Set construction

In drama, the set (or setting) is the location of a story's "action."

Set construction is the department of theatrical production that concerns itself with the fabrication of scenery. Such theatrical sets are used in live stage plays, opera, and in movie and television production. Many regional theaters have their own fully-staffed scene shops. But others, and all Broadway theaters, have their scenery built by commercial scene shops.

Sets are sometimes designed using false perspective to promote the illusion of a larger space with views of distant objects, particularly when used in live theater. Sets may also make extensive use of "flats", where three dimensional details (such as panels and moulding in an interior) are only painted images, with shadows carefully placed to correspond to the lighting of the set. Sets may also be quite fanciful, with no attempt to mimic reality but instead intended to evoke a mood or sense of place.

Theatrical scenery 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 groundplan, 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, but scale drawings are now generally done on a computer drafting program such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.

The technical director is the person responsible for evaulating 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 liasons 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. 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 specialities 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.

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