21 November 2012

FOL Appreciation Week Diorama Display Design

From concept to completion: a cardboard box is transformed into a classic cinema.
Top: mapping out the surface coverage.
Bottom: the illuminated movie screen.
My earlier post covering creative work done for the National Friends of the Library Appreciation Week 2012 touched briefly on a diorama display. Due to its uniqueness, I thought it deserved a closer look, so here's my nod to a project that doesn't come along every day...a three dimensional diorama from the library technical services department that went on display at an event to thank our Friends of the Library organization. 

Librarian Linda Norris came to me with an idea to create a small tabletop display. She wanted to convert a medium sized cardboard box into a small movie theater and asked if I could help her with the creation of it. I thought it was a fun and unique project to add to the many other projects our branch libraries were using to thank the FOL group. While discussing the concept, I sketched out a basic rough of what I understood would be our goal: to find images we could use to cover the box interior and exterior surfaces, and to develop presentation frames on the outside flaps that could contain old DVDs to act as movie poster announcements for coming attractions. 
Three interior images include
(top) installation of large prints
onto wall and floor surfaces;
(middle) a red carpet made of
felt laid overtop a marbled
lobby floor image; (bottom) a
thick red string and cotter pins
set into a foam core board
wrapped with black paper served
as a rope barrier for crowd control. 

Linda provided a black and white printed image of vintage movie-goers wearing 3D glasses which I scanned, then colourized the lenses to be magenta and cyan. Another image of theatre seating I used to type faux versions of commonly over-used critic statements I modified to refer to the library's affections for the FOL. The rest of the wall and floor images I sourced for online, then printed to size using our office copier and large format printer. To give the diorama a little more life and to help identify what library department was giving their thanks, I suggested Linda recruit some of her colleagues to have their photos taken so we could use them as theatre visitors coming to see the show. She liked that idea, so I photographed them in a variety of casual poses and printed them at a scale I thought would be favourable to the boxed environment (roughly 9 to 10 inches each).

Once I had all the surface photos printed to size, the first thing I did was to lay what would be the movie scree/red curtain image on the back side of the box to mark with a stick pin where the corners of the white movie screen would be. Afterwards, I cut that portion of the box away to leave a hole in the bottom of the box. This would enable me to lay the screen/curtain image on the inside back wall of the box so that later we could place a flashlight behind the box to project a light onto the paper covering the hole to illuminate the screen. Once that image was secured into the box, the rest of the box wall and floor images were quickly attached using a few short pulls of double stick tape.

Top left: video DVDs were sandwiched between a 
yellow background mounted on cardboard backing 
and a cardboard frame that used a layer of 
transparent laminator film to act as side panels 
advertising some of the library's movie selection.
Meanwhile, Linda fashioned a rope line using a thick red length of cord and cotter pins, then wrapped a length of cardboard with black paper to sink the pins into so they could stand upright. After that was complete, she worked on cutting out and colouring with a black marker two cardboard poster "frames" to lay on top of printed images stating "Coming Soon" and "Now Showing." Between the paper images and the frames, she tacked down with double stick tape a selection of movie DVDs and a layer of laminator film that I had run through the laminator to make hard. The film would act as the "window" for each of the poster frames. Next, a strip of felt fabric was cut and laid on the bottom marble tile "lobby floor" flap to act as a red carpet runway. As a finishing touch to the now classically inspired movie house, a chandelier was created by combining a selection of jewelry and other mixed media objects donated by other staff members.

While Linda was working out all those details, I was busy trimming out the figurines, double stick taping them to poster board, and cutting out a square of foam core board for each to stand on. This part presented a challenge for us, because the figurines stood tall enough to become top-heavy and tip over when standing them up on foam core board slabs. Eventually, Linda was able to get a few sheets of flat plastic that I broke down to size and double stick taped to the base of the foam core boards to add weight to the base so the figurines wouldn't tip over any longer. I cut a slit into the foam core board base and tucked in a tab of excess poster board left remaining under the feet of the figurines when they were cut out. I added a small movie ticket to the hand of each figurine, taped a couple of movie posters to the sides of the exterior walls, and considered it finished!

Audience creation involved a
photo shoot of staff, printing at a
reduced size, trimming out
silhouettes, and fabricating a
base to stand the figurines with.
Tickets in the hands of movie-goers, an 
illuminated movie screen, and an old poster 
curling away from the wall show how some of 
the small details came together to create a 
unique environment for the diorama display.

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