues to set flattering light temperatures. Warm light flatters warm tones, while cool light complements cool hues.
Recording Good Audio in an Art Gallery
At ShootLab, we utilise several key techniques to capture professional-quality audio when filming in art galleries. We invest in high-end microphones that can pick up the subtle nuances and tones of sounds in these unique spaces. Directional mics allow us to hone in on the sounds we want while reducing distracting ambient noise. To further minimise background noise, we sometimes use sound-absorbing acoustic blankets on stands and schedule recordings during quieter gallery hours when possible. Our videographers take care to position the mic properly - close to the source but not so close as to cause distortion, experimenting with different angles and distances for the best audio quality.
In post-production, we use audio editing software to refine the recording even further by removing any remaining unwanted noise, adjusting levels, and applying filters to enhance the overall sound. With the right gear, placement, and editing, we're able to capture pristine gallery audio.
Crisp, clear audio is as crucial as quality visuals. We use these methods to capture gallery ambiance without noise disruption:
Directional Mics: Shotguns and lavaliers pick up focused sound from interviews and scenes without background noise.
Sound Absorbers: Strategic foam cubes soak up echoes and reverb in cavernous gallery spaces.
Room Tone: Record a minute of "room tone" - the gallery's natural ambience. This allows seamlessly editing interviews.
Post-Production: Refine audio levels, reduce reverb, and enhance sound clarity.
Filming Techniques for Galleries
Get artsy shots of painting details, sculptures from different angles, gallery architecture details, and patrons admiring art. At ShootLab, we carefully plan each shot to emphasise paintings, sculptures, and architectural details. We use tools like gimbals and sliders to achieve motion and dynamism in often static environments, as well as creating a more varied selection of B-roll footage. We use close-ups to showcase the intricate details of the art, and we also capture several wide-angle shots of the gallery setting to give context and show off the collection. With the right planning, camera work, and attention to detail, you can produce standout art gallery videos.
Capturing a gallery's essence requires planning and precision. Here are the techniques we use:
Wide Shots: Establishing shots showcase the gallery's architecture and layout. Use wide-angle lenses and drone/crane shots.
Tracking Shots: Smooth camera movements reveal details and guide the viewer through exhibits. Use gimbals, sliders, and stabilizers.
Close-ups: Zoom in on intricate details of artwork - brush strokes, textures, colors. Use macro lenses and 4K resolution.
B-Roll: Capture visitors admiring works, light filtering through windows, animations of the space. B-roll is crucial to cutaways.
Perspective: Shoot paintings straight-on, not at an angle. But use creative angles for sculpture and installation art.
Steady: Prevent shake with tripods, monopods, camera straps. Some galleries prohibit tripods, so plan handheld needs.
Mind Reflections: Avoid shooting glass covered pieces straight-on. Watch for glare and reflections.
Conducting Interviews in an Art Gallery
At ShootLab, we take great care to capture compelling interviews with curators, artists, and patrons for our art gallery videos. We select quiet, visually interesting locations with ample natural light when possible. The camera is positioned at a comfortable distance for a well-framed shot, shooting in 4K for maximum flexibility in post. Our videographers adjust settings like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed based on conditions to achieve a cinematic look. Proper lighting is essential, so we use a three-point setup with key, fill, and back lights paired with softboxes for an even, flattering illumination.
For pristine audio, we use high-end lavalier or shotgun mics positioned close to the interviewee while remaining off camera. For two-person interviews, identical mics and stands provide balancing ease. We monitor sound continuously via headphones to ensure clarity. During interviews, we engage participants with open-ended questions and active listening, adapting dynamically based on their responses. These techniques allow us to capture authentic and insightful interviews.
Interviews within galleries allow unique backdrops follow these steps to get good results:
Location: Choose an exhibit relevant to the discussion for visual interest. Avoid noisy areas.
Framing: Compose the shot so the art isn't too distracting. Light your subject appropriately.
Audio: Use lavalier mics and monitors to capture crisp sound. Eliminate echoes with sound blankets.
Engagement: Have the interviewer stand near the camera for a conversational flow.
B-Roll: Get cutaway shots of the art, venue, and interviewee reactions for editing.
Editing: Use jump cuts, cutaways, and room tone for seamless transitions between questions.
Planning Your Gallery Shoot
Meticulous preparation enables smooth gallery filming. Key steps include:
Scout Locations: Visit the venue beforehand to assess layout, lighting, acoustics, crowds, restrictions, etc.
Plan Shots: Storyboard the scenes and shots you want to capture. Identify any equipment needs.
Get Permissions: Obtain all necessary filming and release permissions from the venue. Some galleries prohibit tripods or flash.
Prep Gear: Charge batteries, prep mics, pack extra SD cards, and test equipment beforehand.
Schedule Carefully: Arrange shoot times when the venue is less crowded for easier filming.
Be Unobtrusive: Remain respectful of all visitors and gallery rules during your shoot.
Coordinate with Staff: Brief gallery staff on your shoot plan and get assistance if needed. Foster positive relationships.
Post-Production for Art Galleries
Post-production crafts your raw footage into a polished, engaging video:
Sequencing: Arrange clips purposefully to build drama and interest. juxtapose wide scenes, close-ups, interviews, and B-roll for flow.
Pacing: Use cutaways and B-roll to briskly move between soundbites and location changes.
Audio: Balance sound levels, reduce ambient noise, and sharpen interview dialogue.
Colour Grading: Enhance the visuals through saturation, contrast, filters, and colour correction. Make the art pop.
Titles and Graphics: Use stylish graphics, titles, subtitles, and lower-thirds to convey information clearly.
Music: Add subtle, complementary background music to provide continuity and mood. Respect copyrights.
Respecting Artist Copyrights
Obtain usage rights for any copyrighted artworks featured prominently in your video. Some galleries can facilitate this.
Only show copyrighted works briefly as B-roll, not as a focus of shots.
Avoid including logos or recognisable branding of copyrighted pieces.
Alter compositions and angles so copyrighted art isn't the full focus.
Filming in art galleries requires awareness and planning:
Light and frame shots to highlight artworks without glare or disruption.
Record clear audio by minimising echoes and ambient noise.
Use creative angles and movements to showcase exhibits.
Conduct interviews near relevant artworks with optimal sound.
Scout locations thoroughly and secure gallery permissions.
Edit clips together cohesively with b-roll, audio polish, colour correction and music.
Respect artist copyrights and avoid featuring protected works too prominently.
Here are answers to common questions about filming in art galleries:
What equipment do I need?
A DSLR or mirrorless camera, tripod, external mic, headphones, lighting kit, and audio recorder. Multi-angle options like sliders, gimbals, drones/cranes help capture unique perspectives.
How can I avoid disruptions while filming?
Schedule shoots during off-peak hours when galleries are less crowded. Remain courteous of all visitors, moving carefully around exhibits. Some venues offer private access.
Do I need permission to film in a gallery?
Yes, obtain all required filming and release permissions from the venue beforehand. Some prohibit commercial filming or tripods.
How do I properly light an exhibit?
Use diffuse overall light from multiple angles to avoid shadows. Add accent spotlights carefully positioned to avoid glares. Know the colour temperature that flatters the artwork's tones.
What's an ideal interview backdrop?
Choose a relevant, visually interesting exhibit as the backdrop without distracting elements behind the subject. Frame the shot tightly on your subject.
Can I use copyrighted artworks in my videos?
You can feature them briefly in wide shots or B-roll, but avoid extended close-ups without permission. Obtain usage rights from the gallery or artist for prominent inclusion.
What editing techniques are important?
Thoughtful sequencing, seamless cuts between clips, colour correction, balanced audio, complementary music, stylish titles and graphics.
How can I make the art stand out visually?
Use careful lighting, macro lens close-ups, 4K resolution, subtle zooms/pans, and colourcolour grading during post-production.
What equipment restrictions do galleries have?
Many prohibit flash, large lights, and tripods. Some require escorting media crews. Check all policies. Use monopods, stabilizers and off-camera lighting as alternatives.
We at Shootlab hope this comprehensive guide has been helpful and given you insights into how to film in art galleries. Learning the skills and techniques of gallery filming will allow you to produce captivating videos showcasing your gallery space and the incredible art you are exhibiting. With thorough planning, cooperation from venue staff, respect for the space, and artful post-production, your videos can capture the visual essence of your creative space!
SHOOTLAB are a content Creation Company based in the UK. Specialising in Video Production, Photography, Videography, Social media Content Creation & Social Media Management. We have experience working with businesses of all sizes creating high-quality content for websites, blogs and social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. Elevate your brand or business with Shootlab's expertise in dynamic content creation and high-impact video production.