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10 Tips for Shooting Video in Zurich
Zurich is a European metropolis where creative urban life mixes with incredible natural landscapes. Located in Northern Switzerland and resting on Lake Zurich, this city showcases a picturesque Old Town right along a modern industrial quarter. As a global center for banking and finance, Zurich has plenty to offer any traveling producer. But what do you need to know before your next video production? We talked to DP Roni Ulmann about the top 10 tips for shooting corporate video in Zurich.
1. Language: The official language of Zurich is German, but the Alemannic Swiss German dialect is most commonly spoken by locals. Many people also speak French, English, Italian and Rätoromanisch (spoken by Swiss nationals only). Before your trip, we recommend brushing up on your German help communicate with the locals.
2. Currency: Many assume that Euros are the main form of currency in Switzerland, but that is not the case. The Swiss franc is the preferred form of currency and most commonly accepted in Zurich. You can pay with Euros in some restaurants and stores, but the exchange rate of Euros to Swiss francs is generally unfavorable. Swapping your currency to Swiss francs is recommended at your earliest convenience.
3. Swiss Alps: The Swiss mountains are a very classic staple of Switzerland. Many excursions into the mountains depart from Zurich and can be as quick as a day trip. Overlooking Zurich is a chain of hills with two popular summits; Käferberg and Waidberg. These peaks offer some incredible views of the city and are very popular tourist spots. You should absolutely consider shooting some b-roll or establishing shots at this higher altitude.
4. Permits: “Permits for shooting are necessary if you are with a crew bigger than 3 and especially if you disturb public life,” Ulmann said. If you think your shoot is going to block off a busy street or sidewalk, you will most likely need a permit. It is always best to check with the Zurich Film Office before shooting begins. For more information on permits, click here.
5. Prime Tower: Previously called “Maag Tower” this skyscraper used to be the highest in Switzerland from 2011 to 2015. The building is located near the Hardbrücke railway station and looks over the former industrial quarter. The 36-story tower highlights the modern side of the city. Getting a shot of Prime Tower from Waidberg at sunset makes for an incredible shot.
6. Transportation: Zurich has several public transportation options. “There is a day pass for public transportation in Zurich that includes every public transportation,” Ulmann said. “Even the cable cars and ships, for 24 hours”. Bicycle rentals are also available, but definitely not ideal for transporting heavy and expensive equipment. Hiring a driver or renting a car may be the most convenient method of transportation if that is the case.
7. Traffic: If you do decide to rent a car, be cautious of traffic. It’s expected in major cities like Zurich that rush hour times will have you moving slowly through the city. Traffic should be accounted for in the mornings and afternoons, as it can delay call times. Before getting stuck in traffic, consider the many public transportation options (if feasible with your equipment).
8. Weather: Zurich has four distinct seasons. It has an oceanic climate, but the higher areas could also be defined as humid continental. The best time to shoot in the city is between June-August. Temperatures are usually very mild and comfortable during those months. The rainy season usually begins in August and snow can be expected as early as December. Winters in Zurich are particularly cold, with temperatures averaging around 0 degrees Celsius. For more information on weather in Zurich, click here.
9. Old Town: Also referred to as “Altstadt”, this district has many clubs, stores and restaurants that all come together to form a cultural, social and historical melting pot. Old Town gives you a flare of the city’s history with its Medieval houses, narrow streets and Renaissance style town halls. Other sights worth seeing in this area include Peterskirche and the Fraumünster. Old Town is ideal for shooting b-roll of locals and tourists enjoying a classic Zurich hotspot.
10. Food: There are many different types of Swiss cuisine you should try during your visit. Foods in Switzerland often incorporate cheeses and milk chocolate. Some local dishes include Zurich Geschnetzeltes, Fondue, Raclette and Rösti. Ulmann suggests visiting the restaurant Gessnerallee for some of the best food in the city. And of course, you can’t visit Switzerland without delighting in some Swiss chocolate! For more food recommendations, click here.
-English is spoken by some, but it will make things easier for you to know some key German phrases.
-Public transportation is easily accessible and inexpensive but renting a car or hiring a driver will be more convenient if you have a lot of heavy equipment.
-There is a lot of diversity in footage you can get while in Zurich. From mountains to modern architecture to classic Medieval streets, all of these different landscapes help to capture the true essence of Zurich.