I saw the film HugoÂ last month. Have you seen it yet? A large portion of the plot revolved around an old automaton shaped like a metal man. When the characters managed to repair the automaton, it drew a picture on its own. While that was cool, it became even cooler when I later found out that this automaton was created without CGI or visual effects. The prop makers actually built an automaton that could draw an entire picture with a pen and ink. Check out this video:
The company who constructed the automata, Dick George CreativesÂ (based in the UK), took 8 months to create 15 different automata. Two could actually create the drawing, while the rest were used for various stunt and action sequences. It’s well worth watching.
Trinculo’s Attic is a new theatrical electronics firm founded by Ben Peoples. They have books and products to help you get miniature electronics into your props projects, like flickering LED candles, or making props move on their own. He has some workshops coming up soon too if this is an area you are interested in learning more about.
Saul Griffith brings us a curriculum of toys. He categorizes the different ways a child can learn to make things and to interact with the physical world, then suggests toys and games which will help grow the skills in each of those categories. Looks like fun for adults, too!
The New York Times has a summary of the science, health and legal implications of e-cigarettes since their introduction. Giving them to an actor for use on stage of course raises additional concerns and considerations than when a private individual who already smokes uses them, but this article does a good job of laying out all the different governmental and scientific forces jockeying for a say in the future of e-cigarette use. If nothing else, this article should show you that the legality of using e-cigarettes on stage will probably remain ambiguous and evolving over the next several years.
Finally, enjoy this video of a wooden automaton who can pick up an arrow, draw it in a bow and fire it at a target:
By now you should know about This to That, a great tool for finding out what glue to use. Well, Beacon Adhesives, makers of such prop-friendly glues as Magna-Tac and Fabri-Tac, have their own Adhesive Selection Chart.
I know I just did a post on knots, but I had to show off this hot knot diagram. It’s from a site I just discovered called Low-tech Magazine, which “refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution”. How veryÂ apropos for those of us in the world of ever-shrinking prop budgets.
I have elephants on the mind today; I’m not sure why.
This elephant is from a French show in 2006 called “Visit From The Sultan Of The Indies On His Time-Travelling Elephant”. It was designed by FranÃ§ois DelaroziÃ¨re, made mostly of wood and needed 22 handlers to operate its hydraulics and motors. But wait, there’s more.