Tag Archives: miniatures

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.

Friday Prop Link Roundup

You may have noticed I missed last week’s Friday blog post; we were in the midst of a big ice storm here in North Carolina, and I didn’t have any power or Internet and trees were falling all around me and it was crazy. Anyway, a lot of cool stuff has shown up in the world of props since then:

Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, came out last week, and fans of his work know that he loves his props. Here is a great article giving the back-story of 10 of the most memorable props from the film. It shows the obsessive devotion Anderson has to every object in his movies, and his recognition of how a prop’s details can help tell the story.

Continuing on the Grand Budapest Hotel train, we have two articles on Annie Atkins, the film’s graphic designer and paper prop maker. First, is a short piece and slideshow in the Independent, and second is an interview and collection of the paper props themselves.

A tip of the hat to Tim Shrum for pointing me to this blog on movie miniatures. If you like tiny cars and buildings as much as I do, you’ll love this website.

3D Printing Industry checks in with Owen Collins, who has been busy over the past few years looking at how 3D printing technology pertains to theatre.

Finally, large-scale prop maker Shawn Thorsson is working on a full-scale ED-209 from the original Robocop film. This is a massive seven-and-a-half foot tall fighting machine, and he’s trying to get it complete for the Maker Faire Bay Area in May. The link has some photos and a video showing the beginning of his process; it will be interesting to see how this progresses.

Monday Morning Links

Monday Morning Links

Fon Davis runs a company called FONCO Creative, which makes miniatures and models for film and television. He’s worked on some lesser-known films such as MatrixStar Wars Episodes I-III, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Make: Believe visits his studio and posts some photographs and this video below. It is great to see a fairly young and high-tech company still embracing the use of models and miniatures.

You should see this “Death Row” router table; so-named because it was found in a prison woodworking shop where tools often need to be, um, improvised.

New York Magazine has this snarky look at how terrible the newspaper was in Back to the Future. Slate Magazine than has a rebuttal, calling the critique very funny, but very wrong. Both articles are highly entertaining; you might remember them the next time you need to make a fake newspaper prop.

Here is an interesting Instructable for making your own machinable wax. Machinable wax is a wax which will not melt or deform from the friction of a high-speed rotary cutter; it is useful for trying out a part on a CNC machine before you waste your real material (and it can be machined faster and without wearing down your tools).

 

4th Annual Prop Summit and Weekend Links

The 4th Annual NYC Props Summit will be held tonight at the Public Theatre. It will be from 6:30-10pm at the Public Theater props shop (425 Lafayette St). It is free to attend. Food and drink will be provided, though you are encouraged to bring your own beverage of choice to drink and share with the group.

The props summit is a chance for prop masters and prop makers to meet each other and get to know the larger community. If you live near the area and want to work in props, you should definitely come. If you freelance or work at a theatre where you need the occasional freelance prop builder, you should definitely come. I have written about the previous three summits on this blog: check out 2011, 2010 and 2009.

You can find out more about it in these articles from Stage Directions and Playbill. If you cannot make it, you can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #propsummit.

For the rest of you, here are some links to keep you busy this weekend:

  • Many of the futuristic weapons from Men in Black 3 were 3D printed by a two-man company. Their machine allows them to print the props directly out in multiple materials. Check the page out for photographs and a video about their company.
  • In 1970, Robert Resta lost his wallet. Forty years later, someone found it. Check out the post at Retronaut for some photographs of what was inside. It is great research for the sort of ephemera and everyday business one might carry around at that time.
  • Where else can prop makers work? Freelancer Laura Johnson just finished making tiny figurines for a model of Lindisfarne Castle as part of an historical exhibition.

Midweeks Link Dreams

Just a reminder that today at 2pm (EST), I’ll be taking part in a live chat interview at TheatreFace. Come join in the fun if you want to ask me a question.

I also have a fun new project I’ve been working on, and I might be posting photographs of it as early as next week, so stay tuned. Until then, here’s a fresh roundup of links for you to explore.

  • You know that Smooth-On has a plethora of videos and tutorials on their website, right? Well now, they also have a Mold-makers Exchange, where you can buy or sell molds and casts, or advertise your mold-making services. It’s like a Classifieds for all things moldmaking (or a “Craigslist” as the youngsters (and I) say). It’s very sparse at the moment, which is why I’m getting the word out about it.
  • The Library of Congress has a YouTube. With nearly 600 videos from their archives, there is a wealth of historical material available for free viewing. Many of these videos are great for research on the early twentieth century and thereabouts.
  • Check out these delicious fake food miniatures.
  • Erich Friend runs a Theatre Safety blog. Though focused more on theatre planning and operations, some of the information (I’m looking at you, hidden fire extinguishers) is relevant to props shops.
  • And finally, Volpin Props has made an awesome M8 Avenger Assault Rifle out of scrap materials he had sitting around in his shop.