Peter Provost, President and Director of Design at PROVOST STUDIO— enabling brands to express themselves in media-rich environments.
Twenty years ago, when I worked as a young architectural designer at the CNN headquarters in New York’s Columbus Circle, we designed the broadcast studio so that it was surrounded by a beautiful view of Central Park. Today, you can replace that display with a massive 4K screen that might as well show off a frosty Wisconsin morning.
Creating high-quality, interactive and engaging video content every day is no longer just a task for commercial broadcasters, but for any corporate brand. Project architects and engineering teams work with broadcast studio consultants to develop a studio that embodies the company’s brand and is adaptable to change.
In my experience working with multiple Fortune 500 companies to create their corporate webcast studios, developing an on-brand studio involves five critical steps.
1. Determine your goals and intentions.
It’s important to take a step back and think about the type of video content you plan to produce. This is best illustrated with an example.
When I did the concept design for the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal newsroom, they wanted to have three or four locations within their office environment where their news anchors and social media teams could record stand-up breaking news and impromptu videos in space. Designing an open recording space for this kind of video production is very different from designing a completely closed, formal, “black box” environment, where the studio is enclosed by three or four walls and everything from the lighting, video screens and audio levels can be controlled. be accurately checked.
The acoustics and ambient noise in a 20-by-20-foot enclosed studio are much easier to control. These two contrasting spaces require very different planning strategies. So it is crucial to understand how and why the content will be presented before preparing the studio.
2. Schedule your content.
While I wouldn’t recommend it, in theory you could collapse something like the Wayne’s world basement studio and still get traction for your brand. Content remains king.
Broadly speaking, corporate webcast content can be divided into two main approaches: educational/instructional (ie more formal) and interview style (ie less formal, more casual). Educational content includes internal company addresses (such as staff meetings), as well as product demonstrations.
3. Think about your environment.
The third element is the environment of the studio, by which I mean the scenic space where the video production is captured. It should include finishes and materials, furniture, props and images.
An educational/informational content studio would typically be designed in such a way that the person speaking can access a visual screen (often with touch functionality) and go through any information he or she wishes to pass on. Think ‘The Weather Guy’ on YouTube, which is an educational/informational studio design. An interview style studio would be designed so that a few people can hang out and talk about a topic. Depending on the brand, this can be done at a large counter (such as in a journal), on benches (Oprah) or a combination of both (The Tonight Show).
A financial services firm of mine wanted to recreate the view of the city from their broadcast studio, despite the lack of windows in a studio setup. So while the building was being built, photographers captured the precise view of the city from that vantage point. These were then recreated as backlit environmental images, placed on the walls of the studio so that the studio shows the exact image of the city regardless of the side of the camera. These environmental graphs are also often done using huge LED displays.
Your content and the environment should complement and reinforce each other to bring the audience closer together. Keep this in mind and how to do it when choosing your preferred environment.
4. Pay special attention to lighting.
In my experience, your on-air brand is only as good as the lighting. You can invest heavily in the studio environment, but if it is not well lit, you will not benefit from that investment. There are many technical things to know about lighting, such as three-point lighting, optimal color temperature and the types of light boxes to use.
But above all, I think it’s important to know that investing in lighting is critical to the success of your scenic setting and, by extension, your brand on camera.
There are two important aspects to lighting your studio.
• Landscape lighting, loosely meaning the broadcast studio itself.
• Illumination of the people in the landscape, also known as the talking heads.
5. Use AV technology and display systems for a personal touch.
There are two use cases to consider when using AV and display systems: interactive touchscreens and static displays (video walls with LED tiles and displays).
The interactive type is what people use in front of the camera to teach or explain while talking. Think of Steve Kornacki visualizing his political commentary on MSNBC. These can be touchscreen options or operated with a remote control.
Static displays are usually used in the background for a painterly effect. With big enough screens, you can put a New York skyline in the background and, bam, you’re shooting in New York. When designing a corporate broadcast studio, consider what purpose your AV display technology will serve — interactive or static — and invest in it accordingly.
As more and more companies produce videos, aligning your video content with your brand is vital. This is especially evident in Fortune 500 companies whose customers tend to expect a reconciliation. I’ve noticed that brands sometimes feel like something isn’t right with their video content, and I usually find that it’s one of the above five things that makes their brand not a good fit with their video content. Aligning your video content with your brand is completely feasible, but requires planning.