ParaNorman is a film from 2012 made by the same folks as Coraline. Like Coraline, the film is composed almost entirely of stop-motion animation, using color 3D printers to make many of the replacement parts for the character faces. Still, it also used a ton of hand-building, particularly for the props, set dressing, and vividly-detailed landscapes. Check out this all-too-brief featurette on the hands that made the world of ParaNorman. So many model houses. So many tiny props.
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Today is opening night for the final show of our 13th season here at Triad Stage (the “Lucky Season”, someone decided to call it). So while I am resting up, check out these links below:
John Barton has been a props master for over 50 years, on films such as Cool Hand Luke (he cooked all those eggs). Coeur d’Alene Press has a nice article about his life and career.
The Standard Examiner has a great article about Michelle Jensen, the props master at Hale Centre Theatre. Right now, they are working on Mary Poppins, which has more than its share of trick props and unique items.
The Museum of Every Object you can Probably Think Of looks fantastic. Its real name is the Ettore Guatelli Museum, and it houses over 60,000 objects of everyday use. Check out the pictures in this article.
Jurassic Park turned 21 this week, and Wired has a look back on how it revolutionized special effects. The film famously used a mix of CGI and large-scale puppets for the dinosaurs. For a look at what-might-have-been, check out this pre-visualization test of stop-motion puppets, which is what they were originally going to use. I remember seeing the film on opening day with my dad and brother; hard to believe that was 21 years ago.
I love Katz’s Deli in New York City, and I love tiny models of buildings. So it’s no surprise that I love this tiny model of Katz’s Deli. The intricacy of detail in this is simply amazing. Would a tiny Katz be called a Kittenz?
Mike Iverson of Blind Squirrel Props has posted these prop building tips for beginners. I agree with every tip here.
This video interview of Ray Harryhausen is fun to watch. Harryhausen is responsible for some of the most memorable stop-motion creatures from the 1960s through the 1980s, such as One Million Years B.C., Clash of the Titans, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts.
The prop master for the upcoming sci-fi film Looper told his prop makers to stop being so “precious” when building the futuristic weapons.
Youtuber bluworm has a great process video showing how he made a latex octopus for a stop-motion film. I found this via the Craft Magazine blog, which reposted it from Sean Michael Ragan at the Make Magazine blog. He found it via Propnomicon, which finally led me to the website and blog of Tom Banwell, who makes quite the array of projects in leather and resin, many with a steampunk flair.
Currently at the Parson’s School Gallery in New York City is an exhibition of the Quay Brother’s work. From the description:
The Brothers have built a cult following with their dark, moody films, which are heavily influenced by Eastern European film, literature, and music and often feature disassembled dolls and no spoken dialogue. The exhibition combines rarely seen, collaboratively designed miniature décors from some of their most prominent works, as well as continuous screenings of excerpts from several of the films.
It’s a fascinating-looking exhibition, which I’m hoping to find time to get to. It runs until October 4th.
What really whet my appetite was a post over at Morbid Anatomy. Joanna Ebenstein wrote about her experience at the Brothers Quay exhibition:
These “décors” (in the exhibition’s parlance) are presented as static silent narrative worlds; it is as if you had peeked into each tiny space mid-shoot, characters and props all in their place, just waiting to be brought to life by the film-maker’s art.
She also took a number of fascinating photos, such as the one at the beginning of this post.
It’s fascinating to see this type of work as a props artisan, as the entire world of these story is created through objects made and manipulated. It is not just that every element seen is a handcrafted item, but in the Quay Brothers’ case, they are meticulously-detailed items as well.
You can see some films and interviews of the Quay Brothers at YouTube. If you’re in the New York City area and get a chance to see this exhibition, let me know!