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SNL’ Set Designers on Time Crunch, Last-Minute Changes



Saturday Night Live” manufacturing designers Leo Akira Yoshimura and Keith Raywood work at breakneck velocity beneath terribly tight schedules to make sure units for the well timed satire are camera-ready every week — with modifications being added proper as much as the final minute.

Raywood, who started as a manufacturing designer on the present in 1985, will usually begin crafting units late on Wednesday nights. “This show is writer-driven. It all starts with the script,” he says. “One show can have
less complexity to it and fewer special effects are involved, but we never know until it’s handed to us on Wednesday night.”

Different units will probably be used for 2 to a few scenes. When Yoshimura introduces individuals to the present, whether or not it’s forged or associates visiting, they all the time touch upon the stage dimension — Studio 8H is simply over 6,000 sq. ft, together with house for viewers seating — or comment on how swiftly the crew shifts surroundings.

With house and swiftness in thoughts, the designers start their work.

An “Avatar” sketch in January that includes host Aubrey Plaza and Heidi Gardner was one instance of how a set advanced from conception. Yoshimura, who constructed the Na’vi planet, needed to do one thing exterior of the norm for the scene: “We had to do camera tests to turn the cast blue, which added a layer of technology to the performers.”

He wrapped the bushes in aluminum foil, primarily used a Styrofoam cave with landscaping, and added a hen for “a visual layer.”

“We painted leaf shapes, and we rendered exotic colorful flowers, so when the cameras turned blue, it added a saturated pigment,” he says.

It wasn’t till Thursday when Yoshimura noticed the digicam pull again in rehearsals that he realized one thing was missing within the design: “I like to stretch what the camera sees, so I added the pool of foggy water.”

Whereas his work is writer-driven, he says, “The adrenaline of having four days forces you to make things better.”

Each manufacturing designers labored alongside the late Eugene Lee, who had been with “SNL” since its 1975 debut and constructed a number of the well-known units, together with the “Saturday Night Live: 15th Anniversary” present and “SNL Presents: Halloween.” Lee died earlier this yr however his presence stays robust. “His
studio is there, and it feels like it will always be there,” Raywood says.

Yoshimura provides fondly, “Studio 8H was built with his ideas around studio production. There’s something wonderful to be able to say we’re playing in Eugene’s world.”

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