Tag Archives: haunted house

All Props Day

All Props Day

So it’s the day after Halloween, but most of my links today are for Halloween-related props, because that’s what everyone has been writing about for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, us props people can use some good fake blood advice any day of the year.

First up is fellow SPAM member Deb Morgan, props master at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, showing us how to make some fake edible blood and a blood bag. It’s a basic recipe that most of us know, but it’s great to watch how the different ingredients affect the final product.

Next is another SPAM member Seán McArdle giving his local Fox News channel a show-and-tell of fantastic props he has built. Besides his own take on the blood bag, he’s got a really cool non-pyrotechnic gunshot effect for a musket.

Ed Edmunds makes monsters and effects for haunted houses, and created the animatronic electric chair prop that essentially transformed these rides from cheesy diversions to high-tech affairs. Check out his interview in Esquire Magazine to learn more.

Finally, check out this super-cool video where artist DiResta makes a quick vacuum-formed mask, going from clay sculpt, to plaster mold, to vacuum-forming, to paint:

Friday Links

Friday Links

Before I jump into this week’s links, I wanted to mention that next Saturday (October 26th), I’ll be traveling to Central Pennsylvania for a book signing at my alma mater, Bucknell University. If you’re in the area and want a signed copy of my Prop Building Guidebook: For Theatre, Film, and TV, or just want to say hi, swing on by the Barnes and Noble from 10-11am!

First up is this fantastic glimpse into the Trinity Rep prop storage. Take a look at the thousands of props which props master Michael Getz keeps in what was once an old cotton mill.

Dug North has another great installment of 10 Handy Tips for Woodworkers and Automaton-makers. The tips are useful for anyone working on smaller and more detail-oriented props, not just automaton or wooden pieces.

Collectors Weekly has a great article on the history of amusement park dark rides. A “dark ride” is like a haunted house, except you ride in a car, rather than walk. Collectors Weekly interviews George LaCross, one of the leading experts on dark rides. LaCross has produced a documentary on the history of the Knoebels Haunted House, a well-known dark ride which I must have ridden at least once a year throughout my entire childhood.

Fresh has a quick little interview with Alexis Labra, props master on the film Bunks

and Marvel has a short interview with Barry Gibbs, prop master on Thor: The Dark World.

Finally, this is interesting in its possibilities. Disney is developing software to help design automaton and other moving machines. It looks like you just draw what you want a figure to do, whether it is a cheetah that runs or a man that pushes a block, and the software will automatically position levers, linkages and gears to create that movement from a single rotating axle. The video below shows it much better. Not only can you design it all, but it looks like you can then send the drawings of the parts to a 3D printer or laser cutter and have them fabricated exactly as they were in the software. It’s the future!

Last Links of Summer (observed, not actual)

Well, well, we made it almost a whole week without a hurricane or earthquake here in New York. Here are some links to keep you occupied over the weekend. I would wish you a happy “three-day weekend”, but most of you are in theatre, and we don’t get holidays off.

List of Tools is more than just a list of tools; it breaks down all sorts of tools into different categories, tells you what they are used for, and includes all sorts of other relevant information. It’s great when you want to know the difference between a ball peen and a straight peen hammer, or how to measure the inside diameter of a pipe.

Here is an interview with Clive Lankford of Lancaster’s Armouries, a British sword and armor maker that specializes in stage combat weapons.

The Washington Post did a nice spread on Chris Young, prop master at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC. It’s wonderfully photographed, and always great when a larger media outlet pays attention to the work that goes on behind the scenes.

How old is your globe? This site lists various names of now defunct countries, along with when they changed and what their modern equivalent is. So if you find an older name on your globe, you know how old your globe is. Also great in reverse, for when you need to make a globe or a map and want to make sure you aren’t using any anachronistic geography.

Finally, here is a walk through a haunted house. The pictures are all taken with flash, so you really get the details of the construction behind a lot of the pieces and scenes.

 

The Business of Haunted Prop Making

I came across this video the other day. Don’t ask me how.

User ZombieHorror has about a dozen similar videos showing animatronic horror creatures. It got me intrigued.

It turns out they’re all from this year’s Transworld Halloween and Attractions Tradeshow. Over on the Goblinhaus website, they have a report from the 2009 convention.

As soon as we walked through those doors we were inundated with loud noises, air cannons, flashing lights, animatronics and eager guys and gals ready to show you their product. Instant FUN! We saw some props that have been around for years. Completely realistic looking heads, zombies, dead animals, masks complete with pores and veins.

They have a number of photographs and videos from the event as well.

There are quite a few of these conventions throughout the year; the Haunted House Association has a big list of haunted tradeshows (unfortunately at the moment, it seems their entire site is down). It’s another fascinating arena for propmakers and prop designers to use their skills.