Tag Archives: props

Making a fish puppet

This is what I did to form a fish puppet for my new film.

I took a square piece of K/S brass and soldered to rod with a ball end. I put this in a ball and socket joint. I glued the square brass in a piece of mdf that was shaped like a fish head.

I made a wire armature for the shrimp.

Wrap the ball and socket joint with bandage foam.

This shows the rig that fits in the square brass tube to hold the fish up.

The brass tube will sit in the fish and hold it up. I will put the threaded rod in hole in the overhead with a nut holding it up. I can turn the rod to move the fish up or down. Every turn of the rod will move the entire rig up or down in height.

The nut and washer will hold the rod from slipping through the hole above the set. Turn the rod and the rig rises or lowers.

All of the larger fish or creatures in the film will use this same square tubing set up so I can swap the puppets in and out and use the same rig. I will attach the threaded rod overhead the set in a rig that slides back and forth across  the set. It will probably just move by eye without a geared or threaded pull system. I will rely on the video assist to determine how far to move the rig.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

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Beginning of the underwater film

So, the throne room film is complete and is now on my youtube channel. It is called “Shear Fear”.

So, now it is time to begin a new film. This one takes place underwater on a tiny little reef. The main characters will be seahorses, hermit crabs, fish and shrimp.

This is how I began to form the reef set. I took some styrofoam and began to add some shape to the set. I cut some small pieces of foam on the bandsaw and glued together around a semi-circle to form this red coral.

I brushed several layers of paint on until I was happy with the color.

Add some more foam for the reef walls.

Fill the gaps in with some foam insulation.

Wrap some wires together and make some branches.

Wrap the branches with some thin foam.

Keep wrapping to form the coral branches.

I used thread to hold the foam in place until it could be covered later. I also hot melt glued some edges down.

This is bandage wrap. Athletes use it under their boxing gloves.

Almost finished wrapped.

Dap liquid latex (Mold Builder Latex) that has been tinted green on to the foam wrap.

Apply many coats until you reach the desired finish. Two corals done, maybe 15 more to do.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

making stairs

I began making stairs for my new set. I had a sheet of 1/8″ thick fiberboard normally used for ceramic tile installation laying around. I cut the treads and the stringers on the bandsaw out of the fiberboard. 

The steps are installed here and base coated brown.

For the railings, I turned the individual pieces on the wood lathe and cut a slot under the bannister piece for the individual uprights to fit into.

TTo turn the pieces on the lathe, I had to rig up something that would hold the tiny pieces. I ended up using two sockets that held the square ends of the raw wood.

This is a shot of the upper landing area. The area below the platform that looks like handcarved wood is actually a textured ribbon that is glued in place and painted.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

more throne room progress

This is an updated photo of the set progress so far. I turned some columns on the wood lathe, added some trim wood behind the throne chair, and turned a barrel on the lathe. I painted a celtic design on some plexiglass to use as a stained glass window. I added a wall and a doorway on the left out of mdf. The celtic design on the floor is another piece of plexiglass for the window.

I sculpted a hinge out of clay for the main door, cast it in plaster to make a mold then pressed green stuff putty in the mold to make four identical hinges.

Once they were dry I primed them and glued them to the doors. The doors are 1/8″ thick fiber board used for installing ceramic tiles.

I sculpted a top to the columns out of clay, then covered it with latex to make a mold. The first round failed so I re sculpted and tried again.

The stained glass windows are glued in place in the wall panel.

I painted the door panels with several layers of paint. They look way better in real life than this blurry photo. The top design is drawn on plasticard, then cut by hand with a razor knife then glued in place.

I painted the columns with some brown paint.

More to come later. Go ahead make a mess, have some fun.

Some set building

I have just begun the basic set building for the flying ship film. I bought 4×8′ sheet of 1″ thick styrofoam insulation from the home store for about $20 US. I cut it with a razor knife, bandsaw, handsaw, and a file. I cut the basic hills and rocks and landscape items, glued them on with liquid nails in a caulking gun, and then paper mached over them. The next step is to apply a layer of flat black paint with a brush since spray paint will melt the foam.

The pepsi can is there for scale.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

My new film

I have started working on my next short. Here is the basic storyline.

A serious hardworking captain of an airship and his young deck hand are piloting an airship to their delivery site. The deck hand quickly gets bored and plays a prank on the captain. The captain is not impressed.  The airship continues to travel across a very detailed landscape. Eventually the captain gets the chance to prank the young deck hand and justice is served.

The airship will travel across a set I am going to set up in my wood shop. I am planning a 10-12 foot long set so the airship can travel over a varied and detailed landscape. Most of the action will be interior shots of the cabin as the captain and the deck hand interact.  The airship will be about 12 inches long and will look like something Leonardo Da Vinci would have invented.

I started with a piece of styrofoam and cut it to rough shape using the bandsaw and a file.

I used a paper cutter to cut some strips of paper that would look like long boards.

I applied the paper strips to the form.

Add some balsa wood parts like the keel and some fins.

Add a hot air balloon on top.

This flying air ship will have plenty more details.

more set building

Here are some of the photos of the grass landscape going in. Start out with white glue and make a up a mixture of 75% water and 25% glue.

The secret to this whole thing is to add just a couple drops of dishwashing liquid to the mix. This breaks down the surface tension of the water and allows it to flow into the base and the grass mixture without just beading up and making little water droplets all over your set.

Mix up your grass basing mixture in a bag or container. My mixture is 5 or 6 different turf and grass products from the hobby store.

Spread some watery glue on your set where you want the sandy grass mixture to end up.

I mix the glue in an old glue bottle and it makes really easy to squirt it where I need it.

Once the glue is on shake your bag over the area. Cover all the glue. There will some extra grass mixture but when the glue dries you can brush it off and collect it.

Here is the bag mixture.

Here is what it looks like on the set.

When it has dried, brush off the grass from your other props like my flower below.

This boulder is styrofoam cut with a foam cutter or hand saw, painted black, then drybrushed with some shades of gray. Add a little glue and dust it with some grass on the flat areas.

The glue bottle on the set to help you see the scale of it all.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun…