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June 6, 2018

Hollywood Loves Plastic!

Did you know that some of your most favorite props from movies are made from plastic?

Plastics are all over the silver screen, from lightsabers to Ghostbuster proton packs.  Plastics make the perfect costar, since they’re versatile, durable, and easily replaceable.  Did you know about some of these incredible ways plastics help make movie magic?

  1. Stunt people need plastic!  Polymer plastic back braces protect stunt men and women from heavy falls, falls that may require more than one take.  These braces are made from a polypropylene layer for strength, and filled with polyurethane to absorb as much shock from the stunts.  Fall bags are also created using the same shock absorbing technology to keep the stunt people safe.

  2. Cardboard sets are a thing of the past.  Since the 1970’s, Hollywood’s sets have been created using expanding polystyrene and thermoforming resin.  These materials make it easy to create realistic looking atmospheres for all kinds of movies. They are also waterproof, making them way more durable than cardboard, and can be used indoors or outside!

  3. Plastic models of sets can be used on a much larger scale.  What happens if you need a shot of a planet that doesn’t exist?  Make a model! Injection molding can be created to make realistic looking sets to create these out of this world shots.  Actors can also be filmed against a green screen and then added to these sets at a later time.

  4. Animatronics are plastic, too!  What kind of sci fi movies would be complete without the likes of Alien and E.T.?  Using metal frames, and then covering them with a polyurethane plastic to provide a skin over the creatures help to create a more realistic looking monster for the big screen.

  5. Broken glass?  More like broken plastic!  Thanks to the help of sound effects and amazing actors, soft plastic can be used in place of broken glass to protect the actors and crew on set.

  6. Non lethal weapons.  An epic fight scene wouldn’t be complete without a fierce looking sword or shield.  Most weapons on set must comply with safety standards, and by using plastic and polymers, they can.  Plastics and resins are also more affordable to reproduce, so many of the same weapon or armor can be made for a fraction of the cost.

  7. You can recreate your own weather!  No need to wait for a cloudy day or a snowstorm to get the weather you were going for.  Fake snow is the way to go! Not only does it last longer than real snow, it’s not cold, so the only shivering comes from actors! Shoot through an aquarium full of salt water and a latex mixture to recreate that scary hurricane weather!

What are some ways plastic has helped create a bit of movie magic for you?

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