Tag Archives: Star Wars

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.

Another Friday, Another Links

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama has a great-looking blog going for their technical theatre departments. This post has a lot of photographs of their work in progress for their current round of shows, but check out the whole thing for some inspiration.

The production designer for BBC’s What Remains has a behind-the-scenes look at the design, construction and dressing of many of the sets. It is a bit more focused on the scenery rather than the props, but it has a ton of photographs; I mean, if you printed out all the photos, they would actually weigh one ton. She gives a look at not just the construction and final product, but also the design inspiration that went into it.

An interesting story has come out of the filming for the new Star Wars film. The producers have reached out to the R2-D2 fan building community, and are using a fan-built R2-D2 in the film. Why have your prop shop build a new one when you have fans who have already constructed several?

Hey, try some super-fast and super-cheap casting by using hot-melt guns. This blog post steps through the whole process, from sculpting, to plaster molding, to casting and painting.

Friday Link Letters

Friday Link Letters

Busy week here at the Opera! Luckily there is always time to find interesting things to read and watch on the Internet:

This looks like a great method for making papier mâché clay. You mix up a bunch of pulp from egg cartons and magazines, then form it into balls which you can store until needed.

Hat tip to Seán McArdle for pointing me to this wonderfully illustrated guide to Louis-style chairs.

Check out this one-day build where Adam Savage builds Han Solo’s blaster. It’s well over 16 minutes long, so fire up some popcorn and settle in.

Finally, here is a very vintage video from the Stan Winston archives showing an Alien Queen head sculpture in progress:

Prop Sites of Early Summer

Model makers from Industrial Light and Magic gathered at this year’s Maker Faire and discussed their favorite tips, tricks and techniques for building models. Tested has the complete story, filled with lots of great photographs. There’s a ton of useful information here, as well as lots of good stories from the filming of the various Star Wars films.

Speaking of Maker Faire, the Make Magazine blog had a writeup on the Alamance Makers Guild at this year’s Makers Faire NC. I’m a member of the AMG, and though I couldn’t be at the fair, this article shows off some of the work of my fellow members.

Jay Surma has been documenting the build of a new sculpture of a Dungeons and Dragons character in great detail. In the seventh part, he tackles the mold making process. It’s a great look at a two-part matrix mold. If you’ve never seen a matrix mold being made (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one being made in person), check it out, because it’s a handy technique to keep in mind.

Popular Woodworking has a whole article devoted to sweeping, with the wonderful title “To Sweep; to Sweep: Perchance to Clean“. It makes the good point that apprentices are often tasked with sweeping so they can get to know the shop and see what everyone is working on.

Over at the Lost Art Press Blog, Jeff Burks has reprinted this 1907 list of Don’ts for Makers of Models and Moulds. Most of them are apropos to any kind of props shop. I especially like these two:

DON’T fail to have confidence in yourself, but

DON’T think you cannot improve. Try to do better each day.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

A Friday of Links

This photograph of a country store from 1939 has all sorts of amazing things going on in it. I could look at it for hours. The whole website it comes from, Shorpy Historical Photo Archive, is a treasure trove of imagery like this one, and all of them can be viewed at incredibly large sizes so you can spot every little detail.

At the other end of history are Trevor Traynor’s photographs of contemporary New York City newsstands.

This short blog post up at Popular Woodworking taught me some interesting things about how British table saws are different from American ones, particularly in the safety features. I think the fence that stops at the blade is an interesting concept, and would love to try it out.

Have you heard about this? A team of people out in Tennessee are building a full-scale replica of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. That’s a 114 foot long spaceship for those who don’t know. What’s great is that if you look back through the blog, you can see that work began on this over six years ago, and now there is some hard-core construction going on nearly every single day. It looks fairly certain that they can pull this whole thing off.

I tweeted this earlier in the week, but if you missed it, NPR had a great story about faux food artisan Sandy Levins, who recreates historical dishes for display at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, New York’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and many other museums and historical sites.