DRAMA 101, INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE, MODULE 1 – Model Builder


This is why we have to have models.
We have to have some other representation of being able to show someone exactly
where things are going to be. Hi, I’m Steven Kemp, I’m a model builder.
[MUSIC] A model is one of our main communication tools to everyone.
He’s going to be interested to, to knowing about the design, and especially
to the director being the number one person we want to show this tool to.
And so it can be anything from a small visual representation of, of what this 2D
sketch is going to look like in 3D space. And it can go all the way from that all
the way to a fully polished, you know, museum quality, beautiful color model.
The, the idea is is just how best to to show these people, you know, what our
design is going to look like on stage. I’ve been building models since I was
seven years old. Doing military models planes, ships,
tanks all those kind of things. And I had always just really enjoyed
that, that detail. The level of detail and creating dioramas
and creating life in miniature. And so, when realizing that there was
this job in set design that incorporates model building, I was very excited.
Being in theater in, in high school, I was doing a lot of the set construction,
and my teachers got me into doing some, some model building for some of the sets,
and getting into the design, and that got me excited.
And then, in undergrad, I had a great program where I was able to to get a
little more hands on and by by taking that into, working at the La Jolla
Playhouse as a resident assistant. And, and meeting David Gallo and having
him look at my models and, and look at my designs, and then be able to bring me in
to work for him, for, for all of his productions.
With, with David, he gives me some rough sketches and of varying degrees.
A lot of times he’ll give me an exploded view of something that, that almost, you
know, you can take and fold right up and all of a sudden you’ve, you’ve got a
model in front of you. and a lot of other times you get some
sketches that you then, we, we take, we polish up, we start putting it into the
computer, we start photoshopping things, you know, and kind of taking that design
and kind of making it more of what’s really in his head.
Working with him as much as I do, I know what he’s going for, and so then I can
kind of finish off… Exactly what he is trying to create and
that we can get that into the model. This is a good example of just a simple
white model and this is actually a combination of just taking a the, the
drafting the original sketches that David produces and and then just kind of
extruding that into three dimension. This is an example of one of the other
drafts in the, the scene, the Lemur village, you know of the, another drop in
the show. And so this is a sketch that, that Dave
created for this drop, and then we’ll take it and then we have these these
paint elevations. And this is actually going to stay in the
model here for the, the white model. But we have the color paint elevation
that will eventually be handed off to the shop for, well what this one will end up
actually looking like in the show. A lot of times, at the meetings, I mean,
the model is a very important piece of the meeting, of the design, when it
becomes a kind of focal point of the communication of showing people that, you
know, here is where we’re heading. Looking to do and here it is in this, you
know perfectly scaled environment so that we know that this is how will look on
stage if we continue on course. So we’ve got our quarter inch model of
Minthis here which was actually created later in the process which was kind of
unique. It was more of, of just there for us as
staging. As you see it still has a, a ground plan
printed on the floors. So we weren’t trying to represent the
actual floor finish that we would have. But, this is, is fully rigged to show our
spinning columns, and our, our tracking walls, you know.
So the, the technology of our the, the actual production is shown here in scale.
Trying to show exactly how this would work, so we can configure all of the, the
scenes. I find one of the most exciting things
about model building, and theater in general, is that.
Yeah, so you never know, you know where you’re going to, to go with this set and
the different materials that can be used. And the, the theater, I mean the, I think
a very important thing with model making is, is just, you know how resourceful are
you, how, how do you see, you know this bead and how do you make that into the
stair rail, you know. Being able to take everyday items that
we’re seeing and then, and see them in scale, and the simplest thing can, can
make it into the model and with a little bit of paint.
it becomes something completely different.
And, and becomes very fun in that sense. You know being that it, that a model is a
communication tool there, there is always, depending on the complexity of
the design, there’s, there’s definitely a huge component of it, of how do you
present these different scenes. For a, a 3D physical model to be able to,
to get your hands in it, move things around and in, in a meeting be able to
like tear a wall out and just say no, no, we’re going to, we’re going to move this
over here. You know, being able to really craft the
space in that way usually people visualize much, much more of what’s going
to end up on stage. And that can be done in the computer now
as well, which we’re getting into, being able to spin someone around a 3D
environment and walk them through, send them videos of, of someone walking
through a space. It’s still, I think, very new in the
theatrical world. It’s obviously not new in selling people
in the commercial world and in architecture.
But, but for us I think it still has so much value in, in the speed at which we
can do it and the, the accuracy of it and being able to really see from each seat
what is going to be on stage. Showing, you know, a, a Broadway set in
full motion is extremely difficult to, to rig up in a model.
You know, it always makes meetings go on [LAUGH] three hours longer than they need
to as you’re setting up the 20 seats. Whereas if we can just press a button and
you can, go through all these different scene changes much more easily in this
computer program. Just the range of different shows that
David gets to do is, so much fun being able to continually change the style of
everything that you’re working on. Coming from a similar background and
being a set designer myself as well, and you know the process, you know how it is
getting on stage, so… You’re taking his vision and you’re
realizing this work on stage. So I’m taking all of my knowledge and my
design sensibility and layering that into his vision and, and getting that out
there. I try to be as malleable as possible, I
try to, you know to take on their design sensibility, their aesthetic.
You know obviously, you’re creating their vision.
So as an associate designer, you are going to be taking their ideas and you
are continuing as what they are trying to get on stage. [MUSIC].

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