In a previous post we learned how Del Thompson influences BJU Press textbooks through art. But there’s also a lot of art that goes into creating sets for Distance Learning. If you take a tour of our Distance Learning studios, you’ll be able to go through the scene shop, and you might even meet the person behind creating sets and props you get to see on-screen!
Jodi Kappel: Distance Learning Art Director
Jodi has been the art director for Distance Learning for eighteen years. In her position, she faces some challenges that demand creative solutions. How can she construct a unique set piece requested by the teacher? Or how is she able to change out large sets multiple times a day during peak filming season? How does she design pieces that enhance learning experiences rather than detracting from them?
Behind the Scenes of Creating Sets and Props
As an innovative artist, Jodi gets to take unconventional materials and turn them into incredibly realistic pieces. One of the pieces we saw when we visited recently was a special request for Mrs. Walker’s Reading 2 class. Mrs. Walker wanted a sign to add depth to her amusement park theme. Making a sign out of wood would have taken too long and would have made set changes too hard. So Jodi was able to put the sign together with an old lamp, tape, stickers, and Styrofoam. In the end, she had a fun sign that looks real, but was lighter and easier to carry.
Styrofoam actually makes up most of the props and sets that Jodi uses for Distance Learning videos. When we were there, the scene shop was full of pieces for the new K5 math course that’s being filmed. She was able to make picture frames, small props, and even a large shelf—all out of Styrofoam! A special tool, a hot wire cutter, allows her to make intricate shapes and designs, and with her artistic skills she can turn Styrofoam into something that looks like real wood!
One of our favorite pieces was a piece of apple pie that she made for Mrs. Walker. She made ice cream out of hair conditioner, water, and corn starch, and she made the pie with bread dough, Styrofoam, and hot glue—and cinnamon to make it look authentic!
Props and Sets on Screen
The pieces Jodi creates serve a unique function for the teachers. The props and sets are realistic enough so that they won’t distract from the lesson, yet functional enough that teachers can still use them.
The next time you see a brick wall or wooden cupboard on set, remember that everything may not be as it seems. With a little bit of creativity and innovation, who knows what you can create!