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Foams for Film & TV Props
In the film and television world, props are a fundamental part of every programme – even when you might not notice them. Typically props play a role – a silent one – in every single scene of your favourite film or television show, yet given the number of props used in a single hour of footage; these props are typically 'dummy' models. In other words, the sandwich sitting in the background on the kitchen counter is probably made of foam, not bread!
The same goes for props that would otherwise pose a risk to actors and those on set. For example, weapons used in certain scenes are most likely not real but made of an incredibly high-density polyethylene foam that poses minimal risk to those acting. You may be wondering, 'but why not use a plastic axe?'. Well, when moulded into the shape of an axe, knife, or other sharp objects, plastic can still pose a significant risk of accidental injury. Likewise, if a character needed to lift an incredibly heavy set of weights, most actors would likely struggle – let alone act at the same time! Weight discs made of high-density foam would be used in place of the real thing.
Many film and television productions use additional elements to reinforce a scene's impact, such as fire and water. When these are used, some props could pose an additional risk that would ultimately jeopardise production safety standards and regulations. Props that would typically be made of rubber, card and other certain fabrics could be replaced with a foam equivalent to achieve the same look. Using a type of foam that is fire resistant or water repellent, prop managers need not worry about the items' resiliency when used alongside additional special effects.
In addition to safety, foam is often used for props that are complex or very unusual. Given foam can be easily carved or cut to size; it is a useful material for prop departments needing to create an item that cannot be found in prop rooms elsewhere. For example, that human-size alien-looking figuring in your favourite film would otherwise be difficult to source, or incredibly expensive to create out of materials like metal and plastic. On the other hand, foam is easily worked with, able to be painted and finished to a standard that looks as desired.
Our customers at Dogfish Studio created amazing gingerbread men props using high density polyurethane foam sheets, see their incredible work on top right photo!
Foam is also a good prop material in place of materials that may be very heavy. Where film and television sets are often on the move to different locations, moving heavy objects is time-consuming and impractical. To give an example, that marble chair your favourite character usually sits on cannot be made of real marble as that would be both incredibly heavy and costly to television production. It is probably made of reinforced foam – likely a wooden chair structure surrounded by high-density foam components in the desired shape – to give the look of a marble seat that is both fully functional and can be easily moved as required.
eFoam is a specialist foam manufacturer and supplier with experience in supplying professional film and television sets with foam props, per production requirements. For detailed guidance and support, please contact one of our knowledgeable advisers.
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