The New Yorker has a great piece on theatrical special effects, where they follow around Jeremy Chernick of J&M Special Effects. I almost did some work for Chernick when I lived in NYC, and he was definitely one of the go-to guys for any kind of effect that wasn’t specifically props, costumes, lighting or scenery.
Empire Online has a piece that boldly proclaims “In the Future, All Film Props Will be 3D Printed“. While that statement may be a bit hyperbolic, the article itself is an interesting look on how digital fabrication techniques are being integrated into the pre-production and production phases of filmmaking, and what benefits they give that traditional fabrication techniques don’t.
Since we’re talking about the future, check out Cinefex’s piece on the future of practical creature effects. For a time, it looked like filmmaking was heading for a future where a single actor stands in front of a green screen, and everything else was digital. Now, practical creatures (and props and sets) are making a comeback; effects teams have a better handle on how to plan out and integrate digital and practical, and new technology has made possible practical effects which were previously unachievable.
Finally, check out an easy way to make tin advertising signs. Jesse Gaffney takes some tin and a ballpoint pen, and makes signs that have some dimensional detail. Nice!
Hey, if you haven’t gotten my Prop Building Guidebook yet, you can get it direct from Focal Press for 20% off until April 29th! Just use code MRK95 at checkout. It makes a great gift for graduation (hint hint).
This seems like one of those weird Buzzfeed articles, but it actually has a whole lot of cool photographs from a tour inside Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Legacy Effects has a great video on the making of the suit from the new Robocop film. Sure, there is a lot of 3D printing and digital fabrication involved, but there is also a surprising amount of traditional artistry going on, including sculpting, painting and sewing.
La Bricoleuse discovers an armor maker right here in North Carolina. Dr. Eric Juengst is the Director of the Center of Bioethics at UNC Chapel Hill, and he spends his spare time fabricating historic suits of armor (and suits of armor for animals). Check out these photos and video of his workshop and his creations.
Here’s a good step-by-step tutorial on how to do a life cast of a face from Lauren Daisy Williams, a student at UNCSA. I met Lauren at the USITT Young Designer’s Forum this year, where she had all sorts of fun molding and casting projects on display, so it’s nice to see her share the process for some of her work online.
You may have noticed I missed last week’s Friday blog post; we were in the midst of a big ice storm here in North Carolina, and I didn’t have any power or Internet and trees were falling all around me and it was crazy. Anyway, a lot of cool stuff has shown up in the world of props since then:
Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, came out last week, and fans of his work know that he loves his props. Here is a great article giving the back-story of 10 of the most memorable props from the film. It shows the obsessive devotion Anderson has to every object in his movies, and his recognition of how a prop’s details can help tell the story.
Continuing on the Grand Budapest Hotel train, we have two articles on Annie Atkins, the film’s graphic designer and paper prop maker. First, is a short piece and slideshow in the Independent, and second is an interview and collection of the paper props themselves.
A tip of the hat to Tim Shrum for pointing me to this blog on movie miniatures. If you like tiny cars and buildings as much as I do, you’ll love this website.
3D Printing Industry checks in with Owen Collins, who has been busy over the past few years looking at how 3D printing technology pertains to theatre.
Finally, large-scale prop maker Shawn Thorsson is working on a full-scale ED-209 from the original Robocop film. This is a massive seven-and-a-half foot tall fighting machine, and he’s trying to get it complete for the Maker Faire Bay Area in May. The link has some photos and a video showing the beginning of his process; it will be interesting to see how this progresses.
Happy Friday, everyone! For those of us in the middle of holiday shows, whether Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Tuna Christmas, or what have you, I hope it’s going well. I have some fun things from around the internet you can read:
Propnomicon has been doing some research into early shipping crates and packaging, and has shared some of the discoveries made. It may be surprising to see that manufacturers were shipping products in corrugated cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates back in the 1920s.
A short article of note tells how 3D printing is finding a home in Hollywood. Of course, regular readers of this blog already know this, but it is still interesting to see specifically how and where prop makers are using 3D printing technology.
La Bricoleuse has an interesting post up about the parasols her students made in her decorative arts class. Now I know many props masters do not consider parasols to be a “prop”; I’m sharing it because Playmakers’ props assistant (and good friend) Joncie Sarratt has a stunning diagram of the parasol she had to create for their production of Tempest.
Finally, Kamui Cosplay is poised to release The Book of Cosplay Armor Making with Worbla and Wonderflex. I haven’t seen the book yet, but if it is anything like her tutorials, it’s sure to be a very informative look at working with various low-temperature thermoplastics.
Not too much going on this week. Everyone seems to be transitioning from regular seasons/school to summer work. Still, there were some interesting things on the Internet in the past couple of days:
My latest article for Stage Directions Magazine is up. “Fast, Cheap and Under Control” takes a look at how you build a prop when that prop has never been built before. I interviewed several props people for their perspectives on this particularly perplexing problem; Tom Fiocchi, props instructor at Ohio University; Lori Harrison, props director at San Francisco Opera; and Seán McArdle, worldwide freelance prop maker.
Speaking of Stage Directions, I interviewed Kacie Hultgren in an earlier article about 3D printing for theatre. Make Magazine has revisited Kacie to see what she has been up to lately.
Joshua Meltzer, prop master on the show Dexter, shares 14 bloodthirsty secrets from the “Dexter” set. Some of the shocking secrets? They don’t actually cut the actors with knives.
Finally, do you know the proper way to chuck a drill bit?