Producing a successful business video requires thought and effort in all aspects of the production, and one of the most important things to consider is set design. All videos require set design to some degree, whether it means moving an object slightly in the frame or constructing your set from the ground up. When approaching a new project, SVG’s goal is always to portray the business as what it is. Visually conveying the story and values of a company is achieved by bringing the viewer into your unique environment. With innovations in HD cameras, the frame is more important and can be more effective than ever, so serious consideration into how the set will be dressed proves to be necessary more often than not.
Dressing the set can be difficult for a corporate marketing video when you may not be sure what the space will look like. For example, we recently filmed a client testimonial video for Cambridge Sound Management. We were using the CEO’s office for the interview, so setting up the equipment also meant rearranging some furniture. Luckily, making this set look photogenic was a pretty easy task due to its nice view of the lawn. Even something as simple as this, however, required time and attention to how the location would appear to the audience.
Tweaking a set requires great attention to detail. Perhaps moving the vase a quarter inch to the left really makes it pop on the edge of the frame. Adding pieces of contrasting colors helps to add visual stimulus and intrigue to the shot. Although it can seem like too small of an adjustment to really make a difference, these slight adjustments can make a world of difference and having the patience to experiment and perfect the image is what makes a video go from good to great.
Many times, geometry plays a role in intelligent frame construction. Many designers will utilize straight lines to help direct the viewer’s eye to the subject. The insertion of structures and props onto the set requires collaboration between the production designer and the DP, who sets the composition of the shot. Knowing what the camera (and the audience) will be seeing allows the designer to decide what pieces of furniture or decoration will be most influential in creating an appealing image.
Other situations may warrant a much more involved set design, rather than simply moving furniture or sliding a lamp three inches to the left. In preparation to shoot a “how-to” video about mounting wallpaper, we were required to actually build an entire room. Rather than spend time looking for a house or an apartment with the right look to film in, the client preferred to build the set from the ground up. We designed a floor plan and got to work. The room was built over the course of three days in the condo of an associate. After the build was complete, we filmed the video, and, twelve hours later, the room was being deconstructed. An “any room will do” attitude could’ve costed the project the ability to create an environment suitable for the specific needs of the video. Going the extra mile to ensure that the look and tone of the project were right allowed us to capture the client’s vision.
Although effective video marketing isn’t usually the place for Hollywood style color schemes and design, it is always necessary to some degree in order to tell the story. For a medical training video we produced, we needed to make a regular office space look like a doctor’s office. Dressing the set took four hours, but the precision paid off in the final cut. Set design is often needed to not only create a visually appealing image, but also to support the story being told. Including the jar of tongue depressors may have seemed excessive, but it was capable of reinforcing the credibility of the situation presented.
This doesn’t mean, however, that every video requires a tool belt or a trunk of props. How to present your look depends immensely on what kind of video you are producing and what you’re trying to say. In a brand video, you will want to focus on elements that affect how the company is perceived. Is it a mom-and-pop business that relies on familiarity and strong roots? Or is it a competitive innovator that thrives on cutting-edge technology? These two examples would obviously result in vastly different products. The first would probably take place where business is actually conducted and maybe even feature regular customers. The second might be shot in the CEO’s office and concentrate on the dedicated leaders of the company.
In a “how-to” video, you will probably be going for a more accessible and instructional tone, so a straightforward set without unnecessary distractions will allow the audience to follow along. Fancy set dressings will be extraneous and will not properly serve the purpose of the video.
In a corporate training video, you will want to replicate the place of employment as accurately as possible if the actual location is not available. In order to successfully integrate new employees into the work environment, they need to be able to visualize themselves doing what they see, and that can be difficult if the surroundings of the characters on the screen do not match where they will actually be working. Even if the location is available, it’s a good idea to take the time to organize it in a way that the employee can expect it to look during regular business hours.
Set Design can involve building, painting, sewing, installing, decorating, and more. Sometimes, none of this may be needed, and only a seasoned eye for detail is required for a project. Hiring our professional video production crew (experienced in last-minute adjustments and designing mood-specific atmospheres) allowed our clients to rest assured that every element of their creation was being accounted for in ours.