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Step by step how to: Building a set from scratch
Old 03-03-2006, 06:43 AM #1
Luke Ellison
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News Step by step how to: Building a set from scratch

For my first dio, I built a frame using lumber to support my walls which got a bit expensive and in the long run proved to be a hassle... so from what I've learned building sets from my last dio I am trying to improve upon for my next.

The following is a brief step by step on creating effective fully emcompased sets/scenes for your dios.

I'd like to start off by saying I love everyone's dio work, from the guys who have been making them for years to the guys just starting... but one of my biggest complaints is very few diographers show ceilings! You kind of have to if you want to show scale and make the world believable. When you have 4 walls and a ceiling, it may limit you somewhat, but it can also expand your shots as well.

The trick is to build a set that surrounds your characters, and have hidden access points for your camera. Then you won't be limited to the open side shot or above the head shots.

I start by drawing out a basic blueprint. This helps me determine how much material I need and where I can start placing access areas. This set will be a morgue.



Then I begin trimming regular foamcore board for the walls, floor and ceiling.



Scrapbook paper comes in every color and texture you can imagine, and it saves money from having to try to recreate these textures using paint. For most of my wall coverings I use a combination of paper and mat board which is thick and helps to block any light leaks in mywall joints.



To connect my walls, I lay a strip of glue down where the walls meet, then I pin the walls together using finishing nails, and finally I tape them together either with packing tape or thick duct tape. It looks cheap and lazy from the outside, but the point is we only want the part being photographed to look good. The pins help the walls from sliding while the glue sets. The tape also acts as a blocker from light seeping through the cracks.

Now, I'm a huge fan of recreating natural lighting effects. I hate flash photography. To recreate some real world lights, you can use doll house lighting kits, small cabinet lighting kits or build your own. I want to have some make believe overhead lamps and some floerescent lights in my room.



I cut out a rectangle and cover this with slightly opaque paper and some trim to simulate a light cover. When a lamp is placed over this precut area, it will act like a miniature version of what it should be and the paper helps diffuse the light evenly.

The overhead lamps are made from lego disks and straws. I will use x-mas lights inside the top of the straws and it gives a dim but visual accent light.



Using mat board or more paper, you can start to add alot of cool detailing. This image shows one of the final mock-ups before the finishing work was done. I added black trim to the baseboards, cabinet doors, and a couple lockers (not shown).



So, from my lay out, I have two doors and a hidden, removable wall section for my camera access points. I just attach the ceiling as I would the walls, and I have a miniature room ready for filming.





You can make sets any size and still have removable areas to get whatever angle you need. It can be tricky but I feel the results give you a more real world feeling. With each new room I build I get new ideas and figure out easier ways to do things... so dont be afraid to experiment and keep shooting them dios!

Last edited by Hammerfel : 03-06-2006 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 03-03-2006, 08:40 AM #2
Sonneilon
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I KNEW I shouldn't have looked. It's so funny cuz you are so technical yet you know how to do it cheaply. And here I am, trying to make modular wood sets. There's one lil thing I wish you discussed. How you make those walls 'removable'. It's something I've been trying to figure out myself. As it stands, I figured I'd make a generic base, screw on those metal L-shape brackets and then screw in a vertical wall. And yeah, I skip the ceilings too. I've been finding, as any dio person probably has when doing sets, that camera angles are huge. I'm worried that I won't be able to get the right angle with static walls.

I'll have to remember to use foamcore in the future. I'm just too lazy to go the art store. Plus, I like to be able to move my sets w/o them sagging or buckling. *shrug* Probably explains why I'm using wood at this point. I've got a set I'm working on now and if it turns out, it should be totally gnarly.

Thanks for all the info. I also like the how-tos from people to give me ideas.

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Old 03-03-2006, 09:01 AM #3
Luke Ellison
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Well, you can use hardboard underneath foamcore flooring for added support. Walmart and Target sell 20x30 sheets of foamcore for an okay price... but if you have a Hobby Lobby around they go on sale for 99 cents a sheet every so often.

If its for display then I don't know a good way to make sectional walls for cheap... but if its a limited use set for pictures then just taping walls together or making back support braces is the easiest way I've found to have movable walls. Make a set of right angle braces with balsa wood and attach them behind the walls... they'll keep the wall up and make them modular at the same time.
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Old 03-03-2006, 09:59 AM #4
emike
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Dang that morgue is awesome! You are really inspiring me here. I'm going to have to try my hand at this.
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Old 03-04-2006, 03:32 AM #5
Buckwheat826
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Thanks for the tips. Your latest WIP projects are awsome as usual!
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Old 03-05-2006, 05:54 PM #6
custo
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Hey Luke,

I just have a couple questions:

1. What do you use to cut the foamcore, I always have problems what that

2. What does scrapbook paper cost about? Same for paper and mat board.

3. What type of glue do you use to hold the walls together?

4. How did you make the furniture in the dio?

5. What is a good height for cielings?

6. Thank you
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Old 03-05-2006, 09:27 PM #7
Luke Ellison
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Quote:
Originally Posted by custo
Hey Luke,

I just have a couple questions:

1. What do you use to cut the foamcore, I always have problems what that

2. What does scrapbook paper cost about? Same for paper and mat board.

3. What type of glue do you use to hold the walls together?

4. How did you make the furniture in the dio?

5. What is a good height for cielings?

6. Thank you


Here are a couple answers for ya!

1. I use a medium duty Exacto blade with a thick aluminum measuring stick as a straight edge.

2. Scrapbook paper at most craft stores will run between 10 cents each to 60 cents each for basic 12"x12" and the fancy textured paper is generally around a dollar per sheet. Mat board is usually between 3-10 bucks per sheet for a 32"x40" piece and they come in every color imaginable.

3. I use regular Elmers glue. Its cheap and it works.

4. So far its all made from mat board precut to the sizes I need, then I just glue the pieces together... using a 45 degree mat cutter gives me mitred-like corners to join the corners evenly. I also found some Joe scale dollhouse furniture on sale at Hobby Lobby.

5. Well, for residential scenes I've been making ceilings 6" tall... I figure thats enough head room and that also lets me cut a 12"x12" sheet of scrapbook paper in half for twice the use. Industrial scenes usually call for 8 to 10 to 12" ceilings depending on the building.

6. Your welcome.
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:08 AM #8
Sonneilon
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'ey Luke, here's one for ye.

What if you were doing a lobby scene, 2 stories tall. How would you install lighting on that first floor's ceiling w/o the wires being seen on the 2nd floor. I'm having that dilemna now. I have the 1st floor 'done', 2nd floor needs to be attached but I'm holding back until everything is actually finished...
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Old 03-07-2006, 11:16 AM #9
Luke Ellison
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Well, if you have an open lobby where you can see the second floor like a balcony, then you can either have a center light in the open area or you can build shallow ridges on the top of you first floor (i think theyre called header beams in construction) that can house small lightings kits then build the second floor on top of that... kind of like having a thin box as the floor for your second level.
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:19 AM #10
OBLIVION
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Luke is there any place you have your work pictured at i can not see them on here I would like to see the pics

respectfully
Oblivion
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