To accompany our current Forum question - "What are the challenges of remote production design and how do you overcome them?" - we collected ideas and tips from fellow production designers who are working under Covid-19 restrictions and trying our tools for the new environment.
SHARED SCREEN ANNOTATION
Working in a socially-distant environment means more virtual meetings on applications such as Zoom, Skype and Slack. Most of these services allow a participant to share their computer screen during a meeting, meaning all other participants can view one person's screen.
Though virtual meetings can be frustrating, the advantage for designers is the ability to draw on a shared screen in real time.
This is extremely helpful when discussing set drawings, for example, as the team can point to specific details by drawing on top of a floorplan, elevation etc.
Most apps allow the use of arrows, lines, pen, highlighter and eraser. Designers who are looking for greater dexterity can connect to the meeting with their tablets or digital drawing boards, and use a stylus to draw directly onto a shared document or whiteboard. This can result in a visual brainstorming session very similar to an in-person meeting conducted with pen and paper.
The acceleration in virtual communication has brought with it improved platforms for visual communication and project management. Nowadays, designers and their departments can develop ideas and mood boards online, in real time and from varied devices.
Other services, such as Studiobinder and Productionpro, are specifically geared towards the film industry and present virtual boards that include space for characters, locations, costumes, props, etc.
360 and 3D CAMERAS
3D photography tools use photogrammetry to map a location as they go through it, measuring distances and generating extra information such as floor plans and room dimensions.
These days, as access to locations is restricted and design work has to be done remotely, virtual location tours can be a helpful substitute. The uses can vary greatly: in its simpler form a 360 consumer camera can record panoramas, or shoot a video of a designer walking through the location making notes. On a more complex level, 3D camera companies now have subscriber-based icloud services that take your recorded information and translate it into virtual tours, plans and dimensions.
VIRTUAL MEASURING TOOLS
With COVID-19 guidelines pushing us to work remotely, surveying tools that allow designers to measure efficiently on their own are more useful than ever. There are many apps we can load onto our phones and tablets which allow us to organize surveys, communicate measurements and collect important information about spaces from afar.
Some apps allow measurements capturing through a device’s camera, including the Measure app. You can pick which point you want to measure from by simply clicking on the screen and guiding the view to the desired endpoint. The resulting measurements can then be saved as a photograph with the dimensions overlayed.
For full groundplans of a space, there are new augmented reality tools that can accurately draw a plan based on the users guidance. RoomScan and Magicplan are apps that guide you through a tour of a space, and then use the camera information to build a clear and useful plan.
Google maps can be extremely helpful for exterior sets, and there are apps that use the data to give measurement for birds-eye-views around the world. The GPS Fields Area Measure app allows you to measure distances and areas from the safety of your home.
UNIVERSAL COLOR CODING SYSTEMS
Communicating about color is a complicated task even under normal work circumstances, but when the design process goes virtual it turns nearly impossible.
This is where a color matching system is crucial. By standardizing colors of a specific color space, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to a coding system to ensure colors match.
In America, standardization was popularized when the Pantone Matching System palette was launched in the 1960s. Today, the Pantone Matching System is used around the world in a variety of industries as the standard language for accurate color information.
Whatever color system you choose to use - whether Pantone or CMYKfor printing, RGB/Hex for computer graphics or a paint company's fan deck for painting - make sure that your crew and vendors are equipped with, and versed in, the same color matching system. It's best to establish parameters for color communication early on so that the entire team is able to discuss color accurately regardless of their whereabouts.