You may have noticed these posts have gotten a bit sporadic lately. I’m not busier than before, but my mornings have become much less predictable, which is when I do most of my writing. I should be getting back on track soon as I adapt to my new life.
R is for Robot – Cinefex blog takes a look at the history of robots on film, from early costumes and stop motion, to today’s marriage of motion-capture and CGI.
30 Days Until Halloween: The Home and Family Yard Design – Though we’re already halfway through October, it’s not too late to catch up with Dave Lowe’s Halloween project. Every year, he creates a massive outdoor Halloween display for the Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show, filled with dozens of handmade props.
They Don’t Make Theatre Sets Like they Used To – MessyNessy talks about when shows used to have hundreds of props, and has pictures to prove it. I think we can still find contemporary examples of set designs with intricate detail and an antique’s store worth of dressing, although none of it comes close to the Hippodrome in the early twentieth century.
At a Brooklyn High School, Plenty of Drama Before the Curtain Goes Up – The New York Times takes a backstage look at the Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, Brooklyn. They have an absurd amount of students in technical theatre classes working to put on shows with production values that rival many smaller regional theatres. I think my high school had one kid who did tech.
Jay Duckworth: Proptologist, Bear, Philosopher of the Hand – Stage Directions interviews Jay Duckworth, prop master at the Public Theater. While his prop creds are truly remarkable (including the pre-Broadway Hamilton), this interview focuses on what it means for Jay to be an out gay man working in technical theatre.
Peter Jackson’s Movie Prop Collection – It turns out that Peter Jackson, maker of both awesome and horrible movies, has an overwhelmingly extensive collection of props, puppets, and practical effects from films throughout history. Tested and Adam Savage take a look at it in this large photo essay. There’s a video, too, if that’s more your speed.
Tested visits the Jim Henson Creature Shop and gives us this great sixteen minute video. What I love about the Creature Shop (other than how awesome their puppets are) is how Jim Henson started out with simple hand puppets in the mid-50s, and today the company is on the leading-edge of animatronic creature design.
If you love getting obsessive over the details on your paper props, check out the Passport Stamps and Visas group on Flickr. It’s chock full of interior pages of passports from around the world, as well as a few exterior covers as well.
If you’ve ever wandered over to Dave Lowe’s blog, you may have noticed he’s a bit into Halloween. He has already began building props and decorations for his house this year. I got a kick out of this ghostly gravestone made of foam core and spray foam. Be sure to check his blog regularly for many more projects leading up to the big day.
Lewis Baumstark, Jr. made a fake crowbar out of a piece of PVC pipe and wrote an Instructable showing how he did it. It looks so devilishly simple and quick, especially if you don’t have the time or money to mold and cast one.
Chris Schwartz has scanned some drawings of English furniture styles throughout history and posted them on his blog. It’s a great aid for recognizing the style of pieces you find in the antique store, or for choosing furniture based on the period of the play you are doing. It’s also fun just to see how furniture has evolved in the last 800 years or so; a chest of drawers used to literally be just a chest.
So it’s the day after Halloween, but most of my links today are for Halloween-related props, because that’s what everyone has been writing about for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, us props people can use some good fake blood advice any day of the year.
First up is fellow SPAM member Deb Morgan, props master at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, showing us how to make some fake edible blood and a blood bag. It’s a basic recipe that most of us know, but it’s great to watch how the different ingredients affect the final product.
Next is another SPAM member Seán McArdle giving his local Fox News channel a show-and-tell of fantastic props he has built. Besides his own take on the blood bag, he’s got a really cool non-pyrotechnic gunshot effect for a musket.
Ed Edmunds makes monsters and effects for haunted houses, and created the animatronic electric chair prop that essentially transformed these rides from cheesy diversions to high-tech affairs. Check out his interview in Esquire Magazine to learn more.