We build Custom Next-gen 3D Props for movies, events, trade shows, photo backgrounds, home decor and more.
Table of Contents
3D Props + Technology
Have you ever wondered how they built that futuristic weapon, or the realistic armor, or that incredibly detailed creature? How about the cool-looking set that takes you back into time or forward into the future. Movie props can be built using a myriad of technologies and materials from 3D Printing to foam sculpting, to casting and molding, and many other tricks of the trade. Electronics can be incorporated into the prop allowing for touch-sensitive or area-sensitive triggering audio or lighting elements.
3D Background Props
Need a towering transformer character, a giant T-rex skull, a larger-than-life Halo 5 video game character, a giant shoe or a throne for taking selfies? Depending on detail, finish, strength, flexibility and many other factors, character sculptures can be built using foam or 3D printing. Foam is a great material for sculptors to use in building life-size or super life-size characters for trade show displays, conventions, or that awesome looking hobby room you’ve always wanted to build. If you want extreme detail and more strength, 3D printing is the better option.
Regardless of the sculpture fabrication method, WhiteClouds typically starts by creating a 3D design of the character, then 3D Printing a maquette (a french word for scale model). The maquette is used to guide the fabricators in making a large-scale replica of the small model. Multiple iterations of the design and the inexpensive creation of multiple maquettes allows for various iterations in creating the perfect and final pose of the character sculpture. Finishing options for these sculptures are many, from paints (latex to automotive finish) to natural organic looking materials to strength materials like fiberglass and polyurea. Internal steel structures are often built into the characters to give additional strength. More information can also be found at character models.
Foam is a great material for creating architectural sets both quickly and relatively inexpensively. It is very common to see foam being used to create entire movie sets, theater background sets, haunted displays, amusement park backgrounds and structures, and church theming rooms to name a few. Foam allows for realistic scenery creation or construction of buildings with elaborate background sets. Foam provides the benefits of being lightweight, economical and efficient in terms of fabrication times. Custom shapes can be created to support any type of imagination. Foam architectural structures can be built to emulate entire buildings and even older style cities. Sometimes foam can be used in building architectural scale massing models.
Foam is also commonly used to build all types of architectural elements in new construction from columns, trim, crown molding, arches, caps, brackets, special molding, ceiling accents, railings, shutters, louvres, corbels, medallions, panels, and much more. This special architectural fabrication can be used for outdoor pools, fireplaces, all exterior features of new construction, and even special theming in rooms or the backyard. A little bit of imagination can bring elegance and beauty to any architectural set. EPS foam along with Polyurethane and sometimes cement, can create awesome looking architectural structures.
Curious of what movies have used foam in their movie sets? Here is a small list of movies and TV that have used foam for scenery: Alien and Aliens, Star Trek – The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica, CSI:Miami, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, Batman, Night at the Museum, Eight Below, Jaws, Star Wars, Final Destination 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond, Saving Private Ryan, Smallville, Harry Potter, X-Men, and many others. Broadway shows that have used foam in the scenery are: Lion King, Mary Poppins, The little Mermaid, Phantom of the Opera, Blue Man Group, Les Miserables, and Beauty and the Beast.
While looking at individual scenes in movie sets, it can be overwhelming with the number of props being used. Hand props represent a large portion of all props used in movies. Hand props are objects that can be used, carried, or handled by an actor. There could literally be millions of different types of hand props. These could be a helmet or weapon, a baseball bat or football, a pen or pencil… and the list goes on and on. These hand props can help the actor further define the character they are portraying.
WhiteClouds build very authentic props. Categories of props can be antiques, guns, weapons and accessories, artwork, books, signage, prop food, bronze looking decor, carts, skeletons and bones, toys, trophies, vintage or replicated products, electronics, tables, thrones, medieval props, old equipment, futuristic props, graphics, coins, luggage, museum reproductions, and specialty manufactured items.
Quite often, hand props may be specially fabricated to be out-of-scale. An example would be creating a life-like replica of an ant that stands 5′ tall. Hand props can also be fabricated to be much lighter in weight than the original. For example, a large set of barbells that only weighs a few pounds but appears as if it weighs hundreds of pounds. Many of our lightweight props are fabricated from different types of foam, then finished in a way that you would never know it was foam unless you picked it up.
Our hand props may be built using 3D printing technologies, hand carving in foam, casting, thermoforming, woodworking, and welding. Our superior painting and airbrushing along with special finishing techniques produce extremely realistic props. Even though the hand prop may be made from plastic or foam, they may look like it was made from heavy metal or something that simulates the grains of wood – they can even look like working replicas from the future. We can help in every step of the production, from concept to creation.
Custom themed thrones can be the perfect backdrop prop for selfies, photos opps, trade shows, conventions, etc.
Technology and Materials for 3D Props
Today’s technologies are making more impressive next-generation models. Combining tried-and-tested technologies of foam sculpting and cutting, along with new 3D printing capabilities and new electronics are allowing model makers to build some pretty awesome models. More information can be found at cartoon models and character models.
- Professional Creations — We have a team of designers, 3D artists, model-makers, painters, air-brushers, sculptors, carpenters, and welders to fabricate that imaginative, immersive, and experiential 3D movie prop model.
- No project is too large or too small — from a 2′ small statue to a large 50′ tall animal sculpture. If you can design it, we can create a physical diorama of it. If you can’t design it, we have a team of design professionals who can. We can work with preparing 3D models from scans, drawings, photos, and even napkins.
- Technologies include Foam Fabrication, Hot Wiring, CNC Cutting, Laser Cutting, Welding, Thermoforming, and 6 different 3D Printing technologies for rapid prototyping or production models.
- With 3D printing technology, you aren‘t limited to straight lines and boxes. A 3D printer can easily create detailed, complex shapes. We use six different 3D printing technologies with different materials including UV-cured resin. The type of physical end-product determines which material will produce the best results. We can help you choose the material that is best for your project. Resolution on our printers is finer than a human hair. Our color 3D printers can print in full color (over 750,000 variations of color) for awe-inspiring reality.
- Foam themed models, foam letters, foam architectural models, foam props, foam characters, and foam sculptures can all be used to help expand what you are trying to build with foam fabrication.
- Did we mention that we have 60,000 square feet of production facilities in Utah, including the largest capacity of full-color 3D printing in the world?
- Portability and/or mobility may seem like it would be an issue, especially with trade show displays. Our expert team not only can make your display portable, we are also experienced in shipping extra large objects for easy assembly and installation.
- Our in-house spray booth gives us flexibility in different types and grades of paint and finishing capabilities. Some finishes include latex, acrylic, urethane, polyurea, epsilon, polyurethane, and many others.
Pricing of Custom 3D Props
The cost of movie props is based on the volume of materials (size of the model), type of materials, the time it takes to create the 3D design, production labor, and installation time and materials, as well as other specific elements unique to the project. Each model is bid individually and the best way to determine cost is to email us, call us at 385-206-8700, or fill out the form below and let us bid on your project.
Get a Free Price Estimate for 3D Props
Custom Fabrication Workflow
Common Questions & Answers
- What file type is required to make a movie prop?
We work with all architectural CAD programs and modeling programs including AutoCAD, Revit, Chief Architect, ArchiCAD, Maya, 3DS Max Design, Zbrush, and Sketchup, just to name a few. If you design in 3D, we will start with your 3D files. If you have 2D blueprints and elevations, or artist’s sketches, we can build a display/model from these files as well. If all you have is an idea or a napkin drawing, we can start with that.
- What fabrication technology do you use for props?
It can be a number of different technologies, individually or combined. These range from 3D Foam, 3D Printing, CNC Cutting, metal welding, laser cutting, laser etching, casting, molding, thermoforming, sculpting, painting, airbrushing, laminating, vinyl printing, and woodworking – all meant to produce highly engaging props that fit your exact needs.
- What is the material used?
We match the correct material and fabrication process to your requirements in terms of presentation, size, and transportability. We fabricate in our model shop using different types of foam, wood, metal, resins, and acrylics. We can also 3D print in full-color, uv-cured resin, plastic, rubber-like acrylic, and nylon.
- What is the largest prop you can make?
There is no limit to the size of model. Transportability will be your only concern on an extremely large movie prop.
- What is the turnaround time for a large custom prop?
This depends on the features of the model itself as well as the scale of the model. We usually ask for six to eight weeks from the time we take the order to when you will receive the prop. Large projects can be four to six months or longer. We understand that sometimes deadlines are tight and we can accommodate rush orders.
- What features can a prop have?
Besides the physical 3D prop with the proper color and appearance, you can elect to ask for special lighting, sound, and movement.
- If I want a second prop is it cheaper?
Our pricing is based on the fabrication costs and the time it takes to prepare your design. The second prop is less in pricing because the design portion is complete.
Do you have a question we didn‘t answer? Don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-385-206-8700 or [email protected].
WhiteClouds has delivered models around the world.