Video Backgrounds: THE SHORT LIST
the big city
Pros: Exciting, Atmospheric, Sophisticated, can denote an air of prestige, set the tone in the environment where its intended (whether a city or urban)
Cons: Lack of control of various factors including lighting due to sun and cloud movement and precipitation, car honks / traffic / city ambient noises can be a disturbance.
Note: In the right settings, this can be a really great option and lend a sophisticated tone. But conditions can cause major delays in production. I've often found myself on shoots waiting for the sun the sun to duck behind a building or heavy cloud formation. I find that a little background noise (a car honk, etc.) can be a benefit.
Pros: Flexibility in Post!
Cons: Flexibility in Post!
Note: I always tell clients the same thing about green screen, its great if you're doing it for a specific purpose. But without a clear vision, you might find your video in post-production limbo because you have no idea what to replace the green background with once you 'key' it out in editing software. Another thing to consider is that good green screen (in studio) can yield great results. But bad green screen can yield a low-end look with distracting artifacts and digital noise. Though technology has made green screen editing much easier, it's still essential that lighting is perfect, face oil / shine is reduced and wardrobe is the correct colors. The same goes for shiny jewelry, which can both be a noise disturbance as well as present challenges for the editor when 'keying out' the green screen.
Pros: Can set the proper tone for the video, feel inviting, subject may also feel more comfortable in their own (actual) home, as opposed to a set.
Cons: home setups can risk being *too casual, and dpeending on the space and size, setting up lighting and audio may be challenging. Casual tone of recording in home can be perfect for branded content on social media.
Note: This is a case-by-case option. For example, we recorded a branded video for a well-known company in a spacious rental home in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The location allowed us a sprawling, state of the art kitchen, home office and bathroom which was necessary for our storyboards.
the studio - white gradient
Pros: Simple, clean, easy to light, easy to shoot, easy for working with teleprompters, fully controllable environment for light and sound.
Cons: This look can risk being a little dry and too 'corporate' but some content calls for it and suits it well (IE a CEO addressing their employees).
Note: Such a minimal background requires a very dynamic on-screen talent, because the entire focus is on the speaker.
the high rise
Pros: Beautiful, sophisticated, 'big business' look that denotes success and grand scale.
Cons: Lighting can be particularly challenging to get right. Theres a variety of methods of controlling the light (ND filters, ND window treatment (which can be time consuming)
Note: Under the right weather conditions (and a window with limited streaks or dirt) this can yield gorgeous results. However, its not recommended in fast-moving cloud weather or longer recordings where light change will be visible (and distracting).
the street level
Pros: Exciting background, lots of movement, can set a video in the environment its intended to be (without having to waste time having the speaker say so, or showing graphically)
Cons: Risk of showing brands (and storefronts) that conflict with sponsor of current content being recorded, Risk of people unauthorized people being in shot without consent.
the forever hallway
Pros: Impressive, dynamic, emphasized depth of field (focus on subject, blurred background), insinuates impressive size, growth. Can emphasize business success, growth and stature within respective sector.
Cons: requires crowd and noise control, people management.
the live event
Pros: Click-worthy, exciting, colorful, this kind of environment can really captivate an audience.
Cons: Noise Interruptions, Inability to control lighting, harsh shadows and varying colors can make white balance difficult.
the living on the edge
Pros: Exciting, click-worthy,
Cons: Sound Challenges, Light challenges, difficult to use a teleprompter due to glare, weather challenges to look out for (rain, snow, wind)
Note: High risk can bring high rewards, and this type of shot is no different. Its challenging in every way possible. Technically, editorially, emotionally. But if all the elements work in your favor, you can get a really beautiful, dynamic shot perfect for the socials.
the HOLLYWOOD LOT
Pros: Can lend video a degree of "insider info" tone that is unavailable anywhere else. Is eye catching, casual, fun, can be stylized and look exciting.
Cons: backgrounds can risk being too busy,
the color backdrop
Pros: Clean, Simple, focused, good for product and conceptual shoots
Cons: Often require much pre-production and editing.
the Textured White backdrop
Pros: Clean, simple, minimalist, easy to light subject properly.
Cons: This look can risk being too simple, and might lack a visual incentive for intended audience to click play.
Note: Good for content intended to be simple and keep focus 100 percent on the subject. IE medical or healthcare related. Perhaps messaging with more serious tone about subjects such as quarterly calls, valuations or financial-related messaging might suit this look well, when simplicity is often a benefit. As well, video tutorials for products and applications may be successful in this format.
Pros: Easy, accessible (and mostly) free to use space for businesses and brands with large enough offices.
Cons: Dependent on good decor and ability to control foot traffic and noise.
Note: This can be a great opportunity to portray company culture.
the local color
Pros: Lends easily to comedy (as in this example)
Cons: Requires much prep work of the space. often limited area for crew and client to observe shoot.
Note: This particular kind of setup is great if the home is intended to portray cultural significance. For instance, the example in the thumbnail (to the left) was recorded with our partners at Hunter Park Productions in NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood. It was a comedic piece starring a Dominican comedic duo who make hilarious content in their own neighborhood. Here, our subject delivered his lines into a teleprompter while having his haircut in a kitchen.
Pros: Simplicity, textured background can be dynamic and engaging without distracting. These backgrounds are relatively easy to setup and controllable as far as lighting, audio and atmospheric factors.
Cons: This look can lack excitement, but it can also be a great solution for projects with limited prep time and space.
Note: Larger spaces tend to yield the best results in these types of setups - with a sharp focus on the subject and a blurred out background even unimpressive office spaces can look dynamic and interesting.