Tag Archives: Jesse Gaffney

Weekly Props Roundup

The New Yorker has a great piece on theatrical special effects, where they follow around Jeremy Chernick of J&M Special Effects. I almost did some work for Chernick when I lived in NYC, and he was definitely one of the go-to guys for any kind of effect that wasn’t specifically props, costumes, lighting or scenery.

Empire Online has a piece that boldly proclaims “In the Future, All Film Props Will be 3D Printed“. While that statement may be a bit hyperbolic, the article itself is an interesting look on how digital fabrication techniques are being integrated into the pre-production and production phases of filmmaking, and what benefits they give that traditional fabrication techniques don’t.

Since we’re talking about the future, check out Cinefex’s piece on the future of practical creature effects. For a time, it looked like filmmaking was heading for a future where a single actor stands in front of a green screen, and everything else was digital. Now, practical creatures (and props and sets) are making a comeback; effects teams have a better handle on how to plan out and integrate digital and practical, and new technology has made possible practical effects which were previously unachievable.

Finally, check out an easy way to make tin advertising signs. Jesse Gaffney takes some tin and a ballpoint pen, and makes signs that have some dimensional detail. Nice!

Another Friday of Links

Jesse Gaffney, who runs the Theatre Projects blog, is interviewed on the Oak Park Festival Theatre blog. She shares how she got started as a props master and what some of her favorite parts of the job are.

Conan’s prop master Bill Tull is back with some tips on having summer fun on a budget.

Andrea Cantrell, prop master for Dallas (the new version currently on TNT, not the original), shares some behind-the-scenes stories from the show.

WM Armory shares a pretty easy and full-proof method for inscribing detail lines into EVA foam. Thanks to Propnomicon for the link!

The Luck of the Links

Happy Friday the 13th! While the rest of the day may be unlucky, at least with this blog, you’re lucky to get a great list of things to read today.

Kamui Cosplay has a great tutorial on using expanding foam for prop making. You can find this stuff in a can at home improvement stores, with names like “Great Stuff” (it’s used to seal and insulate cracks in houses). While it is certainly “great stuff” for some applications, it is a polyurethane foam, so you should only use it in a well-ventilated area and it should be allowed to cure in an area with separate ventilation from where you are working. If you work at home, you especially should not let this stuff cure in your house, where it will off-gas toxic and irritating fumes for 24 hours or more.

Over at Theatre Projects, Jesse Gaffney makes a half-eaten chicken carcass. With just bits of wood, some Model Magic, muslin, and a few coats of latex and Glossy Wood Tone, she comes up with a pretty convincing prop that looks like it came straight from someone’s fridge.

Here’s a great tutorial on turning clear glass into tinted glass. It is not useful for glass jars that need to be filled with water, but it uses nothing more than Mod Podge, food coloring and an oven.

Make Magazine reminds us that it is not only useful, but vital, that we document the process of building our props. Taking process shots is useful not only for your own portfolio, but it can help with the creative process itself. It is also helpful with sharing your work with others, since others can learn from your process, even when you think what you have done is simple or common knowledge.

A book called 507 Mechanical Movements has been around for awhile, and a number of reprints can be found at bookstores and online. Now, you can view all 507 mechanical movements online as well. The website is great because it has animated some of the movements, and has plans to animate more of them. These movements are useful when building moving or trick props, and you need to figure out, say, how to make a prop spin when you pull a string, or how to make a rod move in a straight line using a spinning motor.

A Friday of Links Gone By

Have you entered the Prop Building Guidebook contest and voted on your favorite prop yet? This is the last time I’ll remind you, because the contest ends next Tuesday.

The BBC has a lengthy story on the history of the tin can. It is far more thrilling and complex than you may have imagined.

Jesse Gaffney has a great post on how to make running water on stage. It’s a common trick amongst props masters, but it is great to see all the steps photographed and explained in detail.

Tested has an interesting post on the low budget special effects from yesteryear, particularly those employed by Ed Wood.

Chris Schwartz points us to a paper written by Matt Pelto on the difference between an artist, artisan and craftsperson (follow the link at the site to see the actual paper). It’s an appropriate question for props people, who may refer to themselves as artisans, builders, designers, artists, or many other descriptors. It is interesting to read the actual historical origin of some of these terms.

Janet Sellery runs a website dedicated to health and safety in the arts. She is based in Canada, so the workplace laws are specific to there, but the list of resources she provides is useful to everyone. I like her slogan, too: “Creative Risks without Safety Risks.”

Last Post of the Summer

I just wanted to let everyone know that this blog will be going on hiatus until August. I am working on editing my book right now, as well as driving to Santa Fe to work for a few weeks, followed by a quick trip to Italy. I figured this blog could take a break for a few weeks so I can spend as much time on my book as possible; you’ll thank me when it comes out.

So enjoy the following links until then:

The New York Times has an interesting article on prop maker Doug Wright. Wright just finished working on Tom Cruise’s codpiece for Rock of Ages. He works on the weird and completely unique props that pop up in TV and film every now and then.

The Washington Post ran an article about the fake vomit in Signature Theatre’s production of God of Carnage. If you are working on that show, prop master Aly Geisler gives away all her secrets.

Jesse Gaffney adds her two cents to the ongoing debate of whether to call yourself a props designer or a props master.

If you have ever wondered how to prep your wood joints for gluing, here is a pretty definitive answer on the subject. Short answer: the joints should be sanded smooth, but not polished.

Have a good summer, everyone!