Friday Night Links

Friday Night Links

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s that time of year when summer seems to be winding down; summer theatres are getting down to their last few shows, schools are getting ready to start up, and busy props people are panicking that they haven’t taken a vacation yet. If you’re stuck inside on a computer, I hope these links will keep you busy for awhile:

The Credits has a great interview with Conor O’Sullivan, prosthetic supervisor for films and shows such as Saving Private Ryan, The Dark KnightGame of ThronesX-Men: First Class, and the upcoming Hercules. While the art and craft of prosthetic effects often gets all the press, this article delves into something just as important: the logistics and planning to get it all done. Putting a fake tattoo on an actor is far different than getting matching tattoos on 150 extras every morning in less than five hours.

Fon Davis shows you how to make your own vacuum forming machine in this video. While others have shown how to build cheap or free machines like this, Fon goes a step further and assembles a machine entirely out of found parts, modified with only a drill and some duct tape.

I needed to make some small translucent crystals for a project I’m working on, and the Arms, Armor and Awesome blog has a fantastic tutorial on how to cast gems out of clear resin (h/t to Propnomicon for the link).

The NYC Prop Summit just got a webpage. The Summit itself is typically held each year around August (this year it is August 22nd), where props people from in and around the New York City area get together to network, celebrate, and learn new things. They also have a Facebook group where members go for help or advice.

The Halbard

Halbards of the Christian Middle Ages

“The halbard may be derived from the German Halbe-Barthe; half battle-axe; or from Helm, casque, and Barthe, battle-axe; or from Alte Barthe, old battle-axe: in Germany and Scandinavia it dates from the earliest centuries of the present era, though it was not known in France until the Swiss introduced it in 1420.”

The Halbard

The Halbard

1, 2, and 3. Three kinds of halbards, somewhat like the ranseurs, eleventh century.

4. Swiss halbard, fourteenth century.

5, 6, 7, and 8. Four German halbards of the fourteenth century.

9. Swiss halbard, beginning of the fifteenth century.

10. Swiss halbard, end of the fifteenth century.

11. Swiss halbard with three-pronged hammer, end of the fifteenth century.

12. German halbard with three-pronged hammer, beginning of the sixteenth century.

13. Swiss halbard, middle of the sixteenth century.

14. German halbard, sixteenth century, engraved and gilt, a very handsome weapon.

15. German halbard, sixteenth century.

16. Venetian halbard, end of the sixteenth century.

The illustrations and descriptions have been taken from An Illustrated History of Arms and Armour: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, by Auguste Demmin, and translated by Charles Christopher Black. Published in 1894 by George Bell.

Though halberd is the preferred modern spelling, this article uses halbard, an accepted variant.

Casting a Rubber Hammer

Casting a Rubber Hammer

I recently came across the Brick in the Yard Mold Supply YouTube Channel, which has well over a hundred videos on molding, casting and finishing techniques. I started off by watching this one on casting a rubber hammer. Brick in the Yard has been selling molding, casting and special effects supplies out of their shop in Texas since the mid-nineties, and their collection of videos give an in-depth look on how to use a lot of them. So check it out:

Friday Rehearsal Report

The Compliance and Safety Blog has created this great infographic on PPE basics (personal protective equipment) that they shared with me.

Volpin Props has an extensive build diary for his latest project, a shark bazooka gun from The League of Legends. It’s quite the complex process, using casting, vacuum forming and even some puppetry.

Dug North has a new tutorial up showing different methods for bending brass wire, tube and sheets. You can make some pretty quick but intricate small props using nothing but brass.

The Walking Dead has a video showing off some of the best props, effects and explosions from Season Five. Warning: if you haven’t seen Season Five yet, it gives away quite a few spoilers. Also, blood and guts and stuff.

Finally, Nick Offerman tells us why we should build stuff. Besides playing Ron Swanson on TV’s Parks and Rec, Nick is quite the accomplished woodworker, and runs his own shop employing half a dozen other woodworkers.

Property Department viewed from the south

The San Francisco Grand Opera, 1899

The following article about the Grand Opera in San Francisco originally appeared in The Sunday Call in 1899:

To most people there is an indefinable sense of mystery in the simple phrase “behind the scenes.” Some imagine it to be a vague sort of place peopled with beings who live dual lives, the one either very wicked or much-abused, and the other the artistic and pretty-to-look-upon one of the footlights. To such the theatrical managers appear as abusive hobgoblins whose delight it is to torture and mistreat. That is about as far as such imaginations go; beautiful scenic effects, and the smooth and unbroken succession of harmonious arrangements are taken for granted and expected, with no thought of the vast amount of labor, care, capital, trouble and ingenuity required in the production of an evening’s entertainment for the throngs who come nightly to be amused from the other side of the footlights…

Property Department viewed from the south

Property Department viewed from the south

Yards and yards of canvas, bolts of calico, rolls and rolls of paper, kegs and pots of paint, and a succession of other paraphernalia poured in from all sides, and were pounced upon by the different departments and carried away, to be utilized and transformed into settings and scenery…

James S. Cannon, Property Master, designing for the Christmas spectacle, "Sinbad"

James S. Cannon, Property Master, designing for the Christmas spectacle, “Sinbad”

Mr. James Cannon, the inventive genius of the stage, and the master property man, went about inspecting his great thunder drum, the big wheel and its silk flap which is the source of the wintry wind which whistles out from behind the scenes and causes one to turn up one’s coat collar—the apparatus which so closely imitates the breaking of the waves against the crags, and the numberless other apparatus for adding to the realistic nature of the performance. From his modeling room on a level with the gallery, to his little electrical room below ground, Mr. Cannon was busy with his rounds. His was the task of casting plaster models of the stage properties to be used in the various scenes, and to keep everything going harmoniously.

Originally published as “In the Workshops Behind the Scenes”, The Sunday Call, San Francisco, December 24, 1899, pg 2. Photos by Alishy.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies