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In mathematics, the whole is always equal to the sum of its part; two and two invariably add up to exactly four.  In the arts, however, the whole is either much more than the sum of the parts or much less…

- Henning Nelms, Magic, and Showmanship

This comment for the conjurer can be useful to design.  Designers create essential elements of the whole and are in a position to tie some of these parts together for the maximum effect, and results.

What is a production designer?  That is a hard question to answer.  In the movies, designers are usually responsible for creating the “look and feel” of the film.  Therefore, all aspects of the design and production process are considered.  In commercials you have to deal with the client, the agent, the agency art director, the production, the camera, the lighting and anyone else involved in the project - in movies the client and agency are dropped.  Do not get too wrapped up in the technical details.  Work like a sculpture.  Start with a large mass of ideas and refine from there - but keep looking at the whole through every phase of the project.  Let the specialists work out the small details, and guide them subtly when necessary to keep everything on track.

Production design seldom taught in school and there is very little formal information on the subject; often learned in practice.  The most important aspect of design is the “concept.”  Creativity is a process, and you have to find your own.

  • - *always ask yourself.  “Will this idea help us reach our goal?”
  • - *do not censor yourself.  All ideas are welcome even (and sometimes especially) the crazy ones.
  • - *by using symbols, metaphor, or theme, some of the best concepts utilize recognizable symbols.
  • - use your life knowledge and experience to get a feel and a look.
  • - *now think about the actual design, type, color, and layout.

As the designer, you need to know what the technologies are and how they are used.  You need to know what everyone on your team does, and why.  Leave the details up to them, but be sure you know what is involved.  It will gain you the respect of your team when they realize that you are not working in a vacuum, and it will help you think up realistic ideas.  You should also have a good knowledge of art modern and its history, architecture, design and interiors.

Is that all there is to it?  Hardly, the hardest part about design is arguably the development of a sound and creative concept and takes practice in most cases, also to find an idea generation technique that fits your own personality.  Good design is pretty, but good design on a solid concept will help make your sites much more effective and memorable.

Production Designer

Mignon "Mossie" van Wyk

Feature Film