Tag Archives: Alien

Friday Week in Review

This week, famed illustrator and designer HR Giger passed away. Perhaps best known for his work designing the creatures in Alien, his aesthetic has found its way into numerous sci-fi and horror films, and even theatrical productions. BFI has a great post showing behind-the-scenes photos of Giger working on Alien while Creative Review has a good round-up of his conceptual and illustration work.

BBC Culture shares a viewpoint that filmmakers are returning to old-school special effects and real miniatures. While CGI can accomplish things that are impossible in reality, real sets, props and models still give more authenticity to a film, and in some cases, can be cheaper and easier to incorporate. So keep on proppin’!

The previous article stems from the announcement that Disney will be incorporating more practical effects and less CGI in their upcoming round of Star Wars films. Esquire also had an interview with Roger Christian, the set decorator on the original trilogy. He talks about how he took scrap metal from airplanes to make the halls of the Millennium Falcon, and other interesting tidbits.

Sticking with the Star Wars theme of today, Tested has the tale of how obsessive fans built a better Han Solo blaster. Several fans spent countless hours reverse-engineering the prop weapon used in the original film to come up with a replica that was as screen-accurate as possible. It’s like a detective story and a prop-making story all wrapped into one.

First Links of 2014

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday and are ready for the new year. You may have noticed this site has a brand new look. I am still working out all the bugs and kinks, but all of the articles and information are still there. So feel free to check it all out, and check out the following links as well:

If you are a fan of the show Parks and Recreation, you may enjoy this oral history of the “Cones of Dunshire” board game which appeared a few episodes ago. The prop department worked with the game makers of “Settlers of Catan” to come up with this delightfully-complex (but unfortunately fictional) game.

Do you like the movie Alien? Here is a collection of behind-the-scenes footage from Alien compiled from dozens of bits of home movies. This isn’t the slick and sterile footage intended for a DVD featurette; this is just raw footage shot for personal use and which hasn’t really been seen until today.

Stephen Magazine recently did an article on the Theatre Calgary props warehouse.  They talked with props master Lillian Messer who showed off their well-stocked inventory and explained where they find their pieces.

Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde makes delightful hand-drawn floor plans of apartments from television shows and films. See the furniture arrangement in Monica’s apartment from Friends, or how the rooms are connected in Frasier’s grand apartment. Even the smallest TV apartment is far more spacious than any I have ever lived in.

Friday Link-o-Rama

I’m light on words this week because we are in the middle of tech for my first show at Triad Stage, but enjoy these links:

Set decorator Stephenie McMillan passed away this week. She got her start working on films in 1984, with her most notable credit as the set decorator on all eight Harry Potter films. Check out this interview with McMillan from last year to learn more about her work and her process.

If all the glues and adhesives out there are confusing to you, Design Sponge has an “adhesives 101″ for you. It does a good job breaking down the major types of glues available and what they are useful for. Of course, you should always test the specific glue you want to use first, but this guide is helpful to give you a place to start.

Check out this massive behind-the-scenes photo gallery of the first Alien movie. The models and miniatures used on that film are incredible.

Kamui Cosplay has a detailed look at how she created some fantasy armor from World of Warcraft using Wonderflex, Worbla, Friendly Plastic, PVC and EVA foam.

Friday Link Letters

Friday Link Letters

Busy week here at the Opera! Luckily there is always time to find interesting things to read and watch on the Internet:

This looks like a great method for making papier mâché clay. You mix up a bunch of pulp from egg cartons and magazines, then form it into balls which you can store until needed.

Hat tip to Seán McArdle for pointing me to this wonderfully illustrated guide to Louis-style chairs.

Check out this one-day build where Adam Savage builds Han Solo’s blaster. It’s well over 16 minutes long, so fire up some popcorn and settle in.

Finally, here is a very vintage video from the Stan Winston archives showing an Alien Queen head sculpture in progress:

3D Printed Furniture

All Props Day

My latest magazine article is out. In “Printing a Set“, I talked with several set designers who are using 3D printing technology as part of their process.

3D Printed Furniture
3D Printed Furniture

Here’s an interesting story. Some soldiers in Afghanistan were having trouble carrying and reloading ammo for the new guns they were issued. To improvise a solution, they were inspired by a prop which Jesse Ventura used in the film Predator, and set out to recreate it. It worked.

The title of this article says it all: Dexter’s Prop Master Tells How He Made the Show’s Most Gruesome Set Pieces. It is fairly gruesome, so I caution clicking through if you do not want to read about severed body parts and other macabre details.

Here is a local news article on Karl Luthin, the owner of KEL Equine Productions, an Illinois-based company which has provided historically-accurate equine props, horse wranglers and set dressing to the film industry for years. His latest work will be seen in the upcoming Lincoln film by Steven Spielberg. You have probably seen his props in films such as “Glory,” “The Patriot” or “The Last of the Mohicans“. Check out his webpage too, for photographs of many of the items he has.

You can find pictures of early variations of the game Monopoly (known as “Landlord’s Game”) as well as rules and other historical facts here. There are over a dozen variations spanning from 1903 to 1939.

Finally, I like this set of behind-the-scenes photographs from the original Alien film. It’s just a guy chilling in a monster costume, whatever.