Maker Faire: Fan Filmmakers Explain How to Make Props Cheaply

Saturday, 23 September 2017 - 2:41PM
Science of Sci-Fi
Science of Star Wars
Saturday, 23 September 2017 - 2:41PM
Maker Faire: Fan Filmmakers Explain How to Make Props Cheaply
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YouTube/Iron Horse Cinema
Until the day comes when we can make real speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi, or a Rick and Morty portal gun, we'll have to settle with recreations. And apparently, it's not too expensive of a task, according to folks who do this professionally.

Speaking at the Maker Faire event at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, Jeff Moffitt and Mike Sgroi of Iron Horse Productions - a studio specializing mostly in fan films based on famous sci-fi and video game properties - spoke about some of the cooler props they managed to put together, and how in most cases, they managed to turn dollar store materials into professional looking fare. 

Star Wars Bikes and Sabers:

While they were unable to bring the physical speeder bike used in their fan film (which you can see above), it features prominently in their non-canon Star Wars flick and had to be accordingly detailed.

The base is made of predominantly plywood and pressboard, decorated with a healthy amount of PVC pipes ("polyvinynl chloride," most hardware stores sell it for a few dollars). As for the bike's handles, Iron Horse used paint sprayers to simulate those, attaching the devices to the bike and spray painting them, presumably with a different paint sprayer.

While they didn't explain how to make lightsabers in detail, there are plenty of others who have. If you have easy access to a 3D printer, you can replicate this lightsaber hilt that Tested was able to recreate. And members of the DC Stunt Coalition have suggested taking out the LED bulbs from Home Depot flashlights, which can easily be inserted into the hilt to light up the blade, which can be made from simple polycarbonate tubes.

Rick and Morty Portal Gun:

While Rick Sanchez should be the last person you try to emulate, a live action portal gun was necessary for all the dimension-hopping another one of Iron Horse's fan films. 

Most of the body was made using, of all things, bubble wands, primarily the little green tube on top of the gun. The main base can include any number of materials, so long as it can withstand fiberglass - Iron Horse used Bondo fiberglass resin to make the gun shine.

And this also uses LED bulbs (the flashlight trick should work again, if you're so inclined), multiples ones on both the front end and inside the green bubble wand on top. A battery pack was then inserted to light it all up.

The Last of Us Clicker Mask:

As complicated as this one looks, which you can see in either their fan film or the photo posted above (it's the giant fungal blob) a clicker mask from the Naughty Dog game The Last of Us is fairly simple. 

In fact, the shape comes almost entirely spray foam insulation - do be careful, that stuff can be dangerous if handled improperly - with the foam shape then hollowed out and painted over. Mix the paint into some organic looking colors, since this mask should make you look like you're infected by a mind-controlling, malevolent fungus, and spray paint it onto the modeled foam.

And besides being careful with the spray foam itself, you should also be careful while spray painting, because if you spent a long time molding the spray foam into a good clicker shape, the paint can cause the insulation to expand even further.

Five Nights at Freddy's Masks:

Lastly, since kids these days have an inexplicable obsession with Five Nights at Freddy's games, Iron Horse talked about how to recreate the haunted animatronic masks from the popular jumpscare simulator series.  

This is one of the more complicated masks, with some unusual objects inside it, but still nothing too pricey. The base of Freddy's head is actually a flowerpot, covered in foam in duct tape to get the shape of Freddy's head right - a plastic pot works better than something heavier, because you don't want it weighing down on your head. From there, just cover it in brown foam to make it bear-colored.

While for the little top hat, Iron Horse eventually decided on a wonton soup bowl covered in elastic, which probably isn't the only object you could use, but it worked for them. They actually posted a full tutorial of this below to help kids with Halloween projects, and made one for another character, Foxy, as well. 

You can check out their full channel here, where they mess around with other sci-fi and/or fantasy fan films like Cowboy Bebop and Undertale.  

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