Filling the shed – finding props and prop making

Similarly to the set build, I’m not going to go into too much detail on the prop making process as I wouldn’t consider any of them particularly well made. Most of the mise en scene was borrowed and scrabbled from relatives sheds, junk shops and car boot sales. This was the big advantage of making a full scale stop motion film.

Some of the props did pose a challenge however and may be a bit more interesting to hear about. So here’s a little bit of info on them.

One of the key props in the film is the dead body. Not sure if he’s a prop or a character actually. Either way there are 2 key parts of the body you see in the film. The hand, and the chest.

I knew I wanted to make these look quite realistic so wanted to make them out of silicone. A good friend Wesley Martin helped me out with the prosthetic stuff, having more experience with it than myself. The chest was fairly easy. We used moldlife life form silicone and made a mold of my chest, This was backed up with mod roc to form a solid cast.

We then mixed up a small amount of platsil gel 10 silicone with a little pigment and brushed it into the mold in thin layers. This was to stop it pooling too badly in the bottom of the mold. Once dried we squirted a load of expanding foam on the reverse of the platsil then demolded. Lots of release agent was used!

The hand was a bit more complex. We used alginate to make a mold of my hand then filled it with plaster of paris. After a bit of clean up we used the plaster cast to make a 2 part silicone mold.. The mold wasnt perfect, but we were short on time and the hand would only be seen briefly anyway. I made a simple armature from epoxy putty and aluminium wire and cast around it with pigmented platsil gel 10.

Both the hand and the chest were then painted with a mixture of oil paint and clear silicone adhesive. The tattoo on the chest was drawn on with a sharpie and the hairs were from Billy and punched into the silicone.

There are a bunch of ways these prosthetics could be improved with more time and patience but hopefully these did the job they needed to for the film.

The rest of the props that were built specifically for the film weren’t particularly interesting. So I’ll just pop a load of pictures showing an overview of the process.

The biggest challenge with the props in the film was making them sit in seamlessly with the ‘real life’ items that we’d scavenged. lots of weathering was involved. The printed props like the magazine and newspaper clippings were knocked together by myself in illustrator or photoshop. I had great fun writing the little adverts and articles, so watch out for those in the film!

James is the writer/director of Billy Whiskers, scribbling haphazardly on this website to document and share the experiences of making a stop motion animation.

2 Comments

  1. Brian 3 months ago

    Thanks so much for all these postings – just finished reading them all. Found my way here from DragonFrame’s site. So glad I came! The series is insightful and interesting. Your handiness to complete every aspect – from storytelling and animation to engineering out the motorized controls in the puppet and shooting rigs – is amazing. Thanks for taking the time to share. Look forward to the finished film!

    • Author
      James 2 months ago

      Thanks Brian, glad you enjoyed reading about the project! Hopefully I’ll have an online release date for the film soon.

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