Traditional Skills For A Digital Age

On April 8 and 9, I’ll be teaching two new classes at the Art Director’s Guild in Los Angeles. The classes are free to ADG members.

April 8 – Back Projection and Scaling From Photographs

Prerequisite: none. Class size limit: 12

Tools needed: notebook, calculator (does not have to calculate feet or inches, one on a phone will work fine)

The technique of ‘back projection’ was developed as a way of extracting necessary information from photographs for use with rear projection systems to build set pieces that would match the scale and perspective of the projected ‘plates’.

You’ll learn the basics of this system to find sizes, camera heights, focal lengths of lenses and more.  You’ll learn additional methods of basic photographic scaling that you can use to work from printed images, books or even your computer screen. You’ll leave with a set of tools, including digital calipers, and the knowledge to be able to use this practical and valuable skill.

 April 9 – Architectural Moulding

Prerequisite: none. Class size limit: 20

Tools needed: notebook

Curb your fear of moulding! This class will examine the history and development of architectural moulding in the western architectural tradition and trace their roots from ancient cultures. You’ll learn the 8 basic shapes that make up most profiles, understand the transition from Greek to Roman moulding, learn the proper names of mouldings from their beginnings, and learn the correct use of moulding profiles by architectural period and style.

You’ll learn what’s wrong with your moulding catalogue and also get a list of moulding catalogue profiles by date so you can classify them by their period.

And,  I’ll be bringing in many of my 18th and 19th century British, American and French moulding planes and you’ll see a demonstration of ‘sticking’, or creating traditional wood mouldings by hand.

The Influence Of Film Design On Architecture

At the website of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, their blog included a post by Peter Lyden which features member-architects of the institute talking about the film designs which have influenced them and their careers.

credit: Institute Of Classical Architecture & Art

 

The website is also a source of great information on classical architecture in both the historic sense and information on modern practitioners of these architectural traditions as well. The Institute also hosts various programs on architectural design and classes  throughout the country on topics such as traditional rendering techniques.

Click here for a list of upcoming classes and programs.

 

 

The Winner Is . . .

The winner of the design book giveaway is Hogan Lee. His name was drawn from the correct answers, which is: Der Letzte Mann (The Last Man). Made by UFA Films, it was released here in 1925 as The Last Laugh. The American release version was re-edited to be less of a ‘downer’ that the original German version as well as having more cuts added. Proof that even then American audiences had shorter attention spans.

the-last-laugh

 

Beyond the film’s exclusion of the usual silent film title cards in exchange for a more visual storytelling style, it set a new standard for camera movement. The film caused quite a stir here in Hollywood as the studios were stymied as to where it was shot. The ‘city’ in the film was populated with building much taller than anything that existed in the world at that time and yet they were obviously physical buildings and not a glass shot. ( more on this later )

rain-scene

The picture’s Art Directors, Hearlth and Röhring , designed the street to be a giant forced perspective set, populated by progressively smaller cars and pedestrians.

The director, F.W. Murnau would come to Hollywood and make equally visually impressive films here. He died in Santa Barbara. The cinematographer, Karl Freund, would also find a new career in Hollywood and would revolutionize multi-camera filmmaking by creating the technique of “flat-lighting”, which became the standard of TV sitcoms.

the-setup

Take 2! – Design Book Giveaway

Let’s try this one more time. Something was screwy with the blog links yesterday so here we go again!

Today’s book is By Hand & Eye, by George R. Walker and Jim Tolpin, published by Lost Art Press. You can read all about the book here. The winner will get the hard cover edition of the book. This book is a favorite of mine and an excellent primer on designing by proportion.

Contest Question

What is the name of the film these stills are from?

hint: it’s not an American film

rain-scene

 

 

Another hint:

One man in this picture would pass away in Santa Barbara, California and another person would revolutionize television.

dolly-shot
Send your answers to: randallwilkins1@gmail.com

Now In Print – The Art Of The Hollywood Backdrop

The Art Director’s Guild sponsored a book signing event at their gallery space in North Hollywood yesterday, with co-author Karen Maness on-hand to sign copies of the new book, The Art Of The Hollywood Backdrop.

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The book is a cooperative project between the authors, Karen Maness and Richard Isackes and the Art Director’s Guild. With a focus on hand-painted rather than photographic backings, the book traces not only the history and development of backdrops through Hollywood films but the artists who have developed the techniques used and who have passed along that knowledge to successive generations of scenic artists.

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The event was well attended by not only Guild members but by members of the Strang family and the Coakley family of J.C. Backings, the two families which have not only dominated the field in Hollywood but have been the biggest promoters and curators of the art form.

The Coakley family and fellow artists of J.C.Backings

The Coakley family and fellow artists of J.C.Backings

 

 

Co-author Karen Maness graciously signed books all afternoon.

Co-author Karen Maness graciously signed books all afternoon.

This is a big book, and I say that in every sense of the word. Larger than a quarto format at 11 x 14 inches, the hard-cover and cased edition is 352 pages long and weighs in at 13 pounds. Filled with crisp images of both black and white and full-color backings, the photos show the backings not only in a straight-on form but in the environment that they were meant for.  It’s filled with stills from the original films as well as set stills showing them in relationship to the sound stages and the companion scenery.

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dsc_0032This book will definitely appeal to film lovers who have very little understanding of film scenery and stagecraft as well as film professionals who have many films to their credit.

It is available for order through the publisher’s website and will soon make it’s way into bookstores. If you are still making that holiday gift list, this is definitely a book that will have huge appeal to anyone who loves movies. Read an excerpt here, and you can order the book here from Regan Arts.

 

Only One Day Left To Save $100 On Sketchup Pro

If you’ve wanted to move up to a Sketchup Pro license but the price has stopped you, now is your chance to get a Pro license for $100 off. But, the deal ends tomorrow, September 17.

Normally $695, you can get $100 off by using the promo code SKETCHSAVE100 at checkout from the site. If you’ve forgotten the benefits of having Pro over the free Make version, there are more than you realize.

Besides not having access to accurate film/digital camera data and Layout with the ability to create professional construction documents, you’re missing out on a lot of other really important features if you’re just getting-by with the free version, Sketchup Make.

It’s time to get serious. A new version of Sketchup will be appearing each year and the differences in functionality between the two will continue to grow. Here is a chart outlining the differences:

version-comparison

 

 

Hand Drafting Lovers Rejoice – 100 Posters Still Available

Christopher Schwarz at Lost Art Press announced that they have 100 of the Anarchist tool chest posters still for sale. I thought these had sold out months ago but apparently there was a small batch lurking in the stockroom.atc_poster1_img_2463-1

Detail of nice crisp detail of the poster by Steamwhistle Press. Photo by Chris Schwarz

Detail of nice crisp detail of the poster by Steamwhistle Press. Photo by Chris Schwarz

The drawing is of a traditional English styIe tool chest as outlined in Chris’ now-classic book, The Anarchist Tool Chest. The original artwork for the poster was drawn back in January in pencil, in a late-19th century drafting style on the last remaining bit of well-made 1000H cotton vellum I still had in the studio. The poster, of which only 1000 were made, is beautifully printed on #100 paper stock using a  hand-inked polymer plate on an old offset printing press and each is hand-signed by Chris. This may be one of the last examples of hand drafting you’ll see printed in poster form. My drawing board has fallen into such disuse in the past 6 months that a baby bat has taken up residence under my drafting machine arm.

tool chest perspective cutaway