Perspective and Depth in Composition


I was flicking through the channels tonight when I happened to land on Made in Tyne and their Creative programme. I love everything creative so I paused for a while. Unfortunately I had just caught the tail end of it.

However, this is what I saw:

For a programme that is supposed to be about creativity, it doesn't really give off that vibe at first glance and believe me, first glance is all your audience is going to give. I stayed on because I am in production and I was interested but at a glance the setup of this scene immediately puts me off. 
Now what exactly is the problem? The lighting is nice, the presenter is very attractive and comes across great. 
The main problem for me was the set behind her. Why? 
1) I am not a huge fan of curtains or material in sets. 
2) The off white wall and shelving (placed right behind her which makes it seems flat and blocks the lovely things on the shelves) looks dull and boring
But those aren't really the actual problem. They are just my personal opinions, which doesn't really set a production standard. What the real problem was is that the whole composition and image was flat.

Flat = Home video

All this can be fixed in two simple words: PERSPECTIVE and DEPTH
Having worked for many years in a low budget TV production where we learned on the fly, I have experience with this kind of set. We've done it loads of times. You make a nice set that you're happy with, you stick your speaker in front of it, film it, get into edit and wonder why it looks home video.
Here's why - there must be a distance between the talent and the set. A good distance. The minute you do that you've already given depth to the picture and added a nice depth of field to your image. Just go on YouTube and watch some of the top bloggers. They've figured it out (with the help of the DSLR which lends itself naturally to depth of field) 
If this presenter was not so close to the shelving and set behind her the whole composition would feel lighter, brighter and more professional. You can make almost any questionable background look great by not having it in focus. 
Here is an example of what you could do below. Michelle Phan (YouTube personality) is nice and in focus, her background of shelving is bright and colourful, you can vaguely make out what is on them, but she has enough distance from it to make the background slightly blurred and softer, helping her to stand out and giving us that much needed depth and perspective. 
I wrote this post for anyone out there who is starting in TV production or starting their own YouTube channel to point out how simply moving a few things around and creating layers of background and perspective can add miles of professionalism to your production.