Tag Archives: scenery

Special Saturday Prop Links

Behind the scenes: designing the props for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Pierre Bohanna talks about some of the fantastic props he was tasked to create for JK Rowling’s latest foray into the Harry Potter universe. He also details some of the biggest challenges; surprisingly, recreating 1926 New York was more difficult than finding fantastic beasts.

Props: Fur, Foam & Focus – Zoë Morsette talks with Stage Directions magazine about her career and some of the favorite props she built. She discusses some great specifics about materials, techniques, and tools used on some recognizable props. She also gives helpful advice for the early career prop professional.

Floating Worlds: The Santa Fe Opera Scene Shop – This article brings us some beautiful photographs and in-depth interviews with Scott Schreck and Mike Ortiz, the technical director and associate technical director of the Santa Fe Opera. Find out how they build scenery for operas that travel all over the world.

Our Favorite Movie Props at Comic-Con 2018! – The Prop Store is getting ready for a big auction of rare and iconic movie props. They recently brought a bunch of them to San Diego Comic Con. This fifteen-minute video looks at their collection during this brief opportunity to see all these famous props in one location.

Faberge Caravan – The Prop Solve is back after a brief hiatus, but she returns with a fantastic post showing a Faberge egg she made in the style of a 1970s caravan trailer. There are lots of great tips and photos showing how she modeled tiny benches and appliances to fit the curves of an egg-shaped vehicle.

A Special Tuesday Props Links

You may have noticed these posts have gotten a bit sporadic lately.  I’m not busier than before, but my mornings have become much less predictable, which is when I do most of my writing. I should be getting back on track soon as I adapt to my new life.

From Goodwill to Home Depot: Where the Guthrie Theater gets its props – Fantastic little article about Rebecca Jo Malmstrom, the Guthrie’s props shopper and fabricator. It’s always nice to see the different roles and in a props shop get some attention.

R is for Robot – Cinefex blog takes a look at the history of robots on film, from early costumes and stop motion, to today’s marriage of motion-capture and CGI.

30 Days Until Halloween: The Home and Family Yard Design – Though we’re already halfway through October, it’s not too late to catch up with Dave Lowe’s Halloween project. Every year, he creates a massive outdoor Halloween display for the Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show, filled with dozens of handmade props.

They Don’t Make Theatre Sets Like they Used To – MessyNessy talks about when shows used to have hundreds of props, and has pictures to prove it. I think we can still find contemporary examples of set designs with intricate detail and an antique’s store worth of dressing, although none of it comes close to the Hippodrome in the early twentieth century.

Fit Irregular (Impossible!) Shapes with ‘Ticking Sticks’ – This is a ridiculously useful trick that I wish I had known sooner. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if you check out the pictures, you can see exactly what a “ticking stick” does.

Prop Links from the Past and Present

Prop Master: How a “Star Wars” Superfan Scoured the Earth for Space Debris – Collectors Weekly has a fascinating article about Brandon Alinger and how he amassed a large collection of movie props from iconic 80s blockbusters. He got his start at age 17 when he convinced his parents to take him to Tunisia to scour the desert for props and set pieces left behind from Star Wars.

San Diego Opera to sell studio to help stabilize finances – In order to reach a more sustainable budget, the San Diego Opera is selling the building which holds their scene and paint shop. It sounds like they were not really using the whole building, so they are selling it and then leasing the portion they actually need. From what I’ve heard online, none of their staff are being laid off either.

Talking Craft Beer With the Prop Master From HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ – This interview with Jared Scardina, the props master on Silicon Valley, delves into how much thought and effort goes into choosing what kind of beer a character should drink.

Props, Past To Present - Ian McPherson looks at prop building skills from the past and present and wonders if they can exist side-by-side. This article comes from the new “Theatre Art Life,” which features articles written by live entertainment industry professionals.

Odin Makes: Thor’s Helmet from Thor: Ragnarok – This video shows how Odin makes a super-quick and super-cheap foam version of the helmet from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. He goes from patterning to painting in this one.

A Gift of Prop Links

8 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of the Pretty Little Liars’ Vengeful Board Game – We head to Cosmo this morning to learn about the elaborate board game created by props master Chris Vail. Unlike “Cones of Dunshire,” this game is actually played on screen over several episodes. The details are gorgeous and Vail explains how they built the various mechanisms we see in the show.

Paul Huston on Making Models and History for Star Wars: A New Hope - Star Wars turns 40 this year, so StarWars.com talks with Paul Huston, who has worked on all eight Star Wars films so far. It is amazing to look back and realize just how much movie-making technology was invented solely to create that film.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Scene Shop Skips the Fasteners – OSF needs to rep ten shows at the height of their season, so they are always looking for ways to make change-over go quicker. For the set of Shakespeare in Love, they have come up with a way to sleeve pieces together without requiring fasteners. Check out the video to see how they make custom 3D-printed hardware to pull this off.

Beowulf Boritt, Set Designer, Renovates His Home – It’s always great to see a theater person’s home, especially when they do a lot of the renovation themselves. Check out all the custom parts that have gone into Beowulf’s Sutton Place co-op. My favorite bit is the framed electrical outlet from Hand of God which an audience member famously tried to charge their phone from.

How to Fix a Split Seat – Finally, Chris Schwartz show his method for fixing a split seat, which can be used to fix any piece of split wood.

Recollections of a Grumpy Carpenter

The following first appeared in a 1916 book titled “Recollections of a Scene Painter”,  written by an E.T. Harvey. This post is for all the grumpy carpenters and TDs in our lives:

The manager of a traveling theatrical company going to play “Black Eyed Susan” in a small town, inquired if they had a ship’s deck scene in the theatre, and upon being told “no,” said: “Well we’ll have to hang William again in a bloody wood.” In the old days an experience like this was often likely to occur when the traveling company playing outside the big cities had to depend entirely upon the local theatre for scenery, and anything out of the ordinary was called for. But all the well-appointed theatres carried a large amount of what was called stock, from the “Blast Heath” in “Macbeth,” to the “Palace of the Capulets,” in “Romeo and Juliet.”

The stage floor was also arranged for the special traps. There was the cauldron and apparition trap in the centre of the stage, for the witch scene in “Macbeth.” A trap a little to the right of centre, and further down the stage was the grave digger’s trap for “Hamlet.” A long trap clear across the stage at the back, arranged on an inclined plane, was the ghost trap in the “Corsican Brothers.” Besides these, were the small square star and vampire traps, each side of the stage down in front; the Star trap where the demons would be propelled from below and thrown up in the air above, the points of the star falling back in their position. The Vampire trap is where he would double, and disappear again below.

All the scenery in those days was on “Flats” (sliding frames that met and parted in the centre). Very few of the theatres had height sufficient to take up the scenery as is now done.

Most of the theatres had what was called a scene dock, where the scenery was kept; this was usually off to one side of the stage. In the old historical theatres scarce any one knew what was in the stage pack but the old “Stage Carpenter”—he was the one fixture of the house. “Actors might come and actors might go, but he went on forever.” Like many other theatrical terms that have become universal, he was the original Crank. It was natural for him to become an autocrat, and even Stars would hesitate to incur his displeasure.

One time Louis James was playing “Julius Caesar” at the Boston Theatre. At rehearsal a substitute scene was run on for the garden of Brutus. James said: “Prescott, what are you going to give me for this scene?” The old carpenter said: “I know what you want, it will be alright; but it is way back in the pack.” The scenery at the Boston Theatre was almost as complete as the Boston Library, but it was too much trouble for Prescott to go through the pack, so he took the first garden scene that came handy, and Brutus was horrified at night to see a lawn mower and sprinkling-can a conspicuous feature in his garden. It was the first scene that came handy.

Original Publication: Harvey, E. T. Recollections of a Scene Painter. Cincinnati: W.A. Sorin, 1916. 40-41. Google Books, 15 Feb. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2012.