Creating a Multi-Purpose Studio with Modular Sets
Product support, compliance, training, human resources, do-it-yourself, executive suite outreach, internal customer communications, talking head/ interview/ moderator themed shows …. How does a studio media manager/creative producer satisfy the set needs of its diverse internal customers while maintaining the production quality that best represents the corporation? Just consider the challenges of producing a Human Resources training video on the same set the CEO uses to deliver the company’s quarterly results.

One way studios are adapting to meet requests for diverse show identities are through easily reconfigurable sets.  The Boeing Company recently found themselves in just this situation in their Seattle Studios. “The Boeing Seattle studio was originally designed as an instructor operated classroom. It slowly morphed into a production studio for live events. We needed to update the look and add versatility”, stated Richard Gay, Producer Creative and Information Services at The Boeing Company. “A dedicated set was considered as an option but the decision was made to keep the space customizable. We have many internal customers with varied design needs.”   In creating a multipurpose studio space The Boeing Company is producing live and taped training, compliance and corporate communications from their studio reinforcing “in-house” to be the appropriate approach to these projects.

At EMC’s Education Services organization where their 3 video classrooms deliver streaming and recorded training a transformation is taking place. “Over the past year requests have skyrocketed to produce more talking head and interview style recordings” said Steve Howland VILT Production Team Leader at the EMC Corporation.   The first step taken has been to incorporate a versatile desk system that can be set into 7 different configurations and is easily transported into any one of their classroom studios.   Classrooms can now be used for traditional programming in the morning and set for an executive briefing in the afternoon. “The next step is to add a more versatile back wall system that’s more “executive” looking, transportable and will allow for the expansion of chroma-key” added Howland.

Video is becoming the new power point. As noted by Andrea Keating, Owner/Founder & CEO of Crews Control, Inc. in her CMMA Vision Blog posted in June, “Corporate Departments are using more video, more often for more reasons”. But at the same time demand for internal video production rapidly increases most of the infrastructure to support these efforts is being reduced. Never before have studios needed to be more versatile and nimble with their lighting, cameras, editing suites, set elements, program/show identities and staff within an ever more competitive environment to secure funding.

Whether you are in a position to install an entire multipurpose studio today or are looking at incorporating some level of versatility in your existing studio(s) there are 10 questions to consider:

  1. Does the set I’m considering require any on-site assembly or construction?
  2. How easy is it to set and strike the set elements?
    1. Can they be reconfigured without having to be disassembled
    2. How quickly can set changes be made: minutes, hours, days
  3. How are set elements stored and moved?
  4. Can the set be relocated easily to another location?
    1. Will set elements and storage carts fit through standard doors and hallways
  5. How will the set allow me to integrate chroma key and virtual set elements?
  6. How can the modular set be customized to incorporate unique branding or visual requirements?
  7. Can the modular set approach be rolled out into other studio and videoconferencing locations throughout the enterprise?
  8. Is the set design able to be configured by the customer freeing up studio production staff?
  9. Can the set be expanded at a later date (phased-in)?
  10. What’s the cost and what’s the payback?

We hope this information assists you in satisfying the set needs of your diverse internal customers while maintaining the production quality that best represents the corporation.

Contributed by Brian McKinnon, UNISET and CMMA Partner