Links for a Taxing Weekend

You have only a little more than two weeks left to enter my Prop Building Guidebook Contest! Don’t wait until the last minute to enter. I also wanted to point out that a week from Monday (April 22nd), you can start voting for your favorite prop in the contest; tell your friends they can vote for your prop once per day until the contest ends on April 30th. In addition to winners in each of the individual categories, the prop with the most votes will win its own prize category, so vote early and vote often! And now, onto the links.

Here is a fantastic article about the guys at Spectral Motion, one of Hollywood’s finest creature shops. They’re responsible for most of the monsters in the Hellboy films, as well as for work in X-Men: Last StandBlade:Trinity, and this summer’s Pacific Rim. The article is replete with information about how they got started, what kind of work they do, and what inspires them. It is also heavily illustrated with photographs showing their workshop and the inner workings of some of their creatures. I especially love the following quote about why practical effects are still necessary in an era of digital mimicry:

“A lot of times people turn to digital solutions. That’s also good, if the application is correct. But, you know, a lot of directors that we talk to are of the mind that a practical effect is far better for exactly that reason–because the actor does have a co-actor to work with, to play off of, and to have feelings about.”

I came across this short interview with Mickey Pugh, prop master on films such as Saving Private Ryan and Last of the Mohicans.

From the prop masters email list this week comes Click Americana, an ongoing collection of vintage photos and ephemera from all decades of American history. You can search for specific topics or just browse through by decade, from the 1820s to the 1980s. It has a whole section dedicated to recipes, too, great for when you need to provide period food.

And finally, if you missed my Tweet this week, I shared this video looking at the blood effects in Trinity Rep’s Social Creatures, a “zombie” play now running. Production director Laura Smith and assistant props master Natalie Kearns show us how they make the blood and organs squirt and fly.

One thought on “Links for a Taxing Weekend”

  1. Thanks for the “Social Creatures” link, Eric! I was pleased to get some validation for using the ‘baby boogie sucker’ for blood effects. I put one to good use while playing Bill Sykes in “Oliver!” It was easy to tape to my undershirt and then give it a slap during the shooting sequence to get the blood gushing.

    Unfortunately I had to fill the thing pretty full in order to get a consistent result and the downside was my entire chest was soaked in blood by the time the scene was done and it got all over the balcony set. My SM was not the happiest. Also in one performance the bulb apparently rotated just enough that the nozzle was pointing outward from me- the slap caused it to shoot a long arc of blood which splattered some of the crowd below us and caused a few audible ‘ewww’s from the audience. The hardest part was trying not to laugh while I lay on the balcony, supposedly dead.

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