Set design and production: the basics

There are various stages when it comes to designing a film or TV set, from the initial brief to actually creating the physical elements. Set design and construction specialists Scruffy Dog Ltd explain the basics of set design and production, including technical drawings and the use of 3D scanners.

set design


The brief
This could be a simple concept or thought – or it could be a lightly detailed breakdown of specifics. No matter what the brief, there is always a chance to breathe creativity into any project.

Design interpretation
Gone are the days of a sketch on the back of a napkin or placing that perfectly proportioned stick man to show the scale of your drawing. Graphical tablets allow for fast, flexible and diverse communication of ideas. Today, editing and enhancing sketches couldn’t be easier, and you can guarantee you won’t be breaking a dozen pencils in the process.

3D modelling
Some things simply cannot be communicated by a sketch. 3D digital modelling allows another dimension to be seen that can completely enhance your sketch, or identify flaws in your model that could be corrected. Import your digital models into professional rendering software to give a realistic interpretation of the final design.

3D printing
If a visual interpretation isn’t enough, then a physical, scaled 3D print of the design is yet another method of design communication. The world of 3D printing is thriving, and digital 3D models can be sent straight to the printer while you get on with other work.

A second opinion
From simple assembly to full structural engineer drawings, it’s advisable to get the opinion of a third party to cross examine everything you do. Better to be safe than sorry…



Traditional & modern methods

The pencil may be a thing of the past, but traditional manufacture methods certainly aren’t. No matter how big or expensive your equipment, nothing quite compares to the eye of an expert carpenter or metalworker. However, combining this with modern machinery can be the perfect recipe to maximise quality and reduce overall lead times.

Model makers
Haven’t got a 3D printer? Then sometimes producing larger scale models using different materials, colours and textures can give a much better indication of the final design. This is especially beneficial for demonstrating structural designs.

3D scanning
3D scanners can be extremely expensive. However, even devices such as your mobile phone can capture 3D objects for production. You can then generate these images onto your 3D CAD program, to manipulate, scale or prepare for CNC sculpting.

7 Axis CNC sculpting
A truly amazing process. With the ability to cut almost any shape, these machines give precise, professional, and most of all, fast results.

Most models needed for durable environments are coated with fibreglass. However, although tough, there are several downsides to this process. Polyurea (PU) coating trumps fibreglass in every possible way – this polymer technology offers extremely tough and flexible properties. From spraying to the final finish, the coating can be achieved in a matter of hours, as opposed to days that traditional coating methods can take.

This can make or break a product, but has the potential to turn a shape or design into something truly amazing. An expert scenic artist can turn materials into something they”re not, creating illusions and stretching the boundaries of design.

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