Happy Saturday, everyone. Unforeseen emergencies kept me from posting this yesterday, but have no fear, your props reading list is here:
If you somehow missed this article, Maria Bustillos had a great piece in Bloomberg Business called “How High Def is Changing Your Brain – and Driving the Prop Master Crazy.” It delves into how the increased resolution and clarity of film makes amazing props look like cheap plastic knock-offs. It has a fair bit of prop-making history in it, and some wonderful anecdotes as well (the bit about attaching the leaves from small carrots onto the bodies of larger carrots for a perfect carrot was something every prop master could recognize).
Rosco Spectrum has more on the 160 candlestick holders which Jay Duckworth constructed for Hamilton (now on Broadway!). Using his drill press as a lathe, and some FoamCoat, he made short work of this project. Jay, you know you have an actual lathe in your shop, right?
User Ratchet built a Recharger Rifle from Fallout: New Vegas and posted pictures over at the Replica Prop Forum. The process photos do a wonderful job showing how a few simple materials layered up on top of each other can quickly become a complex and interesting prop. The fantastic paint job helps a lot as well.
Finally, I saw this Giant PVC Centipede over at Instructables. It’s the stuff of nightmares, but it’s also interesting some basic hardware store supplies can transform into a fully articulated monstrosity.
This video is the coolest thing I’ve seen all week: Legacy Effects builds the Apatosaurus from Jurassic World. The film required a highly detailed animatronic head and neck of this dinosaur for a key scene. The video goes into great detail of how it was done. Check out the massive mixers they have running all at once for their foam rubber, not to mention the giant injectors they use to fill their molds. It’s an amazing inside look at the work they do.
Marty Marfin had an interesting challenge: how to mold and cast a spherical shape with a hollow interior. Find out how he did it in this comprehensive tutorial.
Over at Instructables, WardWorks has a fun guide to building a ghost trap from Ghostbusters. I’ve kind of always wanted one of these since I was a kid.
Finally, check out this plethora of images from the construction of a model of the Galileo Shuttlecraft from the original Star Trek television show. They take you from the blueprints all the way through the final painted piece.
Do you need a feather quill pen for a show? Lexey Jost has an Instructable showing how to make one that actually writes. Now you can keep your production of 1776 under budget.
Buzzfeed(?) has a collection of diagrams to help you decorate your home. They have everything from antique chair back styles, to common furniture sizes, to the names of lampshade fittings. Most of us prop masters have a collection of diagrams like this to help in decorating a set, so here’s a chance to grab a few more.
Many of us already saw this last week, but in case you missed it, that insane Mad Max flame-throwing guitar was no CGI trick. Find out how and why they constructed such a crazy practical effect.
Volpin Props has another great build log up. This time he made the Cael Hammer from the video game, Bastion. It’s a mix of EVA foam, vacuum formed plastic and PVC. He’s got a lot of great little tips and tricks for shaping and painting these various materials.
“Do not let artisans discourage you from learning this or that trade because they have not made a success of it. They may tell you that a certain trade is overcrowded. Investigate a little and you will find that only the botch workman and chronic kickers are out of work. The cheerful, enthusiastic workman is idle only when misfortune overtakes the whole country.” Read more from this 1888 article on workmen over at the Lost Art Press Blog.
I was a big fan of He-Man growing up, so I really enjoyed seeing this Instructable on making a He-Man Power Sword. Blast Replicas uses an interesting technique of creating a “skeleton” with thin plastic guides, and then adding body filler between the guides to fashion all the curved and beveled faces. The paint treatment on the final piece is also pretty sweet.
Millennium FX created a giant polar bear operated by two puppeteers as part of a PR stunt for Fortitude on Sky Atlantic. Be sure to check out the video which has some “making of” footage that’s sure to be helpful to anyone who needs to build an articulated animal form.
Tested visits Monsterpalooza 2015, a convention for creature makers, practical effects shops, and special effects makeup. I’m amazed at all the high quality work being done out there in the world.
For those of you building things out of craft foam, WM Armory has compiled his ten best tutorials on crafting foam. I’ve linked to some of these individually before, but here they are together in case you’ve missed some.
Finally, here’s a beautiful video showing a couch being made. It’s a real couch, not a prop couch, so they have some pretty sophisticated machines for some of their processes (they roll their own springs!), but it is still very satisfying to watch the final piece grow out of a pile of raw materials.
Vulture visits the set-building factory for Saturday Night Live. Check out some great photographs and insights into how Eugene Lee and his team of designers create sets from scratch in only a day or two.
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.
Rania Peet has some great projects over on her Instructables page, where she shows off the work she does as a Halloween haunt builder. I particularly like this chasing marquee “Freak Show” sign and these giant mushrooms.
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.