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15 Backgrounds For Your Next Video

The background of your video is a character with its own voice, tone and visual cues. It can be subtle and hardly noticed; it can also be loud, pull focus, and add new meaning. So successful storytelling hinges on choosing the right background that will compliment your message.

prosPhoto by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

I’ve evaluated 15 common background options based on ease of use, atmospheric variables and whether or not suitable for DIY (Do it yourself) recording with consumer grade cameras like smartphones.

City Backdrop

1. The City

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Exciting, Atmospheric, Sophisticated, can denote an air of prestige, especially a busy part of town.

CONS: Visible brands and identifiable people may cause delays on set and in edit. Sound disruptions are common.

Green Screen Video Shoot

2. The Green

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: Flexibility in Post!

CONS: Flexibility in Post! Green Screen should only be used when there is a clear vision on what will go in its place. Another thing to consider is that good green screen (in studio) can yield great results. Cheap green screen, on the other hand, can yield a low-end look with distracting artifacts and digital noise. Though technology has made green screen editing much easier, it’s still essential that lighting is on point, shine is reduced and wardrobe is the correct colors.

Using Home as a Set

3. The Home

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: An opportunity for your audience to see a more personal side. Depending on decor and size, this may present you with many good recording options and without the red tape in office or studio.

CONS: Children, pets and family members will disrupt.

4. The Gradient

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: This clean background is easy to light, has minimal sound disruptions, and conducive to working with teleprompters.

CONS: Minimal backgrounds require dynamic on-screen talent, because the entire focus is on the speaker.

5. The Rise

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: Nothing says success like being high up in a bouquet of modern buildings.

CONS: Lighting is challenging to get right since you are at the mercy of weather.

City Street Background

6. The Street

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: Excitement, Buzz, momentum of the world passing by.

CONS: Risk of conflicting brands and unauthorized people can be costly in time and post budget.

Long Hallway for Depth

7. The Depth

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Can emphasize business success, growth and stature within respective sector. Attention and focus on speaker, as if to say “look here.”

CONS: Foot traffic and noise control can set you back.

NBA 2k Live Event

8. The Event

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Exciting, bold colors, makes for effective clickbait thumbnails.

CONS: Noise Disruptions, light variables, visible logos, visible bystanders, lack of control.

Balcony in Midtown Manhattan

9. The Edge

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Exciting, colorful, click-worthy.

CONS: Sound, light, weather and safety challenges, difficult to use a teleprompter due to glare.

10. The BTS

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Can lend the feeling of “insider info” that feels exciting and exclusive.

CONS: This complex set takes considerable time to setup and break down unless actually behind the scenes of a film, television or commercial set.

Blue Background in a Studio

11. The Solid

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: Clean, Simple, focused, good for product and conceptual shoots

CONS: Heavy design, storyboarding and post-production requirements.

Plain White Background in studio

12. The Minimalist

DIY Recommended? No

PROS: Clean, simple, minimalist, easy to light subject properly.

CONS: Time consuming, can be boring, hinges on a dynamic interview and speaker.

Office Kitchen / Break Room in Flat Iron

13. The Office

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Easy, available, usually free of charge, informal and inviting. Ideal for portraying company culture.

CONS: Dependent on good decor and ability to control foot traffic and noise.

Comedy Shoot in Washington Heights

14. The Local

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: Lends easily to comedy

CONS:Requires much prep work of the space. often limited area for crew and client to observe shoot.

Note: This particular kind of setup is great if the home has cultural significance. In the visual (left), along with our partners at Hunter Park Productions, we recorded a Dominican comedy duo inside a Washington Heights apartment.

Corporate Shoot in NYC

15. The Focus

DIY Recommended? Yes

PROS: This is a great go-to for taking a corporate conference room and making it look like a set. These backgrounds are relatively easy to setup and controllable as far as lighting, audio and atmospheric factors.

CONS: This requires a space with a lot of depth.

It’s important to remember that creativity does not always mean the more complicated method. It all comes down to setting yourself up for success and choosing a background that helps tell your story. People often choose a more complicated production because it sounds fancier, but more often than not, the simpler method will be the most effective. As well, I encourage tests to gauge the feasibility and post-production required for these various options. So try it out, see if it works and start recording and remember, scaling back can often result in an even stronger finished product.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this helpful. I’m the founder and principal of RMP-NYC, a video and podcast production company with a focus on insights and strategy. Visit our website for more information, or reach out with any questions.




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Richard Adler

Richard Adler

I create videos for big brands and corporations. rmp-nyc.com

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