My shows have all opened for the season, but plenty of other people are still doing cool props stuff around the Internet. Let’s check them out:
Tested has teamed up with Punished Props and Smooth-On to document the construction of a replica alien assault rifle from the film District 9. Part 1 is up now, showing how Bill drew out the design and cut all the layers from MDF and styrene.
The most incredible parts of Carnegie Hall are offstage. As a theatre person, I’m more interested in the backstage and behind-the-scenes parts anyway, but Carnegie Hall has some especially interesting and historical details going on under the hood. Atlas Obscura takes us on an illuminating tour deep into the depths of this famous performance hall.
Dug North continues his 16-part series of automata tips with this article on cams and cam followers. A cam can give some pretty intricate movement to a prop just from a single spinning shaft.
We’re going back to Tested with this great article on creating the practical creatures from Gremlins. Videos and photographs show how Chris Walas and Joe Dante made dozens of ground-breaking animatronic puppets on a shoestring budget to bring the story to life.
Finally, Popular Woodworking tests out some methods for removing rust from steel using only lemon juice and vinegar. It’s a nice little technique to keep your tools in tip top shape, or when you need to spruce up that antique you just bought for a show.
Priceonomics has an amazing story on Gregg Barbanell, one of the few remaining Foley artists in Hollywood. Barbabell uses hundreds of props, shoes and fabric to add sounds to a movie or show. It’s the kind of job that has resisted digitization and prerecorded audio, because so many variables go into recreating the sound of a character walking.
Eddie Aiona, prop master for Clint Eastwood, has died at 83. Aiona was part of the Clint’s backstage team which he employed on every film, starting with Magnum Force in 1973 until The Bridges of Madison County in 1995.
New York Dot Com has the 5 Essential Broadway Jobs You Never Knew About, and guess what? Props Master is one of them.
Check out this extensive build log of a Light Rifle from Halo 4. It is constructed entirely of steel and copper, and has a working trigger and lots of internal lighting effects.
Finally, this isn’t really props, but using a cloud tank to create practical effects is a pretty cool idea. Follow the link in the post for instructions to construct your own. And who knows, maybe some prop master out there will realize they can adapt a cloud tank to solve some props problem on stage.
One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Rocketeer. Valor Design has constructed a stunning replica of the film’s rocket pack completely from scratch. Check out the progress photos from the build, as well as pictures of the completed prop.
From Make Magazine, here are six things you need to know to start welding. It’s a bit more of a guide on how to buy your own welder and choose which process you want to work with; it’s much more helpful to learn on a variety of machines before plunking down cash on your own setup.
Propnomicon points us to this great UK website called Bob’s Bits, which sells and rents all manner of sci-fi props and set dressing. Their stuff ranges from futuristic alien to military to Victorian medical.
Finally, BBC Travel visits the abandoned mill town from the first Hunger Games film, just two hours from where I live. Of course, filming moved to Atlanta for the subsequent films, because North Carolina mucked around with their film incentives program. The photographs are pretty haunting, and the whole thing is for sale too, for the die hard movie memorabilia collector.
The Chicago Tribune has a story on making fake food for a play called Smokefall. The twist here is that the characters are eating dirt and drinking paint.
Playmakers Rep is making some fake vegetation for Into the Woods. The witch’s costume is actually covered in vegetables from her garden, so the costume craft shop is churning out latex lettuce leaves to sew into a dress.
Propnomicon points us to this new Lovecraft-based prop making blog called Elder Props. It already has lots of tutorials and how-tos for a number of projects.
If you ever wanted to know about marbleizing paper, this page has a run-down of several different techniques, from basic to advanced.
Here is an interesting article on Chad Taylor, a Cleveland-based prop maker who builds replicas of film and comic book props for cosplayers around the world.
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.