June 18th, 2013

Achieving the Apple Look: How to Conduct a Successful Shoot Against a White Background

Achieving the Apple Look

By Mindi Long

When Apple chose a white background as the standard element for commercials and graphics, they sparked a trend which continues to grow in popularity with companies in all industries. The white background provides an intentionally clean, minimalistic look which allows the viewer to focus their full attention on the product or subject. The viewer is not distracted by clutter or competing visuals. The white background has become synonymous with simplicity and sophistication and is a great option for those who have a simple and focused message to deliver.  While there are many benefits to using a white background there are a few pitfalls that you must avoid to ensure a successful shoot.

Keep Your Message Short and Simple

Brevity and clarity are important for any video, but they are essential for a successful video that employs a white background. The minimalistic look is only an asset if your audience can follow you message easily without getting bored. If your viewer becomes confused about your message, they will immediately start wishing there were additional visuals to help explain the point and you will lose your initial impression of professionalism. Likewise, if your message is not brief, you risk your audience becoming bored and looking for a competitor’s video. Avoid this difficulty by carefully scripting your message and having the on-camera talent practice it thoroughly before the shoot to ensure that your message is delivered with the appropriate speed, intonation and diction.  You can also improve your messaging by including simple graphic titles which summarize the upcoming topics in the video. These titles would provide a similar function to the paragraph titles in this blog.

Avoid Troublesome Shadows

White backgrounds require carefully planned lighting and as a result, lots of shooting space. In order to light a white background perfectly, you need to hit the background evenly with lights which have the same color temperature and intensity. Otherwise, you may experience a shadowing effect, where some parts of your background have a grey cast instead of being completely white. Lighting your subject can also become tricky against a white background.  You need to make sure that you have plenty of room to place the subject about 3 feet away from the background. Otherwise you may struggle with the subject casting shadows against the white background. Additionally, if you have a subject with light hair, you will need that distance to allow for proper backlighting so that they do not blend in with the background. Make sure that your on-camera talent is wearing clothing with enough of a contrast to ensure that they pop against the background.

The amount of equipment and required setup means that you will need to reserve a space with plenty of room so that you have filming options.  If you want to accomplish a wide shot of someone standing you will probably need a backdrop which is at least 5 or 6 feet wide and tall enough to cover part of the floor and a couple feet above your subject’s head. We have a 9 foot wide roll of heavy duty white paper which has served us well as a white background for years, but it does require a sizeable room to be effective.

 Matching Your Light

If your video shoot spans multiple locations, days, or cameras, you may run into another common problem, matching your light. Different equipment and location lighting may lead to footage which shows varying degrees of white. This difficulty can be avoided by limiting the differences in surroundings, setup and equipment. However, if you do find  that your whites aren’t quite right, you can fix this difficulty with color correction, post production masking, or using your Luma Key tool to completely replace your white during Post Production. These tools have positives and negatives, which we will explore in a future blog. However, as a quality purveyor of video production, Frozen Fire always strives to get the footage as perfect as possible so that we can avoid having to use these tools in post production.

Use a Makeup Artist

If you decide to produce a video or photo shoot against a white background, we highly recommend that you invest in a makeup artist for the shoot. Pure white is an unforgiving background and any blemishes or inconsistencies in skin tone will show clearly in the video. The amount of lights required for these shoots, also increases the likelihood that your subject will begin to perspire and having a makeup artist onset to keep your talent’s T-zone in good order will go a long way towards ensuring that you have a great looking video! When evaluating your shot, make sure that you keep an eye out for clothing wrinkles and askew accessories, these details will be more obvious against a white background and are likely to become a distraction for your audience! You can read more about the importance of makeup artists and compare subjects with makeup and without makeup on one of our previous blogs!

A video utilizing the apple marketing look is a great tool which will look wonderful on numerous online platforms. Frozen Fire will be happy to produce a great-looking video against a white background for your company. Check out the footage clip for one of our recent white background video shoots below.

Makeup Cropped

The Apple Look from Frozen Fire Films Approvals on Vimeo.



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