Hey kids! Remember, even though films are replacing more and more real objects with computer-generated imagery, you may still be asked to put a life-size replica of those objects in your local airport. Check out this video where Weta Workshop builds giant eagles for the Wellington Airport as part of a promotion for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
If you have an hour to spare, this PBS special from 1981 is all about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s quite in-depth and full of a lot of the practical and technical aspects of creating a film as ambitious as this one was. While this documentary does not touch on props much, it is fascinating to see all the practical challenges which needed to be solved in the days before computer graphics took over everything.
I like this charming antique story of talking tools who argue over who is the most important when it comes to constructing a wooden box. Guess what? It only works when the tools work together and play their unique role.
Finally, production designer K.K. Barrett talks about creating the unique futuristic world of Her. The movie itself, a sci-fi romance film from Spike Jonze, looks fascinating. Though production design is somewhat removed from the world of props, it is always interesting to read how the various production departments on a film work together, and the interview deals a lot with how the physical objects and tactile qualities of the world relate to the story of the film, which is something props masters do deal with.
Well, I am off this weekend to Bucknell University, where I will be signing copies of my book during Homecoming Weekend. If you are in Central Pennsylvania, feel free to stop on by. I’ll try to post pictures and updates on my Twitter. I also have some stories I’ve found around the Internet this week:
Props master extraordinaire Jim Guy is profiled in yet another news article. He talks about how he got started, his favorite parts of the job, and how new people can begin a career in props.
LiveScience takes a look at the technology behind horror-movie monsters. Though it seems a lot of films just use CGI for everything, many effects are still practical. In fact, advances in technology have made it easier to use all sorts of prosthetic, animatronic and makeup effects for movies.
While we’re on monsters (it is nearly Halloween, after all), I enjoyed this article on a Philippine monster-making company. Their creatures are actually based on the characters from Philippine folklore, but done in a more-Western style.
The Credits talks with the makeup maestro for the new Carrie film. They discuss in detail how they did the infamous “pouring of blood” scene; it’s a little trickier than you might expect, but it led to a much more consistent result on-screen.
Finally, Non-Toxic Kids lays out ten reasons we need stronger laws about toxic chemicals. Though aimed at parents, the reasons are just as relevant to props people. While we may feel adequately informed about the dangers of industrial chemicals and supplies, we also use plenty of household cleaners and chemicals that you may not realize are also toxic.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies