How did they build all those vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road? Credits has an article on the whole devilish process. They talk with production designer Colin Gibson and show off some of the CAD drawings they used to weld two Cadillacs together and build custom suspension and frames, among other things.
What’s it like to audition for a Jim Henson puppet workshop? Mary Robinette Kowal participated in one and shared her experience. She made it to round 2; we’ll see in a few weeks how she does in the next part.
You may have run across the cheap version of silicone mold-making, where you mix corn starch with hardware store silicone caulk. Make Your Mark has a quick little video showing how it’s done. Whether or not you already know about this technique, this is a great tutorial for it.
Frank Ippolito and Tested show us how to make a realistic horror skull prop. This half-hour video goes in-depth through all the steps and really digs deep into a number of techniques. The painting portion is especially helpful.
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.
This week’s must-read comes from The A/V Club, who interviewed props master Chris Call. This very in-depth conversation takes a look at his career, propping everything from Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Alias, to The Closer. The article takes the time to really dig into the nuts and bolts of a TV prop master’s job and Call’s career path, going far beyond the standard “what’s the craziest prop you’ve ever had to make?!?” kind of questions.
Wired takes a look at Adam Savage’s replica prop-making hobby, and asks the burning question of why he does it. Spolier alert: it’s because props can tell a story.
What did Kermit the Frog look like before the Muppets? Collector’s Weekly takes a look at the history of the Muppets, including photographs of a pre-Sesame Street Kermit, and delves into Jim Henson’s journey from five-minute sketches on a local TV station to a worldwide empire of puppet and creature manufacturing.
Fast Company has an article on five dream jobs that will make your inner child extremely jealous, and “prop master” is one of them. Yes, being a prop master is on-par with running a cat-café or being a chocolate scientist. I’ll have to remember I’m living the dream the next time I’m cleaning a mouse nest out of the bottom of a stove or lugging a sofa up three flights of stairs.
I caught a few episodes of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop a while back when my wife was in the hospital. It was very entertaining and informative, and probably the closest a reality show has come to portraying what prop builders actually do (though the show deals with creature building). I recently found that the SyFy website has some companion Creature Feature videos to go with the show.
In the videos, the expert mentors on the show, Peter Brooke, John Criswell and Julie Zobel, take you through the process of building a creature. They start with design and sculpting, go through the animatronics, show you different finishing techniques, and end with how puppeteers bring it to life. It’s not an explicit “how-to” guide, since they gloss through everything quickly and don’t go into details. But if you have some experience, it is great to see how the masters do it, since you can get a lot of inspiration of new things to try on your own.
Hey, if you haven’t gotten my Prop Building Guidebook yet, you can get it direct from Focal Press for 20% off until April 29th! Just use code MRK95 at checkout. It makes a great gift for graduation (hint hint).
This seems like one of those weird Buzzfeed articles, but it actually has a whole lot of cool photographs from a tour inside Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Legacy Effects has a great video on the making of the suit from the new Robocop film. Sure, there is a lot of 3D printing and digital fabrication involved, but there is also a surprising amount of traditional artistry going on, including sculpting, painting and sewing.
La Bricoleuse discovers an armor maker right here in North Carolina. Dr. Eric Juengst is the Director of the Center of Bioethics at UNC Chapel Hill, and he spends his spare time fabricating historic suits of armor (and suits of armor for animals). Check out these photos and video of his workshop and his creations.
Here’s a good step-by-step tutorial on how to do a life cast of a face from Lauren Daisy Williams, a student at UNCSA. I met Lauren at the USITT Young Designer’s Forum this year, where she had all sorts of fun molding and casting projects on display, so it’s nice to see her share the process for some of her work online.