Set Designer

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Set designers conceptualise, develop and create sets, and dress locations for film, television and stage productions. They study scripts and interpret the descriptions of locations, creating sketchesFuture Growth Strong and drawings and translating these into built sets, and locations that are altered or 'dressed' to resemble those in the script. They buy furniture, fixtures and other props, and use art and craft supplies to make other elements of sets, or supervise technicians in building them. They liaise with directors, producers, lighting designers and camera operators to get the right look or feel for a production, and ensure that other areas of technical production such as lighting or sound recording work in conjunction with the set.

A set designer is in charge of designing and creating the sets that appear in films and television programmes as well as in the theatre. The role involves working with and communicating with directors, producers, costume designers and other members of staff.

ANZSCO ID: N/A

Alternative names: Art Director, Production Designer

Specialisations: Theatre, Film, TV

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A set designer needs:

  • an interest in design and the performing arts

  • creative flair

  • problem-solving skills

  • manual or practical skills

  • organisational skills

  • the ability to work to tight deadlines

working
(Source: Target Jobs)

Duties and Tasks

  • Produce freehand sketches, accurate scale models, plans and working drawings in consultation with the director of the production, the production manager and other creative artists

  • Design sets and props, taking into consideration budget allocations and the artistic and technical requirements of the director or producer

  • Supervise qualified tradespeople who construct the sets and direct set assistants on matters relating to design interpretations

  • Advise on other areas of technical production such as lighting and sound

  • Arranges objects, positions models, and selects landscapes and other visual forms according to chosen subject matter

  • Selects artistic media, method and materials

  • Conceives and develops ideas, designs and styles for artistic works

  • Applies media to surfaces using appropriate techniques

  • Reading scripts

  • Producing plans, drawings and models of sets

  • Preparing estimates of set costs

  • Managing budgets

  • Viewing possible outside broadcast sites

  • Attending rehearsals/film takes

  • Meeting with and commissioning set construction companies.

Working conditions

Set designers work in film and television studios, and on-location on sets.

They often work long hours and may be required on set late at night, early in the morning, or on weekends and public holidays.

Some of their work may require heavy lifting or the construction of large objects such as set walls, doors or furniture. They may be required to travel locally, interstate or internationally to construct sets.


Hamilton set
Set of Hamilton - the Musical
(Source: Vogue)

Tools and technologies

Set designers work with a range of materials to construct sets, including art and craft supplies such as paper, card and glue, as well as more sturdy building materials like wood, chipboard and plaster.

They obtain and work with decorative elements such as fabric, furniture, fixtures and wallpaper. They also use tools such as scissors, hammers, saws, nail and stapleguns, and other light construction equipment.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a set designer you usually need to complete a qualification in live production, production and design, theatre arts, interior design and decoration, industrial design or a related area.

The Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services and Advanced Diploma of Live Production and Management Services are offered at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). At the National Institute of Dramatic Art [NIDA], you can undertake a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance).
  
The Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration, Diploma of Industrial Design and Advanced Diploma of Industrial Design are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Australia.

You can complete a degree majoring in production and design, theatre arts, interior architecture, environmental and spatial design or a related area.

Some universities in Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Design Challenge - designing and making a set
https://youtu.be/OLw-QapkxnA

 

 


Did You Know?

Deborah Riley

Australian production designer Deborah Riley takes over the design of the most watched TV show in history - The Game of Thrones.

Congratulations Deb, amazing work!
(Source: APDG - May 2015)
 

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theatrical costume maker and designer

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Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

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Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

Race Day Officer

Voice over artist

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

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Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

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Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

Race Day Officer

Voice over artist

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

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Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

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Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

Race Day Officer

Voice over artist

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

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Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

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Aerobics Instructor

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Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson