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The importance of scenography and props for film and television

We always see scenography and props in film and television, but do we know how important this is? Today we have a special collaboration with Plano Secuencia where they explain why as a filmmaker or producer need to take seriously this matter.

Sometimes the viewer is not aware of the planning, time and effort which supposes to settle and decorate film sets.

Behind each scene, there are, sometimes, even hundreds of professionals from plenty of disciplines and professions, within which the ones that belong to the Artistic Department star the main role regarding the final image.

From Production Design, and within the Art Direction of an audiovisual production, the scenography, building and decorating sets through properly props and specific upholstery selection becomes essential, especially when it’s an old era to recreate. Who doesn´t remember the great display that made possible “Gladiator” or “Braveheart”. Most recent productions, like “Vikings” or “Game of Thrones”, invest an important amount of both human and material resources in order to give the plot to the viewer as real as possible.

Where the goal is a period/vintage setting decorated, the beginning stage is necessary a deep historic documentation from needed sets that both the film director and photography director provide. Both props selection, insides decoration or the outside set building require an Art Direction Department composed by set decorators, props masters, costumes, painters, makeup artists… that will set up the frame where the representation of the characters will take place during the filming.

After that, it will be still needed post-production in a careful way and the proper film distribution to arrive at the final audience.

How selected filming location sets decoration is planned?

If the goal requires a drastic change in the based location, from set designs, sets building and decorating professionals, if needed, and props elements needed are selected. Sometimes huge sets are built to host main scenes or be destroyed because of script needs, like in “Saving Private Ryan” by Steven Spielberg.

The work required from medium budget productions usually begins a few months before, within workshops, where props, structures, fabrics and more stuff are built, besides hiring some other specific props needed to decorate,  to send them to future locations.

3 productions which won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction / Production Design

– John Box, Ernest Archer, Jack Maxsted, Gil Parrondo, Vernon Dixon: “Nicholas and Alexandra” (1971):  Gil Parrondo, from Asturias, Spain, would win his second Academy Award by second year consecutive, after “Patton”, with this film about the last Zar of Russia at the beginning of 20th century. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.

– John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley and Roger Christian: “Star Wars” (1977) There is not a lot to add to the well-known success of George Lucas and the visual effects that were very advanced in that time. The film got most of the technical and artistic Academy Awards.

– Allan Starski, Ewa Braun: “Schindler´s List” (1993): The touching story narrated by Steven Spielberg would win seven Academy Awards, including the one awarding best set decoration.

Where to find Vintage Props Hire-Master / Set Decorator?

There is a wide industry worldwide regarding period/vintage Props hire and building. From cannons, ceramics, furniture, specific elements… to upholstery, curtains, tents, structures, etc. Plano Secuencia Scenography & Props, situated in Madrid, Spain, is an example of a leading company withing the sector from decades.

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