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Create a scene

education Updated: Jun 04, 2013 16:54 IST
Banaras Hindu University

The lowdown

These days, there is one person a film director almost always sits down with before even a single scene is shot — this is the set designer/production designer, who gives the movie the look and the atmosphere it needs to make the plot work. But with the evolution of TV shows as well as films, the job has become far more specialised. A set designer should have an understanding of space, form and structure, composition, perspective, visual storyboard, design layout and lighting schemes. This goes for film, TV and even stage productions, some of which require very elaborate sets. It is a job where the designer has to research, plan, construct and oversee the sets used in ad films, TV shows and plays. He/she has to see that the idea of a director is reflected in the set and that the set works when it comes to camera movement, lighting and cost. Responsibilities vary depending on the scale and budget of the production. For instance, he or she may be responsible for both the abstract conception and the nuts-and-bolts carpentry of the set.

8am: Get to the sets to check if all the workers have arrived
9am to noon: Work on building, refining details etc
Noon: Tea break
12.15pm: Get back to overseeing construction
1.30pm: Have a quick, on-site meeting with the director
1.45pm: Work continues
7pm: Start preparing to pack-up after final checks for next day’s shoot

The payoff
An assistant set designer makes very little money, about Rs. 6,000 - Rs. 7,000 per month. Once one builds up a reputation, the pay depends on the project — it can be anything from Rs. 50,000 to a couple of lakhs. As an art director for a film, the pay is still higher. Pay in TV channels varies

* Strong aesthetic sense and fine art training
* Good research skills
* Patience to work with carpenters, electricians etc
* Ability to cope with the demands of a director, which may change during the course of a shoot
* Good budgeting and planning skills

Getting there
Go for a vachelor of fine arts degree. Learn software such as VectorWorks, RenderWorks, PhotoShop, Illustrator, Max etc. People with other areas of expertise such as interior design and architecture can also join this field

Institutes and URLs
* Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
* Asian Academy of Film & TV, NCR
* LS Raheja School of Art, Mumbai
* Whistling Woods International Film School, Mumbai
* Delhi Film Institute
* D J Academy of Design, Coimbatore
* Banaras Hindu University

Pros and cons
* Good money after the initial stage
* A great platform for your imagination
* Long hours, maybe even on weekends
* Physical exhaustion possible
* Opportunity to contribute to the arts in theatre or television
* You may need to work under time and budget constraints

To be successful as a set designer, all you need is hard work and passion -- Snigdah Basu, set designer at Acropolis, a Mumbai-based company