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Common Production Design Terminology

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/23/2010

Here are some common Production Design terms used on real movie sets.

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    Getting Into Production Design

    Production Design is often the aspect of filmmaking that is segregated to professional feature film environments, but in reality this aspect of production is in place in every film you direct. Production Design, and Art Direction as the practical subset of this, is involved in the set and visual preparation for your film. This can be as extensive as designing and building an entire artificial world, or simply altering your living room so it makes sense for your story space. When you are working in a professional production environment, or just simply a home digital video shoot, you are going to want to utilize the appropriate jargon for Production Design. The Production Designer is one of the main people involved in determining the overall Mis en Scene.

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    Art Director

    The most important definitions you will have to know are the positions within Production Design. Art Director is the person directly under the production designer. Once the Production Designer puts together the concept of what is to be done the Art Director will go ahead and actually do that.

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    Lead Man

    The Lead Man is going to be the overall assistant to the Art Director. This person will often orchestrate the process for acquiring all of the materials requested by the Art Director so that they can complete the sets and constructs they are attempting under the direction of the Production Designer. The Production Designer, Lead Man and Art Director are usually the same position on smaller productions or short films.

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    Set Dresser

    The Set Dresser will be the person who then gets together the objects that will go onto the set itself and then put them in their appropriate location. The sets themselves are altered and manipulated by the Set Dresser who is still manifesting the vision of the Production Designer and the Art Director.

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    Property Master

    The Property Master is in charge of the props in the same way the Set Dresser is in charge of the sets. The Property Master will place and alter all the props, which are not stationary to the location like the sets are.

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    The Nursery Man

    The Nursery Man, also called the Greensman, is the person who is in charge of bringing plants onto the set and moving them to appropriate locations. This should usually be orchestrated with the producer during pre-production. This is a position that smaller film or digital video productions almost never have.

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    Swing Gang

    The Swing Gang is a small group of people who work under the direction of the Lead Man. They will do much of the same things the Lead Man does, such as get different things requested for the locations by the Art Director. The Swing Gang essentially does the task that is too large for the Lead Man to do on their own.

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    Hot

    The term Hot is used in Production Design almost constantly, especially when referring to a prop or set part as being Hot. What this indicates is an object or prop that has already been in a take and cannot be moved. If it was to be moved it would violate continuity and is an important part of that location from there on out.

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    Floating Wall

    A Floating Wall is a wall section that can be moved so that the camera can allow motion. This is often true of a set wall that remains mobile on wheels.