Industry Insights: The best advice in the set design process

We continue our Industry Insights series, where professionals from various design and integration firms discuss topics of relevance and importance to decision makers at TV stations.

Every process, especially one that involves a committee and lasts for months, has pitfalls. So, what’s the biggest piece of advice a set designer can give? Here’s some thoughts from the industry as you look for a new TV set design…

This week’s question posed to the panel:

Biggest piece of advice to give to a news director or creative services director on the set design process?


Kyle Sanvictores of AKA Creative Group

The best projects emerge when news directors inform the process but don’t micro manage it.  Provide an informed brief that summarizes your goals as a station and the goals of the project.  Do your background leg work to really understand what your station is all about. Understand how a physical set can be a vehicle for communicating those core values.



Tim Saunders of Broadcast Design International

After the initial Input is gathered from the team, the client should designate a “point person” to be the liaison with the set design firm to keep communications focused and cohesive. The point person needs good access to all the station decision makers on a regular basis. This saves tons of time and money !!


Bryan Higgason of Clickspring Design

Spend some time thinking about what your needs and wants are for a new set. Don’t be afraid to discuss what you like and what you don’t. Be clear and direct. Ambiguity and indecision will cost you time and money.


Dan Devlin of Devlin Design Group

At Team DDG we believe in designing for the camera. Shot blocking is critical to a successful design. Always put the money where it will be seen On-Air. Analyze the strengths and weakness of you newscasts and news teams so the set design can be used to reinforce their strengths. Make sure that you understand and feel confident in the design process including timelines and approvals. And last but not least; Ask lots of questions!


Brendan Kilroy of Erector Sets Inc.

The best advice I can give is to be involved. The more input that stations can give to the design process insures that the outcome will be a set that satisfies all of their requirements from a functionality and aesthetical standpoint.



James Yates of James Yates Production Design

I often go into meetings where the client presents me with a number of screen grabs of other sets currently on the air. They want “one of these” and “something like that”. If the design of all the buildings in a particular city were based on other buildings, the skyline would get pretty dull over time. Design inspiration can come from many unexpected places, a photograph or a piece of furniture. I would advise them to avoid the trap of being derivative. Don’t follow the rest of the pack.


Jeff Hall of JHD Group

Be upfront about expectations and costs.


The Takeaway

Be involved and set expectations that are realistic, but also come into the process with an open mind. Set designers are artists who can create something great… if you let them.


Looking for more Insights?

Our panel has discussed other changes in the industry, including the move to virtual, the changing news cycle and upgrading your set design.