There are certain things about a video that help us believe it. Some things are not as obvious like camera framing, editing, something called The 180º Rule, and audio. Other elements of the production are right out there for everyone to see like acting, wardrobe, and set design. For many of our videos, the sets are standard: church interior, home interior, store front, etc. For Unnoticed Moms, LLC we were tasked with designing a very distintive set from scratch.
The first hurdle we encountered was the "vision". There were three of us who had slightly different pictures of the set in our heads. Of course, it's nice to have an Art Director who can dole out assignments for the vision and be the one who designs the set. Steve and I, however, did a little flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants (collective pants) to work out the set. It's a mixture of old and new as well as fairly interesting looking generic boxes and stacks of stuff. We each ended up bringing ideas to the design and just seeing what would stick. It was a little confusing at times. It was even a little frustrating at times. But I feel like we were able to put our ideas together and work up a nice little nondescript world for our actors.
Something that was really neat to me and sort of unexpected was a set of items our designer, Ashton, created for the background. She spent some time pulling together some old and interesting looking imagery that we printed out and hung on the wall behind the Akron character (Figure 2). She also found a great Post WWII map on the Library of Congress website that we turned in to a banner for the wall (Figure 3).
I'm sure you will agree that none of these items really caused any of our mothers to have a happier day, but it can be argued that these elements brought another level of realism to the set. Yes, the set might have been just fine otherwise. I am confident, though, that these extra-- well, the Cajun word for it is "lagniappe" (LAHN-yahp)-- this lagniappe made the world believable and caused the background to drift to the back of everyone's minds so the action and dialogue could take center stage.
Of course, there isn't a magic formula, but we ended up having a lot of fun with the set design. I would encourage you to do the same for YOUR productions!