When the Actors Are Students, and They’re Armed – In this climate of daily school shootings, how do high school theater departments deal with plays and musicals that feature guns? The New York Times is on it. They showcase a number of schools who take different approaches; some use abstract props to represent the guns, while others use as realistic a prop as possible. As a prop master, you need to be in on the conversation early whenever your production will include firearms.
Adding Smoke F/X to Toys Using E-Cigarettes – Make Magazine rounds up some tutorials on using e-cigarettes to add smoke effects to toys (or props). Remember, if you are working on an Equity show, there are guidelines on how much smoke you can use, and the levels need to be tested. There are a few brands you can use without the need for testing, but they cannot be hacked or modified.
Here is the third companion video for my upcoming book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, coming this February. The book has a few photographs demonstrating the old “shoot an arrow into the wall” trick, but this video goes into more detail and shows the trick in action.
This is a great trick for Deathtrap depending on how you stage it. I have also used this trick in Wait Until Dark, though that is a knife-throwing gag.
I have a new book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, being published this February. It will show you how to do all sorts of magical effects, like the fire effect in the video below.
I first saw this effect in a video from another theater (I forget which one, I’m dreadfully sorry). Our technical director at the time, Chris Simpson, recreated it and we’ve used it in several productions since then. It works best inside of a fireplace or another semi-enclosed area where you can hide all the equipment.
The Rooms They Left Behind – After their deaths, the New York Times photographed the private spaces of ten notable people. The photos are such wonderfully crafted images filled with real life set dressing, hinting at the lives of these people.
Locked & Loaded: The Gun Industry’s Lucrative Relationship with Hollywood – The Hollywood Reporter has an incredibly in-depth look at guns in Hollywood. This article takes us from the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit, to the ISS armory, with stops at the Internet Movie Firearm Database and discussions with the gun manufacturers themselves. You get a glimpse at some of cinema’s most well-known firearms, and we examine the seeming contradiction where actors can be anti-gun off-screen, but gleefully wielding weapons on-screen.
Raw Steak and The Revenant – Cinefex takes a look at the meatier effects from Leo’s Oscar-winning role, including several scalpings and a zombie skinned bear in a suit for a dream sequence. Besides the tight turn-around, most of these effects were built on set in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.
Artem: Inside a Real-Life Santa’s Workshop – Artem Studios has been making weird and wonderful props and effects for commercials, television, and film for the past 30 years. Little Black Book sits down with the founders to talk about some of their recent projects and how they approach their work.
Wired has an epic oral history on Industrial Light and Magic, which just celebrated its 40th year in business. It’s interesting to note that the company which pioneered the use of computer effects in the nineties is the same one currently pushing the envelope of practical effects.