Some of you might be interested in seeing just what goes into creating my sets. I think the sets/builds, scenery, and the costumes are as important as the story itself, especially when trying to convey the feeling of a realistic movie project! I will deal with costume designs some other time. Right now, we will focus on the set creation!
Locations and lots:
Just as with any real life filming project, the key to success is location and surrounding views! One would think that since I am working with virtual, fantasy creations, my choices would be unlimited? Ahhhh, much as in real life, sadly that is just not the case. Anyone who has dealt with Electronic Arts Sims3 game and all of it’s problems will understand when I mention here that for reasons of game difficulties and crashes… I generally limit myself to game and EA store worlds.
There are a vast number of truly awesome user created worlds available out there. Sadly, while I would dearly love to use them, my game does not play nice with them… It barely place nice with the worlds EA had created! So, with that in mind, I am limited in places that we can go on location to!
Most of the Royals project is filmed in the medieval type world of Dragon Valley, which is a store offering from the Sims3. It is a medieval type world but we do still run into our share of filming difficulties due to the fact that the village is not truly medieval… We do have to shoot around such things as people wandering through the property in modern attire, vehicles like Ice Cream trucks showing up at the most inconvenient of times, you know- all the minor irritations of any location shoot!
The good thing about our location filming as opposed to real life filming is that we can rather easily adjust the surroundings and the village to suit our purposes. For instance, if we find a location that we like but there is already a building there, we can simply evict the current residents with no arguments, law suits or money involved. After that, we can place a suitable building there or create our own set from scratch! For the most part, I tend to create a new set rather than remodel any existing ones or use other people’s creation. The reason for this is that I can then design a set to the specifications I need for the filming process. As with the custom worlds, there are virtually an unlimited amount of custom lots available on the Sims3 exchange site and on the many custom creation sites. The problem with those lots is that they don’t always work in my game, they often contain unsafe custom content, and they usually end up containing far too many modern appliances and amenities which I then have to go through and remove. Occasionally, I do find creations and creators that I trust and will use their lots. I always attempt to give them well deserved credit and when their lot is used, I will note it and refer readers to their creations!
Specifications and needs:
When choosing a location, we take into account a number of factors. We look for the views from the lot of the surrounding area and whether they will suit our needs, as well as the terrain around the area and the size of lot that we need to place there. Generally, the Castle builds require a large lot and it can be difficult to find an appropriate space for them. For set building purposes, I like to use a larger lot too because then I can create a multi-functional self contained world there and use the set for a number of varied scenes! The larger lot also makes filming a little easier and I can avoid things like those pesky intruders and vehicles that get in the way!
Our current set production:
Ok, now that I have given you a little background in the location process, we can visit our current set creation in progress! This set is called Royals forest and will eventually be used in future installments of the story. As we go through the process together, you will see that the creation of set is as time consuming and involved as the story telling or the character creation… possibly even more so!
Using the location criteria for views, surrounding areas, and size, we weren’t sure if we would have luck finding an appropriate space for another large lot. Luckily for us, we were able to move some things around, dispose of some unwanted trees around the area and create a suitable lot. In deciding on the lot size, we took into account the requirements for it. Our plan for this set is to have it work for outdoor and more rural scenes outside the Castle area. The basic requirements for it include a river with bridge to cross, an old Abbey, a royal hunting lodge type of building, some forest area and some open field space. Because of these needs and the available space for use, we chose a 50×50 lot and placed it near Haunts Castle.
Ahhhh Yes, the other slight difficulty we face, as in real life, is dealing with the weather! We’re contending with some winter storms and such right now, but they should disappear within the next few days… of course in our sim world, that few days could drag on for some time! Fortunately for us, the sims does provide an alternative to the weather when you use the edit town or build/buy mode… the annoying weather conveniently disappears!
We started the set design with the basics…some terraforming and landscaping, as well as marking off the lot boundaries with temporary fencing. Starting with a blank slate, we can adjust the lot to what ever requirements we have for it. In placing the river, there was some initial concern about how to do the bridge. If I placed an actual bridge, there would be steps up to it which the horses would not use. So, I chose to create a fake bridge and make it wide enough that horses will have no problems going across it. I always try to think of game function and playability when building because while I seldom actually play through the game, many others do! I will eventually offer the lot for download and I want it to be easily playable by anyone who uses it.
When doing the initial landscaping, it’s always important to check the various views, especially when placing large trees. You need to be sure that the trees do not totally block certain views that you might want in future filming. The larger trees are difficult to work with in the build process and later on in the filming process. When you go to film at some later point, the trees will cause no end of frustration because they either get in the way, or they completely disappear when you want them there!
My suggestion for working with them is to place them as close to the edges of the lot as possible unless you really need them in a certain spot for filming purposes. Also consider the possibility of placing them outside the lot in the world edit mode. What ever you choose, remember to keep checking them through the build process. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a build nearly finished then realize that your beautiful trees are poking through your walls into your home!
Once the Abbey space was set, we focused on the hunting lodge space. I wanted this space to function as either a Royal hunting lodge or a more rural cottage type of building. The plan is to keep it somewhat basic and allow users to add or modify to their own individual story purposes.
Across the river is the open field space that was one of our requirements. I am not going to do much with this space as the idea is for it to remain as an open field. The other corner of the lot will be reserved for the forest area, which will include some sort of camping space.
As I mentioned earlier, this build is intended more as a multi-purpose lot that can be easily modified or adjusted to each individual story teller or film maker’s needs. The focus will be on the landscaping and the basic structures.
I hope you enjoy this view into how a set comes together. I am going in to this project with the intent of staying simple…We shall see how long that lasts!
Behind the Scenes2:
Behind the Scenes3:Improvising and Invention!
Behind the Scenes4:Costume Design and makeup
Behind the Scenes: Finished lot!