Pocket Stage

Monday, January 29, 2018 11:41 PM

Obviously, this is an entirely self-funded adventure so far. Hint hint* cough* Patron*cough*.  But with that said, I didn’t want that to be an excuse for shoddy craftsmanship.  In college I spent 4 years working for a professional theater company in their props department, so I’d had some skills in making and repurposing items for the stage, my specialties being recreating paper documents, magazines, newspapers and such and also, I got really good at faux finishes. This experience helped me get hired on at Studio 3inc in New Orleans, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  I learned how to sculpt foam, large scale papier mache, plaster mold making and even fiberglass.  I got so much practice doing scenic paint, and most importantly I met a lot of great people who were and still are, miles better than me at these things!  

I knew that I wanted the background of MeLia0743’s booth to be real.  While there would be green screen elements I didn’t want to do a green screen for the main portion of the show.  I fell in love with the idea of having a tangible ship that I could be in, I could turn around and press buttons, and see lights and really live in that space.  Plus, who also doesn’t want their own personal portable space ship? I mean really it was a no brainer.  But I also knew I couldn’t do it on my own.  I enlisted the help of some of my co-workers, and once I told them my story and plan, they were all on board.  First, I took several photos of myself in a space on camera, about where I wanted the fixed security camera of the booth to be.  

And measured what was visible in the background. 

Andrew Bertholf, who is also the show’s composer (we’ll talk more about the music in another post) welded together an aluminum frame for the set piece, so it would be light, yet durable. We made it hinged so that it could close to take up less room for transport.  And scenic artist Gabriel Wimmer carved the basic ship bulkhead our of foam and sealed it up. Adding pieces and panels that we cannibalized from various electronics. 



For paint, I realized that I wouldn’t need much.  7.25oz Paint Testers for a couple of bucks each was all I really needed.  Real Chroma-Key paint can be super expensive, for the green screens I used Behr Ultra Flat, matte in Fresh Apple. It worked like gangbusters. Using green screens can be tricky.  Greys and Blacks for that matter, can sometimes have green in the base, this can interfere with the Chroma-Key process, where the computer will remove and replace those set colors.  The first base out of the ship was a dark grey that wound up being entirely too green.




The computer couldn’t cleanly separate the bulkhead walls from the green screen panels.  We wound up getting a tester of Behr Ultra Flat Matte in Shadow Mountain.   This grey had a warmer red base that would stand out against the green panels well.   Now the reason we used pre-mixed formula colors is because I knew I’d be traveling and If I ever need to touch up anything, I can get these colors remixed anywhere without too much trouble.



I used simple 8oz cans of flat black and a white to mix for various highlights and shadows and small tubes of Deco Arts Metallics in copper and silver. Once the paint was in place then came the fun decorating bits.

Trips to the hardware store finding plumbing and electrical findings, mailbox reflectors, galvanized screws glued into the foam, my favorite foil tape.  And several strings of battery operated LED lights to add some authenticity.  And look ma I got a spaceship!