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Set construction

Theatrical is designed by a set designer, in collaboration with the director of the production. The set designer produces a scale model, scale drawings (including, but not limited to: a ground plan, elevation, and section of the complete set as well as several more detailed drawings of individual scenic elements) paint elevations (a scale painting supplied to the scenic painter of each element requiring painting), and research about props, textures, etc. Models and paint elevations are generally hand-produced, however in recent years many designers and most commercial theaters generally produce scale drawings on computer drafting programs such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.

The technical director or production manager is the person responsible for evaluating the finished designs and considering budget and time limitations. He or she engineers the scenery, has it redrafted for building, budgets time, crew and materials, and liaisons between the designer and the shop. Technical directors often have assistant technical directors whose duties can range from drafting to actually building scenery.

A scene shop is often overseen by a shop foreman or master carpenter. This person assigns tasks, does direct supervision of carpenters, and deals with day-to-day matters such as absences, breaks, tool repair, etc. The staff of a scene shop is usually referred to as scenic carpenters, but within that there are many specialties such as plasterers, welders, and scenic stitchers. Scenic painting is a separate aspect of scenic construction, although the scenic painter usually answers to the technical director.

There is also usually a separate man referred to often as a jack of all trades, but is also known to be whats called a Fred-John in parts of the country, he doesn't specialize in a particular aspect of construction, however he is skilled to some degree in most.

Scenery painting

Theatrical scenic painting is a wide-ranging craft, encompassing virtually the entire scope of painting techniques and often reaching far beyond. To be a well-rounded scenic artist, one must have experience in landscape painting, trompe l'oeil, portraiture, and faux finishing, to be versatile in many different media (such as acrylic-, oil-, and tempera- based paint), and be an accomplished gilder, plasterer, and sculptor. However, the techniques of the scene painter are different than traditional studio artists in many respects. The scene painter replicates an image on a very large scale. This is achieved with specialized knowledge that isn't taught in artist studios. In addition one is often expected to make the finished product fire-proof, and to work quickly and within a tight budget.

Traditionally, scenic painters are drawn from the ranks of scenic designers, and in many cases designers paint their own works. But increasingly scenic painting is looked upon as a separate craft, and scenic painters are expected to subordinate their artistic ideals to those of the designer. Usually, the designer submits a set of 'color elevations', or paintings, to the painter, who is then expected to paint the scenery to match. Alternatively, the designer may submit a scale model or photograph to the painter, sometimes accompanied by a full scale paint sample. In some cases the designer only presents their research and expects the scene artist to adapt it. This is far from ideal from the painter's perspective.

Soft goods

Non-durable goods or soft goods are the opposite of durable goods. They may be defined either as goods that are used up when used once, or that have a lifespan of less than 3 years, ie: drapes and stage curtains

Examples of non-durable goods include cosmetics, food, cleaning products, office supplies, packaging and containers, paper and paper products, personal products, rubber, plastics, textiles, clothing, footwear and most services.

Special effects

Special effects (abbreviated SPFX or SFX) are used in the film, television, and entertainment industry to realize scenes that cannot be achieved by live action or normal means.

They are also used when creating the effect by normal means is prohibitively expensive; for example, it would be extremely expensive to construct a 16th century castle or to sink a 20th century ocean liner, but these can be simulated with special effects. With the advent of computer graphics imaging, special effects are also used to enhance previously-filmed elements, by adding, removing or enhancing objects within the scene.

Many different special effects techniques exist, ranging from traditional theater effects or elaborately staged as in the "machine plays" of the Restoration spectacular, through classic film techniques invented in the early 20th century, such as aerial image photography and optical printers, to modern computer graphics imagery (Computer generated imagery|CGI). Often several different techniques are used together in a single scene or shot to achieve the desired effect.

Special effects are traditionally divided into two types. The first type is optical effects (also called visual or photographic effects), which rely on manipulation of a photographed image. Optical effects can be produced with either photographic (i.e. optical printer) or visual (i.e. CGI) technology. A good example of an optical effect would be a scene in Star Trek depicting the USS Enterprise flying through space.

The second type is mechanical effects (also called practical or physical effects), which are accomplished during the live-action shooting. These include mechanized props, scenery, and pyrotechnics. Examples include the ejector seat of James Bond's Aston Martin, R2D2 in the Star Wars films, or the zero-gravity effects employed in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"Stagecraft" articles
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