Tag Archives: animatronic

It’s 2017, and All the Props are Here

Yolanda Baker is the Last Disco Ball Maker. She has made tens of thousands of mirror balls by hand for the past fifty years at Omega National Products in Louisville, the last American manufacturer of this iconic object. Chances are, if you have a US mirror ball, it was made by her. She even did all the balls in Saturday Night Fever.

Make Magazine shows us How to Make Breakaway Bottles and Window Panes.  They use sugar glass, ugggggghhh. The process they describe is easy enough to adapt to isomalt, though, which is superior to sugar glass.

Adam Savage visits Weta Workshop’s Model Painting Shop. Adam seems to be visiting all sorts of cool places lately, and the model painting studio at the shop that built Lord of the Rings is no exception. Check out all the cool work they did while learning some painting tips for yourself.

PuppetVision has a Pinterest board with 92 pins of Animatronics & Puppet Mechanisms. You can spend days looking at all the clever ways to make objects move and come to life.

“Designing Windows is an Art”. Take a look at this interview with Erin O’Brien, a freelance window designer at Bergdorf Goodman in London. She talks about how she got started and shows off some examples of her work over the years.

Props for the Weekend

Center Theatre Group highlights their prop master, Andrew Thiels, in one of their latest blog posts. He talks about his favorite props from his 14-year career and what his job entails.

Shreveport has their very own movie prop maker with Jim Hayes, owner of LA House of Props. He has built props for films such as True BloodAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeArmageddon, and so many more. It’s worth fighting the popup ads to view the massive photo gallery of his work.

With the Harry Potter movies turning 15 this year, the Evening Standard sits down with the films’ prop maker, Pierre Bohanna. He talks about how the designs of all the fictional objects evolved from the pages of the book to the screen.

Finally, Bloomberg News takes us on a video tour of Creature Technology, the Australian animatronic company building life-size moving dinosaurs for live performance. There’s nothing really to say here, except “can I get a job there?” and “can you move your shop to Burlington, North Carolina?”.

First Links of June

First up, Mashable takes a peek into the props shop at Pinewood Film Studios, the UK studio where the new Star Wars films are being made. They show the process for making some of the film’s iconic props, like Darth Vader’s melted helmet and Kylo Ren’s lightsaber hilt. The process is a bit more high-tech than your typical props shop.

Darin Kuehler, props master at the Omaha Community Playhouse, needed to make some animatronic dancing pigeons for their production of The Producers. Find out how he went from prototyping to final design.

Tony Nominee David Korins shares 10 secrets of the Hamilton set. He talks a bit about the props too, because really, what’s a set without props?

J. Kent decided he needed a life-size replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, so he built one out of paper-mache. Check out pictures of the five-foot long piece that took over 500 hours to build.

Make Magazine discovers David Neat and his amazing model-making blog. I’ve linked to many of his posts before, but if you haven’t seen this blog yet, you’re in for a treat. He covers a lot of the same materials and methods we use in props in exquisite detail.

Friday Webby Goodness

I am the Master of Props. I am the Devourer of Foam. Ok, that’s a bit much, but you can check out a Q&A with me in this month’s USITT Sightlines. I talk about my blog and reveal a bit of my origin story.

Tested takes a look at this very cool animatronic Skeksis puppet being built by Chris Ellerby. He’s using a great mix of traditional and high-tech techniques to bring this creature from Dark Crystal to life.

Lost Art Press introduced me to the Index of American Design. This WPA project had artists drawing and painting all manner of household items, toys, furniture and tools in an attempt to document and define the American aesthetic. You can follow the links on his page to get to the online Index, which has over 18,000 of these images for your viewing pleasure.

Finally, if you’re really bored, check out this board foot calculator you can use on your next carpentry project.

Black Friday Prop Deals

Hopefully none of you need to shop for your shows today, which kicks off the official “worst time to do prop shopping” season. If you are safe in your shop or in tech, here are a few interesting prop-related sites to read and visit:

Check out these hotel menus from the 1850s and 1860s. The Hilton College of the University of Houston’s Hospitality Industry Archives has dozens of scans of menus from throughout the Eastern seaboard and Midwest of the US. It’s a great resource if you need to make period-correct food for fancy gentleman.

Genevieve Bee built this great animatronic Wheatley puppet from Portal 2. She has a video showing it talk and move its giant blinking eye. Be sure to check out all the process shots of the construction over at her blog as well.

It’s that time of year again for the New York City holiday window displays. These windows give jobs to dozens of props people for several months throughout the year, and the results are always spectacular. Gothamist has a great rundown of all the major displays, including photographs and videos showing them in action.

Make Magazine delivers some useful tips for props people again, this time giving us 10 great painting tips. These aren’t tips for creating the perfect faux marble, but rather helpful hints on masking and keeping your paintbrushes and cans neat and clean.