Hospitals can be very demanding and highly-specialized film and video production environments. As a common and necessary location for medical video production, hospitals present unique production challenges. When we recently produced a marketing and fund-raising video for Lankenau Medical Center and Main Line Health, we shot for two weeks in the hospital and learned a few important things along the way.

Medical Video Production

Be flexible
Doctors are busy people and many are saving lives every day so even though a shooting schedule looks good, it may all need change due to changes in a doctor’s schedule. To get the shots you need, you may have to reschedule at the drop of a hat.

This first bit of advice leads directly to the next…

Travel light
Because schedules can suddenly change, you have an advantage if you own your own equipment and your gear is compact, efficient and versatile. On the Lankenau project, we were able to fit everything from cameras, tripods, lights, sound gear and even a small Steadicam onto a small rolling cart. For this type of project we shoot with Canon 5D’s which we own. They are compact, have great low light capability and have the added benefit of looking like still cameras and therefore seem to be less distracting for candid filming.

Be invisible

Candid filming aside, hospitals are busy places with sensitive environments. Patients are fighting for their lives, families are nervously watching over recovering loved ones. It is a place to be discreet, quiet and as polite as possible. You are working but you are a guest and need to respect what’s going on around you.

Pay attention
It seems a bit obvious, but things can happen quickly in a hospital. While being invisible, you need to watch everything. Not only do you need to anticipate keeping yourself and your equipment out of the way, but watching closely yields good footage. As is the case in shooting any good documentary b-roll, you need to see what’s going on in the scene. What are the scenes within the scene, the interactions, the dramas and the visual gems?