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Art director is the title for a variety of similar job functions in theater, advertising, marketing, publishing, fashion, film and television, the Internet, and video games.
It is the charge of a sole art director to supervise and unify the vision of an artistic production. In particular, they are in charge of its overall visual appearance and how it communicates visually, stimulates moods, contrasts features, and psychologically appeals to a target audience. The art director makes decisions about visual elements, what artistic style(s) to use, and when to use motion.
One of the biggest challenges art directors face is translating desired moods, messages, concepts, and underdeveloped ideas into imagery. In the brainstorming process, art directors, colleagues and clients explore ways the finished piece or scene could look. At times, the art director is responsible for solidifying the vision of the collective imagination while resolving conflicting agendas and inconsistencies between contributors' ideas.
Despite the title, an advertising art director is not necessarily the head of an art department. In modern advertising practice, an art director typically works with a copywriter as a creative team. In advertising, an art director makes sure the client's message is conveyed to their desired audience. They are responsible for the advertising's visual aspects, while working with other team members such as the graphic designer. They work together to devise an overall concept (also known as the "creative" or "big idea") for the commercial, mailer, brochure, or other advertisements. The copywriter is responsible for the textual content, the art director for the visual aspects. But the art director may come up with the headline or other copy, and the copywriter may suggest a visual or the aesthetic approach. Each usually welcomes suggestions and constructive criticism from the other, as such collaboration often improves the work.
Although a good art director is expected to have graphic design judgment and technical knowledge of production, it may not be necessary for an art director to hand-render comprehensive layouts, or even be able to draw, now that virtually all but the most preliminary work is done on computer.
Except in the smallest organizations, the art director/copywriter team is overseen by a creative director, senior media creative or chief creative director. In a large organization, an art director may oversee other art directors and a team of junior designers, image developers and/or production artists, and coordinate with a separate production department. In a smaller organization, the art director may fill all these roles, including overseeing printing and other production.
An art director, in the hierarchical structure of a film art department, works directly below the production designer, in collaboration with the set decorator and the set designers. A large part of their duties include the administrative aspects of the art department. They are responsible for assigning tasks to personnel such as the art department coordinator and the construction coordinator, keeping track of the art department budget and scheduling, and overall quality control. They are often also a liaison to other departments, especially construction, special effects, property, transportation (graphics), and locations departments. The art director also attends all production meetings and tech scouts in order to provide information to the set designers in preparation for all departments to have a visual floor plan of each location visited.
The term "art director" was first used in 1914 by Wilfred Bucklandwhen this title was used to denote the head of the art department (hence the Academy Award for Best Art Direction), which also included the set decorator. Now the award includes the production designer and set decorator. On the movie Gone with the Wind , David O. Selznick felt that William Cameron Menzies had such a significant role in the look of the film that the title art director was not sufficient, and so he gave Menzies the title of production designer. This title is now commonly used as the title for the head of the art department, although the title actually implies control over every visual aspect of a film, including costumes.
On films with smaller art departments, such as small independent films and short films, the terms "production designer" and "art director" are often synonymous, and the person taking on the role may be credited as either.
Art directors in publishing typically work with the publication's editors. Together, they work on a concept for sections and pages of a publication. Individually, the art director is mostly responsible for the visual look and feel of the publication, and the editor has ultimate responsibility for the publication's verbal and textual contents.
A film crew is a group of people, hired by a production company, for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. The crew is distinguished from the cast, as the cast are understood to be the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. The crew is also separate from the producers, as the producers are the ones who own a portion of either the film studio or the film's intellectual property rights. A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production. Film crew positions have evolved over the years, spurred by technological change, but many traditional jobs date from the early 20th century and are common across jurisdictions and filmmaking cultures.
Set construction is the process undertaken by a construction manager to build full-scale scenery, as specified by a production designer or art director working in collaboration with the director of a production to create a set for a theatrical, film, or television production. The set designer produces a scale model, scale drawings, paint elevations, and research about props, textures, and so on. Scale drawings typically include a groundplan, elevation, and section of the complete set, as well as more detailed drawings of individual scenic elements which, in theatrical productions, may be static, flown, or built onto scenery wagons. Models and paint elevations are frequently hand-produced, though in recent years, many Production Designers and most commercial theatres have begun producing scale drawings with the aid of computer drafting programs such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.
Scenic design is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but in recent years, are mostly trained professionals, holding a B.F.A. or M.F.A. degrees in theater arts. Scenic designers design sets and scenery that aim to support the overall artistic goals of the production. There has been a consideration that scenic design is also production design; however, more accurately, it is a part of the visual production of a film or television.
Sound design is the art and practice of creating sound tracks for a variety of needs. It involves specifying, acquiring or creating auditory elements using audio production techniques and tools. It is employed in a variety of disciplines including filmmaking, television production, video game development, theatre, sound recording and reproduction, live performance, sound art, post-production, radio and musical instrument development. Sound design commonly involves performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue for the purposes of the medium, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers. A sound designer is one who practices sound design.
In film and television, the production designer is the individual responsible for the overall aesthetic of the story. The production design gives the viewers a sense of the time period, the plot location, and character actions and feelings. Working directly with the director, cinematographer, and producer, production designers have a key creative role in the creation of motion pictures and television. The term production designer was coined by William Cameron Menzies while he was working on the film Gone with the Wind. Production designers are commonly confused with art directors as the roles have similar responsibilities. Production designers decide the visual concept and deal with the many and varied logistics of filmmaking including, schedules, budgets, and staffing. Art directors manage the process of making the visuals, which is done by concept artists, graphic designers, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, etc. The production designer and the art director lead a team of individuals to assist with the visual component of the film. Depending on the size of the production the rest of the team can include set decorators, buyers, dressers, runners, graphic designers, drafts people, props makers, and set builders.
Art department in filmmaking terms means the section of a production's crew concerned with visual artistry. Working under the supervision of the production designer and/or art director, the art department is responsible for arranging the overall look of the film as desired by the film director. Individual positions within this department include: production designer, art director, assistant art director, storyboard artist, concept artist, draftsman, art department coordinator, set decorator, set dresser, makeup artist, painter, property master, leadman, swing gang, production buyer, Film sculptor, and property assistant.
Filmmaking is the process by which a film is made. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages including an initial story, idea, or commission, through screenwriting, casting, shooting, sound recording and pre-production, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and an exhibition. Filmmaking takes place in many places around the world in a range of economic, social, and political contexts, and using a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques.
Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy or sales copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.
A creative director is a person that makes high-level creative decisions, and with those decisions oversees the creation of creative assets such as advertisements, products, events, or logos. Creative director positions are often found within the graphic design, film, music, video game, fashion, advertising, media, or entertainment industries, but may be useful in other creative organizations such as web development and software development firms as well.
William Cameron Menzies was an American film production designer and art director as well as a film director and producer during a career spanning five decades. He earned acclaim for his work in silent film, and later pioneered the use of color in film for dramatic effect.
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.
The set decorator is the head of the set decoration department in the film and television industry, responsible for selecting, designing, fabricating, and sourcing the "set dressing" elements of each set in a Feature Film, Television, or New Media episode or commercial, in support of the story and characters of the script. The set decorator is responsible for each décor element inside the sets, from practical lighting, technology, art, furniture, drapery, floor coverings, books, collectables, to exterior furnishings such as satellite dishes, Old West water troughs, streetlamps, traffic lights, garden furniture and sculptures.
Graphic design careers include creative director, art director, art production manager, brand identity developer, illustrator and layout artist.
In the cinema of the United States, a unit production manager (UPM) is the Directors Guild of America–approved title for the top below-the-line staff position, responsible for the administration of a feature film or television production. Non-DGA productions might call it the production manager or production supervisor. They work closely with the line producer. Sometimes the line producer is the UPM. A senior producer may assign a UPM more than one production at a time.
The Art Directors Guild (ADG) is a labor union and local of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) representing 2,979 motion picture and television professionals in the United States and Canada.
(Also known as Designer's Guild or B.F.D.G. and can be seen after a member's name as a professional certification abbreviation)
The VFX creative director is a position common in films, television programs, and computer games using a large amount of visual effects (VFX).
the Cinemagundi Club was formed in 1924 by 63 top Hollywood Art Directors including William Cameron Menzies and Anton Grot. It was named after New York City’s club for artists, the Salmagundi Club.
Alice Baker is a set decorator best known for her work on the film 12 Years a Slave. With production designer Adam Stockhausen, Baker was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Production Design for her work on the period drama.
Andy Nicholson is an English production designer who has worked on various films, including Gravity, Divergent, Assassin's Creed, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Nicholson has also worked as an art director for numerous films, including several by director Tim Burton.