7 Replies to “Lightwell Reel (2013) – Virtual Set Design and Studio Backdrops”

  1. Hi there,

    A quick question if I may, when working with virtual sets (ITV News for one) how do you work out the ‘3D’ness of it in your head because it blows my mind to think that a thing I design in a virtual environ can have a ‘physical’ quality to it.


    1. Thanks Aaron.

      I don’t recall ever thinking of them in such an abstract way, I tend to just think of them as if they actually existed. By training, I’m an architect, so am hard-wired to think of spaces as volumes and forms, and it certainly helps to know about details. A big factor in the physical quality of a design comes down to the materials and lighting. That is partly a throwback to the architectural experience, and partly down to understanding the software being used.

      1. Hi Jim,

        Thanks for the response. The reason I ask is if they are made in a virtual way using computers, how do you picture them in a ‘physical’ sense.


        1. Not sure I understand the question, when you ask “how do you picture them in a ‘physical’ sense.” Are you asking generally about the design process, or more specifically about software etc?

          1. I am thinking more along the lines of the actual design process rather than the software itself. Have there ever been designs where they have started out much bigger than what was eventually scene?

          2. Interesting question. Most have tended to expand as we worked on the designs. Sky Sports News started off big, aircraft hangar big, but kept getting pushed bigger. Bigger isn’t better, there are diminishing returns in getting bigger, because the pixels on the screens stay the same. Its a balance between what works in terms of providing a context, balanced against what is practical.

            Early talks with ITN for the ITV news included cathedral sized interiors, but BDA’s set designs stipulated a small enclosed space and that was definitely the right decision on that job. To date, I think that’s the only one that was smaller by the end.

            In terms of the lack of scale that you get when working on computers, experience helps, but the best way to counteract this is to introduce real world details such as steps, furniture, doorways etc. James Balog http://jamesbalog.com/portfolio/portfolio-extreme-ice-survey/ takes amazing photos of ice and glaciers, but to impart a sense of scale, he will occasionally have someone stand in shot, or have a helicopter flying in front of the glacier. If he didn’t do that, you wouldn’t know if you were looking at something a meter across, or a mile across. Its the same kind of perception disconnect that happens when working with computers.

  2. Thanks for the response. Just that I am fascinated with how big things look very early on and then look really small in the end.

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