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Production Design

Things to be aware of when planning and producing a video


to ensure its success.
Production design is the pre-planning of all visual elements and sound
to enhance the program and reach the communication objective. Designing
all the elements ensure a coherent, comprehensive program that has aesthetic
continuity. Good production design starts with a meaningful storyboard
where the visual elements are chosen and designed for the biggest impact
and educational value for the viewer.
The design is integrated into shooting and affects the choice of camera
angles, composition, pace, movement and sound. In other words, aesthetic
choices are planned for and designed to create a meaningful response from
the message. Aesthetics becomes the visual language that we use to
communicate with our viewers. An understanding of this special language is
critical for program success.
Production design becomes a conscious effort on our part to make
meaningful, aesthetic choices that contribute to our message and create a
clearer understanding with our viewer.
The Importance of Pre-Production Planning
Planning starts with the problem, idea or communication need and
continues through the distribution of the program to the intended viewer. It
is one thing to come up with a great idea to put on video, and quite another
to execute it. A well-planned program for which we devote more time to the
pre-production process will SAVE production and editing time. The key to
successful programs is planning. The more time you spend in the planning
process, the more success you will have with the program. Good preproduction planning will free you of the burdensome details of production
and let you concentrate on talent performance.
Adding Music To A Video Production
Music adds emotion, movement and mood to a video program and
help with transitions. Look for major scene changes, transitions and
movement that could be enhanced by music. Music can define the dynamic
nature of the setting as quiet, fast-paced or mysterious and promotes a

general sense of action and movement. Also look for areas of the narration
that could be reinforced or highlighted by music. If you do not use music
too often, it can be used effectively to make a particular section of dialog
stand out. When selecting areas of the script that sound could enhance, be
sensitive to the speed or pace of the scene and how fast camera changes and
transitions occur.
Consider adding music at the beginning of the program to set the
mood and at the end to help bring the program to a conclusion. Look where
sound can reinforce and draw attention to what the narrator is saying and
where sound effects can add realism to the scene. But dont overdo it.
Music can distract the viewer and get in the way of the pictures and
narration. When music is used throughout the entire program it is usually a
sign of an amateur production. Stopping the music behind the voice draws
attention to the voice and adding sound effects adds credibility to a scene.
When people see a car moving on the scene, they expect to hear a car.
Sound adds realism to your pictures and creates a presence in the scene for
the viewer.
Framing A Shot For Maximum Visual Impact
The basic purpose of framing a shot is to show images as clearly as
possible and to present them so that they convey meaning and energy. What
you do essentially is clarify and intensify the event for the viewer.
1. Camera Angles & Composition
Screen composition, camera angles and depth of field (also referred to
as field of view) are all aesthetic factors that affect the way in which the
viewer receives the message. Camera angles and composition are usually
described as the arrangement of pictorial elements within the scene. We
place and move objects and talent within a scene to create the most impact
for the message and viewer. You choose what to show the viewer with
composition and angles and by placing objects and subjects at key locations
within a scene or frame, we can emphasize or de-emphasize them.
By moving the talent towards the camera (movement attracts the eye)
and increasing the size of the image, we draw attention to the subject.
Likewise, if the talent moves away from the camera, the viewer loses
interest. Control is key, by controlling placement and movement, we control
the message we are presenting to the viewer. And the key to control is

planning, we plan and design the scene and everything within it. By
designing and planning each scene, we remove the elements of distraction.
Are backgrounds such as trees, wallpaper, pictures, telephone
poles or windows interfering with the foreground subject?
Are backgrounds to busy so that they make viewers hunt for the
important subject?
There should be one center of interest within a scene. The scene should be
designed so that all elements within the scene support that center of interest.
The intended message (subject) or center of interest should clearly stand out
and the viewer should not be distracted by unimportant clutter in the scene.
Camera angles can add to the message or distract from it. The
camera angle determines the viewpoint and the area covered in the shot.
You must decide what viewpoint will best depict your message and how
much area of the scene the viewer must see to understand what is going on.
It is not just a matter of selecting a close-up (CU), medium shot (MS) or
wide/long shot (WS/LS), you have to select the angle of view. Camera
angles are carefully planned frame by frame. Angles are usually depicted in
the storyboard where each shot and scene are carefully drawn out to assure
that the best possible picture is created. This advanced planning allows for
experimentation on paper to test the best idea for a shot and the best
composition, saving valuable time in production.
Shot composition is thought through in advance so that during
production we can concentrate on performance. Carefully compose the shot
selecting point of view, angle and depth of field. A camera angle slightly
above the eye level, which causes the talent to look up, can imply inferiority
to the viewer (high angle shot). Likewise, an angle below the talent eye
level can imply a dominant posture to the audience (low angle shot).
Camera angles must be carefully planned and chosen to portray the subject
best under positive light and create the best viewing angle for the scene to be
interpreted by the viewer.
2. Transitions
Transitions are used to transport the viewer from one shot to the next
or from one scene of action to the next. A good transition will take the
viewer from one scene to the next smoothly and logically without drawing
attention to the change. The next shot will be matched logically and
naturally with the last. We try to take the viewer through a sequence of shots
that go together logically, that will be easy to follow. Smooth transitions
create a professional look and add continuity. They need to be thought out

in advance, so you know what shots to capture to create the transition.


Remember that a good transition should not be noticed by the viewers. It
should smoothly and naturally take them from one shot to the next.
3. Matching Action
This technique is created by matching the action of one shot with the
next. They should be connected by action, motion or content.
Example, if your subject leaves the room and goes outside, you can
create a smooth transition from the inside shot to the outside shot by
matching the action of the subject. Simply record the subject walking
toward the door and reaching for the door knob and opening the door. Cut
the camera, reposition the camera to the outside shot of the subject shutting
the door (be sure the same hand is used on the door knob) and continue the
action.
You can also match similar shots to create transitions. For example,
simply end the scene with a shot of a close-up of a machine or pictures on
the wall, and begin the next scene with a similar shot of a machine or picture
on the wall.
4. Pace
The pace of a program is created by how long the scene or shots
remain on the screen. If a shot remains on the screen for a long time, it tends
to slow the program down. This length is, however, affected by the length of
shot in front of it and behind it. If there is a series of shots that are short in
length, the program appears to move faster. The dialog, acting and motion
within the shot also add to the pace or feel of the program. We pre-plan the
pace of a program by expanding or shortening the shots.
5. Zooms
By zooming in on an object at the end of a scene and then starting the
next scene with a close-up of an object and zooming out to the action, you
create a transition.

6. Continuity

One of the objectives in the editing process is to create a smooth,


transparent message, a logical development of shots and scenes. To create a
logical flow of movement so as not to confuse the viewer, movement within
a scene should be consistent. Continuity ties the shots together into
sequences that flow well together. If continuity is wrong, if the shots dont
follow a logical sequence they become confusing to the viewer. Poor
continuity causes jarring jump cuts and wrong scene direction. Therefore
we plan an establishing wide/long shot, followed by a medium shot followed
by a close-up, the logical flow of shots that the viewer expects. The
wide/long shot creates a point of view and an establishing location for the
viewer; often the physical surroundings in the wide shot are as important as
the talent within the scene. The medium shot focuses attention to the subject
(talent) and eliminates unneeded pictorial or surrounding information that
appeared in the wide shot. The close-up emphasizes a particular point the
subject is making. Dont overuse the close-up; like the zoom it can be
overused and lose its impact. Think of the close-up as an exclamation point!
Have it for those occasions that are important for the viewer in
understanding a phrase or procedure.
Production design is the art of combining all the elements into a
message that reaches the audience sound, motion, continuity and
composition have a direct effect on how the viewer receives the message.
Planning the design of these elements must take place so the viewer
correctly receives the intended message.

Production Design Questions

1. What is Production Design?


2. Where does good production design start?
3. What are 3 things that good pre-production planning will do for you?
4. What are 3 things that music does for a video production?
5. What does sound do for the viewer?
6. What is the basic purpose of framing a shot?
7. List 6 ways to show images as clearly as possible and to present them so
that
they convey meaning and energy?
8. What aesthetic factors affect the way the viewer receives the message?
9. How do we draw attention to the subject?
10. When designing and planning each scene why is controlling placement
and
movement so important?
11. How many center of interests should be in a scene?
12. What do CU, MS, WS & LS stand for?
13. Camera angles are carefully planned and usually depicted in the
___________?
14. What does a good transition do for the viewer?
15. If a shot remains on the screen for a long time, what does it do to the
program?
16. What are 3 additional things that add to the pace or feel of a program?
17. What is one objective in the editing process?
18. What does continuity do for a video production?

19. What is the goal of making a conscious effort to make meaningful,


aesthetic
choices when planning the design of the visual elements?