Tag Archives: ISS

Midsummer Prop Dreams

An illustrated guide to the ‘Hamilton’ stage – David Korins takes us on a tour of the set for Hamilton and shares all the tips and secrets that make it work.

How Heisler Became TV’s Most Popular Fake Beer – Studio Graphics, the in-house graphics team at Independent Studio Services, offers a number of fake brands for sale and rent. Since the 1990s, “Heisler” has become one of their most popular brands, and has appeared in more TV shows and films than you can count.

A Janitor Preserves the Seized Belongings of Migrants – Tom Kiefer is a Customs and Border Protection janitor, and several years ago he began saving the confiscated items from migrants at the Mexico border and arranging them into a beautiful series of photos. Props is all about using objects to tell a story about people, and these objects help tell a story about a people that are often forgotten or politicized for reprehensible reasons.

Making Your Own D&D Miniatures – Make Magazine has collected a few videos showing how to make your own miniature figurines and sculptures for playing the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”

What Robert Downey Jr does before each Avengers movie – and hidden secrets behind Marvel’s props – Russell Bobbitt, the head of props for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continues to be in the news with this latest interview. Find out more about these iconic props from the ubiquitous comic book films, such as how he had a real blacksmith craft an Infinity Gauntlet for Josh Brolin to wear during production.

Last Minute Christmas Links

The Rooms They Left Behind – After their deaths, the New York Times photographed the private spaces of ten notable people.  The photos are such wonderfully crafted images filled with real life set dressing, hinting at the lives of these people.

Locked & Loaded: The Gun Industry’s Lucrative Relationship with Hollywood – The Hollywood Reporter has an incredibly in-depth look at guns in Hollywood. This article takes us from the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit, to the ISS armory, with stops at the Internet Movie Firearm Database and discussions with the gun manufacturers themselves. You get a glimpse at some of cinema’s most well-known firearms, and we examine the seeming contradiction where actors can be anti-gun off-screen, but gleefully wielding weapons on-screen.

Raw Steak and The Revenant – Cinefex takes a look at the meatier effects from Leo’s Oscar-winning role, including several scalpings and a zombie skinned bear in a suit for a dream sequence. Besides the tight turn-around, most of these effects were built on set in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.

Adam Savage Visits The Lion King’s Puppet Shop – Adam Savage goes backstage while The Lion King is playing in San Francisco and talks with Michael Reilly, the show’s puppet supervisor. What more is there to say?

Artem: Inside a Real-Life Santa’s Workshop – Artem Studios has been making weird and wonderful props and effects for commercials, television, and film for the past 30 years. Little Black Book sits down with the founders to talk about some of their recent projects and how they approach their work.

Five Fun Friday Features

First up, California Sunday Magazine has a fantastic tour of one of Hollywood’s largest prop houses, ISS. Gregg Bilson Jr., the owner, talks about the million or so items in all the different departments of this massive rental and manufacturing facility.

Also in California Sunday Magazine is this great article on Phil Tippett, one of the masters of creature effects, who is currently working on an old-school monster movie by hand. Tippett has worked on creatures in Star WarsJurassic ParkStarship TroopersRobocop, and many more. He hand-crafts his own film as a way to escape the monotony of digital effects and return to his roots.

AboutFace Magazine has an article on Portland’s prop master, Tim Oakley. Oakley has worked on projects such as GrimmThe Dark Knight RisesJurassic World, and many more.

Propnomicon points us to this video by Super Sculpey, showing how to use Sculpey to sculpt monster men. In this twelve minute video, Jake Corrick shows his technique for building an armature, roughing out the form, adding details and finishing.

Finally, Make has another round of six “now why didn’t I think of that” shop tips. Some of them I use regularly and find useful. Others, like the plastic friction welding, I’ve never heard of and can’t wait to try.

Some Weekend Links

Just a reminder to enter the Prop Building Guidebook contest if you haven’t already. You have until April 30th to send in a photo or video of a prop you’ve made; there are already dozens of really great entries.

NYC Past has gigantic black and white photographs of New York City throughout history, from the early twentieth century through the 1990s.

When you have the time, take a listen to this interview of Christina Haberkern, a film prop maker. She mainly does graphics and illustration for ISS, and has made props for films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Argo, Inception, and J. Edgar. It’s a much more in-depth, down-to-earth and personal glimpse into the life of a working prop maker than most of those behind-the-scenes “aren’t props fun and crazy” fluff pieces that are often produced.

Here’s a fun idea: ray gun parts you can mix and match to make your own ray gun. The Propnomicon website has pictures and details.

Finally, as a nice break before the weekend, check out this video where famed prop maker Dragon Dronet (Star Trek shows and films, Babylon 5, Eraser, and many more) is challenged to recreate a prop gun from District 9 in only 3 days. It’s a fairly quirky film that ventures into the surreal, but it does a great job showing Dragon’s process, and the result is a really cool prop.

Two Tickets to ISS

The following two videos come courtesy of The Replica Prop Forum. The host, uh, Star Wars Chick, visits the armory at Independent Studio Services. ISS is one of the major prop rental and fabrication in the Los Angeles area, and they have an especially large collection of weapons, as you can see in the videos below. Larry Zanoff, one of the armorers in the weapons department at ISS, does a great job explaining the difference between real guns and movie guns, the kind of training an armorer needs, and what kind of safety procedures they implement on set.

In part two of the video, Star fires a number of the weapons in their warehouse. I think it is important to note that while movies use real guns altered to fire blank rounds, theatres typically use block-barreled guns which were never meant to fire real ammunition.