The Evolution of the Workplace: Corporate Brands Have Become Broadcasters

As a young architectural designer and broadcast scenic designer more than twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed that the fields of architecture and broadcast media would become as intertwined as they have today; to form a new hybrid “camera-ready” workplace.

Taking the way-back machine to the year 2000, (for me) Architecture, and the workplace within it, was designed to accommodate things like natural daylight and ventilation, building systems, program adjacencies and environmentally responsible materials. It was the job of interior architecture to provide a healthy, inspirational place for people to work as well as communicate the values, culture, and brand of the company it expressed.

In the Broadcast industry at that time, digital media and video production was synonymous with commercial broadcast stations and television networks. The broadcast studio was something CNN or NBC built to accommodate their daily line-up of programming. In my mind, the studio was the home of the evening news, weather, and sports updates.

One of my first broadcast news studios for CNNfn, an example of a”traditional broadcast” project, while a Sr. Design Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, completed 2000
Recent corporate video “news” studio for the financial industry, an example of the emerging corporate broadcast”non-traditional” studio, completed 2018 .

Today, with the evolution of broadband, social media and a video content consuming culture, companies are increasingly embracing video (and their dedicated corporate YouTube channels) as a preferred brand communication strategy to reach their target audiences and customers organically.

As a result, in the past three to five years, large national architecture and interior design firms have established digital media practices to support their corporate clients around this proliferation of technology within the workplace.

In addition, today, the typical tools of the broadcast trade (lighting, cameras, mass distribution) have become less expensive, higher quality and effortless to operate. In fact, I was just speaking with a colleague the other day about how good the iPhone has become and its ability to replace traditional broadcast cameras within the corporate setting.

New corporate workplace build-outs now include “zoom rooms”, video optimized conference rooms and media rooms for corporate video production. Clients want to ensure their companies are communicating their brand effectively across the video platform.

Technologically speaking, it’s easier now, more than ever, to produce high-quality video content and reach your customers. In this way, corporate brands have become broadcasters. They use the web and social media channels as their distribution network and develop their own channels full of “live-to-tape” or “pre-recorded” programming content.

(Above) Clients are now planning “Media Rooms” into their interior build-outs

(Above) Companies use their You-Tube Channels to distribute custom video content
(Above) Large video walls and interactive touch displays are now commonplace in corporate lobbies and seen as powerful experiential elements as well as essential brand storytelling tools.

The convergence of corporate workplace interiors, video content and video production today are undeniable. The disciplines of interior architecture and digital media no longer inhabit disparate fields of thought. Companies now want dedicated spaces to produce corporate videos for internal and external communications. They want corporate video conference rooms to reflect their brand on-camera and have all guests well-lit with a microphone. They want to optimize their public spaces visually for social sharing and promoting their brand.

Interior architecture and digital media have truly become intertwined in a way that I could not have imagined twenty years ago as a young architectural designer or broadcast scenic designer. As companies continue to use video as a primary communication channel and the “tools of the trade” continue to make it easier to produce and distribute content, this interconnectedness will only increase in the future.

Further, the advancement of augmented reality and virtual reality combined with advanced motion tracking and LED display systems (AKA. “The Mandalorian Effect”) demonstrate exciting things on the horizon.

With all of this, I can’t wait to see where the future of workplace is headed with “brands as their own broadcasters”, pushing the potential video content, brand communication and reaching audiences in new ways.


Translating Your Brand Visually Into Your Next Corporate Webcast Studio

In continuation with “Creating Brand Consistency” we explore the techniques of visually translating your brand “look-and-feel” on-air.

When selecting materials and matching colors for broadcast television, it’s as much art as it is science. From our experience, there are three main things that affect the color of materials and lightboxes on-camera:

  • Color temperature of your lighting package
  • White balance settings on your camera(s) (make sure they are ALL chipped properly)
  • Monitor color settings you are using for playback
  • With lightboxes, using a gray overlay on all surfaces to make the colors richer and prevent hot spots

We recommend and regularly camera test colors and materials to ensure proper viewing on-camera.

Finding your “Brand Voice”

Before thinking about anything visual within the frame, first and foremost, content is king. If the content and messaging in your video doesn’t align with what your audience has come to expect from your brand regarding ”brand voice”, it doesn’t matter how much the video environment visually aligns with your brand, if it doesn’t sound like you, you inevitability lose audience credibility.

Embrace Your Brand Colors

Incorporating color can be a powerful visual instrument to keep the audience interested in content.

Our client, The University of Alabama, discusses Why Branding Is Important and what achieving visual consistency means to their community. The discussion gives a detailed layout about their brand personality, messaging, standard and applications.

Well-known brands and associated primary brand colors

CASE STUDY: Minnesota Vikings brand colors and broadcast studio

One of our recent victories at the Vikings Entertainment Network Studio came from incorporating the teams’ signature “purple” primary brand color. Color matching reds and purples can be tricky on-camera. Our design team spent many diligent hours planning and executing color-matching strategies to calibrate acceptably.

CASE STUDY: University of Alabama brand colors and broadcast studio

Our University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies project included a Webcast Studio where achieving the UA “crimson” color for front-lit scenic elements AND display monitors was a challenge. We created a custom color match on all scenery and tweaked the lighting and white balance for the cameras to match the graphics on the monitors.

Tips For Color Matching Success

Color matching brand graphics:

We recommend camera testing a minimum of 12”x12” test-print (ideally 24”x24”) of the color you are looking to match. The test-print color output should match the brand PMS Pantone number. For camera testing, you will need to use the same lighting conditions and actual cameras to be used for the final production.

Color matching LED light boxes:

In recent years, it’s very rare that we use only RGB LED. With the general cost of LED coming down in process, we typically specify 4-diode LED fixtures or LED tape (RGBA or RGBW).The four-color fixtures provide the greatest range of color options. You will also want to use quality DMX controller and processor. Lastly, don’t forget the gray, matte diffusion film, like Oracal, on front of all lightbox scenic elements to prevent hot spots on camera. It’s a premium to add this benefit but well worth the cost if you have large quantities of lightbox on set.

Brand Logo Marks

Whether you are printing or fabricating your logo, if possible, provide vector artwork versus raster artwork. The line-work generated by vector artwork for the logo mark and copy (if any) will be much crisper. Depending on how large the final output size is, this likely will be a “must-do”.

A few additional things to consider:

  1. If you are printing 2d flat logo marks, always provide front lighting to visually accent on camera
  2. If you are creating 3d “dimensional logos” (logos with thickness and a visible side edge), in addition to including the above front accent light, consider pulling the logo off the wall by a few inches with stand-offs and add LED backlight. This will create a glow around the logo and add visual depth to the shot.

CASE STUDY: Translating TV9 brand colors and logo mark to lightbox scenic element

The textural quality of the lightbox takes inspiration from the TV9 brand logo mark and becomes an iconic on-air element.

Notice the logo behind the anchor. This technique provides simple brand alignment.

BRAND IMAGERY & VIDEO CONTENT

An easy way to ensure your brand translates on camera for your audience is by incorporating already established brand imagery or video into the background of your video environment. For example, if your brand guidelines establish the use of a specific pattern or geometry, consider a large scale front-lit graphic of lightbox behind the talent.

For video assets, consider a large format display monitor. Typically, we use 55”or 65” monitor sizes as visual fill. If you are planning a tight 1-shot and not looking to go wide with the frame, you can potentially use this for the entire background. If this is the case, depending on key distances, you will likely need a larger monitor (65” or 75”). You can also use the 2d logo mark in the video monitor as well as motion graphics.

Including animated logos in monitor displays can add visual interest to the frame and hold the audiences attention. Consider having talent interact with technology on-camera, either as a remote interview or touchscreen illustration of facts and data.

Conclusion

The complexity of translating your brand visually is no easy feat. It requires time and a precise attention to detail. That said, once the content and messaging is established and aligned, visual expression for the content can be amplified and reinforced through a multitude of visual on-air techniques. These insights are what elevate great brands and exponentially increase credibility among audiences.

Planning your corporate webcast studio design project for success

BlackRock Corporate Studio (Designed by Provost Studio)

The advantages of careful planning when building a professional corporate broadcast studio and webcast environment start at a very high level — but it’s important to not neglect taking the same strategic approach to individual components of the project.

In addition to these high-level components, another key part of planning a corporate broadcast facility project centers on the scenic design elements.

Planning for a studio

Just as careful planning is key to the overall success of any corporate broadcast studio project, it’s important to approach the scenic design from a strategic angle that’s focused just as much on function as on the design.

First, it’s important to consider what types of productions will be produced in the corporate broadcast studio since different styles of programming require different setups. For example, productions that take a hard news format will likely need an anchor desk-style area, while programs that focus more on interviews could benefit from a larger interview set layout.

Also consider how many hosts and guests need to be accommodated and plan accordingly with the appropriate seating and space.

Webcast Studio Environments Cost Guide

5 Factors to Planning a Successful Broadcast Studio

BUDGET

1. Underestimating the overall project budget can be easy. It is important to be aware of the impact of both hard and soft costs including: base building infrastructure upgrades, lighting, scenery and professional design fees.

SCENIC DESIGN

2. In designing a success broadcast scenic environment, flexibility is key. When designed as an immersive 360-degree environment, a set should have a level of built-in flexibility relating to reconfiguration of scenic elements and shooting positions.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

3. With AV technology playing such an integral role in defining the “on-air” presence of scenic environments today, it’s critical to have the right partner on board that can not only help specify the proper equipment but also understand this important interconnectedness with the scenery.

LIGHTING DESIGN

4. Investing in quality lighting equipment and control systems as well as a professional lighting designer is critical to expressing all of the scenic elements on-air. A well-designed studio will only look as good as it is lit for the camera.

PROJECT DELIVERY

5. Design-Bid-Build versus Design-Build? Be familiar with the differences between these project delivery methods. Carefully evaluating the advantages and differences of each for a given project prior to deciding which path is the best, can save a client time, money and frustration.

For additional broadcast studio planning resources visit:

Creating Brand Consistency within the Frame-How To Raise Your Level Of Video Production

William Blair Corporate Webcast Studio (Designed by Provost Studio)

The importance of communicating your brand consistently across all platforms including video increases the quality of your brand while keeping your audience engaged. Video as a medium has matured significantly over the past few years and is now seen as a critical component to the corporate communications mix. This video platform explosion has exposed audiences to a greater number of quality of video productions and as a result, audiences have higher expectation of brands when experiencing those brands through video.

From a visual perspective, we often see a disconnect between how a company expresses themselves across typical platforms (web, print, meetings & events) and how that same company expresses who they are in their video environments.

There are a few basic practices that can help elevate your brand’s visibility and platform alignment.

Lighting, lighting, lighting

The lighting techniques in your video will make a big impact on the quality of your final image. Understanding the basics of 3-Point-Lighting can drastically elevate your project. In addition to 3-Point-lighting basics you can use lighting to:

• Control the mood of your video

• Direct the eye of the viewer where you want it to go

• Emphasize and de-emphasize elements within the frame

• Add texture and color

Use a consistent color temperature across all lighting fixtures. Trying to figure out which color temperature to use can be tricky. Most of the webcast studios we design are lit within the daylight range of 4500-5500k. Daylight color temperature also works well if you are using technology on camera and reduces the amount of color balancing for the monitors. Also, ensure that your subject is well-lit and hard shadows are minimized.

Creating context in-studio with the background environment

Not all video productions have the luxury of using a custom designed and branded studio. If this is a challenge, keep it simple. Consider using materials that have texture and color that can be beautifully lit. By using lighting to your advantage, a textured surface will look far more dramatic if you light it from the side, because side lighting brings out the shadows.

Integrate AV Technology

Consider integrating video display technology (ie. video monitor or video walls) with existing branded video assets in the background to add a dynamic visual element to the frame behind talent. This helps keep audience interested and focused on the content. Better yet, create an opportunity for talent to interact with technology on-camera with a touchscreen monitor.

Matching Brand Colors

Matching brand colors from ink (CMYK) to pixels (RGB) on-camera can be just as tricky as picking a color temperature, typically, the richer the color, the more difficult to render. We like to use internally lit light-boxes on-set to dial-in brand colors on camera. We usually use 4-diode LED fixtures (RGBA or RGBW), which allow us to get the widest range of colors. In addition, if budget allows, we apply a gray transparent film (like Oracal) to all front surfaces. This helps prevent the color from blowing out on camera and allows a more even and rich color definition on camera.

For companies who do a great job at communicating their brand and messaging across other channels, often fall short when migrating to video. While we can’t expect every company to produce video content at the same level, these few practices will elevate the quality of their “in studio” video content for their audiences.

Creating Visual Flexibility-Two Brands, One Studio

With the rise of video content by both commercial and non-traditional broadcasters, webcast studios and video producers are continually faced with generating round the clock content and achieving the impossible within limited production space. The big challenge I hear day in and day out is…”we need flexibility, we need flexibility, we need flexibility…”

Usually this request for flexibility means having the ability to create different looks for different content segments and talent positions. Specifically, with this post, I wanted to feature two examples of how we have addressed this need for visual flexibility when a studio is shared between two brands and potentially two difference audiences.


CASE STUDY: Chicago Magazine/ Red Eye Magazine Webcast Studio

This studio designed and fabricated for Tribune Media (now part NexStar Media Group) was shared between Chicago Magazine and Red Eye Magazine.

The main design challenge was to create and scenic environment that accommodates two brands with distinctly different audiences and therefore, two different aesthetic and functional expressions of those brands.

Studio Set-up 1: Chicago Magazine
Studio Set-up 2: RedEye Magazine

Conceptually, the resulting set design is like a scenic “Swiss Army knife”. Provost Studio designed the set elements to be interchangeable, re-configurable and adaptable. This allows the studio to convert back-and-forth from one brand to another. 

The studio’s key design features include:

  • Sliding and pivoting wall panels allow quick scene changes
  • Elements, like tables and carts, transform to reflect each brand
  • Dramatic, color-changing LED lighting
  • Large-format display monitors for brand specific dynamic media content

CASE STUDY: BlackRock Studio Webcast Studio

The new studio for the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, needed provide visual flexibility between its BlackRock and iShares brands; very similar audiences but two distinct content production initiatives.

Our design solution: Using a shared brand color (yellow) as a permanent bold color and LED color changing light boxes, our team developed a bold on-air identity that is both “visually flexible” and differentiates both brands from their industry peers.

Conceptual Rendering
Studio Installation Photo
Studio Installation Photo
Guest One Shot
Detail at Wall Panel

Top Things to Consider When Planning a Broadcast Studio

Planning a broadcast studio or set doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. With the right advice you can achieve fantastic results and see your project run smoothly and successfully.

Check out our infographic guide to the top things to consider when planning your broadcast studio.

Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build (The Two Project Methods Compared)

There are Two Sides to Every Coin Which side is right for you?

You have identified some key considerations (budget, what your design needs to say, the role media will have, the power of light) for planning your new studio!  Now, it’s time to select the project approach that is right for you. 

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons for each method…

Scenic Design/Build

Client hires design/fabricator team under a single contract.The design/build team designs, fabricates, installs the project from beginning to end.One of the biggest benefit to this approach can be significant time savings through schedule compression.Another benefit is managing client’s budget expectations along the way through real time pricing exercises between designer and fabricator. 

Scenic Design – Bid – Build

Client hires scenic designer and fabricator separately, under two separate contracts.Designer assists client in writing and issuing fabrication bid and selecting fabrication partner.Since design is completed prior to fabricator being brought onto the team, there may be a period of redesign necessary to bring the design (and client’s expectations) back in line with the project’s budget. Main benefit in establishing a competitive bidding landscape for your project is having multiple bids from which to choose the lowest qualified bidder and fabrication partner.

Planning a successful broadcast studio takes more than just scenery

(Above) TV9 Headquarters Studio & Newsroom (Designed by Provost Studio)

Planning a successful studio project doesn’t stop at just the scenery — other key factors that should always be carefully considered include A/V integration, lighting and the final delivery and installation of everything.

When working with architectural and engineering teams who might not be familiar the unique requirements of a broadcast facility, it’s vital to get an experienced consultant on board early to work with everyone.

A/V integration

A/V integration, which typically involves any display device found within a broadcast facility that’s meant to be seen as part of the on air broadcast, has quickly become a key part most broadcast studio projects these days.

The technology used in studios can range in size from a handheld device or computer workstations all the way up to large flat panel monitors and floor-to-ceiling video walls. In addition to the selection of the best type of on-set displays, it’s also important to consider the sometimes complex systems that feed graphics, realtime data and more to the displays.

These systems, which are becoming a key part of any project with multiple on-set video displays, require advanced knowledge of selecting the best software and hardware to allow integration with the myriad of video, realtime graphics, data feeds and other sources.

Broadcast Studio Planning Guide
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to get this free report now: 5 Key Factors to Planning a successful Corporate Webcast Studio.

Lighting design and integration

Like A/V integration, lighting is an often overlooked yet vital part to the success of a studio project.

Lighting plays a key role in not only how the set looks on air, but how your on-camera talent does as well. Good lighting design is essential to creating productions that bridge the gap and look truly professional, so it’s definitely not area to be overlooked.

There’s a wide variety of lighting options to consider — including the pros and cons of the type of light each type gives off, energy efficiencies and installation requirements. It’s also important to work with a partner who understands the electrical and safety requirements of professional grade lighting instruments and how that might affect your project requirements.

Installation coordination

Once you’ve addressed all of this planning, there’s still one final aspect to consider — how everything will be installed.

In many cases, due to the specialized nature of the various components of a broadcast studio, multiple contractors will need to be involved. For example, the set may be designed by one team but built by a third party. Or, the A/V integration team may be a local provider who is working with the construction team for the first time.

Because of this, it’s vital to have someone with the knowledge and experience to coordinate between all of these teams and have a solid understanding of how all of the components fit together to contribute to the overall success of the project.

Learn more

Creating a dynamic, flexible and brand-centric corporate webcast studio is a great way to expand your brand into new platforms, but it’s important to incorporate careful planning and strategy into the entire process.

View the original article on Newscast Studio, Oct 14, 2015

https://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/10/14/planning-a-successful-broadcast-studio-takes-more-than-just-scenery/