Video Production 101: What is Set Dressing?

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Set dressing is an essential part of most indoor production shoots, as well as some outdoor shoots. Props and set dressings are used to establish the scene, provide context, and set the mood. Scroll down to learn more about using proper set dressing in your next Orlando video production.


Importance of Set Dressing

No matter how engaging your actors are or how compelling your content is, the background of your video production will still tell a story of its own. The set can contribute to the tone and authenticity of your production while providing important details and other context clues. A great set can help tell your audience about your story and characters before an actor even speaks. This idea works across all contexts, whether you are filming an in-office training video, a creative story-based commercial, or an informative product demonstration. No matter the content, the set can contribute.


Difference Between Props and Set Dressings

Many people confuse props and set dressings, but with good reason. A lamp, for example, could be considered either a prop or part of the set dressing, depending on its use within the scene. In general, if an item is written into the script, required for an action, or utilized by an actor, it is a prop. All other items on-set are considered part of the dressing, from the chairs and desks to the paintings and drapes. Set dressing is not pivotal to the action of a scene, but it is essential to help set the scene and make it feel realistic.


Common Problems

Proper set dressing is a skill and can help keep your production from looking low-budget or feeling false. One common problem is when production sets look obviously staged. Perhaps the real office was too small, or you do not have access to your ideal location. Still, audiences will be able to tell if your set was quickly constructed. If your set does look realistic, another problem is that it may be just another office. Using generic locations can keep your production from standing out. It is better to extend your pre-production brainstorming session and come up with alternate location or background ideas.


Finally, some set designers go overboard with decorations and props in an attempt to add authenticity and visual interest. Unfortunately, busy backgrounds can be quite distracting for the viewer. Even a poster with lettering or a uniquely designed lamp can take the emphasis away from your actors. Instead, limit your set to only the elements that will establish its function, and then add a few decorative items to help make it feel real.


Alternatives to Set Dressing

Instead of attempting to recreate a room using wall hangings, furniture, etc., be creative with these four alternatives:


  1. Elsewhere in the Office Building

There are other ways to establish your office-building setting and company credibility without filming in a standard office or trying to dress up a conference room. Filming elsewhere will also make your production more dynamic and help it to stand out against competitors. Try filming in a foyer with lots of natural lighting, or give a behind-the-scenes tour of your facilities. Other ideas include filming near the receptionists’ desk, while entering the business, or while operating machinery.


  1. Off-Set Locations

Orlando is home to countless camera-ready locations, so consider taking your production outside! Capturing footage with your building and grounds in the background is one way to add interest without increasing distractions. Choosing a scenic location elsewhere can help capture the mood and tone of your production. Other indoor locations can do the same, even if they are not directly related to your company.


  1. Backdrop

Simple backdrops are ideal for keeping the attention on your speaker. Backdrops, or basic backgrounds, are especially effective for interviews or any time a central figure is addressing the audience directly. Backdrops can provide a modern touch while providing a simplicity that might be ideal for your Orlando video production.


  1. Green Screen

Green screens are different from backdrops, which are static and do not change. In fact, green screens are capable of becoming anything you want. With the right video production team on your side, you can utilize a green screen to establish exotic locations, create special effects, or change the time of day or night.


If executed properly, set dressing can recreate rooms, humanize and personalize standard locations, and improve the overall tone and atmosphere of a production. If you want help designing a new set, shooting on location, or utilizing a green screen, our Orlando video production company, NG Production Films, is here to help. We are capable of handling all your corporate production needs, from live events to television commercials. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 877-203-2895 or fill out our simple contact form for a prompt reply.