You’ve got the talent, the lights, and the camera, but where are you supposed to film the action? That’s a great question! We learned a lot about set design while filming our latest docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred, and we’re happy to share what we learned with you. One of the main takeaways we got from the process (and from watching the pros at Sandwich Video) is that most of the time, you can create a great-looking set with what you already have in the room.
If you have a room booked for a shoot and you’re not really sure how to make it look good, take a look around and see what you have available to you. Can you rearrange a couch or chair? Are there any plants or artwork in the room? If so, use ‘em! But, before you whip out your camera and start recording, book time to set up your shot. When you’re looking to set up a room, it can take more time than you might think. So, it’s a good idea to book a little bit of extra time so you can really get the space set up how you want it.
Plus, if you don’t give yourself enough time, your talent can show up before you’re totally prepared, which can cause some unnecessary stress. To avoid time-management blunders, make a plan and prep the space before the shoot time is scheduled.
It’s natural to want to include a lot of things in the scene to achieve a certain aesthetic, but usually, the fewer the distractions in the background, the better. Ultimately, you want your shot to look balanced and clean (or not chaotic, really).
Some easy ways you can cut down on the clutter is to try to match the colors of some of your accessories. Bring elements into the scene that share the same color; this will make your shot look visually appealing! If you bought anything to place in the scene, keep the tags on the item. Chances are you are only going to use this once, so you can save some cash and return any items that were lightly used. Cha-ching!
One other important thing to remember? Don’t be afraid to try stuff out! Move things around, take a few test shots, bring them onto your computer, and see what the whole shot looks like. What looks “off” in one corner might look great in another. But, you won’t know until you try. And it’s especially important to make adjustments early because when the shoot starts, you want everything to be locked down and ready to roll.
When building a scene, you want to take into consideration the camera angle and how wide the shot is. Essentially, you don’t need to worry about dressing the set for what isn’t being shown on camera. Save yourself the time and don’t worry about a mess that’s outside of the frame. As long as the shot looks good on your camera, you’re good to go!
If you’re building a scene for someone talking to the camera, make sure to get rid of any clutter in the room. This will ensure that the focus on your subject, and not on the room they’re in. As you consider what to include in your shot, don’t go overboard. A well-placed plant or a piece of art can go a long way in making a shot look good.
If you want to move some art around, but aren’t able to make any new holes in the wall, don’t worry! All you need is some Command Picture Hanging Strips or some painters tape and a standard picture hanger. This way, you can really fine-tune where the art is in your scene and get that perfect shot. And one more thing: When placing elements, make sure not to put anything distracting right behind your subject’s head. That’s a big no-no.
By all means, you should take the time you need to clean up and rearrange your scene, but at the end of the day, use your best judgment. Navigate the room you’re in, find the best shot, and rearrange the furniture accordingly. You don’t have to go over-the-top; simply move things until you feel your shot is ready to go. Then, it’s time to bring your talent in, and start to shoot your video. It can really be that easy!
With a little set preparation before you shoot, you’ll have a wonderful backdrop for your video in no time.