The Room

Hi all!

I’m aware that many of you work from home these days, but I wonder what experiences (good or bad) you have with different room layouts, especially for the client-supervised sessions.

I’ve been in a couple of post-production studios and have seen many designs that all have their pros and cons. So when a few years ago I built mine, I decided to mimic the layout of the larger color grading suites; however, my room is only 25 sqm.

This means that I’m sitting behind the client. I have a 24-inch broadcast monitor just in front of me, surrounded by two 30-inch computer monitors. A friend of mine who is a photographer took a nice picture of the room so you can get a glimpse into my workspace. I love to work this way, and my clients got used to it mainly because they can’t see my reaction when they ask for the stupidest thing on Earth. But sometimes, I feel they are a bit frustrated that they can’t have eye contact with me, so I’m doing most of my client attended sessions standing with the desk raised; thus, I can walk in front of them for friendlier communication or pointing and explaining an idea on the big screen.

Overall this layout fits my needs: it’s ideal for color correction, okay for editorial and sound mixing work, but not so good when working in Flame. I used to put the Flame interface on the monitor on the right, but working this way is not too comfortable for 10 hours a day. So I decided to rearrange my monitors, and I replaced the broadcast monitor in front of me with a 42-inch giant display for the main software interface, moved the broadcast monitor to the left, and rotated the monitor on the right to portrait mode for mails, scripts and the Logik forum of course.

Now I have a setup that is great for Flame-work, super for editorial tasks – but not so ideal for color grading. I miss the big screen when grading, but everything bigger than a 24-inch monitor blocks it from my sight. Another problem I caused with this arrangement is that my clients now have zero visual contact with me.

I know there isn’t a single good layout if you perform different tasks on a daily basis, as well as I think all of us have to put into consideration that the number of occasions a client visits us decreases every year.

All in all, I started this thread to share some different layouts of the room we spend most of the day. What’s best for the artist that suits them in client-supervised sessions as well? Do you have fewer or more client visits now than in the past years? Good practices for setting up a room are very welcome, as well as bad ones to be avoided.

Keep safe!

Mor

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I call my favorite setup The Triangle. I have the client facing the large TV, with my desk off to the side facing perpendicular towards both. It basically creates a triangle between the client, monitor and artist. I can face the client, see the monitor they’re looking at, and keep my second computer private in case I need to chat the producer. In the past, I’ve had clients sit behind me and I’ve sat behind the clients. Neither were perfect. Once I started using The Triangle, it really opened up conversations in a great way. You can temporarily hide your face behind your monitor if you don’t want them to see your reaction or you can move your head to face them and pick up all their reactions. The one con is I have my broadcast OLED on my desk that they can’t see. Usually the calibrated TV is good enough, but if they really wanna see the north star, I can rotate the OLED for them to see. This is rare for me, but your mileage may vary.

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Doing color grading and finishing in Flame with clients, I’m dealing with the same problem as you. I opted for a profound desk that allows a keyboard, a pen and tablet and a color grading panel (Tangent Elements). My 24" reference monitor is a bit off center in a riser and my computer screen on a mobile arm so I slide from one side to another depending of if I’m grading (in front of my reference monitor) or if I’m using Flame (in front of my computer screen). I get rid of a 3rd computer screen that I used only for scopes while grading in Resolve.

Considering clients supervised sessions, I had the same layout as yours but I felt communicating with my clients was too awkward. I switched to an open triangle but wasn’t smart enough to find a way to keep a monitor out of sight of clients. We share everything now! Anyway, since the pandemic clients prefer to supervise from their shack in the woods with the worst Internet connexion possible (fine for comments on logo and legals), we mostly receive director, DP or AD from agency now.

One downside of The Triangle is that you need to stretch your neck very often if you talk and work at the same time!

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The triangle is the only practical way to see the client’s face but you lose seeing the big monitor properly. Your tandem layout is the most cost-effective but no eye-contact. Clients coming in is getting more and more rare. Tandem for color, triangle for Flame. Fun stuff!
There’s no perfect layout in the end, each has it’s drawbacks. Set your priorities, run with it

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