Major Project · Semester Two

Set-to-Set Transitions

The initial conversations that the team have had during our first few ideation days focused on how to create our own unique stamp on the animated documentary. Whilst a few options have been suggested, as the environment designer, it seemed appropriate to investigate the presence of the background integrated within the aesthetic approach to the documentary.

The staging decision that is currently being considered is incorporating everything around a static camera position, with the background changing around the protagonist – the dog character – rather than utilising transitions and movements which could detract from the intention of focus. Evolving from that, the conversation briefly began to discuss the nature of theatre sets and how they tend to be created in such a way that can be manoeuvred for quick turnaround and positioning adjustment.

In my opinion, if the team were to agree on the staging decision to work with one static shot throughout the entire piece, integrating the functionary methods of theatre design could be an interesting way of incorporating a cross-disciplinary approach in order to create a unique trait for the animated documentary.

The decision to use theatre set methodology does create a series of complications, such as whether the technical knowledge can be gained in order to achieve the outcome. My perception, based on our team discussions, is that the staging and composition of the animated documentary may pay homage to the physical boundaries that are set within the perimeters of the stage, and through the theatre where the play is performed.

Figure 1.1 Shown above – a behind the scene piece that discusses the transitioning of sets in the play, The Red Barn

In the video that is linked above, the backstage staff and set designers discuss the process of incorporating the various sets within the narrative of the play. The team uses the space of the National Theatre to full potential – creating their scenes from set boxes which have been designed to fit within the perimeters, or window, of the stage. The audience views the play through a frame that has been created the stage, with curtains to either side, that is boxed-in by the physical presence of the roof above. The positioning and design of these elements creates a natural viewport through which the audience may experience The Red Barn.

An interesting and unorthodox tool that the stage crew have at their disposal are sliders. This can alter the viewport for the audience, providing an opportunity for scene changes, and increased control over the narrative focus. Whilst the play director benefits from the ability to direct the audience’s attention towards a specific action, the sliders provide the stage crew with some leeway to prepare and change the set boxes behind the scenes.

The box-shaped pre-existing environment is not the approach that the team intends to implement within the animated documentary, as we hope to construct the scene in grouped clusters – Jess created a compositing image which illustrates the approach coherently.

It is the linear direction from set-to-set that creates the illusion of a cinematic world, utilising tracking and panning to implement that flow as the scenes unfold, that has inspired the team to realise the artistic ambitions that could be accomplished using a static camera. The approach similarities of how a viewer of the documentary, and how a member of the audience would witness the play or events that play out before them.

(Figure 1.2 Shown above – Stills taken from The Red Barn production.

The animated documentary is an unutilised opportunity to explore different forms of storytelling, and an opportunity to diverge from what has already been practised and completed throughout our university career. One of the primary goals for the project this semester is to create something that encourages the audience to view it a second time. As a responsive social art study, the intention is to create something that evokes an emotional and intellectual response. The narrative for this project is dictated by the audio interview that is yet to be conducted. Therefore, the personal stamp of the team within this project shall be through the creative jurisdiction – we must plan how we intend to achieve that.


Royal National Theatre, (2017). The Red Barn: Behind the Scenes. Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2017].


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