Model Builder (TV)

Model builders are responsible for creating three-dimensional visual effects, especially those used in children's programmes screened on television or presented on stage. They also make specialized props and create unique effects which are utilized extensively in variety and drama productions.

The model techniques department has sections that develop and construct special effects such as electronic controls and innovations; puppets and marionettes, including hand, rod and electronically controlled puppets. The property section makes puppet production sets, minute accessories and scenic models such as rural scenes, with lakes, rivers and trees, or urban scenes.

Model builders work in workshops and are in close contact with all departments involved in the production of a television show or play.

Personal Requirements

  • highly creative and imaginative
  • able to visualise completed work as it will be when in operation
  • artistic, but also practical
  • perseverance, dedication and enthusiasm
  • three-dimensional perception
  • fine eye-hand coordination
  • maintain sound relationships with colleagues, as teamwork is essential

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

There are a few model building studios in Pretoria and Johannesburg where students can receive training. It takes 2 years to learn all the skills and aspects of model building, which include: materials, spraying techniques, moulding, cutting techniques and light-duty machinery work.

A good knowledge in the reading of architects’ plans and the ability to interpret them in three dimensions, are, however, highly recommendable. Therefore, it would be an advantage to have a diploma in either Architectural Draughting or Interior Design.

Theoretical and practical training mostly take place in the actual work environment. However, general courses in Art, Interior Design and Sculpting provide the artist with good background knowledge.

Courses in electronic engineering, especially the courses in television and electronics, provide essential knowledge for those interested in electronic puppets.

Degree: BA Fine Arts - all universities

Diploma: N.Dip: Fine Art or Interior Design - CUT, DUT, VUT and TUT.


  • television companies
  • theatre companies
  • private film and video producing companies
  • advertising companies

Further Information

City Varsity Film & Television and Multimedia School
18 Roeland St, Gardens
Cape Town, 8000
Tel: (021) 466-6800

The Head
Personnel Department
SABC, eTv or M-Net

Department Entertainment Technology
The Head
Arts Faculty
Tshwane University of Technology
Private Bag X680
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: 086 110 2421

Getting Started

  • try making hand puppets or marionettes and practise sculpting
  • try assembling a doll’s house or a rural or urban scene with miniature objects and toys
  • arrange to speak to a TV model builder and ask permission to observe them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

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