Video by Design

Five Ways to Incorporate Video Screens into Event Design

By Chase Simonds

Many events have great design, yet sometimes this design can fall flat when it collides with the video screens in the room. Whether projection, flat screens or LEDs, these potential eyesores should be thoughtfully reviewed prior to an event. Here are five areas to help incorporate video screens into your design.

1. Graphics

Though it may seem like the most obvious, many events fail to create connection between the event design and what should be complementary graphics on the video screens. From the time doors open, through the final “goodnight,” these screens, which may display a PowerPoint, Video or I-MAG cameras, should be continuously supportive of the event design throughout the presentation, as this is what will make a big statement and lasting impression on your guests.

Speak with the graphic design team prior to the event, and share some of the creative boards or design elements of the event including color palettes, textures or print invitations. It also may be important to adhere to company branding. If your client typically prepares these presentations, perhaps offer to have a PowerPoint or Keynote template designed for their use. They may welcome this simple addition to what can make a statement in design.

2. IMAG and Camera Shots

Larger events may incorporate live cameras for IMAG to catch that close up of presenters on stage. Keeping in mind that this is going to be a main focal point during the duration of the event, it is critical to consider what exactly one will see on screen. Will there be event branding in the form of a logo on a lectern? Will there be anything immediately behind the presenter?

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Camera backgrounds make a big impact. an example of a dark background.

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The addition of colored draping.

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And an example of a lighted design. When determining the screen look, consider how the projection will look within the room’s design.

Speak with your video director or AV provider in the preproduction process to discuss where the cameras will be. These locations will determine what is seen behind your presenter and on screen. Consider the background of the camera shot as an additional canvas to extend the event design. If the budget doesn’t allow for elaborate scenic elements, adding a couple of saturated uplights to black drape can really help make the IMAG pop.

3. Virtual Scenic

Depending on the size and location of your video screens, you may be able to work some magic and make them disappear when they are not needed. One of the tricks used in broadcast television events is extending physical stage scenic elements into screens on stage, thus creating a continuous illusion between where the physical stage scenic ends and the screen begins.

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A screen that is required for IMAG function …

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… becomes seamlessly integrated into the set with virtual scenic when in its “passive” look.

Think of the screen as a physical 3-D space in the room. What would be in its place if the screen weren’t there? Creating content that matches the physical room design can help blend.

Conversely, this technique can be used not to hide a screen but to “clone” design elements. For example, a prominent stage element of the 2013 CMA Awards, designed by Bruce Rodgers of Tribe, Inc., was an array of Edison-style light bulbs staggered atop upright poles at varying heights.

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Vertical light stalks were added into video screens to create an endless landscape.

 

In rehearsals it was determined more lights were needed to fill in the darker background areas of the stage. Instead of building more set pieces, the content design team took photographs of the physical scenic – roller carts with dozens of these vertical light bulbs attached – and designed a virtual version of this scenic to scale which could be shown in the background LED screens, creating a seamless and endless field of light bulbs.

cma light box

Here’s another example that shows the cloning of visual scenic.

 

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Physical “light box” set pieces on the right side of this stage are complemented by virtual “light boxes” in the video screen behind and to the left of the performers.

4. Enaging Content

Thinking about ways to create more engaging content, other than a static logo, can make your screens a welcomed highlight. When screens aren’t utilized for IMAG, they can still provide an appealing narrative for the program. On the most basic level, this could include an animated logo. Content could also be tailored to the audience by showing near real-time guest/event photos hours or moments after they have happened.

Many events feature sponsor logos on the screens before or after a presentation. These alone may frequently be overlooked, but by incorporating some sort of a game using the event sponsors with “brought to you by” slide before each question by each sponsor, the audience becomes attentive and even participatory. A favorite site of mine, which I have used in general sessions for thousands of attendees, is Poll Everywhere.

5. Black Out

If there is truly no other option to screens you may dislike, consider keeping them black until they are needed. LED screens and flat-screen TVs can be hidden more easily, as they are usually black when off. Projection screens with white surfaces may need to be hidden a little more creatively, but can blend in if incorporated into the lighting plan.

Starting your screens in black could also add an exciting change to the look of the room mid-event. When guests arrive, dark screens could be disguised between drape and other design elements. On cue at a point in the event, the screens can come alive, providing a surprise to unsuspecting attendees.

As attendees desire more visual content, video screens and new technologies for them will become ubiquitous. My advice is not to fight them. They can add much to your event design when you team up with your production team to thoughtfully incorporate screens physically as well as with dazzling content.

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With a background in both corporate branding and live broadcast production, Chase Simonds understands the marketing objectives behind live events and is trained to bring that to the screen. His strength in these two disciplines has led him to be part of the production teams on such large Hollywood productions such as the Oscars, The Emmys, the People’s Choice Awards, the Video Music Awards (VMAs), the Country Music Awards (CMAs), and most recently, as Coordinating Producers of the MTV Movie Awards 2014.

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