Create realistic sets in the real world using these six tips.
Recently some video students of mine needed a Rennaisance-esque palace set for his Royal Rottenness the evil King of Poltroonia, so they used Pasadena City Hall. (You've seen it in dozens of commercials and movies.) Two problems popped up at once: the cars and modern buildings didn't quite fit a Renaissance kingdom and the U.S. and California flags sorta gave the game away - to say nothing of the gaudy banner in the archway .
The students faced a problem common to many videographers: how to morph the location you have into the location you want. You can use one or all of six basic processes of set creation. Some of these processes happen during production: dressing, framing and staging. The others are part of postproduction: connecting, reinforcing and just plain fixing.
Returning to the example, when the students shot their raw footage, they framed an establishing shot that excluded the cars, the pedestrians and the office tower . In postproduction, they matched the shot with an angle on a tiny home-built set of a merchant's stall, thereby connecting two different real-world places to synthesize a single screen locale. To reinforce this synthesis, they replaced the production soundtrack with an audio background of clip-clopping horse hooves and grumbling wagon wheels that ran under the entire sequence. Finally, they utilized Corel PhotoPaint to fix the establishing shot by losing the banner and converting Old Glory into the craven yellow flag of Poltroonia.
Admittedly, Pasadena City Hall is unusually good for movie backgrounds because it can be so many different places. But even if you lack outstanding video backdrops like this, you too can achieve almost anything, anywhere by using the six basic processes of set creation as follows.
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