What’s a Set Decorator?

In theatre, the props master is responsible for all furniture and movable items on stage, whether the actor uses it or not. In TV and film, those duties are actually separated. The props master is responsible for the items the actors use, but the set decorators are in charge of supplying the furniture and dressing.

“The Crew” has a great video showing what the set decorators do, and introduces the different members of the department.

Final Four Links of March

One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Rocketeer. Valor Design has constructed a stunning replica of the film’s rocket pack completely from scratch. Check out the progress photos from the build, as well as pictures of the completed prop.

From Make Magazine, here are six things you need to know to start welding. It’s a bit more of a guide on how to buy your own welder and choose which process you want to work with; it’s much more helpful to learn on a variety of machines before plunking down cash on your own setup.

Propnomicon points us to this great UK website called Bob’s Bits, which sells and rents all manner of sci-fi props and set dressing. Their stuff ranges from futuristic alien to military to Victorian medical.

Finally, BBC Travel visits the abandoned mill town from the first Hunger Games film, just two hours from where I live. Of course, filming moved to Atlanta for the subsequent films, because North Carolina mucked around with their film incentives program. The photographs are pretty haunting, and the whole thing is for sale too, for the die hard movie memorabilia collector.

Spectral Motion Demo Reel

The folks at Spectral Motion do some amazing creature making, prosthetics and animatronics. If you have a few minutes, check out their demo reel showing their work from films like HellboyX-MenFantastic Four, and many others. In a day when you just assume all effects are CGI, it’s amazing and unreal to see that some well-known effects are practical and exist physically.

Friday Links March On

It’s USITT time! For those of you at the conference, be sure to take time for “Arms and the Props Man,” a special presentation by the USITT Scene Design Commission. It’s toward the back, right before the Innovation Stage. You can see some incredible props in person (including a few of mine). Also be sure to visit the Society of Properties Artisan Managers booth at #1538. And, if you want, head on over to Focal Press at booth #1405 to check out my book. If you already have my book, just tell them how much you love it and you want me to write another one.

For those of us not at USITT, we need some fun prop things to read, so here we go:

Mad Men is counting down to its series finale, and the Museum of the Moving Image has an exhibit highlighting the show. The slideshow features some of the props and set pieces on display, as well as many of the costumes. This show was incredible from a props perspective, and these photographs show off all the incredible detail that went into it.

Somebody posted 142 photographs from the model shop of Blade RunnerThough the film is 33 years old, the craftsmanship of the miniature buildings and vehicles can put most modern CGI effects to shame.

WM Armory shows us how to cold cast with metal powders to make your plastic castings look like real metal. It’s a fairly simple process, and once you know the specifics of how it is done, you have a very effective way to make your props pop.

Finally, here is the entire 1982 JC Penney Christmas Catalog. Old catalogs are a boon for doing period research. Flickr is a great site to find them, since some people like to scan and post every page.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies