How Great Movie Props Make Great Movies

 

When I see this I think of cool models, maybe some sets, maybe some small artifacts from Star Wars or Runaway or maybe Blade Runner that I might be lucky enough to collect.

Being a part of the worldwide special effects industry I have had some amazing luck in opportunities. One was being a member of Stan Winston’s Mechanical department during the making of “A.I. – Artificial Intelligence”.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Movie props were not simple for this film. I was specifically involved in the creation of the fully animatronic robots in this picture (along with a huge team of my childhood heroes, the 25 year veterans of Hollywood FX). “TV Face” (designed by Aaron Sims) and mechanically executed mostly by Christian Ristow was a truly untethered hydraulic remote controlled animatronic. While we created detailed animatronics and went to set with an armada of robots and support equipment, the “props” department arrived with more than stunning gear.

Haley Joel Osment with TV Face

Haley Joel Osment with TV Face

Most props were robotic. At least mechatronic (very little had any interaction with the environment autonomously). The latest in microcontrollers, LED technology, and fantastic mechanical design came together in each piece they created. It was not a simple computer generated (CG) effect. I was able to hold these things in my hands.

“Props” can have a simplistic connotation in most people’s minds. Even in current films, however, movie props can be more elegant and robotic than most watching those films at home realize.

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