Creating A Lush Garden Background For Man Vs Bee With Rosco SoftDrop®

Man Vs Bee is a comedy series on Netflix directed by David Kerr about a man (Rowan Atkinson) and his losing battle with a bee while house-sitting a luxurious house. Most of the story takes place inside an extravagant, two-story mansion with huge glass doors & windows that reveal a lavish garden outside. To shoot the interior scenes, the filmmakers built their set inside a sound stage at Bovingdon Airfield Studios and used a Rosco SoftDrop to provide a lusciously realistic backyard outside of its large windows.


Building A Studio Set With Softdrop

As a part of her 2023 BFDG Award-Winning set design, Production Designer Carly Reddin included a 31’ x 165’ (9,4m x 50m) backdrop to create the realistic garden views outside the windows. “One of my main concerns when designing the modern mansion for Man Vs Bee was the vista outside the floor-to-ceiling windows,” Carly recalled. “I wanted it to look convincing as a real garden location.”

Man VS Bee SoftDrop blog set diagramA top-down view of Carly Reddin’s set design.
Click the image to learn more about her full production design.

The series was shot in the spring & summer of 2021, which also meant that the production had pandemic restrictions to contend with. “It was an interesting challenge as the story required a very close relationship between a contemporary house that incorporated large glass doors leading out onto an expansive lawn,” explained Supervising Art Director Nigel Evans. “This would perhaps make a location shoot seem the most viable, however, with the restrictions of renting during COVID, building a set was a more attractive option – especially with the added benefit of custom-making the design of the house.” For those reasons, building a studio set using SoftDrop to create the garden and lawn outside was the way to go. Not to mention the fact that the set needed to be demolished as a part of the final culmination of events in the script.

A SoftDrop surrounds the windows of the Man Vs Bee set inside a sound stage at Bovingdon Airfield Studios.A SoftDrop surrounds the windows of the Man Vs Bee set inside a sound stage at Bovingdon Airfield Studios.

Matching The SoftDrop To The Exterior

Nigel shared how, when choosing the location for their exterior garden, they were “extremely mindful as to what layout may help with the backdrop composition. A primary concern was to minimise any issues of parallax,” he explained. “For instance, a tree that is mid-ground could look a little odd if it failed to move in relationship to the background behind. So, we decided no mid-ground, let’s stick with open lawn. This is also relatively easy to fudge distance with.”

Image of the background location before edits from Rosco Digital Imaging.

“For a background, we were looking for a run of foliage that had sky present behind,” Nigel recalled. “This would allow for a more attractive view that would play well for night. Thankfully, we located a delightful house in Kingston that ticked many of these boxes.” Rosco worked closely with the Art Department team, Cinematographer Karl Oskarsson, and VFX Supervisor Rob Duncan at Framestore to ensure consistency between the exterior garden and the SoftDrop on set. Some of the crucial steps in the process involved matching scale to the existing site, corresponding focus drop-off, and color grading.

Final art files used to produce the Day/Night SoftDrop for Man Vs Bee.

In order to match the season of the story, the production design team worked with Rosco Digital Imaging to manipulate the original photos of the location. “Due to production constraints, we had to take the photographs for our backing in February, but our story was set in summer,” Carly explained. “Using a SoftDrop allowed us to take advantage of the wonderful services of the team at Rosco who  digitally stitched images together by hand and added extra foliage to the trees – resulting in a believable summer setting for the views out of our set.”


The Results

“SoftDrop felt the right way to go,” said Nigel. “We liked the idea of being able to play with front and back lighting to not just cover day and night, but also explore dusk/dawn variations in-between.”

SoftDrop hanging loose inside the studio.

Nigel also commented on how mounting the backdrop loose provided flexibility for the background layout. “Though we had a provision to use bottom ties we actually hung the drop loose without any issues. This allowed us, on occasion, to easily adjust the horizon line up and down a little on electric winches to create a more attractive composition.” Nigel concluded: “I felt we had a close creative partner in Sarah Horton (Senior Digital Imaging Specialist) and the team at Rosco, and we were delighted with the results.”

Man VS Bee SoftDrop blog Slider 1

Production stills showcasing the SoftDrop in the background of the set.

Man VS Bee SoftDrop blog slider 2

Production stills showcasing the SoftDrop in the background of the set.

Man VS Bee SoftDrop blog Slider 3

Production stills showcasing the SoftDrop in the background of the set.

Carly highlighted a few additional benefits of using SoftDrop in this production. “I was thrilled to learn that the SoftDrop comes in one seamless piece and is made of cotton, having had a bad experience with seams and reflections on translights previously! Also, our limited studio space meant there was little room to light our backing, so it was great that the SoftDrop is flame retardant and safe to have lights close by. This feature was a great comfort, too, when we burned the set down!”

If you’d like to see Carly’s award-winning set design in action, you can watch Man Vs Bee on Netflix. To learn more about the product the filmmakers used to create the convincing gardenscape outside the windows, please visit the SoftDrop product page on our website. And, if you have a project coming up that needs sweeping views of a luscious backyard, you should also know that this SoftDrop is available to rent out of our Madrid, Spain location.


Production Design: Carly Reddin @carly_reddin
Supervising Art Director: Nigel Evans
Cinematographer: Karl Oskarsson 
Chief Lighting Technician: Cullum Ross @cullumrosschieflx

Tatiana Massano April 27, 2023 Questions?

About Tatiana Massano

Content Marketing Specialist: Based in the Madrid office, Tatiana is ideally positioned to share inspiring stories of how customers use Rosco products to accomplish their ideas in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.