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Scenic design (also known as scenography, stage design, or set design) is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but in recent years, are mostly trained professionals, holding a B.F.A. or M.F.A. degrees in theater arts. Scenic designers design sets and scenery that aim to support the overall artistic goals of the production. There has been a consideration that scenic design is also production design; however, more accurately, it is a part of the visual production of a film or television.
The scenic designer works with the director and other designers to establish an overall visual concept for the production and design the stage environment. They are responsible for developing a complete set of design drawings that include the following:
In the process of planning, scenic designers often make models, ranging from very basic to extremely complex models. Models are often made before the final drawings that are delivered to the scene shop for construction.
The starting point for a scenic designer is often the question: "How do we generate creative ideas?" A designer will search for evidence through research to produce conceptual ideas that best support the content and values of the design with visual elements.
It has been argued that the most consuming part of expanding our horizons towards scenic concepts is much more than witnessing creativity and creative people - it begins with us opening our mind to various possibilities. It has been argued that to have an attitude toward learning, seeking, and engaging in creativity, and by willing to be adventurous, inquisitive and curious, the process of scenic design will be greatly benefitted.
The imagination is highly visual. Whether outside or inside, colorful trees or concerts, star lit skies or the architecture of a great building, scenic design is a process of discovery. Discovering what will best clarify and support the setting, environment, atmosphere, ambience, & world that is being created.
The scenic designer is responsible for collaborating with the theatre director and other members of the production design team to create an environment for the production and then communicating the details of this environment to the technical director, production manager, charge scenic artist and prop master. Scenic designers are responsible for creating scale models of the scenery, renderings, paint elevations and scale construction drawings as part of their communication with other production staff.
In Europe and Australia, scenic designers take a more holistic approach to theatrical design and will often be responsible not only for scenic design but costume, lighting and sound and are referred to as theatre designers or scenographers or production designers.
Notable scenic designers, past and present, include: Adolphe Appia, Boris Aronson, Alexandre Benois, Alison Chitty, Antony McDonald, Barry Kay, Caspar Neher, Cyro Del Nero, Aleksandra Ekster, David Gallo, Edward Gordon Craig, Es Devlin, Ezio Frigerio, Christopher Gibbs, Franco Zeffirelli, George Tsypin, Howard Bay, Inigo Jones, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Jo Mielziner, John Lee Beatty, Josef Svoboda, Ken Adam, Léon Bakst, Luciano Damiani, Maria Björnson, Ming Cho Lee, Motley, Natalia Goncharova, Nathan Altman, Nicholas Georgiadis, Oliver Smith, Ralph Koltai, Emanuele Luzzati, Neil Patel, Robert Wilson, Russell Patterson, Brian Sidney Bembridge, Santo Loquasto, Sean Kenny, Todd Rosenthal, Robin Wagner, Tony Walton, Louis Daguerre, and Roger Kirk.