Chicago PD prop master Jim Zemansky talks props in this video, particularly the use of replica guns and blank-firing weapons. If you pay attention, you will see one crew member using what looks like a paintball gun off-camera during gun battle scenes; it appears he is shooting it to simulate bullets hitting around the actors. I found that interesting.
I’ve been following this build of a life-size ED-209 from Robocop for the past couple months, and it is finally finished. Here are all the parts in Make Magazine’s series which followed Shawn Thorsson as he built this massive robotic replica. Also check out Tested’s short video which looks at the final piece when it debuted at Maker Faire.
Princeton Magazine talks with TD Chris Nelson and prop master Michele Sammarco of McCarter Theatre about a recent production designed by Eugene Lee. There are some great little tidbits in this piece, such as Michele’s quote that “actors don’t like squishy chairs”.
Not all screws are the same. Popular Woodworking Magazine tests several types of screws on the market to show how they act when driven into hardwood. Personally, I know drywall screws should only be used for drywall, but I still use them. I’m usually working with cheap materials anyway; if I am doing fine furniture out of hardwood, I don’t use screws at all (brad nails all the way).
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.
I am currently in tech for Pump Boys and Dinettes at Triad Stage, opening next Friday. This means I’m really tired, but I can read lots of things on the Internet. Here are some articles I’ve come across recently:
First up is this interview and video with prop master Russell Bobbitt. He has, perhaps, one of the more enviable positions in the world of prop-making at the moment: providing the iconic weapons for the Marvel Universe, such as Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer and Iron Man’s arc reactor. The article doesn’t delve into much detail, but it is still a fun read.
In the New York Times is this fantastic profile on set designer Eugene Lee. You may not recognize Lee’s name (unless you attended USITT), but you probably recognize the set to Wicked, or to Saturday Night Live, which he has been designing since it began. His house is practically a props warehouse, filled to the brim with objects and collections he has acquired over the years, and this article has plenty of photographs showing it all off.
Here is a promising new blog with a fun name: Eat, Clay, Love. It only has a few posts so far from UK-based artist Shahriar, but I’ve already picked up some new techniques I want to try.
Finally, if you have been following Shawn Thorsson’s quest to build a life-size ED-209 from Robocop, part three of his series went up last week. He’s doing a lot of molding and casting of the parts for this installment, and explains how he does it.
You may have noticed I missed last week’s Friday blog post; we were in the midst of a big ice storm here in North Carolina, and I didn’t have any power or Internet and trees were falling all around me and it was crazy. Anyway, a lot of cool stuff has shown up in the world of props since then:
Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, came out last week, and fans of his work know that he loves his props. Here is a great article giving the back-story of 10 of the most memorable props from the film. It shows the obsessive devotion Anderson has to every object in his movies, and his recognition of how a prop’s details can help tell the story.
Continuing on the Grand Budapest Hotel train, we have two articles on Annie Atkins, the film’s graphic designer and paper prop maker. First, is a short piece and slideshow in the Independent, and second is an interview and collection of the paper props themselves.
A tip of the hat to Tim Shrum for pointing me to this blog on movie miniatures. If you like tiny cars and buildings as much as I do, you’ll love this website.
3D Printing Industry checks in with Owen Collins, who has been busy over the past few years looking at how 3D printing technology pertains to theatre.
Finally, large-scale prop maker Shawn Thorsson is working on a full-scale ED-209 from the original Robocop film. This is a massive seven-and-a-half foot tall fighting machine, and he’s trying to get it complete for the Maker Faire Bay Area in May. The link has some photos and a video showing the beginning of his process; it will be interesting to see how this progresses.
It has been a busy week. I taught the second of my master classes at Elon University, and I am preparing for a big workshop I am teaching tomorrow. I have also finished going through the proofs for my book yesterday; with those submitted, the book is basically on its way to the printers. Just think, in a few short months, it will be in bookstores! Here are some sites from around the Internet for you to peruse and enjoy:
The LA Times has a profile of George Barris, who has been making custom cars for film and television for over 70 years. The Batmobile from the original television series and the Munsters’ car are both his.
This giant collection of vintage hotel luggage tags should help supply you for years to come.
I may have mentioned an upcoming book called The Furniture of Necessity before; it’s a look at the major archetypes of furniture used by regular people throughout the centuries, as opposed to the highly-designed stuff used by aristocrats. It promises to be a great reference for period prop design. Christopher Schwartz has an update on that book in his blog, but that’s not the interesting part. His latest post also features photographs of almost 50 variations of a 6-board chest. This style of chest was popular in working-class European households from the 9th century through at least the 17th century, and again in American households from the 1600s on up to the present. In other words, this page is great research for a prop that can appear in a vast range of period plays.
Scenic charge Lisa Lazar from Berkeley Rep shows off her “bikini-wax” method for removing old paint without dust or chemicals.
This is a fairly fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the original Robocop (1987) film. Watch Peter Weller as he talks about putting his costume on; he’s a very eloquent (and funny) guy: