Movie Magic: Set Design

If we were to compare a finished video to a human body, the set would be the bones.
Practical Effects in Set Design: A Case Study

If we were to compare a finished video to a human body, the set would be the bones. It can hold such importance in helping an audience visualize the story and its themes. Sets can be intricate and extravagant, or they can be simple and to the point – they’re always a challenging yet fun aspect of production.

Working with the Town of Fuquay-Varina on their 2018 State of the Town video project, we needed to create a set for a “game show” styled production. We wanted to embody a feeling similar to Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, and Deal or No Deal, but on a smaller and more intimate scale.

Typical American game shows follow similar visual style guides and patterns for lighting, graphics, music, and sets. For our game show, we needed our audience to immediately see the sights and sounds of our video and know they were looking at a game show.


Lighting | Most examples of “Quiz” type game shows use lighting as a way to incorporate drama and show the mood of the show. Backlit contestants and set pieces alike make the contestants appear to be “in the spotlight”. For our game show, we incorporated a style similar to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire where lighting often signifies new categories or event changes. Additionally, colors are used to react to the contestants’ answers and create the mood and feel of the game show in general.

Sets | The environment or ‘space’ where the game show takes place is also important. We needed the space to be believable and avoid looking like a ‘mock game show’ while still keeping a humorous and fun vibe. Typical similar settings utilize video screens, colors, metal and exposed stage styles to create a “Live Studio” space. We focused on the metal aesthetic and utilized silver trusses for the background, TV Screen and podium to create a small yet dynamic space.


Graphics | Graphics are another staple of typical game shows. From logos to questions on screen, the bright colors and bold fonts of shows often serve as a branding staple and create instant recognition with audience members. We incorporated the town’s colors and font styles throughout the show to increase their brand awareness and help citizens recognize the relevance of the show to their town.

We knew this graphic element would apply to the set as well, since all game shows we know and love have an iconic font or logo that sets them apart. We commissioned a graphic designer to create a custom logo for the piece inspired by a ‘retro’ style.

This logo became a staple throughout the show as it was flashed on the screen before each question and also appeared on the front of the contestant’s podium.

Music | Theme songs are another iconic aspect of game shows. For example, if a kid in school takes a while to answer a question, his friend might start humming the theme song to Jeopardy. Another famous theme song is from The Price is Right as most people can imagine the jingle playing as a new contestant is named and excitedly runs to the front of the stage.

We wanted the theme song for this show to share that excitement and feeling with a catchy, recognizable jingle and riff. Our composer took the references and did a wonderful job creating a memorable and unique theme!

To see all these creative aspects combined into one, watch our final “Quiz the Quay” video here. You’re sure to get some laughs.



If you have any thoughts or ideas on set design or video production, drop us a line at

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