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Shooting in Vancouver: A Cinematographer’s Guide

Vancouver is a premier location for shooting film and TV. But what artistic edge does it have over other major cities? Here are 5 factors that differentiate shooting in Vancouver.

1. Vancouver’s higher latitude means extended daytime shooting hours during summer–­ a huge boon for productions shooting on a tight timeline. During peak filming season, Vancouver gets up to 16 hours of daylight, two hours more than Los Angeles, yet avoids the southern California heat during summer.

2. With softer light, ideal lighting ratios and a warmer colour, the “golden” or “magic” hour after sunrise and before sunset is often the best time to shoot. In any given season, the sun in Vancouver remains lower on the horizon than in most US cities, giving Vancouver a magic hour that is actually way longer than one hour, and often spectacular for more than two.

3. Vancouver often has a thick cloud cover that diffuses light. Harsh sunlight pouring above your subjects is complicated to control and a sky sprinkled with clouds is a nightmare due to constantly changing light. Cloudy grey skies make for constant lighting conditions and a much easier shoot.

4. Although Vancouverites love to complain about it, rain isn’t always a bad thing. Our mild winters and lack of snow allow for a nearly year-round shooting window. Although uncomfortable to hold a shoot in the rain, it often doesn’t read on camera and can easily look moody, arty, and unlike anything that LA can offer.

5. Compared to popular American film locations, Vancouver’s air pollution is low. Cleaner air means a larger spectrum of unfiltered sunlight. In places with heavy pollution, sunlight may come pre­filtered and muted, negating much of its artistic usefulness. The lack of pollution during sunrise or sunset provides a gorgeous broad spectrum in Vancouver­ and exquisite backdrops.

Written by Freddie Kim