I totally forgot to remind everyone this Wednesday (July 24th) was Propmaster’s Day. At the moment, most of the US prop masters are at their annual conference in Kansas City; I couldn’t make it this year, but hopefully I can share some of it next week. In other news, today is my last day at the Santa Fe Opera. I’ll be able to share some more things I built here in a month once the operas close. For now, enjoy these links from around the Internet:
At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Adam Savage dressed as Admiral Akbar, with a mask built from the original movie molds. Check out the epic voyage of molding and casting it took for him and a team of skilled artisans to get there.
In the same vein, here is another intensive tutorial on sculpting, molding and casting brought to you by the creators of the indie film, He Took His Skin Off For Me. This one shows you how they made an actor’s arm appear to have no skin on it.
Disney Research is developing software to help design mechanical creatures and automata. They have videos and animations to help explain it better, but basically, you tell the program how you want something to move, and it shows you wear to stick hinges, pivots and motors to make it happen.
Rich Dionne has a great post up describing how to keep your painters happy. The simple rules he lays out are essential for getting the show up in time and not making everyone miserable in the process. Even if you don’t have a separate team of painters for your prop shop, these are good rules to make a mental note of while planning out the build and finish of each prop.
Finally, I have a post up on The Hill where I talk about my book. A lot. But I also talk about how prolifically it is being pirated and why that matters to those of us in the creative fields.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Bill Tull, the prop master on Conan O’Brian, has some Mother’s Day gift ideas for those on a budget.
Here’s a blast from the past: an Interview with Anna Marchant, who was a prop maker on the two Matrix sequels. It’s a great interview because it really cuts to the heart of what kind of materials she works with, how the prop department interacts with other departments, and all the other day-to-day details that other interviews forego to talk about “cool props” or “what it’s like to work with movie stars”.
Dallas Poll, a prop maker on Lord of the Rings, had his house burglarized recently, with a number of props and memorabilia stolen. To make matters worse, one of the items stolen was his Stormtrooper costume—and the thieves struck on Star Wars Day!
Rich Dionne’s latest post is about working together in the theatre. This isn’t just about how a playwright works with a director; this is about collaboration within the production department itself, and how important it is for props, costumes, lighting, sound and scenery to occasionally work together on tasks and not just throw walls up around their individual departments.
Robert Lang does a nice job summing up the advantages of not measuring your work. Relying on measuring devices introduces inaccuracies into your work. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Check the article out.
Trinculo’s Attic is a new theatrical electronics firm founded by Ben Peoples. They have books and products to help you get miniature electronics into your props projects, like flickering LED candles, or making props move on their own. He has some workshops coming up soon too if this is an area you are interested in learning more about.
Speaking of using miniature electronics to control things on stage, Rich Dionne recently had a blog post about buying an Arduino microprocessor. Right now, he’s using it to control his model train set, but he is envisioning using it as a super low-cost and easy-to-learn controller for stage automation.
So, you like automation and animatronics? The Character Shop, one of the larger of the animatronic creature shops (you’ve probably seen their work) has a nice section on how to learn animatronics and find a job in the business.
And if you still haven’t had enough animatronics, Jack Buffington of BuffingtonFX has a lot of information and process shots detailing his build of an animatronic creature way back in 1997.
Ok, that’s enough about electronics and animatronics. Dug North has this great collection of 21 tips and tricks for rotary tools (Dremel tools).