Set Design Workflow: Our Complete Guide, Part 1

PROCESS  /   JAN 02, 2020

STEFAN MANCHEV  •   5 MIN READ

STEFAN MANCHEV

STUDIO MANAGER

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This article pulls back the curtain on the fascinating world of set design. We’ll take you on a step-by-step journey alongside the set designer, exploring the key stages that bring a script to life.

 

 

Welcome to our step-by-step journey into the captivating world of set design! In this series of articles, we’ll explore each stage of the process, from initial analysis to the final touches. Whether you’re creating a lavish period drama or a futuristic sci-fi set, these principles apply universally.

The Workflow in a Nutshell

 

1. Analysis & Research  /Analysis of project requirements, script, and technical aspects/
2. Preliminary Design  /Shape and explore ideas through draft drawings and sketches/
3. Construction Design  /Dive into modeling, construction drawings, and cost estimation/
4. Furniture & Equipment  /Fine-tune the details with furniture and equipment drawings/

 

 

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s visualize the entire process:

The Workflow in a Nutshell

 

1. Analysis & Research
2. Preliminary Design
3. Construction Design
4. Furniture & Equipment

 

 

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s visualize the entire process:

Phase 1: Analysis & Research

The world of set design breathes life into the narratives we see on screen. But before hammers pound and saws sing, a meticulous process unfolds. This first part of our series explores the foundational stage of set design: Analysis & Research. Here, the set designer transforms from blank page to blueprint, meticulously dissecting the script and delving into the narrative world. Through research and analysis, they build a comprehensive understanding that informs the visual direction of the set.

agenti-cinema-set-design-workflow-analysis-research-diagram

SCRIPT ANALYSIS

Script analysis involves reading the script multiple times, each time focusing on different aspects. The initial read gives an overview of the story, characters, and settings. Subsequent readings allow for a deeper understanding of these elements, especially how they relate to the visual aesthetics of the film.

 

It’s important to note down any specific requirements or constraints mentioned in the script. For instance, certain scenes might require special features in the set, like a hidden door or a particular type of furniture. These factors will significantly influence the design process.

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Free Script Breakdown Template available at our Blog/Resources  section.

REFERENCES ANALYSIS

Once the script analysis is complete, the set designer moves on to analyzing provided concepts and references. This stage involves studying any visual materials provided by the director or production team. These materials may include concept art, reference images, or mood boards that help in visualizing the desired look and feel of the sets.

 

By analyzing the provided concepts and references, the set designer gains a clear understanding of the director’s vision and artistic direction. This stage is crucial for ensuring that the set design aligns with the overall aesthetic of the production. It also helps in establishing a cohesive visual language that runs throughout the entire film.

 

During this stage, the set designer may also conduct additional research to gather more references and inspirations. This research could involve studying historical periods, architectural styles, or specific locations that are relevant to the story. The more references and inspirations gathered, the richer and more detailed the set design can be.

TIME PERIOD RESEARCH

The next stage in the set design workflow is time period research. If the story is set in a specific time period, it’s essential for the set designer to conduct thorough research to accurately recreate the look and feel of that era. This research involves studying historical documents, photographs, and other visual references from the chosen time period.

 

During time period research, the set designer focuses on understanding the architectural styles, interior design trends, and cultural influences that were prevalent during the chosen era. This knowledge helps in creating authentic and immersive sets that transport the audience to a different time.

 

In addition to architectural and interior design research, time period research also involves studying the fashion, technology, and social norms of the chosen era. These elements contribute to the overall authenticity of the sets and enhance the storytelling by creating a believable world for the characters to inhabit.

TECHNICAL RESEARCH

The final stage of the first phase of the set design workflow is technical research. This stage involves understanding the technical aspects of set construction and other practical considerations. The set designer collaborates closely with the production team to ensure that the sets can be built and operated effectively within the constraints of the production.

 

The set designer might also need to research specific technical details related to the script. For example, if the script requires a set that can be flooded with water, the designer would need to research how to make this possible without damaging the set or endangering the crew.

 

With the completion of this stage, we’re now ready to move onto the next phase of our Set Design Workflow -> Preliminary Design

 

 

… and if you want to know the rest, you’re going to have to read part two of this of article.

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