Tag Archives: video

Blood Sponges

We are in the midst of tech rehearsal for The Bacchae here at Shakespeare in the Park; next weekend, we begin preview performances already, and opening night is on August 24th. Needless to say, I’m a little distracted.

Here’s a quick little video showing some “blood sponges” we were working on with the body. You can read more about the body in my previous posts, a Body for Bacchae: Part One and Part Two. We glued some sponges to parts of the body. The idea was that they could be filled with fake blood before the performance. When the actress portraying Agave cradled the corpse, she could squeeze the part of the body with a sponge and have blood run down her hand on cue.

War Horse

War Horse is currently playing in London’s West End, and is tentatively scheduled to open in New York in 2011. In “Making Horses Gallop and Audiences Cry“, Patrick Healy gives more in-depth information about the show and the amazing puppets, designed by Adrian Kohler:

The basic construction material for the horses is cane, which Mr. Kohler soaked to make it more moldable. “It is light, flexible, and the figure increases in strength as more and more struts are bound together,” he said. The struts create the look of joints in the horses’ legs and necks.

Silk patches were then applied to gauze to suggest the animals’ skin patterns and also partly to conceal the two puppeteers inside each adult horse.

The article also has a great number of photographs showing the puppets.

The puppets were constructed by the Handspring Puppet Company, a South African puppet group. It was founded in 1981 by Basil Jones and Mr. Kohler. On the website, they give a little more information about the horse puppets:

Some of the horses are fully articulated with two interior and one exterior manipulator and because they have aluminium spinal structures, they can carry human riders. Other horses are more abstract with no legs and only one manipulator.

The Giraffe puppet from Tall Horse, made by Handspring Puppet Company
The Giraffe puppet from Tall Horse, made by Handspring Puppet Company

The horses are based on the designs first used in Handspring’s production of Tall Horse, about a giraffe. Elsewhere on their website, they describe this puppet:

The puppet was constructed from a frame of carbon fibre rods and takes two puppeteers, on stilts, to operate it. The puppet is fully mechanical – its head, ears and tail can be manipulated by the puppeteers, through a complex system that allows the puppeteers, inside the body frame of the giraffe, to manipulate the appendages through bicycle brake cables.

The giraffe can turn its head, flap its ears and tail and walk with the swaying, graceful gait that anyone who has enjoyed the sight of the magnificent creature in the wild will recognise. Manned by two puppeteers on stilts, the giraffe is the central character of Tall Horse, which is a magical tale of the discovery of Europe by Africans.

If you are interested in learning more, Handspring has a few books out. Journey of the Tall Horse: A Story of African Theatre describes the production process for Tall Horse, while The Horse’s Mouth: Staging Morpurgo’s War House gives an in-depth look at the current production of War Horse. Until then, I’m looking forward to 2011!

The Business of Haunted Prop Making

I came across this video the other day. Don’t ask me how.

User ZombieHorror has about a dozen similar videos showing animatronic horror creatures. It got me intrigued.

It turns out they’re all from this year’s Transworld Halloween and Attractions Tradeshow. Over on the Goblinhaus website, they have a report from the 2009 convention.

As soon as we walked through those doors we were inundated with loud noises, air cannons, flashing lights, animatronics and eager guys and gals ready to show you their product. Instant FUN! We saw some props that have been around for years. Completely realistic looking heads, zombies, dead animals, masks complete with pores and veins.

They have a number of photographs and videos from the event as well.

There are quite a few of these conventions throughout the year; the Haunted House Association has a big list of haunted tradeshows (unfortunately at the moment, it seems their entire site is down). It’s another fascinating arena for propmakers and prop designers to use their skills.

Behind the Scenes: Props in the Movies

Nowadays, DVDs come with all sorts of special features, such as behind-the-scenes footage. Occasionally, there’s a clip about the props of the film. Oftentimes, these featurettes are fairly fluffy, presenting a couple of key props or special effects and only going so far as to show “Look, we had to make props for this movie too!” But every once in awhile, you find one  that goes a little further and shows the props people at work, with a discussion of the specific challenges the props master faced on the film or television show.

I found some of these on YouTube to share with you.

Behind the scenes – Making of the Lord of the Rings Props

Lord of the Rings took place in an entirely invented world, and so nearly all the props had to be built. It’s amazing how many artisans and craftspeople they had on this show, and this video highlights some of them.

Life on Mars Behind the Scenes with the Prop Master

Life on Mars takes place in 1973, and this video does a great job of showing how Jim Lillis, the prop master, and his team went about researching and organizing all the information they needed to prop the show.

Behind the Scenes on Supernatural

This is a bit on the fluffy side, but it is interesting to hear the Christopher Cooper, the prop master, talk about the process of creating more fantastical props for this show.

So there you have it. Are there any videos available online that you’ve found interesting or helpful? Drop a link in the comments.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival on Video

Alabama Public Television has produced a video focusing on the production of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The video on props is pretty good, showing one of the fastest life-casting processes ever. The rest of the series, called “The Art of the Theatre“, isn’t bad either.

It’s videos like this that make me wish more theatres, especially prop shops, had their own video series. If your prop shop has any videos anywhere, or if you know of any that do, let me know.