The Art Director’s job is to oversee the way in which the set design is developed into the actual set, build the set models, and make sure that the look is what the Set Designer envisaged.
Michael Minas, Art Director for the Joseph video this insight into his job…
“Starting the job means gathering as much information as possible from various sources including the Director, the Designer and the script. Once there is a full understanding of the requirements, I gathered as much visual material as possible such as photographs, film images, videos, books etc.
The medium of film requires different colour schemes to that of a theatre set as the sensitivity of celluloid must be taken into account as well as the constant movement of the cameras around the film set. A theatre audience only sees the set from one angle, and so 3D construction has its own challenges. Filming also brings its own problems of scale, such as height and space for the cameras, technicians, and of course, the cast.
The set models are as accurate as they can be given the fact that last minute changes can and often do occur. The way in which the set models are constructed are fairly simple, however the skill involved within the art department is enormous – it’s not like making an airfix model with instructions and already cut out pieces. Firstly the plan of the set must be established and stuck firmly to a solid base.
All of the additional pieces of the set are hand constructed and decorated according to the Set Designer’s plan. The vertical elements such as walls and windows are attached to the base following the plan outline. Once these are fixed then scaled props for the set model are made or purchased from specialists.
Once the set model is constructed, the Director uses them to see the space available in a 3D format, enabling the planning of a shoot to go more smoothly. The lighting and camera departments also benefit from the set model as it helps them iron out any major problems before they get to the film studio. The models are also used by the construction department and often referred to by the Choreographer, technicians and actors.
The design of the set must take into account any props that are regularly used and prop design can be as time consuming and as complex as the set design. This does, of course, depend on the nature of the prop and how significant it is to a scene and also how often it is used – for example in the Calypso number neon fruits were constructed to enable a visual transfer of the audience from Egypt to the Caribbean.
As with any film there are always problems with the day to day running of the “production” – however with the Joseph set none of the problems caused major delays or difficulties. Filming, like theatre, is a team effort, a family working together, and each department has its own area of expertise that interlinks with other departments. Most problems are ironed out on the first studio day once everything is in place.
The most difficult set to construct the model for was the Potiphar set. The set is a 360-degree construction with the facility to adapt itself into at least four other sets, such as Potiphar’s Office, the prison, Mrs Potiphar’s bedroom and the Go-Go Joseph disco.”
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