Thursday, May 20, 2010

Class

In my last post, I mentioned that I'm currently taking a class at UCLA Extension, as part of a certificate program in Advanced Print and Graphic Communication. This semester, the class I'm taking is Graphic Design for Film & Television, taught by Geoffrey Mandel who is the designer on popular shows like Mad Men and Parks and Recreation, as well as films like Surrogates, MI3, Solaris, and Spider-Man 2. He also worked on several of the Star Trek shows & movies, so he has plenty of credits that are impressive to a comic book guy like myself.

The job description of Graphic Designer on a film or TV show is pretty interesting — and one I've never given any thought to before. Basically, he works with the Art Department to create anything that needs graphic design. That could be a show logo, title sequence, set dressings, signage or props. It also includes images that might be played back on a TV or computer monitor within a scene (such as all the monitors on a starship, or a TV news report that a character might be watching, or a website he might be browsing). On show such as Mad Men it is a crucial role, since it is a period drama, where everything must be recreated.

The homework assignments have been fun and varied. One of the tools we've used is the free 3D software application, Google SketchUp. It's fun, free and easy to learn. I'm usually baffled by 3D programs, so I was happy to find that all the demos on their website are easy to follow. For my first try at SketchUp, our assignment was to recreate an existing set from a TV show or movie. I picked the warehouse from Reservoir Dogs.


Here are some screen shots of my model...



Structurally, this building is completely unsound! I was learning on the fly here, so as I built this scene, I became aware of many mistakes that I could easily avoid if I were to build it again from scratch.


In case you're wondering, I did NOT build the car, or the crates, or the table, props and figures. These items were imported into the scene from the handy Google 3D Warehouse. It's full of objects that other people have designed and shared to the SketchUp community. It's one of the things that makes SketchUp fun to work with.


That was fun, but thanks to the learning curve it took forever! In the end, it is nowhere near complete, but I learned a lot about SketchUp.

My second crack at SketchUP was more successful. For this assignment, I had to design the "look" of a fictitious daytime TV interview show called "Barbara." My attempt included a model of the actual set, with logo graphics, as well as an example of on-screen text that might appear. This was also fun...


Above is the backdrop, below you can see the beach scene placed on a curved background on my set. The "Barbara" logo floats in front...




Before modeling the scene, I sketched out a few ideas, including the overused city view that you'd see on Letterman or Leno. I was waiting on the checkout line at the grocery store, when I became inspired by a magazine cover showing an inviting veranda scene...


I liked the columns, shuttered doors and tropical motif, so I kept that in mind while building the set...




Finally, I imported some of these views in to Photoshop and added some figures and graphics (apologies to Barbara Walters & Michael Ironside!)


I have a few more images with graphics that I submitted, but you get the drift. We've also done some other excellent projects in this class, but I promised not to show them at this time. The bottom line is that I'm having a great time. Time spent in the classroom and working on these assignments has been very stimulating and inspirational.

More on what I've been up to lately soon...

2 comments:

Kevie said...

Great work. You're smart to be adding some new arrows to your quiver.

Steve Buccellato said...

Yeah, I think it's time to learn some new stuff. And, I have to admit that it's pretty fun. Next time I'm planning a home improvement, you know I'll be using SketchUp to help realize my vision!

Besides, I have to do SOMETHING now that LOST is almost over...