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Old May 25th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Building a Room for Video/Education

Hey folks,

I found a few suggestions for managing color backdrops for interviews and such, but I have a greater challenge.

The department I'm working for is designing a new learning environment, and we have the option to pick the colors for both the room and the furniture. We want to design a room that is both people-friendly and camera-friendly.

The room lighting will be done by a professional, but we'd like to hear suggestions about what colors to use for the walls, the floor, the furniture, and maybe even the ceiling, to improve the performance of the camera without detracting from aesthetics in the room. We also have a design team working on large panels for the room interior, and we don't want to use colors that will clash with the dark blues and purples in their design.

Any suggestions are appreciated--the more specific, the better. Thanks!

Stevon Roberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 25th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #2
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Location: Toronto, Canada
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What some studios do is have rails in the ceiling with a black drape you can drag around, and the cyc (wall) is painted white.

From the rails you can also hang a green fabric for chromakey if so desired.

--very pure whites and blacks are typically a difficult situation for cameras, since they can only capture a limited dynamic range. By that I mean white and black fabrics, where you typically want to see some detail in. So you might want to avoid those colors in furniture.
The black curtains they use in studio are very black so detail in them doesn't show up on camera. This gives the look of a black void behind what's being shot, which you may want sometimes.
A white cyc does the opposite... it gives you a white void.

--With a cyc, you want it to curl/ramp at the bottom so you don't see a line where it meets the floor. If you have students + a lift of some sort (to hang lights), the cyc may get damaged a lot... so you may want to consider that.

--If you do chroma key work, reflective surfaces in furniture should be avoided since they'll reflect the green/blue.

2- If you make it really easy to change the background, it may not be a big deal what color the walls are. Some have a white cyc, some have a blue/green cyc for chroma key work.

3- If it's easy to hang lights in the room (power, cooling, lighting grid, easy to get up to the grid), that gives a lot more options in lighting whatever backdrop you have.

--If the room looks beautiful by itself, that could work too. Although in that situation, people are going to get sick of seeing the same room over and over and over.

4- What exactly do you want to teach?

If you want to teach studio lighting, then you'd probably want to make the room as much like other studios as possible. High ceilings, lots of room, lots of electricity, cooling, a lighting grid, etc. This may not really be practical, and you may not necessarily need to teach it (because it's kind of specialised).

If you want to teach more location lighting, then just making a fairly normal room would be fine. Because that's what you'd be dealing with. Maybe make the walls different (i.e. have some exposed brick, which can have interesting texture depending on what angle the light is)... so you have a variety of "rooms" so to speak.

--Do you want to give students problems?
You might want to make things easy so they can focus on the theory/artistic side of lighting.
Or if you want to emphasize practicality, maybe you DO want to give students problems. i.e. Give them reflective furniture while they try to chroma key.
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Old May 26th, 2006, 07:46 AM   #3
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Location: Orlando, FL
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I've been working at a university for 10 years now and it sounds like they are designing a room to be multi-functional. Am I right? In that case then blues and blue/green mixtures are colors that look the best on video and are nice for the students in a classroom setting. I would also agree with everything that Glenn said. The trouble usually, is trying to do both. The nice thing about a white is that you can easily change the look with lights and colored gels. If your room needs to be multi-functional, then maybe try white or a lite grey for walls then you can accent them with colored lights for different situations.
David Stoneburner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 26th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #4
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Thank you both for the great ideas! I should have been more specific--the classroom is actually designed for instructors to retool their teaching skills (all different disciplines), but we expect to be doing a lot of recording of workshops and that sort of thing, hence the critical aspect of color. I've seen white void backdrops before (like in Penn and Teller's B.S.), and I really like that style, but I don't think it will be practical in this situation. Your point of "people are going to get sick of seeing the same room over and over and over" is very relevant, and that's something I hadn't considered but will consider now. On that note, the idea of light walls, which could be accented with gels or special lighting, would help to change the flavor of the room periodically. I could mention this to the lighting guy--he apparently has lots of experience, and I let him know yesterday that one of our goals was to do lots of filming.
Stevon Roberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 27th, 2006, 06:43 AM   #5
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Then I would also try to push the aqua green and other colors with shades of blue. They are best for video and good in a learning environment. One other thing to consider would be some sound proofing. If you can, it would be good to put some sound absorbing boards on the walls. They can be made to look and compliment the color of the room, and it would help soften the noise from flat hard walls.

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