Tag Archives: Dr. Who

Make your own TARDIS

Another Friday, another set of links

Creative Choices has published a fantastic article about Antony Barnett, the Head of Props at the Royal Opera House. He has been working at the ROH since the mid-1980s. Incidentally, the ROH remounted a production of Cendrillon in 2011 that I worked on back in 2006; I built some pretty cool props for it, including Prince Charman’s throne, and it’s nice to see how well they have stood up.

The New York Times has an in-depth look at how the Metropolitan Opera stores and maintains all the sets for their repertory productions. I find this stuff fascinating, particularly since I’ve been reading a lot about how the Met’s technical department worked 100 years ago. The locations of their storage units may have changed, but the amount of work and organization they have to do to put up a different opera every night remains the same.

Bill Hunt has a “virtual tour” of Bob Burns’ massive movie prop collection. Scroll to the bottom of the article to see a slideshow of all the historical film props he has in his collection. Burns has been collecting for decades, and has quite a few unique pieces, including the only surviving King Kong armature from the original 1933 production.

Here’s a shorter interview of a working prop-maker; Rosie Tonkin is a UK-based freelancer and artist. It’s an interesting comparison between a young prop maker at the start of her career like Tonkin and a seasoned veteren like Barnett up above.

Finally, at last week’s Burlington Mini Maker Faire, I was making a miniature Dr. Who TARDIS out of paper, and handing away sheets to people to make their own. If you didn’t get one, or you couldn’t make it to the fair, you can download and print your own TARDIS, complete with instructions.

Make your own TARDIS
Make your own TARDIS

Happy May Links

Happy May, everyone! It’s a busy month for many of us as seasons wind down and summer seasons wind up, and for those of you in the educational world, classes are ending and graduations approach. But at least it’s getting warmer outside! And I have some links for you!

CBS Denver has an article about Bill Slezak, the prop master on the touring production of Mary Poppins. The show has some 4,000 props, and Bill is in charge of repairing and placing all of them in whatever city they go to. Be sure to watch the video since the article itself is just a brief transcription of said video.

Kasterborous has an article about Nick Robatto, one of the chief prop makers on Dr. Who. Not only does he make the props for the show, but he also makes the licensed replicas of the props to sell to fans. How’s that for carving out a niche in the market?

Have you heard about the giant head found in the Hudson River? A New Orleans prop maker guesses it’s over 10 years old (he says the pink foam inside hasn’t been used since the eighties), while a Mardi Gras float maker says it’s a Mardi Gras float. What do you think?

Finally, a lot of film props are made by piecing together found objects. Cracked has put together five Sci-Fi gadgets that are really just everyday objects.

March Goes in Like a Link

March Goes in Like a Link

It’s the end of the week, but the beginning of a new month. This is conference month for those of us in technical theatre. First is SETC, happening next week (March 5-9) in Louisville, KY. Shortly after is USITT, taking place March 19-23 in Milwaukee, WI. I will be at both if you wanted a chance to catch up or introduce yourself. At USITT, Stage Directions will be hosting a book signing for my book at their booth on Friday, March 22nd, at 12:30 PM. More info to come. For now, enjoy these links:

My latest magazine article in Stage Directions is now online; I profile the Milwaukee Rep props shop, home of props master Jim Guy. Milwaukee also happens to be the location of this year’s USITT conference. Coincidence?… actually, no, we chose to write about Milwaukee Rep for this issue precisely because of USITT.

The designer of the Dalek from Doctor Who, Ray Cusick, died this past week. The Verge has some videos and a story about him and how the Daleks came to be.

When the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre shut its doors in March 2012, its production facilities and prop storage were abandoned and surrendered to the landlords who owned the building. Jim Buckshon was subleasing part of that building at the time for his company, Renegade Productions, and decided to lease the entire building and save the props. Read the whole story to see how Buckshon took on one of Vancouver’s largest prop collections and kept it intact for future productions.

Weta Workshop — the design/production/creature/FX shop behind films such as The Lord of the RingsKing Kong and Avatar — recently solicited questions for their Mold Shop Supervisor, Michael Wallace.  Mike answers those questions about working in a mold shop, materials and techniques he uses, and his own background.

AJ Catalano is a sci-fi prop maker who has built items for films ranging from The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman, to The Muppets. Check out this video where he talks about his background and the work he does:

Link-o-Rama

Link-o-Rama

Make Magazine has a great slideshow on “Ten Tips for Drilling Better Holes“. It is a good reminder that even seemingly simple tasks can have a lot of considerations in achieving a good result. While I would not take anything off the list they present, I would add one: be sure the drill bit will not hit your hand as it exits the other side of the material (or if it slips off).

I saw this over at La Bricoleuse and had to share: it’s a Rit Dye color chart. Choose the color you want, and it will tell you which Rit dye or combination of dyes will give you that color. Now, a lot of other factors go into achieving certain colors on particular fabrics, and Rit is not the best dye for all types of fabrics, but it is readily available at most local stores and easy to work with in a pinch, and this chart is a good starting point for many colors.

I just stumbled on a cool blog called the “Creaturiste’s Labatory”. He has a post on oil clay vs water clay in terms of sculpting, though many of the other posts are useful and interesting as well.

This is pretty cool: The official licensed replicas of props from Doctor Who are being manufactured by the same prop maker who builds them for the show.

Finally, here is a very cool video of Tony Swatton forging one of the swords from the series Game of Thrones. He has a number of videos showing the making of other weapons as well. It’s amazing to see the mix of tools and techniques he uses for hand-forging custom weapons at the pace which the entertainment industry requires. Though he mainly does film, TV and theme parks, I’ve heard his name mentioned in theatrical circles as well.