From bloodied volleyballs to memory loss neuralyzers: designers’ favourite film props – A number of designers in the graphics, architecture, and advertising world talk about their favorite prop from a movie. It’s an interesting look at the design of iconic props from the perspective of those in design fields outside of film and performing arts.
Stranger Things VFX Supervisor on Making Monster Mayhem – This interview with Marc Kolbe, supervisor of the visual effects team, delves into the bizarre and unique world of Stranger Things. As with many visual effects teams these days, Marc is in charge of both the practical and digital effects, which allows him to use both to their full advantage and have them play off each other.
My Career as a Freelance Prop Maker – Melanie Wing has been a freelance prop maker in the UK for the past 12 years. In this interview, she talks about her training and how her career began.
Replica ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ car stolen from theater supply company – A TO Z Theatrical Supply and Service in Kansas City built a replica of this iconic vehicle to rent out to high schools and community theatres who perform this show. It was stolen from their warehouse last week. So if you see this car flying through the air, let them know.
First Person Monster Blog with Shannon Shea – Shannon Shea is a well-known creature and effects artist who worked on films like Predator, Batman Returns, Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park. He has not updated his blog in a few years, but it has a treasure trove of stories and information if you are willing to dig through the archives.
How to Make a Halloween Mask “Sculpting” – Ed Edmunds shows you how to sculpt a scary monster mask out of water-based clay in this half hour video.
Building a Life-Size Replica of Poe Dameron’s X-Wing – Not quite life-sized, but still pretty amazing.
Got bored, made electric shaver (handheld heatwire foam cutter) – Here is a short little tutorial about making a hot wire cutter run off of a 9V battery. I am not sure why you would want a hot wire cutter that is the same size as a knife blade, but here you go.
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 Wars, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Robocop, 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 Grimm, The Dark Knight Rises, Jurassic 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.
How do you cut open a deer carcass and pull out a bleeding heart every night on stage? Wall Street Journal has a short but interesting article on how Eric Stewart, the head of props for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, does just that. Remember to keep your fake hearts wrapped in wax paper in between performances.
I used to watch the show Haven, but was unaware it was still running. But “Revisiting Haven” has a new interview with props master Jason Shurko up. If you can get the plug-in to work, it’s a fascinating look at what it takes to get all the weird and wonderful props featured on the show.
Gizmodo has a great article and video taking us inside the fiery workshop of a 21st century swordmaker. He’s not making stage combat weapons, but it is still really cool seeing an intricate weapon take shape from just a few lumps of nondescript steel.
Tested takes their video camera into the jAdis prop rental shop. This Santa Monica business specializes in weird science and medical props and forgotten technology. If you’re making a movie that needs a Hemodimagnometer, this is where you go. Be sure to check out their website as well for some great pictures and more news stories about their history.
Famed monster maker Rick Baker is putting his stuff for auction later in May. Check out the catalog at Prop Store’s website for the full range of all the items they have. You may not be interested in buying and collecting these items, but these auction catalogs always have great photographs and descriptions of the items, which serve almost like a history of how props and animatronics were constructed. This one has molds, mechanisms, masks and more from shows like An American Werewolf in London, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Harry and the Hendersons, and Gremlins 2.
I was a big fan of He-Man growing up, so I really enjoyed seeing this Instructable on making a He-Man Power Sword. Blast Replicas uses an interesting technique of creating a “skeleton” with thin plastic guides, and then adding body filler between the guides to fashion all the curved and beveled faces. The paint treatment on the final piece is also pretty sweet.
Millennium FX created a giant polar bear operated by two puppeteers as part of a PR stunt for Fortitude on Sky Atlantic. Be sure to check out the video which has some “making of” footage that’s sure to be helpful to anyone who needs to build an articulated animal form.
Tested visits Monsterpalooza 2015, a convention for creature makers, practical effects shops, and special effects makeup. I’m amazed at all the high quality work being done out there in the world.
For those of you building things out of craft foam, WM Armory has compiled his ten best tutorials on crafting foam. I’ve linked to some of these individually before, but here they are together in case you’ve missed some.
Finally, here’s a beautiful video showing a couch being made. It’s a real couch, not a prop couch, so they have some pretty sophisticated machines for some of their processes (they roll their own springs!), but it is still very satisfying to watch the final piece grow out of a pile of raw materials.