When you set out to film a video for your company, one of the first things you think about is where you’re going to shoot the dang thing. You try to find an uncluttered part of your office, create your own makeshift set, or maybe you go out of the building entirely to film on location in a nearby park.
That’s because you know instinctively that the background, or setting, of your video makes an impact on the viewer. It’s why there are Academy awards for Production Design, and why if you choose poorly for your own video background, it could result in a poor performing video.
So how do you know what setting to choose for your video? Part of it depends on what type of video you are creating. For example, you might be filming a day in the life or behind the scenes style video of your team around the office, in which case you’d want to be able to walk around your building and show off the comings and goings of your average workday.
Or, you could be filming an FAQ or Live Q&A style video where it’s more about the information being conveyed than the setting you are in, in which case you’d want a more closed off setting so the viewer can focus on what’s being said rather than what’s going on behind you.
We’ll review the different types of backgrounds, how to make the most out of each, and when to use each one for maximum impact depending on what type of video you are shooting below.
Busy Backgrounds and When to Use Them.
We’ll start with busy backgrounds. Technically considered shooting on location, a busy background is any background with objects or design elements behind a subject that is being filmed. Filming anywhere in the real world can be considered using a busy background depending on what’s going on in the background of the frame.
The most common place you will end up using a busy background is when you are filming any video at your office. If your background includes other team members walking back and forth behind your subject in your shot, that’s a busy background. Even an office full of furniture without any people present can be considered a busy background because there are objects for the viewer’s eye to latch onto.
What’s good about shooting in busy backgrounds is that you can reduce the level of distraction by shooting so the background of your shot is out of focus. This way, the eye will be satisfied that there is something in the background, but it won’t feel the need to focus on it because it will look blurry. Instead, it will focus on whoever is talking.
Maybe you are shooting against a busy background because you want to capture the feel of a certain place. In that instance, you will want to keep your background in focus and pick camera angles and shots where the camera moves with a subject to incorporate the background as a real living, breathing part of your video.
This is especially true if you are shooting in your office to show off your team and build trust with an audience by authentically representing your company as a real place with real people in it. However, maybe your video is all about a certain town, or your product in action, in which case you might want to focus on city streets, or beautiful beach locales, to help sell the ambience of your subject in a real way.
Here are a few video types where you might want to use a busy background:
- Day in the life: These videos are the best forms of content to build that trust and authenticity with your audience, like we mentioned above. Film on location, utilizing the background in your office, while on the road, or at an event.
- Industry and Educational: Both of these video types require the use of on location backgrounds, whether it be a store’s physical location to educate how a process works, or a surrounding community or environment impacted by an industry.
- Brand: These videos are all about establishing who you are and what drives your business, so make sure you film on location in places that matter to you and your company – not against a basic studio backdrop.
- Customer Spotlight: These videos are all about your customers, so if your customer runs a business or invites you into their home to film them on location, take advantage of their natural environment as a background for authenticity.
- Crowdfunding videos: While you may want to conduct interviews against a neutral background, don’t miss the opportunity to show your product out on location, being used in backgrounds your customers would find themselves in.
- Event videos: This goes without saying, but these videos are filmed on location with very busy backgrounds. Usually you are capturing more of an ambience or vibe, so you may not even have a specific subject in mind. However, there are times you might be attending an event where you want to film a segment against a backdrop with your logo on it, which is totally fine to do, too.
Remember – just because a background is busy, doesn’t mean it looks good. Be mindful of framing, don’t be afraid of moving objects or your entire camera setup around to get the perfect shot, and use a camera lens with a shallow depth of field to blur out the background as needed.
Color Backgrounds and When to Use Them.
In complete contrast to busy backgrounds, sometimes you need a more basic, polished, studio feel to your background. This could be because you want the emphasis to be on your message, or because you don’t have a great location to film on. Sometimes you might not want to film at your office, so you go outside, but the wind is so terrible that it messes up your audio completely.
This is where color backgrounds, or staged backgrounds, come in. They create that polished studio feel without placing your subject alone in the middle of an empty room, which can feel more creepy and be even more distracting than a busy background. Plus, instead of committing to whatever color the room is, you can swap out different colors depending on the theme or feel of your video.
Color backgrounds can be set up anywhere, using rolls of long seamless photo paper, some lights, and a couple of C-stands. You can even turn a quiet corner of your office into a color background shooting studio depending on the way you position it and shoot it. Or, you can rent an actual soundstage, and set your color backdrop against that so you have a controlled environment with which to shoot your subject.
Technically, you can even use a step and repeat banner with a company logo on it in place of a color background too, but that’s often not ideal unless you are filming on location at a convention center, but you don’t want your video to be consumed by the madness unfolding around you in the background.
Here are a few video types where you might want to use a solid color background:
- Social Content: These videos are short-form by nature, so no need to go all out on producing them. Instead, shoot them against a color background. Plus, by using a colorful backdrop, you can contrast your customers’ otherwise busy feeds and direct their attention onto your product.
- Before and After: These videos are all about visualizing the transformation after using your product, so unless an environmental factor is necessary to show off the progress of a before and after, use a color background.
- FAQ, Q&A or Tips and Tricks: These videos are more about the information being shared, so color backdrops can help keep the focus on the presenter and what they’re saying as opposed to whatever else is going on around the office.
- Product Review and Unboxing: You’ve probably seen these types of popular videos on Youtube. In most cases you should film these against a color background so the focus can be on the product itself, except for when you would cut away to show a product in use on location, like to the street to ride an e-bike.
- Welcome, Tutorial, or Thank You: These videos are about customer service, so focus on creating a backdrop with a warm feeling color to make them feel welcomed, thanked, or at ease when explaining how something works.
- Testimonials: These videos are more about the stories being told, and as such, can be filmed against a color background or a busy background on location. It’s really up to you and where the best backgrounds can be found or created.
Keep in mind that you will need to light your color background, so make sure wherever you set it up, you will have access to the necessary power. However, if you get the lighting set, you should have a set you can work with all day, which will save you time during set-ups. Oh, and don’t forget to think ahead and instruct your subject or host to wear colors that don’t clash with the color you’ve chosen.
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