Making Videos from the Rooftop

Perfect settings.

August, 2021

Some of the most iconic movie scenes have been shot on rooftops. James Bond looking moodily out across London, Peter Parker kissing Gwen on a rooftop, and of course, Alfred Hitchock’s Vertigo.

Rooftops don’t just make for exciting, dangerous, and romantic settings for movies, they also make great spots for vloggers and influencers to work from. One of the reasons for that is that they are often home to glamorous bars and parties.

New York City itself is full of extremely cool rooftop bars, and influencers have been known to film videos in these places for their Instagram and YouTube posts.

Why are these venues so appealing to influencers and vloggers, and are there any tips you can incorporate into making your own rooftop videos?

What are influencers and vloggers?

Vlogging involves making a video journal of events occurring around the person capturing the film. In the same way that blogs are usually mostly text-based, vlogs lean heavily towards the video and visual side of things.

Influencers and vloggers are often one-and-the-same things, and the terms are interchangeable. These people usually target a specific niche such as health and beauty, or fitness, and will post advice, opinions, and of course, videos, on this matter.

They will often have a large and loyal following that they can influence when it comes to making purchases and using services. Some vlogger’s posts are more aspirational and can show a certain type of lifestyle to their audience, including parties and clubs.

Indeed, some influencers say that running and posting about parties is their job and even in a pandemic they cannot stop. These influencers would definitely be the kind of people to love visiting a stylish rooftop bar or party.

What is the appeal of vlogging?

For the actual vlogger, part of the appeal may be the lifestyle itself. Influencers can carve a career from almost nothing if they choose the right niche and know how to present themselves.

This can lead to a lucrative career option, where there is no bureaucracy to answer to and full creative control. While some channels on YouTube or accounts on Instagram may be simple in their approach, others are very creative.

The appeal of vlogging to brands is something different. If a nightclub opened up in a big US city, it would want to project the right image, and attract the right audience. Influencers can help to do this.

By choosing the right influencer, the brand (or club in this instance) can access a huge following. This creates publicity for the club, awareness, and can add an element of exclusivity. The majority of the influencer’s audience will likely be unable to attend the club and so this adds aspiration too.

How to become a vlogger?

Part of being a successful vlogger is being able to build trust and grow their following organically.

Another part is making interesting content, and today that means video. Influencers and vloggers need to have a good personality and be comfortable on camera. People are more likely to spend time watching videos than they are reading copy, so visual images are more important these days than text.

Asides from creating a genuine, engaged audience, a vlogger needs to understand some of the creative sides too, and what equipment is needed. Many influencers and vloggers use smartphones to video, but some circumstances require better equipment.

ETo be a great vlogger requires a good camera and video work as well as a winning personality.

What is the appeal of the rooftop shot?

From a visual and film viewpoint, being high up above a city can make the setting seem far removed from the rest of the world. With the rest of the people, the street pollution, and noise, far below, a rooftop bar can seem calm and like an oasis.

At other times, a rooftop party can be a lively, hedonistic place away from the troubles of everyday life. Distance plays a large part in rooftop settings, and this may be why they are so popular.

They also provide great locations for still photography and video, especially for vlogs.

How do rooftop scenes get shot?

As mentioned above, many vloggers do use smartphones when snapping selfies or taking quick videos in certain venues. But, there are actually a whole range of cameras available for serious vloggers today.

In the past, a vlogger might have gone out on their own and filmed themselves in certain situations, and talking to individuals in public. They might film themselves playing pranks outdoors, or reviewing a certain product indoors.

Now, with so much money available to the right influencers, camera work is taken much more seriously. For instance, imagine a scene in a cool Miami rooftop bar. A top club and bar influencer wants to film a scene from above, capturing the party-loving customers below, the layout of the scene, and the ambiance.

For this example, an iPhone isn’t likely to cut it. When shooting from the top, the filmmaker will want to use the best camera for vlogging that they can. The setup will need to be right, the lighting correct, and the right type of camera in play.

Filming from overhead in this scenario may take a tripod-crane or extension arm, and a camera operator, as the vlogger, will need to be below in the shot. Sound will need to be considered also.

What camera knowledge does a vlogger need to have now?

For some influencers and vloggers, very little camera knowledge is required. However, if they want to succeed then they will take a keen interest in the equipment that records them.

This means getting to know more about compacts, mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, and even smartphones. At the least, they will need to understand why ring lights are used for certain shots and videos, and how to get the best sound recording.

Gimbals, tripods, and other equipment including the basics such as memory cards, and spare batteries will need to be taken into account.

Could you become a club or bar influencer?

The beauty of being a vlogger is that anyone can do it. To be successful requires a lot of work though. You would need to have the ability to access rooftop bars, and preferably some exclusive or high-end ones.

No one will want to watch a video of a rooftop bar from a run-down area that is begging for customers. Choose somewhere of interest, make quality content, and post exciting, aspirational videos. As your following grows, you should in theory start to receive invites to more interesting places.

For example, the world’s largest rooftop bar which is situated in Chicago is in the Guinness Book of Records. This would make a post worth reading. One of the appeals of rooftop bars is that they feel exclusive, so shoot the scenes so that this comes across on the internet.

Summary

If the likes of Scorcese and Hitchcock think filming rooftop scenes can make for iconic moments, then imagine what a good camera could do in the right rooftop bar or party.

Movies such as Mary Poppins, Ghostbusters, and The Hangover, would be missing something important if their rooftop scenes were missed out. And, any good vlogger should understand the importance of rooftop moments too.

The world is full of seriously great rooftop parties. If you are serious about being a vlogger then purchasing the right camera, and then getting access to these venues is what it is all about.

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