Roles of the Art Director in Film Studies Essay

Check out more papers on Design Film Analysis


Art director is having one of the most important job in an film. Art direction can be similar to snowboarding or sky diving. The essence of the activity is mainly on the way in which it’s done. Art direction is an action figure in film making.

The art director is the one who renders the script in visual metaphors, location , color schemes costumes hair style and make up. An art director is the one who draws us in to sinful lust. They will invigorate us. They will sleepless nights with a horror film and keep us laughing for days with a comedy film.

This dissertation attempts to study the influence of art direction in 3D movies. It attempts to claim that art direction is very important and necessary in a film. Art director is an important post in live action films. An art director should have good creative and management skills.But when it comes to Cg films art director is not having much importance and movies like ‘UP’ is not having any art director.

One of the most difficult problem the art director Rfaces is to put together everything and to make sure that it creates the mood contrast features and I appealing to the viewers. This study will attempt to make it simpler through a thorough understanding of art direction in animation


The film we see today is a group work of many people. We cannot say any one is individually responsible for the success or failure of a film. We can say art direction plays a very important role in translating words in to screen. An art director is the one who is largely responsible for the look of the film. Art direction is helping in everything in the film including construction to ensure everything goes smoothly

Art direction is a big part that helps the movie to get its identity. A normal movie will not be unforgettable to the viewer but great script and great production values and surely good art direction can make the movie unforgettable. There is a ‘look’ and ‘feel’ for every movie. But art direction only cannot make a bad movie great but great art direction can make a really good looking bad film.


The research questions that will be answered in this session


1. What is art direction?

2. What are the different types of art direction?

3. How art directions influence movies in overall appearance?

4. What are the different style and steps to be applied in art direction?

5. How does a good art direction can change an animated film?


To study the role of art direction in 3D movies


Methods of creating sets of popular art direction.

Various styles in making an effective art direction

Difference in the styles of art direction in 3D and live action.

Difference in the style of art in different geners


At present animated movies doesn’t focus much on art direction.


Art direction is one of the important part of every movie. At present the directors of animated movies even animated short film does in give much importance in short film. My study helps to understand about the importance of art direction in short film and thereby improving the quality of the short film


Art direction is an integral part in every movie. We have seen great looking movies that brought us the feel of the movie. Many artists do different works in a movie but art director unifies everything. In order to know more about art direction and art direction in animation a lot of books and articles has to be referred

Books and articles

The art direction handbook published on 2005. written by Michael rizzo: This book gives a detailed description of preproduction in a film. It also gives us information about responsibilities relations and setup and the techniques used in art direction. It involves all the duties of the direction from postproduction to pre-production

The education an art director published on 2006 edited by Steven Heller: this book answers many questions like can art direction be taught? Can anyone be art director? Are all directors alike? Is an art director an editor? Is art direction design? And similar things.

The art of the lion king written by Christopher finch: this book has the sketches used in the movie lion king and also some of the details of art direction in the movie which will help to analyse art direction with the help of a movie example

The film makers guide to production design published on 2002 written by Vincent Lobrutto: this book mentions about production design and visualisation of a screenplay. It is having information about design metaphors, research and information about colours and texture. Its also having information about everything in the film like budget pre-production and post-production


About art direction in a film ( Accessed on 27 -09-2009: this website give the basic information of art directions and the significance functions and importance of art direction

Art director- film makers guide( ) Accessed on 27 -09-2009: this websites has information about the duties of an art director. It also have information about character design set design and props design.

Art direction in movies( Accessed on 27 -09-2009: This is a video in which tells more about what is art direction and the role of art direction in movies.

Art direction v/s cinematography v/s film editing( Accessed on 27 -09-2009: this site gives the difference between art direction cinematography and film editing. It also tells about purpose of everything


The dissertation is that of qualitative and quantitative in the study of the topic “importance of art direction in 3D animation”? This research will include book, web pages and secondary information. This research will explore about the entire details of art direction

Different methods of creating art direction will be explored which will helps to learn more about different styles so that the best for animation can be selected from those

A­Various stages in making effective art direction sequence is studied thoroughly to get a through knowledge of the process of art direction

Difference between the styles of art direction in live and 3D animation is studied and also between the different genres. This will give an in depth knowledge of art direction

A survey will also be conducted about the reasons of liking a 3D movie and the reasons and also about the influence of colours in the film


This study will help to apply art direction in animation movies in an effective way which can dramatically improve the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of the movie and thereby dramatically improve the quality of the movie.


This study is limited to 3D animation only and this topic is not studied much before so availability of books and articles is much less


Judgement sampling is used for my survey because the topic is technical and people who knows about art direction can only give sufficient amount of information


All production designers are art directors, and formerly, there were noproduction designers at all there were only art directors. In earliest filmmemory, the first creative moviemaker to be given the title of “art director”?was Wilfred Buckland “By 1916 when Photoplay (magazine)commented on the rise of the ‘artistic executive or art director,’ WilfredBuckland had already been working for Cecile B. de Mille and Paramountsince 1914 and would continue to 1927.”?2Previously, he had designed Broadway theatrical productions, andlater for the fledgling movie business developed a form of minimalist, a Carravaggio-like lighting that engulfed the characters in darkness exceptfor a single source of side illumination. This dramatic theatrical effect quickly became a silent film trademark known as “Lasky lighting,”? after theproduction company that made The Cheat (1915), his most successful film. It was also one of Cecil B. DeMille’s masterpieces, shotin Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format, combining all the ingredients typical of the infamous DeMille style “a mixture of sex, sadism, and sacrifice,washed down with lurid melodrama.”? ( Michael rizzo 2005)

Buckland’s lighting contributions were groundbreaking. Two signature scenes in the film—the branding of the heroine by her wealthy Japanese paramour and the subsequent shooting scene are lit with such theatrical richness and integrity that our attention is just as adroitly manipulated today as it was during its initial release. This early maverick’s scenic designs created an equally powerful toured force for film-going audiences in the early twenties. Towering 40 feet above Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, King Richard’s castle, the center piece for Douglas Fairbank’s Robin Hood (1922), is arguably the largest set ever constructed in Hollywood history. It took 500 workmen three solid months to build. Considering Los Angeles was more of a wide spot in the road then, the silhouette of the completed castle set could be seen for miles. It exemplified W. Buckland’s penchant for creating extravagant, naturalistic sets, and it attests to his flair and flexibility as an early art

Michael rizzo, The art direction handbook first edition published on 2005.

director. Allan Dwan, director and trained engineer, recalled, “We worked out a couple of interesting engineering stunts for the big sets. On the interiors, the walls meshed together with a matrix, which we designed and built,so they could be put together rapidly in sections. The interior of the castle was very vast too big to light with ordinary arcs. We didn’t have enough. It was an open set, and certain sections were blacked out to give the right atmosphere. So to light them we constructed huge tin reflectors, about twenty feet across, which picked up the sun and shot the light back onto the arches inside. Then we could make effects.”?4 This set was larger than life in all ways from the completion of the steel-frame, reinforced, working drawbridge, signifying the end of set construction, to the fact that the shooting of the film on its massive sets was a big tourist attractionthe magic of the Dream Factory continues to stir our imaginations ( Michael rizzo 2005)

Under the steady but tumultuous employ of Cecil B. De Mille, Buckland was a prolific film designerWilliam Cameron Menzies.Incidentally, as supervising art director Buckland ran the art department for Robin Hood overseeing Anton Grot and William Cameron Menzies, not credited as assistant art directors. The practical vision of Buckland, the little-known Hollywood art director and initiator of the use of controlled lighting within studio environments, set a standard in the first decades of the twentieth century that has become as commonplace as shooting film sequences in Hollywood sound stages today. He stands as an art direct giant; his creative ingenuity ennobles the craft of film design even now. The stills shown here illustrate the enormous sense of theatricality belying his earlier, formative years in New York City. His exuberance for designing these impressive, interior castle shots matches that of the swashbucklingstar and sole producer of the film, Douglas Fairbank( Michael rizzo 2005)

Michael rizzo, The art direction handbook first edition published on 2005.

Past Changes

The function and title of art direction continued into the next decades before the landscape of the art department was changed forever. Since Buckland’s inauguration, Hollywood’s creative visual managers were simply called art directors. Each of the existing studios including 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, and Warner Brothers contained stables of art directors overseen by a supervising art department head. The paradigm shift began in 1939 during the Golden Age of the American Studio System. William Cameron Menzies, having grown up under Buckland’s tutelage, set a new standard for visual excellence by mapping the film epic, Gone With the Wind, with detailed concept sketches and storyboards, and adamantly insisting on using them as guides for shooting the film. David O. Selznick, the film’s producer, rewarded Menzies’ efforts of managing every detailed aspect of GWTW from a visual standpoint by crediting him with the title of “production designer.”? By the way, GWTW was art directed by Lyle R. Wheeler and set decorated by Edward G. Boyle. ( Michael rizzo 2005)

This distinction continues to the present. Regardless, the titles continue to be blurred. One logical reason is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annually presents an Oscar for “Best Art Direction for a Film,”? never having taken the leap to make the correction. Another explanation reminds us that the television industry has consistently maintained the original label for the designer as “art director.”? Despite the confusion of terms between industries, one fact remains: two different titles refer to two separate job descriptions—plain and simple. When in Hollywood, speak specifically. ( Michael rizzo 2005)

Michael rizzo, The art direction handbook first edition published on 2005.

Present changes

Several years ago, the Art Directors’ Guild in Los Angeles was in a minor uproar when the title of our union, Local 876, had come up for review and subsequent vote by the membership. As we have just seen, the battle of who’s who had gone on intermittently in an informal way during the many years since Hollywood’s Golden Age. A handful of committed members called for a formal discussion and vote to resolve the squabbling for a truly descriptive title for the Guild, once and for all. After a lengthy debate, the name of the art directors’ union was changed from Society of Motion Picture

and Television Art Directors to LOCAL 800 ART DIRECTORS GUILD &SCENIC, TITLE AND GRAPHIC ARTISTS or, The Art Directors’ Guild, informally. Holding title in a designing capacity or not, art directors continue to occupy a vital place within the context of cinema’s creative operatives. Formally being called an “art director”? now more than ever personally connects us to our glorious past and reminds us of our historic roots without pretension.( Michael rizzo 2005)

Michael rizzo, The art direction handbook first edition published on 2005.

Chapter 5 Responsibilities and relationships art director


The main responsibility of the art director is to take care of the visual aspects of on screen as well as printed media. The process of visualisation is being over seen by the art director in a variety of communication problem. All art directors even though they are specialised in a particular field must be good not only in design and illustration but photography computers, research etc so that they can interact with all the workers under him

He is the one who keeps track on scheduling and budgeting. An art director gives instructions to the art department co-ordinator and the lead man. The art director is also in touch with the departments such as construction, transportation, location and special effects.

Art directors start their work two or three month before the production of the film. Art directors start their work on the sets of the shots that are going to be shot first as soon as the schedule is decided. The script is studied thoroughly to know what the essential are props needed in the shots and they are designed according to that. The sketches and plans for the set are drawn so that they can be given to the construction managers and their teams for reference.

One important part of art director’s work is trouble shooting. They find cost effective solutions for constructing and decoration problems. They work closely with the relevant department from the stage of preproduction itself if some special effects or visual effects r there in the movie. They are responsible for the use of any vehicles and animals in the movie.

Sometimes the raw materials needed for construction may not be available so they need to adjust with whatever raw materials is available at the present situations. Safety is another important concern of an art director he must make sure that all the workers under him are safe when working in dangerous and hazardous situations


Historically, the art department is seen as the imagery hub of film production More than this, it also exists as the central department providing a strategic guide for all crewmembers in their respective departments. As keeper of the visual concept, the art department has creatively inspired and monitored all related activities for decades.

Head accountant and staff- an art director should be in good relation with the accountant so that money is easily available without any delays

Locations Manager and Staff- Another early arrival in the pre-production phase is the locations manager. Logistics is what cements your relationship the locations finally chosen to satisfy the design concept, the schedule of in-and-out movement at a location, access and parking, and strict adherence to what can and cannot be physically done are some of the issues both will face together. Much like the art director, the locations manager is the first to arrive and the last to leave any and all given locations.

UPM, Production Supervisor, and Production Office Staff- The bulk of your interdepartmental marketing efforts are exercised with the production office, the other nerve center of film production. All final decisions are made in this office. Your goal as an effective art department manager with the UPM, production supervisor, and production office coordinator is to provide good offensive support.

First Assistant Director and Staff-The influence of a good art director should be felt everywhere at once. Unfortunately, the shooting crew and its activity on a hot set are not an art director’s legitimate domain; the first assistant director, the second assistant director, and the second-second assistant director will continuously remind you of that fact. Regardless, you need to do your job despite any

restrictions; acknowledging the domain status of the 1st AD is key to working within those restrictions.

Pre-visualization Supervisor and Staff

The advent of 3D animation and how it has affected the design landscape has forced film designers to rethink the process of matching human and animation film elements seamlessly into the visual fabric of filmmaking. A reluctant respect now governs this young relationship between the art department and visual effects folks. It cannot properly function as an adversarial one because our quickly advancing technology is forcing a paradigm shift. The marriage of minds to create a singular vision has arrived and with it, a rethinking of boundaries.

Essential knowledge and skills

A good art director should be an expert in interior design and architecture

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Roles Of The Art Director In Film Studies Essay. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved June 20, 2024 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assignment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer