Front Room of the Computer Scenographics Studio

My name is Darwin Reid Payne. For many years now, my profession has followed a dual path: I have been a practicing scenographer and, concurrently, have also have been a writer on the crafts and art of scenographic design. During the past two decades, I have published three books that deal with various aspects of the scenographer's art: The Scenographic Imagination, Theory and Craft of the Scenographic Model, and Computer Scenographics. It was the last of these, Computer Scenographics, that convinced me of the need to extend my regular publishing activities to include the electronic world of the Internet. This site is the outcome of that decision.

Let me explain the layout of the Computer Scenographics Studio.

I have structured it in much the same way that my own real-world studio is organized; that is, as a series of related activities expressed in spatial terms. My own real-world studio, like those of most other theater artists, is sub-divided into working areas. A sizable section is given over to modelmaking, another is allotted to the computer work-station, yet another area is set aside for rendering scenographic sketches, and surrounding the entire studio are shelves and bookcases that house an ever-growning accumulation of research books and records of past productions. These materials progressively devour any free space they encounter.

One of the true luxuries of cyber-space, however, is that it is infinite. In this virtual studio, I can not only have a separate room for each design activity, but can increasingly stretch its walls to accommodate new projects that draw upon a vast world of electronic materials and information. Although what is sought may be on the other side of the globe, is only a click of the mouse and seconds away. Neither Puck nor Ariel could do it faster.

Here, then, is a brief tour of the rooms in this Computer Scenographics Studio:

  • Front Room: From here you may go to any other room by clicking on the room's name. Once in a particular room, it is possible to return here, go to the room next door, or visit any number of other rooms on the Internet that are linked to that room or to this studio.

    Modelmaking 101: Before exploring the various rooms of this studio, you might want to have a brief lesson in computer-generated modelmaking. Although it is not possible to show all of the procedures in making models, it is possible to show some of the key features scenographers must know when undertaking this work. The Modelmaking Workshop that follows assumes a familiarity with the various programs used to create the images that populate this site. In any case, attendance will not be taken and you can leave the class at any time.

    3-D Modelmaking Workshop: This area houses an electronic workshop that deals with three-dimensional model construction. Most of my own three-dimensional modeling begins as Virtus WalkThrough Pro models. After basic models are constructed using this program, they are exported to other three-dimensional applications for completion. At the present time, there are two discussions in the workshop: (1) the sending of graphic information using E-mail attachments, and (2) a demonstration showing the way depths of fog are set in a Strata Vision 3d or Strata Studio Pro models.

    3-D Model Lighting Studio: Here, principles and advice on lighting computer-generated three- dimensional Strata models are discussed and illustrated.

    Computer Painting Studio: In this room, techniques and procedures concerning computer-generated scenographic drawings or three-dimensional model images are shown. Two demonstrations presently reside in the studio: (1) how basic tonalities of computer-generated model images are changed, and (2) how theatrical scrim effects are simulated using Adobe Photoshop layers.

    Computer Scenographics Gallery: Here, scenographic renderings of past productions are shown. Although my own model images for a recent production of Arthur Miller's, The Crucible, now occupy the gallery, it is also available to scenographers and costume designers who send images to the Mail Room. Using the technique of E-mail attachment (discussed in The 3-D Modelmaking Workshop), these images are easily transmitted from any computer in the world to my own. (Make sure, however, that any image sent has a file format my Macintosh OS can read.)

    Research Library: For many, this room should prove the most important in this virtual studio. From here, theater artists can connect to a vast world of Internet information and imagery. The importance of this valuable new way to gather research materials for scenographic projects soon becomes evident to any who take the paths that lead from the Research Library.

    Mail Room : This room holds my various real-world addresses and electronic connections: E-mail, postal service, telephone service, and fax number can all be used to make contact with me or to send materials to this site.

As with my own real-world studio, I shall attempt to keep this electronic one in good working order. Little effort will be expended, however, on making it a showcase for the latest advances in web-page technology. On the contrary, I hope this studio remains a relatively simple and functional place.

Do not expect, therefore, to have music while you visit; no spinning buttons scoot across the screen; the type is not psychedelic, and my mailbox door does not, as do so many sites I have visited, flap endlessly in the strong electronic wind of Netscape's latest plug-ins. Even the ubiquitous Frames many sites now adopt have no place on these Spartan pages. As the site was built, speed of access to the different rooms within the studio, and expeditious linkage to the Internet's outside world was uppermost in my mind.

And yet, I have indulged myself in one way that may cause those with slower access to the Internet some waiting for pages to open. The reason for this lies in the image size of the graphic works that illustrate the demonstrations found in the studio's various rooms.

The relatively large formats of the images were selected so that details in them are more clearly seen; and that, if printed, they will retain more of their computer-screen clarity. Some adjustment, I should think, will be necessary for viewers using computer operating systems different from mine: the Macintosh OS. For the best view of the images, therefore, screen display on PC monitors will need adjustment for brightness, contrast, and color.

Finally, an important feature of this site will be a viewer's ability to question, comment on, or contribute materials to the studio. The first subject undertaken in the Scenographic Model Shop, in fact, deals specifically with the exchange of images and graphic ideas using E-Mail technology. Please inform me through the Mail Room what kinds of kinds of materials you would like to see in them or what other rooms you would like to see added. I look forward to hearing from you soon.