Good question! There is a science to understanding the best scale for your event. Every day we are asked this question and the answer is generally speaking the rule of thumb is 2 feet per person. So that means if you are photographing 1 person at a time the standard 8 x 8 foot step and repeat is fine and an 8 x 8 will comfortably fit upwards of 4 people. Here is a scale of ratios:
- 8×5 (1-2) people
- 8×8 (1-4) people
- 8×10 (1-5) people
- 8×12 (1-6) people
- 8×15 (1-8) people
- 8×20 ( 1-10) People
The most popular size is either an 8×8 or an 8×10. Of course Step and Repeats come in all sizes and long red carpet Step and Repeats are standard at 20 t0 50 feet. But why?
Accommodating the photographers
Regardless of the event the purpose of the Step and Repeat is to get great pictures! This may be for a private corporate sponsored event, celebrity event, charity event or a personal party. In any scenario, if the photographer does not have a great shot, the picture will not turn out as desired. This is a crucial element to achieving good media assets from your event that will be useful to the individual, sponsor or charity. On the occasion that a celebrity graces a red carpet, you want to make absolutely certain that you capture them clearly in the picture to make the most of their presence at your event as there usually are not any “do-overs”. There are many professional photographers that make their living taking pictures and video of people in front of Step and Repeats like Celebrity Footage and Wire Image and the #1 grumble they have is not having a quality step and repeat backdrop and #2 is the step and repeat is too small. As they make a living by attending these events and selling the pictures and footage afterwards, it is wise to listen to their advice!
If you’ve ever wondered why some step and repeat walls are so long here are the reasons:
- The Same rule of thumb applies to the Media correspondents and Photographers. If you are going to have a predetermined amount of media correspondents attending your event and you know in advance, allot for 2 feet per photographer. At many events that where we install long step and repeats you will see “placement Placards” for each media outlet that is attending all in a row along the red carpet ( Associated Press, Getty, etc.) To avoid crowding and competition for a prime spot to take a picture they are accommodated with a longer step and repeat. Despite the good intention of well planned spacing, there is usually a lot of jostling and elbowing for that perfect shot.
The long shot: you’ll see many pictures that angle down the red carpet. These are often preferred as it captures not only the individual, but also more of the logos on the wall. Often these pictures add depth and atmosphere to the picture. Here is an example:
- Logo size. The length of the step and repeat directly correlates to the size of the logos depending on how many logos you may have on any given step and repeat pattern. This is an important issue that is often overlooked by event planners. You want to shoot for the biggest logo you can get and have it “surround” the individual in front of it. As the person will always be obscuring some of the logos, the more you have flanking them right, left and top, the more the brand is evident in the picture. It is common mistake to jam pack dozens of logos into a small area without considering the space the subject takes in front of them. Often this results in barely perceptible logos which defeats the purpose.
- Flow of traffic. If you are expecting a long list of attendees a longer step and repeat wall is better. As attendees walk the carpet you want to give them breathing room to stop and interact with the media pit. Some of the interactions will be brief and some longer. Often there may be several individuals on the red carpet at the same time and this necessitates a longer wall. As attendees arrive you certainly never want a bottleneck at the entrance or exit of the red carpet. This allows the photographers the room to and time to get as many pictures as possible with each individual without feeling rushed or even worse rushing off the celebrity!
- Lastly, if you have the space and it is within your budget, longer red carpet step and repeats show consideration to your sponsors, the attendees and the photographers. Ultimately, the pictures captured will be of better quality and more useful to the consumer as they are disseminated through media outlets online, on television, magazines or social media.
Size and Distance and why it matters:
Congratulations if you have made it this far in this blog! If you are here you certainly are earnest to make your events step and repeat a great one. This part is going to be a little detailed, but do not fear, I will not bore you with the too much of the science of taking a perfect picture. Everyone has cropped a picture before on either their laptop, Instagram, Photoshop, Facebook and so on. Why do we do this? To focus on the content of the picture. With Step and Repeats you want to find the perfect balance between the subject and the backdrop with maximizing the amount of visible logos. So how is this done? Spacing between the the backdrop, the width of the red carpet (if you choose one) and where the photographer is standing are the key elements. Space providing, you want to shoot for a distance of 8 feet between the subject and the photographer. This is called aspect ratio and you can learn some more details in this YouTube Video. All media, Instagram, YouTube, TV, Netflix, iPhones, etc. have their own Aspect Ratio and often someone taking the photo or video will have it preset. So the takeaway is to have a reasonable amount of space in front of the Step and Repeat and avoid close and crowed pictures that may end up resulting in your logos being cropped out.
What about height?
Standard height for a all step and repeats in the industry is 89″ to 96″ tall. This encompasses all frame types. In the last 18 years of making step and repeats we have rarely encountered a need to go higher than 96″. Of course there are always exceptions for basketball teams and height-gifted individuals. However, even then between 1985 to 2006, the average height of players in the NBA was roughly 6-7″ (source) which would still be accommodated by a standard size step and repeat.
The average height of an American male is 5-10″ (source) and the average height for the average American female is 5-4″ (source). That average leaves a healthy space of 19″ to 26″ above the average individual for the visible step and repeat logo field. So we can comfortably put this often asked concern to rest.
The exception to height. 10 foot tall step and repeats
In the last few years we have seen a marked increase in the request for a 10 foot tall step and repeats. They are available and we have made them. Obviously, 10 foot tall is a rather imposing custom step and repeat and you may wonder to yourself what is the purpose? Especially given that the average ceiling height is only 9 feet tall (source) , it would not even fit in most rooms! These custom step and repeats do have a function and purpose.
Many red carpet events for celebrities and sports events attract a huge crowd of media correspondents looking to capitalize on the event. As a result, it is difficult to accommodate all of these individuals in one flat spaced arena and if done so often results in a media pit transforming into a mosh pit. What is the solution? Risers, platforms and stages. Here are some common risers:
Most rental companies will drop them off and set them up at your event as well. Risers and platforms are usually cheap to rent and serve many purposes.
- Platforms that are utilized for step and repeat runways will elevate the subject above the media pit and allow more of the media correspondents and photographers to easily view and photograph the attendee. Usually these risers are 2 feet tall, so an 8 foot step and repeat average height plus a 2 foot riser = 10 foot tall step and repeat required, voila! Making a 10 foot step and repeat to put behind the riser is always a much safer and stable method than placing an 8 foot wall on top of a 2 foot riser. Usually these risers have a black fabric “skirt” that is attached to the sides, so they don’t look to utilitarian and blend in with the photo area.
- Risers and platforms can be “stepped” or “terraced” for the media correspondents so that each level goes higher above each row and you can stack more photographers into a smaller space more comfortably. This is a common practice and also a nice way to get different perspectives in the photos that are taken. But what about the top row that is so far above the attendee? That is where the extra 2 feet on a 10 foot step and repeat comes in handy by eliminating any loss of logos in the picture and increasing the quality of your media assets.
- Product placement. It is common nowadays to see various new luxury vehicles parked on a red carpet in front of a Step and Repeat wall along with all other types of production placement. These product placements can often be either tall or wide and occlude much of the visible logos on the Step and Repeat. Accordingly, you will sometimes need to adjust the height of the wall to achieve your branding bliss point.
Here is an example:
- Custom movie premiers that incorporate visuals or themed flats around the step and repeat. They are playful and fun at an event, but take away from the main logos necessitating a taller wall.
- Discussion platform: lastly the discussion platform where you have either a panel of individuals sitting or standing in front of a media wall or Step and Repeat. These are often raised above the onlookers and the branding for the event is occluded. Having a 10 foot media wall or step and repeat backdrop is a sound solution to this challenge.
The set-up and wrap-up
If you are an event professional, corporate executive or Charitable organization and either set up the Step and Repeat yourself or travel often with it to various events, the set-up and wrap-up is always on your mind. There is a reason the most popular Step and Repeat sizes are 8×8 and 8×10. These are a reasonable size for one individual to set-up and break-down while also having a fairly large vertically branded area. Coincidentally the typical trade show booth size is 10×10 feet which nicely accommodates both sizes. Historically, trade show backdrops have had a significant overlay with the Step and Repeat industry and recently it has become almost obligatory to have a backdrop at a trade show booth.
The recommended style of frame is the collapsible/expandable system as it easily erects in minutes and retracts similarly. The bonus for this system is that the collapsed size is easily carried by hand and will fit in an overhead bin of an airplane or the front seat of a car. If traveling with the frame the suggested material for the print is fabric. Stretch fabric can stay on the frame and handily fit in the provided carry case. Although vinyl is always cheaper than fabric, it can not be folded and usually will need to be shipped in a separate long box.
Hope you enjoyed this blog and found it useful! If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
COO of StepandRepeat.com