In the world of video production, it can be confusing to know what to call the people who work on the production side of videos. Some fields have clear-cut lines between different jobs, whereas others blend together. One good example is the difference between art direction and production design. Both roles design and develop a video, but there are somewhat subtle differences as to what they do and how important they are to the process. Although they both do a lot of the same types of work, they also do very different things. Let’s explore those differences.
What is Production Design?
The term production design is used to describe the overall visual look of a video. In other words, it’s what the entire video looks like. This includes the choice of colours, the type of shot composition, and the overall look and feel of your video. The production designer gets the call on a project once a script is written and approved, and they do a lot of the early planning and brainstorming.
Many production designers are also very good at art direction, but they do not always do art direction. You can think of the production designer as the visual director of a video, which is why they are often called upon to brainstorm the initial ideas. They then move on to creating treatments for what the final video will look like. A treatment is a rough concept version of how a video will look. It’s not a script, nor is it a storyboard. It’s a lot like an outline of ideas and visuals.
What is Art Direction?
Art direction is focused more on the content itself rather than the overall look and feel of your video. In this role, an art director works to create the actual look and feel of the on-screen content, which includes choosing the type of shots, the placement of actors, the overall composition of shots, the lighting, and more.
Art directors work a lot closer to the script and storyboard, which means they work in parallel with the production designer. They are often the ones who get involved in the very early planning stages, and they provide input on the overall look and feel of the video. One of the best ways to tell if you are dealing with an art director is to look at the cuts in the video. If they are very good, it should be obvious that they were responsible for the cuts, and the overall video should feel cohesive. If the video looks like it was cut by a professional editor, this is a good sign that an art director was involved.
What’s the Difference?
There are some overlaps of responsibilities between different roles, but they are distinct. Both the production designer and the art director are involved in the early planning stages of a video, and they work closely with the script and storyboards.
The difference is that the production designer is more concerned with creating the overall style and look of the video, whereas the art director focuses more on the look and feel of the on-screen content.
Both roles are essential to a successful video, and many professionals can do both jobs. However, they are different roles, and the two professionals do very different things. They are often the ones who are responsible for the look and feel of a video, which is why it is important to know the difference between art direction and production design.
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