Learn How an Art Director Influences a Scene

the role of an art director for films and television

This was a blank studio before an art director took charge of the environment (Image Source)

Any visual content that you watch on TV or film, be it a thirty-second commercial or a 3-hour long feature length film, is the combined effort of hundreds of people.

All of these contributors work together like a symphony, with specific roles, purposes and expectations, it is this coordinated effort that makes the monumental task of creating, possible.

The over-arching goal of each crew member, from key grips to directors, is to create a product that will entice a viewer, whether it be by beauty, story, effects, composition or a combination of them all.

Writers craft the story, actors help bring it to life and directors set the mood, style and flow of the final product. Those are probably the roles you are most familiar with, but those are just broad brushes with video production, there are in fact are so many more steps to reach a final product. So many more people involved.

You may not always notice their work, but without it each and every visual content project, big and small, would be doomed to fail.

A key part of the production process is occupied by an art director, who is tasked with taking a written document and presenting it in a life sized model. They make a thought become a vision.

Art Directors in film turn a thought into a vision #filmbiz Click To Tweet

Whether you are debuting in the industry with no experience but with a goal to become an art director, or you are a seasoned professional hoping to switch to art direction, you must know the importance it holds in the film and television industry.

Most often they are the unsung heroes of films and their efforts are unnoticed. However, they are responsible for the majority of the things that you see in a scene.

Here is how an art director is in control of the scene:

The Background

The background is not the main focus of any film, yet it can be a total disaster if it does coincide with the theme of a movie. An art director is responsible for working alongside the director and making her/his vision come to life.

If the director demands a fancy room, or a lavish set up then it is up to the art director to arrange it. The only complete guideline for the art director in this case is the script.

Apart from the director’s perspective, art directors take their notes from the script and develop a room, area, or environment even from scratch if they have to.

The Foreground

All the props that are used by the characters are known to be in the foreground, or the part of view nearest the observer. If these props are missing, the story will not look or feel the same.

Props help to provide actors with a platform to perform at their best, helping to tell the story, set the mood, or enhance a visual, through inanimate objects.

Props are tools for actors to perform their best in a moment #filmbiz Click To Tweet

The responsibility for the provision of props lies on the art director’s shoulder. In some movies, art directors go as far as to have over a dozen of just one prop that has an important part to play. This is so that if one gets damaged the other similar item can replace it without wasting any time.

Designing of the prop also matters greatly depending on the story or the character’s personality. Unlike the background, things in the foreground of the scene are more noticeable by the audience and therefore their accuracy to the story bears great responsibility.

Character’s Wardrobe

A perfect wardrobe can help an actor perform their best.

If the clothing is too tight or loose it can hinder the performance of an actor and could require multiple takes, wasting time and money. Extreme caution is taken to stitch the perfect garment for the actor so the wearer is not uncomfortable with wearing the costume.

The art director is responsible for the actors wardrobe, which is why they always have to be current with fashion tips for women and men alike, especially in a film set during current times.

Being well studied in fashion trends over history is also of great benefit, as knowing all the manners of wardrobe for a specific era is an integral part of being an art director.

Color Schemes

Colors are responsible for manipulating the mood of the film.

If the colors of the objects portrayed in a scene do not match the dialogue, it can lead to message confusion amongst the audience regarding character motivations and emotions.

Use the wrong colors on set and you confuse your audience #filmbiz Click To Tweet

Imagine a somber scene, possibly a funeral or hospital stay, and all the characters are wearing red and surrounded by cheery blue skies and lush greenery. While an extreme example, you can see why this color scheme would not mesh with the intended mood of the scene. The audience expects black and grays,and when they don’t get them they may end up confused with the intent of the scene.

These choices are made by the art director and can enhance the emotion of a scene by working with certain colors in the background, foreground or with the character’s wardrobe.

Final Thought

All of these things are combined to form an art director.

It is not a job for one person, a team is built to work alongside each other and bring the marvels of the script to a complete visual form. Any person who pursues to be in the art direction department must be willing to start with a great deal of research in order to carry out the director’s vision perfectly.

However, it is a profession that can be a perfect fit for any creative person.

Author Bio:

Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways which can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


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