Posts Tagged With: set dressing

Street Alteration: Final stages and set dressing

elements of street dress

After working on some of the CGI background and graffiti I needed to turn my attentions to the actual set dressing that would  include rubbish, signs, a burnt out car and dirty streets in general. I designed a replacement sign for the fish bar above and changed it to the burger bar in the story. I also needed to dirty the brick work of the existing buildings, board up some of the windows with designed wooden boards. The background also included an abandoned train carriage. This was collage’d in from a photo and would be part of the CGI background. The car was also collage’d in but would be a set dress rather than CGI.

street alter with shop windows a

Theses pictures show the addition of set dressing components as they were added.

Below picture shows the dirtying up of the building fronts.That would be done using water-based paint so it can be removed easily. It also includes the burnt out train.

street concept stage 4

Below the image shows the addition of some fly tipping on the far right and the burnt out car. I have also added some street lights as it’s night and one or two of the buildings are inhabited.

street concept car lights

The final stages were about filling the street with bags of rubbish that hadn’t been collected, loose rubbish and papers, alteration of lighting and just generally blending and tidying the image. I also added a larger bin into the foreground and some blending of the figures so they fitted the scene.

 

street concept car rubbish 3

 

Final stage from this….

alteration 1

….to this.

street concept final orange

The final image.

The street alteration needed to look like a dystopian society that had a more post apocalyptic feel. The city is generally uncared for, rubbish is left, people are rioting and setting fires. But the streets are still inhabited, so that meant there had to be life and places where people lived and worked. There is a burger bar, there are places in the city that will sell cigarettes, papers etc albeit limited stock. It was about creating a scene that incorporated CGI and potential post production techniques as well as traditional location scouting and set dressing.

The visual needs to portray the background to pass onto the digital matte painters. It will also need some visual effects due to movement in the background of search lights, maybe a moving train, movement in the clouds etc. to create a dynamic, believable scene.

There were some other items that could have been added such as a shopping trolley, dead flowers etc. I tried adding the shopping trolley and some more piles of rubbish and it started to look a bit too staged, after all it is a street that is still used with people running a business or a shop albeit dirty and run down.

I decided to keep the sky a murky orange green to show the fires off in the distance and the pollution. In heavily built up areas skies do take on an orange glow, this of course is emphasised for this scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, post-apocalyptic film and design, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Street Location Alteration 2: Matte CGI background

Before placing all the visual and set dressing elements into the street scene I need to portray what the overall look of the CGI back ground and sky will look like. It is night-time but there has to be some light. As there is a fair bit of pollution I’m going with an orange green cast to start with. This can be altered at a later stage.

alteration matte 1

This is a white matte to make the layering easier. Below shows the sky and the start of the background, along with a building design that is partly influenced by my interiors, partly by a gothic/art deco combination.

pen build 1     background with pen 2

The image above was created by altering a pen design that I found.  I then changed the sizes, inverted them to create a collection of buildings. This will sit at the back of the scene as a CGI matte painting. There will also be an addition of a CGI burnt out building using the existing high-rise block of flats.

alteration darkened

 

With the background near completion I can now add in some of the design elements to the foreground.

street alter with shop windows a

The next phase will include altering shop and street signs where necessary and adding in some rubbish, broken glass, maybe a burnt out car etc.

 

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Street location Alteration 1: Graffiti and posters

I wanted at least one street alteration that incorporated CGI/VFX as part of the set extension. I chose Shadwell as it provided some interesting urban views that could be added to or manipulated. The main action is focused on the bridge end of the street and some shop fronts, one of which is used in the action.

I gathered some visual inspiration from my Pinterest page of urban dystopian/post apocalyptic streets and some of my own photos.

 

mood board apoc

 

A short excerpt from Chapter 3, The Huntsman in which one of the characters Switch walks the streets of London.

A couple of streets away he found a dirty fast food joint and bought a burger which he ate back out on the street. In a bin he found an old newspaper from two days ago which had little of interest, but he wasn’t much of a reader anyway. Most of the news he did glance at concerned crime within the city, murder, robbery, arson. The only mention of the world was from opinion columns that criticised the European Confederation’s trade blockades, and there was no mention of America at all. (The Tube Riders by Chris Ward)

Description here is mainly about the world around him and the character himself so it was fairly open in terms of design. Reading through other parts of the book though gave me visual ideas to work from. It had to say city, London, future, dirty, uncared for etc. Because the story revolves around a gang I wanted to make the streets have a gang-like feel with graffiti and posters. I also wanted to incorporate elements of resistance in the wall art, such as doves wings. The eye was used as a resistance poster, “they are watching you…join us…”. It adds to the sense of dystopia and being watched.

eye for poster aposter mask 2graffiti wall mask c

 

poster graffiti wall 2 final

 

Above show the visuals for one of the walls. I used some of my artwork and adapted it, combining it with some tag street art.

I worked on some visuals that could be part of a boarded up shop front. This was inspired by some of the abandoned buildings around Nottingham that were boarded up with wood panels and joined together. This would also be part graffiti’d and would fit over the front of one of the existing shops.

shop fronts boards 1        shop fronts graffiti 2       wing wall darker

The finished boarded up shop front using my building photo, artwork and graffiti wall. The image was produced in photoshop with layers and digital painting.

This image shows where it will fit.

alterations visual board

 

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White Card Model:- Phase 1

I am now using my hand drawn elevations to piece together the white card model. The main section is the reception as this is one of the spaces that will use CGI to extend the height of the space beyond the walkway. This section is my priority for the week. The white card photos show one side of the space and some of the views, including a small section of ceiling.

white card model board

To complete this space I now need to design the walkway, finish the white card floor and design the CGI guideline image for post production. I will also look at rendering a small section of this set for reference. All these jobs are part of the production designers role at the pre-production phase whether CGI is used or not. White card models are useful in determining camera angles or discussing problems.

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The Role of The Production Designer: Case Study 1- part 3

Work Shadowing Day 2:-

The second day took on a different pace compared with day one. Instead of being at one place and filming we were to visit a couple of locations that were being dressed for filming the following day.

The day started at 8am and we all met at the front entrance of Tower Hamlets College which was closed for Easter. Along with Matt and I there was a small team of construction men/fitters, the set dresser and Art Director. The school had been chosen because it fitted well with the architectural features of the hospital location and was being dressed to be used as a continuation of that location. The writer and Director were both keen on the idea of the secure hospital taking on a more school like appearance rather than a prison. The Tower Hamlets location also had some features that would provide visual interest on camera such as the main atrium area in which the character uses the phone to make a call. Originally this space was going to be dressed as a recreation area with a pool table and places to sit but it was decided that the space had such a nice reflective floor it would be better to polished it and leave the area stark.

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Other alterations that were being made were the covering of the poster boards with blue felt. This was also used in the other location to help with the design and continuity. A phone was also being added.

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The phone had to be fitted to the wall in such a way that it didn’t damage the bricks and could be removed. The frame had to be built to allow space behind as there was an electrical box that couldn’t be removed. It was decided that it would be  set away from the wall slightly to allow for this.

I was shown around all the other  set dressings that were going to happen that day. The corridors were to be dressed with the same flooring, wall details and general decor as the corridor back at the hospital to allow a seamless edit between both locations. In one room they were getting ready to place chairs in a circle. The chairs had to look as though they were fixed to the ground. Often with something like this, props or sets are not fixed in case they have to be moved. Instead Matt chose to fix metal braces to the chair legs to make it appear that they were fixed while allowing the director to come in and move them if needed.

Our next location stop off was an addition to an earlier episode that had been part edited. It had been decided that they needed to film more scenes so added a police conference to the story. We visited the chosen location with the location manager and set dresser with the intention of measuring up, working out where the screens would be fitted etc. With a dress like this Matt would not draw up a plan or sketch, instead he would be on site for the dress. The important part of this location visit was to get rough sizes and locations of plugs and other technical information as there would be some form of screen displaying graphics also designed by Matt’s team.

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The location was part of a college building and had all the necessary components so dressing would be minimal, therefore cheaper.

As we were leaving Matt received a call about using another section of the building for an additional office scene.

This was one of the points where I really got to see how quickly the Production Designer works.

Matt and the Marshall (set dresser) got to work photographing and measuring a small class room in prep for turning it into an office, getting the dimensions of the pillars, internal window for blinds, wall lengths etc. They then discussed possibly using some of the existing furniture in some way. Lighting was also discussed. There was an internal window that led through to a wood workshop that was perfect for setting the lights. With blinds in place, it would appear to be an external window. As the filming was to be 5 days later, they had to work quickly, ringing around and ordering blinds and planning a visit to  the props house in West London. At this time the financial go ahead had not been given, Matt had calculated the dress would be around £2000. As time was against them they went ahead and planned for the dress.

Before heading to the props hire houses Matt needed to return to the office in central London briefly to discuss graphics with the team and also draw up a rough plan of the new office dress.

Back at the office I read some of the scripts and observed how Matt worked alongside the graphics team, discussing sizes of signage for the police conference and watched as he drew the plan. This was done by hand on a A4 piece of paper and then photocopied and given to Marshall.

scan matt

A layout was drawn up with the walls and furniture to scale 1:50 so they had a good idea of what needed hiring.

A hand drawn plan makes sense when you are working on a set dress as it’s relatively easy to draw up anywhere. It took Matt no longer than 30 mins to do and covered all the necessary information needed. This is the nature of TV design; a quicker hands on approach that  keeps the Production designer on their toes. We had discussed the uses of software and although Matt uses CAD and Sketch Up he still does a lot by hand. What was important he said was the end result and getting the job done.

Later that day we visited the props hire stores in Acton. After visiting one and ordering some of the furniture we went to Super Hire in which every possible prop and form of furniture can be found, ranging from ultra modern back to Tudor. Super Hire spans several floors and Matt showed me around all the sections before we went to “smalls”, shelf sized props such as phones, files, glasses, kitchen ware etc. This was the section in which Matt and Marshall would find all the small props for dressing an office.

What surprised me was the attention to detail. Matt was experienced in crime drama so knew exactly where to go and what was needed. We visited pictures for wall dressing, computers, coffee machines and all manner of detail objects. The colour scheme was masculine so was kept to blues, greys and blacks. Lamps were chosen for their simple angular shapes. There were also a few personal items chosen for the personal assistant’s desk. I was asked to source all the police files that I could find that matched the three colours of the scheme plus some leather-bound files for dressing part of the filing cabinets and shelves.

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The above pictures are the baskets that we filled full of props. Once Matt got the phone call to go ahead with the set dress the props were taken to the desks and hired. They were booked in for collection just before the dress went ahead, just three days later.

After the props hire was complete day 2 came to an end.

Work shadowing gave me a good idea of what it’s like at the pre-production/production phase of TV drama. Due to a smaller art department, the Production Designer seems to be involved in so many different aspects of design and organisation. Decisions have to be made quickly and there’s no time to be precious about some design aspects. The budget and time scale only allow for so much to be done. Sometimes there’s not enough time to dress the set to really show all the finer details or character. A lot of the time there are no detailed concepts, just enough drawn up on Sketch Up or as a plan to allow the job to be completed. The bigger the budget, the more prep time there is.

Having said this, lower budget TV provides a creative challenge in comparison to film. Matt described the film as a more straight forward design project due to the fact that it’s usually designed in a block, then filmed and then the Production Designer is finished. Sometimes the designer is involved in the post production phase, more often that not they finish when filming starts. TV is different in the way that it’s an ongoing process, design backtracking where necessary, responding to script alterations and budget constraints. Pre production and production often merge together.

 

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Project development: Pre production research

This week I’m working between the practical side of my project and the theoretical research that will back up and influence my design decisions. The main focuses are pre-production, sound stages, location dressing, concepts and the changing role of the production designer. My practical work involves designing the main sound stage build; so completing a model, technical drawings, concept visuals, researching materials and then looking at how CGI is used in the sound stage build. Along side the practical elements I’m also having 2 days work shadowing a production designer; one day on set watching the shooting process and one day observing set dressing. These observations will form part of the production designer case study 1.

Firstly I wanted to look at what exactly is meant by some of the processes of pre-production:-

Pre-production

A span of time in which the production designer conceptualizes the film or TV show researching and producing drawings/concepts, technical drawings for the build. This usually lasts between two and three months on average. It involves everything that needs to be done before filming starts including what parts of the design will be set builds? What will be a location dress? How it will be filmed? (BARNWELL, J. 2004) Also included in this stage is the storyboarding in which each shot is thought through, with ideas coming from the director, production designer and director of photography. More often than not the storyboard is drawn up by a storyboard artist, but on low-budget films the production designer will take on this role (LOBRUTTO, V. 2002).

To complete my project I need to look at these elements in more detail over the next month and how they relate to my own designs:-

Concept art/visuals

Sound stages and builds

Set dressing

Technical drawings/plans/models

Location scouting

Storyboarding

How all these relate to production and post production ( CGI and effects in particular)

 

References:-

BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production Design: Architects of the screen. New York: Wallflower

LOBRUTTO, V., 2002. The Filmmakers Guide to Production design. New York: Allworth Press

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London Locations 1: Set dressing, CGI and inspiration

This last weekend I visited London to source some potential locations that could be adapted for the story. Because the story and city are so vast it will probably take more than one trip to find everything that’s suitable and to finalise measurements and logistics of filming. I have a handful of good locations but I’m not altogether happy with the suitability until I have a go at some concept work first.

The first two locations are the tube station entrance with a small high street and a park. Whether building a shallow pond would be preferable to finding a park with a pond remains to be seen. The pond would only need to have enough water to show part submerged shopping trollies which could be cut to fit a shallow water, so to have the appearance of a deeper pond. One side could also be green screened to allow a CGI overpass in the distance. The amount of trees could cause a problem, so I will keep looking for another park that might be more suitable. The street around Shadwell is a smaller high street that potentially could be closed rather than a larger street that might prove to be more of an upheaval for local residents and shops. It could also be quieter in the Docklands area at the weekend.

london 1a

london 2 a

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From Page To Screen: Visualising Literature 1

There are two strands of research that will be my main focus for the practical side of the MA project. One is the role of the production designer in the science fiction genre, the other is the realisation of film designs from a novel. Many films are adapted from literature and recently  there has been an increase within the teenage/young adult category– The Hunger Games being a good example of a book  developed for the screen. The Hunger Games is the most popular Young Adult dystopian novel to date, still dominating the lists on Goodreads.  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12408.Best_Young_Adult_Dystopian_Novels [sourced on 31/01/13]

This is a selection of some of the films that use source material from dystopian books.

pd james  Hunger-Games

Pictures are PD James: The Children of Men  http://www.librarything.com/work/14944#  The Hunger Games http://www.carriesaba.com/blog/the-hunger-games-trilogy-3-books-that-get-you-thinking/

[sourced on 29/01/2014]

I thought I’d look at a few of these books in terms of designing for film before choosing my own source novel, taking on board some of the thoughts and approaches of the Production designers when dealing with literature.  Each film adaption can be different for a number of reasons.

Realism and the director/screenwriter approach

The Children of Men

This film was always going to have a strong guiding force as the director was also the screenwriter. Alfonso Cuaron had definite ideas about where scenes would take place and what details should be included. It was the job of the designers to allow Cuaron’s visions to materialise, solve problems and make sure there was continuity for when the scenes were finally put together.

Production Designer Jim Clay discusses dealing with the screenplay version of the book

Production designer Clay says, “We had to find locations that served all the actions, which are always very clearly in Alfonso’s head from his writing of the screenplay. One of my greatest challenges has been to join all of the pieces together in a convincing way.” http://www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php

Cuaron was also hands on with his approach to the overall vision often adding props to the scene before filming. Actor Michael Caine recalls such a time when the director added  postcards to various areas around the back of the actors ” …It didn’t mean anything to us, but it’s important to him and for the look of his film.”  (www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php)

Detail was also important to the look of the film, particularly when you’re dealing with a near-future England. Here, the director/production designer relationship comes into play as Clay recalls the importance of other creative inputs from Cuaron.

“The job of production designers Kirkland and Clay was to create and provide an expansive, reality-based world full of texture, one with sufficient space to allow for the action of the story. Clay says, “It was very exciting and very challenging for the whole crew, because we were charged with knitting together a series of shots that should hopefully become seamless as one timeless piece of action. Alfonso has a brilliant eye for detail and sometimes, when you’re designing the bigger picture, you forget to put in those detailed elements. He’s constantly reminding us what makes it real.”

There is so much visual information in a novel that it is quite easy to forget important little additions in set dressing. The audience has to be submerged visually from the outset. They have to be told a story through imagery rather than suggested text. Usually in a novel there are descriptions that allow the reader to form elements of scene or props in their imaginations.  Of course each reader will then interpret it in a slightly different way. Readers often flesh out what isn’t always there. (This is often dependent on the wording used in each book as some are more descriptive than others) That’s probably why many readers are often disappointed by the film versions of their beloved stories as they don’t match the images that they have created in their own minds.

Maybe films are and should be treated as  different experiences altogether and it’s the job of the filmmakers and designers to make the story as real as possible. Visually it should speak to an audience on many levels and not just through pure spectacle. Props, visual metaphors and colour palettes help to create a mood and therefore allow the audience to enter the characters heads in a way that might be similar to a book, or as close as possible, through detail and realism.

References:-

Current Young Adult popularity list to date https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12408.Best_Young_Adult_Dystopian_Novels [sourced 31/01/14]

Images from  http://www.librarything.com/work/14944# [sourced on 29/01/14]

http://www.carriesaba.com/blog/the-hunger-games-trilogy-3-books-that-get-you-thinking/ [sourced on 29/01/14]

Article  information  from   http://www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php [sourced on 29/01/14]

Categories: dystopian film and designers, Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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