Set designers create the scenes: from parish theater to Broadway and from museums to TV and cinema. The sets, or the settings of the scenes, determine the atmosphere of a production, the time and the place, whether it is a work set in the present day, fantasy or historically accurate. Designing sets can be a complex but rewarding job.
Step 1. Define the purpose of a set
To conceive a good scenography, you need to understand its purpose, the character (if any) of who "owns" that room (as long as it is a room), and how this setting can strengthen the show in its entirety.
- The scenographies set the tone and the quality level of a production.
- The scenographers create the atmosphere in the minds of the spectators, through the use of color, shape, history and association … obvious and subliminal.
- The sets almost always give clues to the audience about the time and place of the story. In fictional or science fiction works, the set design will even suggest the genre of production - in fact, that's almost always the case. The places in a musical will be emphasized by the scenes, just as the story is heightened by song and dance. Imagine the hall of a castle … don't you expect a different style depending on who will enter through the imposing steel door - a comedian or a scary vampire?
- The sets have many practical purposes: to provide various levels to better present the actors to the audience; provide important physical elements for the text and plot; help entertain the public; visually underline or explain the images, ideas, text and subtext of a work; and, pragmatically, hiding the behind-the-scenes of live productions from the public.
Step 2. Study art and design, literature and construction - in school or alone
Set designers are well-rounded artists, skilled in every field and able to understand and use the principles of design.
- Established set designers could come from the most varied fields, but a diploma in theater or scenic technique is very common, followed by studies of art, industrial design, architecture or interior design.
- Design institutes are another way to become a set designer.
Step 3. Get experience as early as possible by working in local or school productions
Offer to design, build, paint and prep sets or help behind the scenes
Step 4. Practice the skills useful in a successful production career, such as drawing (hand and PC), model building, painting, wood handling, sewing, and designing / building props
If you can, be an apprentice to professional set designers.
- Work on the ability to deal with and solve problems. Set designers often have to find solutions on the spot!
- Use good communication skills to interact with colleagues, from the director to those involved in photography and sound. There is a chain organization chart on the stage - in larger theaters, the set designer turns to the technical director, who coordinates his own staff of carpenters. In a small theater, the set designer could ALSO be technical director and carpenter … as well as the painter and costume designer.
Step 5. Read and analyze the scripts
A production designer has to take words and ideas and translate them into the physical world.
- Often, a script has only brief details about the scenes, and a production designer has to derive clues from the dialogue. For example, if a character says “What light comes out of that window?”, There should be a window there!
- A production designer has to research places, periods and styles to design authentic sets.
Step 6. Design sets in various formats to communicate your ideas
Set designers need to be able to design sets, build models and sometimes build entire sets.
- Artistic experience with drawings and sculpture is necessary.
- Art schools can launch careers as a set designer by teaching the use of tools and construction techniques.
Step 7. Hand or computer-aided technical drawing (CAD) studies can be helpful in developing plans and reliefs for scenes
Step 8. Develop a portfolio of scenes you have worked on
Include the sketches (whether or not they were made - do some practice scenes, just to learn) and photos of the finished productions.
Portfolios are an important part of set designer interviews. Ultimately, many employers are not interested in your degree; they just want to make sure you know how to do this job. Your portfolio, experience and reputation matter
Step 9. Join associations of set designers
It's a good way to find out about job vacancies or get to know potential employers.
- Read books on scenography.
- The set designer is a difficult job that requires a lot of information. You have to be strong for this job!
- The set designers also work for cinema and TV.
- "The art of scenography" by Dante Ferretti
- "The work of the scenographer" by Lori Renato