Perception---you have that power.

There is purpose in design. There is information in a setting. There is truth in your environment. Fake or real, it's there.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Professor Perspective Explains Human Scale and Proscenium Proportions

When explaining how to manage perspective to someone, it is a good idea to really talk about relationships and proportion and distance and all of that. We begin with the basic height of a figure, because all perspective drawings are in relation to something, such as the human figure. So that the students are not thrown off by stopping to draw the perfect human figure, I establish this basic bowling pin figure, which is easy to replicate, and can be made fat or thin and tall and short or sitting in a chair…
Copyright Heidi Hoffer. If you use this please credit Heidi Hoffer
The person usually is off to the side in a proscenium picture, establishing an immediate visual scale. Very much like the figure artist using the head to determine, “How many head down is the chin, the chest, the navel, the crotch, the knee, and so on, we use the figure in a similar way. We’ll establish “How many people tall is the proscenium?” and, “How many people wide is the proscenium?.”
You might ask, “Well, why can’t we just use a tape measure to answer that?” And the answer is because you should think about all things in relationship to the human, not the tape measure. There is a visceral reaction to geometry we can react to when we have a human scale. Using a figure to establish a visual scale will immediately provide a buy-in from the viewer. And, believe me; the viewer will toss away any visual that feels incorrect even if a tape measure says otherwise. This is because people are attuned to certain geometric harmonies.
So, here’s the basic theatre proscenium in relationship to human scale. It is not a GOLDEN RECTANGLE   
but it is a satisfying ratio, considering how the sides of a proscenium are largely ignored for stage action, unless there’s vignette scene happening way down right.

Copyright Heidi Hoffer. If you use this please credit Heidi Hoffer
For a 42 foot wide proscenium, the height should be 26 feet for the golden rectangle. But, since we reduce the size of the proscenium to something our budget can manage to fill, we usually design with something closer to the golden ratio, such as a width of 34 feet and a height of 20 feet. The void is filled with a proscenium arch or black stage curtains.
Since the proscenium is usually the plane at which we can measure accurately, knowing that things get visually smaller as they recede from us or move upstage, this is a good place to have the human for scale. It is called THE PICTURE PLANE. I like to think of it is the proscenium with which we are all familiar.
Copyright Heidi Hoffer. If you use this please credit Heidi Hoffer

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