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Scenography and the Web

I thought id take this opportunity to talk about how I got started in web design, my recommendations for starting your own site and how and why services like Scenography – The Theatre Design Website are invaluable (in my opinion) to web users. I’m planning on splitting this topic over a number of posts. In this first post i’ll look at the background of scenography and of my own beginnings in web design.

The web can be an important communication tool for theatre designers and scenographers, in this series of posts I’ll talk about how you can harness the web and IT to aid your career, the foundation of Sceno:graphy and how you can create websites for yourself.

I’ve been an apple user since about 1998, but I only got online in about 2000, straight away I could see the potential benefits for the theatre designer. In 2003 I wrote my B.A. Honours Theatre Design Degree dissertation about how the web and IT can benefit theatre design in both a promotional and practical way – how it might be used in our process, from the conceptional period right through to those final dress rehearsals. Jet power shrunk the world but the internet nano-sized it, and for theatre designers that was very good news. Theatre professionals are some of the most flexible and diverse artists in the arts world, “Theatre Design” and “Scenography” are such massive all embracing titles that a layman could meet two different designers and assume that both worked in completely different worlds… and they’d be right – because we do! Both in the artistic and the geographic sense.

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The web is the perfect communication tool for the theatre professional as it speeds up and enriches our communication; pictures, videos, soundtracks, technical drawings, 3D models, lighting plots and much more can be sent in seconds to almost anywhere in the world. Theatre Designers have always been artists without borders and that is only more true thanks to the net, its now just that little bit easier to be slogging it out at a dress rehearsal in Manchester, UK and communicating with the director of your next show in Barcelona, Spain.

My dissertation proposed an online software that at it’s core brought together new technologies like 3D visualizations, online messaging, sketching capabilities and a virtual model theatre that could all be remotely manipulated by various members of a production team, the emphasis was very much on communication rather than a tool that could create renderings. Whether there will ever be a demand for such a product I can’t say – the dissertation was very much an exploration of the concept rather than a full proposal and feasibility study.

Whilst researching the project I visited every online theatre design portfolio i could find, had countless meetings with theatre designers, theatre design academics and IT and Web professionals. Theatre designers were already using the web to display work and communicate, but it was only a select few who, primarily those already well established in the industry and those who could either afford expensive web publishing packages or were fluent in html. Those who were using it were singing the web’s praises, it lent itself well to the fluid nature of our work. Travel and long periods of time spent in temporary accommodation meant that traditional forms of communication could be rather hit and miss, its common to have letters chasing you around the country (or world) trying to catch up with you in your new digs – you’d hopefully get the letter or package eventually… but quite often it would be too late. Not a problem when its only a pair of new socks from your nearest and dearest but a royal pain in the backside when it was a reference image or a technical drawing.

Come back soon, in Part 2 I’ll discuss: First steps into web design for theatre designers & the early days of Sceno:graphy

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