Halloween 2014 - First New Prop

I'm working on my first new Halloween prop for 2014, and Great Stuff expanding foam is involved. At least one prop every year needs to use it, otherwise it's like a Christmas tree without lights.

It will be a gravestone and my entry in the So Cal Valley Haunters' tombstone making contest.

Today's the deadline, more later, much left to do.

Creative Inspiration: Life Sized GODZILLA Statue

This is seriously a daydream I had as a kid become reality.

I've always loved statues or monuments in public places. I was in 5th or 6th grade and recall playing my small NY suburban neighborhood park wishing it had a statue like the ones in Central Park (in the big city). I remember imagining that statue should be a life sized King Kong or Godzilla.

And to my fellow Halloween enthusiasts, tell me this picture doesn't make you want drop everything your working on and start creating a giant monster for the front lawn this year.

More details and photos about this amazing Godzilla project at Dread Central.

"Home and Family" Concept Sketch Portfolio

Over the past two years on Hallmark Channel's Home and Family show, I've had my paint encrusted hands in small DIY segments and larger set dressing/design projects. Many needed concept sketches to sell the idea.

Here's a portfolio of some of those sketches (some used, some not, some that may be).

I'll be updating this portfolio, as I find more old sketches, and with new art when we come back for season three in October.

"HULK" Sized Action Figure Playset DIY

Imagine this...

You're a kid, and the HULK is your favorite comic book. Then your favorite comic becomes a hit TV series you watch religiously. Then you grow up, and you're told at work you have to come up with a DIY project that not only has to be superhero themed, but something the HULK himself will be apart of.

Yes, that happened to me last week on Home and Family when Lou Ferrigno and Wizard World CEO John Macaluso were guests on the show.

L to R - Lou Ferrigno, The Abomination, John Macaluso.

The project idea sketch.

The finished project.

The DIY itself is pretty well explained in this clip below from the show, and in more detail on the Home and Family website HERE.

In case you're wondering, Lou may be the nicest person I've met. Ever. And one of the few I've ever felt really short standing next to.

Making a Life Sized OPERATION Game - Part Four

To catch up see Part One, Part Two, or Part Three.

When we last left off, the visual elements of the Operation board were done. Now it was time to make it work like the game itself.

And happily I got it to do just that.

Here's how, but first a brief disclaimer  -

Not being a "master of" or "trained in" electronic propmaking, this is what worked FOR ME. I'm not saying here what I did is the best way or the safest. Even though it uses a fairly low wattage set-up, it's still electrical and messing with the wrong way could cause a spark, heat, or bit of a shock. Be safe okay? Always seek the advise of a professional first before attempting any electrical gizmo project if you have no idea what you're doing.

The material/parts needed - Found all at the hardware store and my local Radio Shack.

 Red and Black electric wire. I used 18 gauge.
12 volt battery, a small one used for radio control hobbies.
Alligator clips
Metal foil duct tape. Make sure conductive. A good way to know what your buying is, get the one that says NOT to used near electrical stuff, good sign that it is conductive. 
 Buzzer speaker
Flashlight socket base, and get a bulb for it too.

Large metal BBQ tongs. Being a lifesized Operation game, these will be the tweezers. I got one that also had wood pads on the grip.

Now, wiring it all together.  Here's the final board.

Now imagine it flipped over, backwards. Below is a mockup plan of the wiring on the backside.

The overall plan here is the buzzer, nose light, and body part holes are on one circuit (black wire for positive). The tongs are on another (red wire for negative). The negative circuit (tongs) touching the other positive circuit completes it, and makes the buzzer and light work.

- The edge of each body part hole was lined with the metal tape. The excess width of tape was wrapped onto the back of board. Each hole was then connected to each other with a length of metal tape creating a conductive bridge.

- The flashlight socket was inserted from the back through to where the nose is, both the black and red wire were connected to the metal tape bridge.

- The buzzer was glued onto board and both the black and red wire were added to the metal tape bridge.

- Once all bridged, I ran a single black wire from it to the positive terminal on the battery (easily attached with gator clip).

- The metal tong was connected with red wire to the opposite negative terminal on battery. I also used a bit of metal tape to attach red wire to tongs. I left plenty of lead to allow players to go all around the board (about 8' worth) when they wanted.

In case your wondering- no, no shock touching the bare metal tong while the circuit bridge was complete. The wattage is really low.

Now that the bells and whistles were figured out. I just had to create the boxes under the board to hold the body parts to be removed. It was a bit tedious, but not brain surgery to do. I traced the shape of each hole onto black foamcore. I cut out each shape with an extra 1/2" width around it. I then literally bent, creased, and warped 1" wide strips of cut foamcore around the edges, hot gluing in place. Now each body part had it's own shallow box that was glued onto the back of the board under it's matching shape.

The final detail. Our board's character's glowing red nose.

This was simply a red plastic "ball pit" ball we happened to have in our prop stash that was the perfect size and translucent enough to see light through. I just cut a small hole big enough to slip over the protruding flashlight bulb and hot glued in place.

And so the Operation board making comes to an end. Thankfully it worked flawlessly and became a fun game segment on the show. I'm under orders to save it as it might be used again. There goes taking it home and making it my coffee table.

Left to Right - Mark Steines, Cristina Ferrari, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy), Dr. JJ Levenstein, Jessie Jayne.

Temple of Doom - 30 Years Ago This Weekend

30 years ago this weekend, I returned home from my freshman year at RISD.

I walked in the door, tossed my bags in my room, and grabbed the newspaper to see what the next showtime was for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Minutes later I was off to the Movieland Cineplex in Yonkers NY.

Yes, seeing that movie was what I did on my first night home from college. I could not wait another moment for the next chapter featuring my favorite movie hero.

 Below are a few videos to celebrate Temple of Doom's 30th, hope you enjoy.

The very first teaser...

The official trailer...

 The "Making Of" in three parts...

And this movie featured one of my all time favorite movie posters ever made (Illustrated by Bruce Wolfe)

Creative Inspiration: Set decorator Roger Christian

You know how iconic many of the original Star Wars prop and set designs are right? Did you know many were the result of one guy, with little budget... designing, building, and making on the fly?

This recent and short Esquire interview is a must read for every low budget propmaker and set designer, professional or just getting started. It will fuel your creativity for months, it has mine.

Click HERE.

Thanks to Eric at Prop Agenda for leading me to the interview.

Making a Life Sized OPERATION Game - Part Three

I'm back, sorry for the long delay following up on this project. When we last left off, the main game board was done. Now it was time to lock in and layout the body parts to be removed.

The original idea by producers was to make the Operation game DIY themed, each organ had a crafty/how-to pun. Sort of like the original game where a bucket represented "water on the knee" and not an actual body part.

The initial part list was very long with a lot of fun ideas, but the segment producer and I needed to edit it down to what parts would work well spaced across the board.

As I began to lay it all out and make templates for the holes yet to come. The hope was to make each body part an actual 3-dimensional representation of that body part (as illustrated by the picture below, using wrenches for the "wrenched ribs" and a piece of wood for the "plywood patella").

Just then, at this point, the game was revised. As happens often in TV. Instead of the DIY theme, it was decided to make it a challenge to see how well the players knew ACTUAL human anatomy, picking and pulling the right body part based on a clue. I must admit, this made me very happy. The clock was against me, and making a faux liver was time consuming enough, but also having to glitter it?

There was a second revision that also worked to my deadline advantage. I suggested this one, and was thankfully approved. While trying to make 3-dimentional parts work, I discovered some parts would be far more difficult and awkward to remove than others. It would really slow the game play up. My change was that all be flat cut-outs (like the original game) so each part was similar in weight and thickness, but the odd shape of each would prove challenging. I would also add (again like the original game) a knook or cranny the tweezers could easily grab (if the players noticed it).

Now that the game was figured out. I plotted out the parts and sizes on the board in actual size by placing tracing paper over and drawing each body part hole. I then sketched the actual body part onto the trace paper obviously smaller than the hole so it could be removed. Next, I inked each sketch, scanned, and colored in Photoshop. Several examples...

Happy to say each happened to be under 8.5' x 11" in size so I could print out on my own printer. I spray-glued them onto black foam core (so the outlines matched the edges) and cut out with an X-Acto. Body parts to remove done!

This may seem redundant, but to ensure each hole was the right size, each finished part became a new template that I re-traced onto the board. Only then did I cut the hole in the board for each (about a 1/2" wider than the part).

Next in Part Four, making the boxes under the holes to hold the body parts, and the electronics to make BUZZ and the nose light up!