Designers

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Unless the show you are producing is a small café's open mic night, you probably will need some more advanced technical help. Fortunately, there are many artists whose job it is to bring these abstract ideas into three dimensions. (or 2 dimensions if it's a scenery flat). These designers are the first people creative teams contact to actually create the show:

Fight Choreographer

Whether a huge battle is taking place on stage, such as in Julius Caesar, or a more modern scene of domestic violence, a fight choreographer is essential to safely producing the movements of a convincing fight.

This role really cannot be understated, as night after night actors will need to safely pretend to harm each other, particularly if other props are involved.

Props Master

For some reason as old as time itself, prop MASTERS not designers, have been responsible for all the items that enter and exit the stage. In a broad sense that is frequently open to debate, Props may be considered items that actors carry, which is different from Costumes, items that actors wear, and sets, items actors stand on, sit on, or otherwise support their weight.

In most smaller theaters, and generally speaking, props are often completely inanimate objects, carefully constructed or found to fit the style of the show. In modern shows, they can often quickly reinforce or suggest a time period. The presence of iPhones immediately conveys the setting as the present, while large flip or brick cell phones convey 90s to early 2000s. In more fantastic plays, their exact look may play a greater role.

The favored works though, are of the "trick" props, or items that appear to be ordinary but produce unique effects. The most common one readily available at most Halloween shops is the knife with a retractable blade. But a great many more tricks exist, far too numerous to list here.

Costume Designer

As discussed above, costumes are (arguably) differentiated from props as items that are worn by cast member, rather than items used and carried by them. The costumes designed support the show as well, by helping to establish setting, as well as internal roles for characters. Most audiences readily associate a butler or maid by their costumes, as well as other uniformed professions.

While it's debatable whether costumes or props produce more trick items, many people seem to forget how pivotal trick costumes are to shows. Breakaway, quick change, and other effects such as lights or pyro technics are often integrated into elaborate costumes that require a great deal of planning by this designer to actuate properly.

Makeup Designer

You'd be surprised how many designs can exist across the canvas of a human body. And it is the job of the makeup designer to paint these images and to make sure they will not inhibit any of the actions performed by their subject. This of course can vary from actor to actor, an actor who does not need to sing, for example, may have more elaborate makeup on their face.

As with all designs, these effects may often bleed into other departments, such as props, if a prosthetic needs to be functional, or sound if mics need to be hidden in the makeup.

Lighting Designer

For most performances aside from Radio plays, the audience needs to be able to see actors on stage. When all the lights dim in the venue, the Lighting Designer must guide the audience to see only what needs to be seen. This is paramount in larger productions, as it give time for crew and actors to perform other tasks for advancing the show.

Less well known is the fact that atmospherics effects such as fog, and haze often fall into this department, since these effects are often controlled by DMX (the output of lighting consoles) and because they will affect the lighting.

Set Designer

Set pieces come in 2 main varieties, flown set pieces, and wheeled, or wagon pieces. The set designer will create the pieces, particularly how they fit with each other, where they are in relation to the rest of the stage, and how they look.

Most flown soft goods fall in the realm of Set Designers as well. These range from the humble blacks that hide lights and wing space, to sky drops and Portals.

Flying Designer

When properties or people need to fly through the air, a flying designer will be needed. Taking the idea of flown set pieces on battens to it's logical extreme, these designers calculate the loads and equipment necessary to move people through the air.

Sound Designer

The second most used senses by audiences attending a show after sight is sound. And this designer is responsible for the logistics of creating sounds and their delivery systems.

Sounds come from mainly two sources, microphones from the performers on stage or in the orchestra pit, and pre recorded effects and music played back from external sources.

In some cases, the Sound Designer may not create all of the sound effects, or music. In those cases a separate Composer may be hired to create original music and effects used in a show.

Video Designer

In shows using video projections, various video designers will be called on. They share many similarities to Sound departments, where 2 separate positions may exist, a Sound Designer and a Composer, in video, they would have a Video Designer, responsible for cueing and programming video effects across surfaces, and a Video Content Creator, a visual artist responsible for making the video content.

Video Surfaces exist as either monitors, or projections. Monitors are much more straight forward to program on, while Projectors share similarities with the Lighting Department.

Pyrotechnics Designer

Arguably, one of the most difficult fields to design for, principally because you do not have any second chances.

Automation

An overlap with the Set department, Automation includes computer guided set pieces such as turntables, flying rigs, or other heavy set pieces that can only be moved via Motors. While the term implies computer guided movements, many older or simpler rigs only move with human commands, without the ability to record cues for positions.


Footnotes