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13 October 2021 The basics of video production

A Guide to Props and Set Design for Production

Discover how top video production companies use unseen details to vividly bring stories to life across eras, moods, and worlds.

From the sprawling halls of Hogwarts to the quaint living room in "Love Actually", the magic of a video lies as much in its setting as in its script and characters.

Props and set design aren't just about aesthetics; they breathe life into a story, rooting it in a specific time, place, or mood.

For any video production company aiming for success, giving meticulous attention to these details is non-negotiable. Let's delve into the world of props and set design in video production.

1. Understanding the Story's Needs

Before diving into design, it's essential to thoroughly understand the story's requirements. What era is it set in? What's the socio-economic backdrop? The mood? Answers to these will lay the foundation for the types of sets and props needed.

2. Realism vs Stylisation

Not every production demands ultra-realistic sets. Some stories might benefit from a stylised, even fantastical setting. A video production company must decide early on whether to aim for strict realism or to use the set and props as tools to evoke a particular feeling or theme.

3. Sourcing vs Crafting

Once you've nailed down the aesthetic, it's time to gather props. While many can be sourced from prop houses or even thrift shops, unique items might need to be crafted from scratch. This decision often balances time, budget, and the specific vision of the director.

4. The Importance of Period Accuracy

For productions set in a particular era, period accuracy is paramount. This isn't just about avoiding anachronisms like having a modern smartphone in the 1800s. Tiny details, from the style of lampshades to the design of a teacup, can make or break the viewer's immersion.

5. Functionality Matters

Props aren't always static. A pen might need to write; a door might need to creak just so. Ensuring props aren't just visually accurate but also functional is a key task. It prevents disruptions during shooting and maintains the flow of the action.

6. Cohesion with Wardrobe and Makeup

Set and props should work in harmony with other visual elements like wardrobe and makeup. If a scene is set in a grimy, post-apocalyptic bunker, it'd feel jarring to have characters in pristine clothing with perfect makeup.

7. Safety on Set

From breakable items to heavy set pieces, safety should always be a priority. Props and sets must be stable, and any potential hazards need to be communicated to the crew and cast.

8. Flexible Design for Camera Movement

While a set might look fabulous to the naked eye, it also needs to cater to the technical demands of shooting. This means ensuring there's space for camera movement, lighting setups, and crew members.

The Unseen Stars of Video Production

Props and set design, though often overlooked, are the unsung heroes of video production. They're instrumental in transporting viewers to new worlds or different times. Any video production company worth its salt knows that investing in top-notch design isn't just about making scenes look good – it's about making stories come alive.

Emily Malone

Written by Emily Malone Marketing Manager for Venture — a full-service video production agency that specialises in producing creative videos & campaigns that get real results.

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