The folks at Spectral Motion do some amazing creature making, prosthetics and animatronics. If you have a few minutes, check out their demo reel showing their work from films like Hellboy, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and many others. In a day when you just assume all effects are CGI, it’s amazing and unreal to see that some well-known effects are practical and exist physically.
Happy Friday, everyone. It’s that time of year when summer seems to be winding down; summer theatres are getting down to their last few shows, schools are getting ready to start up, and busy props people are panicking that they haven’t taken a vacation yet. If you’re stuck inside on a computer, I hope these links will keep you busy for awhile:
The Credits has a great interview with Conor O’Sullivan, prosthetic supervisor for films and shows such as Saving Private Ryan, The Dark Knight, Game of Thrones, X-Men: First Class, and the upcoming Hercules. While the art and craft of prosthetic effects often gets all the press, this article delves into something just as important: the logistics and planning to get it all done. Putting a fake tattoo on an actor is far different than getting matching tattoos on 150 extras every morning in less than five hours.
Fon Davis shows you how to make your own vacuum forming machine in this video. While others have shown how to build cheap or free machines like this, Fon goes a step further and assembles a machine entirely out of found parts, modified with only a drill and some duct tape.
I needed to make some small translucent crystals for a project I’m working on, and the Arms, Armor and Awesome blog has a fantastic tutorial on how to cast gems out of clear resin (h/t to Propnomicon for the link).
The NYC Prop Summit just got a webpage. The Summit itself is typically held each year around August (this year it is August 22nd), where props people from in and around the New York City area get together to network, celebrate, and learn new things. They also have a Facebook group where members go for help or advice.
Happy Friday, everyone! I have a short, but sweet, list of links today:
This should keep you busy for awhile: 110 Best DIY Tips Ever. Popular Mechanics magazine is celebrating its 110th anniversary, and to celebrate, they have looked through the pages of all their old issues to find all the best tips and tricks they have ever printed. Whether you are a beginner or an old pro, you are sure to learn something new here.
Tested has a great feature on how foam latex spawned a horror makeup revolution. They touch on the history of makeup and prosthetics in film, looking at some of the pioneers of the craft.
This next article comes from an interior designer, but it’s really about the secrets of a prop stylist. She lists some ways to improve your ability to dress and style a set (though she is actually talking about applying those tips to your own home).
Well, I am off this weekend to Bucknell University, where I will be signing copies of my book during Homecoming Weekend. If you are in Central Pennsylvania, feel free to stop on by. I’ll try to post pictures and updates on my Twitter. I also have some stories I’ve found around the Internet this week:
Props master extraordinaire Jim Guy is profiled in yet another news article. He talks about how he got started, his favorite parts of the job, and how new people can begin a career in props.
LiveScience takes a look at the technology behind horror-movie monsters. Though it seems a lot of films just use CGI for everything, many effects are still practical. In fact, advances in technology have made it easier to use all sorts of prosthetic, animatronic and makeup effects for movies.
While we’re on monsters (it is nearly Halloween, after all), I enjoyed this article on a Philippine monster-making company. Their creatures are actually based on the characters from Philippine folklore, but done in a more-Western style.
The Credits talks with the makeup maestro for the new Carrie film. They discuss in detail how they did the infamous “pouring of blood” scene; it’s a little trickier than you might expect, but it led to a much more consistent result on-screen.
Finally, Non-Toxic Kids lays out ten reasons we need stronger laws about toxic chemicals. Though aimed at parents, the reasons are just as relevant to props people. While we may feel adequately informed about the dangers of industrial chemicals and supplies, we also use plenty of household cleaners and chemicals that you may not realize are also toxic.
The big story making the rounds in the past few weeks is of the prop maker who built a prosthetic arm for a little boy. Ivan Owen, a Seattle prop maker, began collaborating with Richard Van As, a South African woodworker who needed a prosthetic after losing some fingers. After perfecting their design, they built a hand for Liam, a boy born without fingers on his right hand. I linked to a story back in December about how Owen and Van As first began collaborating on a prosthetic hand. This new story shows how far they’ve come in just a few short months (and it has video of the hand in action).
Some cosplayers dressed like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave a surprise performance to movie goers exiting a showing of Iron Man 3. The costume is basically dark suits and lots of guns, so patrons who weren’t in on the act called the police. Always keep in mind how others may perceive your props when carrying them out in public.
On the flip side of that, an amateur British theatre group found some old grenades to use as props in a show, only to discover they were still live. This story is from three years ago, but it was too interesting not to share.
Make Magazine’s “Workshop Wednesday” continues to provide great information. This week is Ten Tips for Screws and Screwdrivers. The tips are great, except for the ones about which screw head styles are the best (they prefer Torx over Philips). I’ve found screw head styles are almost like religion to some people, and it is practically impossible to make them convert to a different favorite.
Speaking of screws, do you know the difference between pilot holes and clearance holes? Popular Woodworking does.