The Art of Television Production and Design – part 2

The Art of Television Production and Design – part 2


chair, or do you buy a four hundred dollar
chair. Do you buy ten of em, do you buy, you know three of them In a ten, three hundred dollar decisions is
three thousand bucks, a hundred of em is thirty thousand dollars in your budget. There’s almost no vendor that you can go to that when he gives you his best price and you say “Look, I need another three hundred bucks off” they won’t, they’ll give it to you and sometimes, you know I just say listen,
don’t ask I know it’s a great price but I have this superstition, I need three hundred
bucks more off and ninety nine percent time, you get it and
and then you’ve built yourself a cushion you’ve built yourself uh… away to get back to a budget if you
were over it you bill yourself space to, to work with it and more light, I mean even my lighting has
texture on it You design a set twice once for the camera
and once for the guy paying for everything umm.. I start by designing a set, really thinking about what the camera
shots are and those are the important things but that’s takes place, say here if i’m the guy speaking maybe a reverse shot to you guys so that we see you’re falling asleep in the middle of this uh… you know, a cut to the screen those are the key shots in this lecture but when a guy walks in the room and he says
okay great that’s uh… he designed a little piece of set, here you made picture frame there,
and you didn’t do anything for the audience he feels like you’ve thrown his money away. So you design a set for the big perception. You design a set for the camera shots. When my client walks in and he walks up to his Master Chef logo and he sees that it’s made out of polished aluminum instead of you know, a painted piece of uh… foam core he feels good about what he’s done he’s picked
the right guy he’s created a great looking environment design it twice. This was a music show and again, the same elements, you can see it in every piece it almost feels repetitive and a lot of these services will manufacture now this wavy texture this is just a set of louvers this wavy texture we just cut it out of uh… you know two inch thick foam uh… on a CNC nothing is impossible and Kent can tell you a little bit more about this. This was a kids survivor show called Endurance
we did it for about seven seasons Yes, it’s floating on the Sea of Cortez outside
of La Paz, Mexico. It was one of those brilliant ideas that the producers
come up with, and you got to figure out how to do it umm.. there wasn’t…, this things twenty five feet tall sixty feet by about eighty feet uh… no idea how how we were gonna make it float, we just got
a lot of flotation foam some trust to make a base and ummm.. and went for it uh… maybe we got lucky maybe it was a little bit of skill but again nothing is impossible Now, that brings up number eight. When something becomes impossible find another possibility. Mr. McFann put this show on a cliff in Catalina same show with the temple this was the the huts where the kids lived
the temple was on on a cliff up to the left or to the right we had this great idea how do we land, how do we get a uh… a set onto this island we found a guy with a World War II landing
craft We thought brilliant we’re gonna drive this giant
boat right up on the beach drop its loading dock and we’re gonna take all the scenery
off, right where we need it I’d be I’d be standing in the water if uh…
if this thing was real what could be better well we loaded up his uh… landing craft headed out there, when he gets to the beach
he decides there’s no way he can land it the waves are too big, he’s not gonna try, forget it
we’ve got a boat full of scenery and no way to get where it’s gotta go The closest you know, landing spot is a boat dock at UCLA’s little harbour, not far away Well Kent, starts looking for options and what does he find the only thing they can get down his little
winding road is a four wheel drive trash truck, effectively its a dumpster pickup so he cross loaded everything from our barge
into forty yard dumpsters hoisted them on to this truck drove them an hour plus down this little tiny road off-loaded the
dumpster went back to get another there is always another possibility and this show embodies that
philosophy again and again and again it’s really one of most amazing things. These are the huts for the high sierra twenty feet in the air built in the pine trees again, how you gonna do that uh… well you figure it out, you rollover a couple of There are many ways to achieve the same thing.
You just have to take a chance and try the less familiar. this was uh… Endurance in uh… uh… Tehachapi and it was sort of a wild west theme so,
log huts made a lot of sense When we designed the log huts we bid them
with scenic shops and they were about forty thousand dollars apiece. No way, I can do that for a kid show. So I started thinking well there are guys that make real log huts for a living and we find a guy out in I don’t know where it was you know, wisconsin, north dakota, someplace who’s willing to do it and I call him up
and I said uh… you know what give me your worst lumber I want the lumber that you
thought you would never be able to sell anybody clear out your crap send it to me cut it out, make it into these huts the cost for both of them was fourteen thousand bucks I mean, not only was it real and it and all we had to do was assemble em. but it was an order of magnitude
less than, what it would have cost to have the set Thinking outside of the box what other choices
do I have. These guys were happy to get rid of their
lousy lumber I was happy to not have to Scenic it, well
we Scenic it anyway but uh… Game Show Marathon, again more of, you know,
the same, the same techniques this texture we build models both computer and physical this was a textures on a piece of paper that
I actually used in the model and I liked it in the model so we just replicated it at, you know, several hundred times the size and enhanced it a little bit with perforated openings you don’t have to do literal texture with
technology today this is a giant printout it’s about seventy feet across you can print that out, you can project that,
projecting would be more expensive than printing it But, it works almost as well as the real thing does
you just don’t get as much of a shadow or a changing shadow if you move the lights so this next pair of sets is actually interesting
from the standpoint that the client had two shows and they only wanted to hire a designer once but each show had to look different and they were on the same stage and had to
use more less same set of parts so this is what Catch Phrase came out like again layers foreground, mid-ground, background and even further background, where these get
cut out and I can have lights coming thru it Thats the hosts close-up background. Close enough isn’t, one-inch makes a difference uh… when I design stuff, it always astounds
me that when I create a form and it doesn’t look right I change it by a little bit and sometimes, it literally is an inch this
way and an inch that way and uh… suddenly all the pieces fall together umm… how do we go backwards it’s not going backwards So that set now it’s just lagging that set is this set what’s the difference its the inch the columns are the same the headers are the same I introduced a couple of different wood tones and I changed out the wavy backing for one
with with holes in it not really, a very big difference but
a dramatic visual difference when you get down to it Rediscovered uh… these days there is a lot of uh… LED
and visual technology being used in music shows and the set was sort of playing with those these are giant LED screens that we can do a video playback, and the way I arranged the set is that more less from this view you had a complete screen around the room uh… but one of the requirements was I had
Rickey Minor who’s now Jay Leno’s bandleader with a band in here and he insisted on being
seen from camera but this show wasn’t about Rickey, it was about the guy singing in the middle so I set it up so that the camera from this
point anywhere to the right would always have a
clean uh… you know stage and if you slowly swung
around too the left, camera left, you started to see the
band and Rickey he felt good the Director got what he wanted problem solved umm… this technology is phenomenal not only can
you do use it as a lighting effect which is what your seeing
here, but I can do a video playback across the entire uh… row of pylons uh… and you know it dramatically changes
the mood and then when you get to an up-close shot it has a nice abstract breakdown that is completely different I mean you can’t
even tell the image and uh… and again it’s light and texture Dog-Eat-Dog quite some time ago now but it illustrates a few good things, this is a massive set forty.. you can see here’s a guy this thing is forty five feet tall and and
that sits on a hundred by a hundred and twenty foot stage and we built a swimming pool for it twenty feet deep it was a really tight budget and our producers
said you know, we have this idea, we want to be sorta like that uh… you know this or that something no one’s
ever seen before, one of these typical lines and uh… you know I knew I couldn’t do that you know on the budget, in the time frame I was given so what I had to do is create something
that I can believe in that I knew that we can get done and then sell them the idea and uh… you know this is what we ultimately ended up with uh… its large
surfaces but again, your a subject is way out here doing a stunt and the background so far back that uh… you don’t suffer from a a big blank
space when you’re up against it only if we were playing right in front of it would it be a problem you wind up with really you know quite a rich wide shot now all the same stuff that i’ve been talking
about applies to sitcom sets or or any of these kinds of you
know reality sort of environments take a look at this one, there’s multiple doors going to other places I even put a mirror on the wall that reflects
something even further back that implies that this is a much bigger set
than what it is uh… this is really a three wall set you know we’d workin’ practicals and an uh… lighting that that uh… that adds to the reality
and makes it believable the spaces lit from itself rather than just uh… by lighting designer and this is where it looks bare bones but even this simple set as multiple entrances there’s a doorway here
there’s a doorway there there’s another behind the hutch, windows, set of stairs you creating opportunity for the actors you’re creating a believability uh… with these sets and you know even reality now this is a scripted
set so I generally know what the actions going to be and know that I need a living room I
know I need X number of entrances in reality sets you don’t have a script but the set then becomes even more important
for the stand point that you can create activity Like when I do set where we live it like at
Hell’s Kitchen or uh… For Love or Money you know, when you put a twin bed in next to a queen bed Well suddenly there’s a little bit of strife
between those cast members, well who’s going to get the queen, I want the queen Well that’s the stuff that generates story in TV shows in reality shows anyway and the set can do that this is uh… The Man Show pretty ordinary you know diner type setting but then there’s a window line, there’s a back hallway
and beyond that is Las Vegas there’s three layers to one to one simple background The correct first response to any absurd request
is “Sure, No problem. Right a way.” uh… if somebody asks you to float a pyramid on the Sea of Cortez “Sure, No problem. Right a way.” uh… if somebody uh… at The Man Show say Jimmy Kimmel says you know the proper way to dispense beer would
be through the breasts of venus “Sure, No problem. Right a way.” and then you figure out how to make that a beer tap yet it works, I don’t know if you guys have watched it its all on reruns now pull the arm

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