The first film sets were designed by George Méliès in the early days of filmmaking. These early sets resembled theatre stages. In 1916, DW Griffith’s Intolerance made cinema history with its use of full-scale sets. William Cameron Menzies is considered the father of modern production design and was famous for his elaborate settings.
During the 1950s production designers began working with directors and cinematographers. Hollywood recognised the need for production designers to help design the look of the entire film, not just the sets.
Production designers also need to think about the use of the camera in telling that story: will the camera move?, will the light change?, what angles will things be shot from? These all affect the overall design.
For this reason many production designers are trained in the visual arts, architecture or theatre design. This is useful because on-screen depth and distance can be enhanced through clever design.
How do setting and costume work together to help tell a story?
How are colour and texture used to help tell a story?