“Kill Phil” continues to be an interesting and informative little series over on the YouTube. The premise is simple; take a well-known prop maker and give them 3 days to recreate a prop from a film. In one of the latest episodes, they turn to Dragon Dronet of Renegade Effects, one of the top prop makers of Star Trek: The Next Generation and other sci-fi shows and movies from the 1990s onward. They task him with recreating Matt Damon’s gun from the film Elysium, which hadn’t come out yet when this was filmed.
He slams together this prop by hacking apart several toy guns and a vacuum cleaner, than refining all the details with pieces of styrene, jelutong wood and Bondo. It is also interesting to see that he works with little more than a band saw, belt and disc sander, Dremel and a drill gun.
On an unfortunate note, he does all this without any protective gear. You see him using Bondo and Zip Kicker without a respirator, sanding and cutting without a dust mask, and applying Bondo without gloves (even using his hands to smear it on!). With that in mind, watch the video for the techniques, but don’t forget about the safety.
If you have ten minutes, you should check out this video showing the creation of HBO’s intro sequence from the early 1980s. The video is from 1983 as well, and has a great vintage feel. It is fascinating to see the creation of one of the largest scale model cityscapes at the time. Props people are sure to recognize many of the techniques used by these model makers (though the three-month time frame they had to build it seems luxurious for most of us). The creation of the rest of the effects are interesting as well. While this occurred in the heyday of motion-controlled cameras, those were the only systems using computers. Everything else was created by hand, and every effect was achieved with an analog solution.
Here is a pretty cool step-by-step guide to a Dragonbone dagger replica made by Folkenstal. Folkenstal uses some interesting techniques of laying up different thicknesses of plastic to create a rough block, and then sanding and cutting it to the final shape. Great photographs.
Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping objects with cloth. The Japanese Minister of Ecology is encouraging the country to use furoshiki to carry the products they purchase, rather than paper or plastic bags. They’ve even made a handy chart showing how to wrap various-shaped objects. I can imagine this coming in handy for all sorts of prop purposes.
Finally, Tested brings us this sixteen-minute tour through Harrison Krix’s garage, better know as the Volpin Props prop shop. We get to see his small but well-equipped shop, check out some of his favorite tools, and get a sample of some of the many cool props he has built over the years.
For those of you in the regular world, happy four-day weekend! For those of you in theatre, get back to work! I have a couple of really great links for everyone this week:
The LA Times had a fantastic front page article about Film Biz Recycling, a New York City-based non-profit that rescues props and set items from finished productions, and sells them for thrift store prices. It’s the kind of store I wish existed in more places around the country; whenever I work a strike where an entire dumpster is filled with salvageable material, I can’t help but think of all the small theatres and schools where just a few scraps of plywood would make all the difference.
Volpin Props has an epic post up about a recent build for a Militech Crusher, a fictional gun from a video game series. It has a wide range of tips for working in plastics and inventing shapes and textures from scratch, as well as some really cool paint techniques.
Model makers from Industrial Light and Magic gathered at this year’s Maker Faire and discussed their favorite tips, tricks and techniques for building models. Tested has the complete story, filled with lots of great photographs. There’s a ton of useful information here, as well as lots of good stories from the filming of the various Star Wars films.
Jay Surma has been documenting the build of a new sculpture of a Dungeons and Dragons character in great detail. In the seventh part, he tackles the mold making process. It’s a great look at a two-part matrix mold. If you’ve never seen a matrix mold being made (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one being made in person), check it out, because it’s a handy technique to keep in mind.
Popular Woodworking has a whole article devoted to sweeping, with the wonderful title “To Sweep; to Sweep: Perchance to Clean“. It makes the good point that apprentices are often tasked with sweeping so they can get to know the shop and see what everyone is working on.