How to Increase Production Value


I have a problem! I think this is a problem that many other creatives face, so you may want to tune in for a few minutes.

I want to push myself creatively. I have reached a point, at which making my photography more grand and impressive would require larger crews and a bigger budget. Furthermore, my imagination doesn’t respect financial bounds or logistical messes, it simply manifests ideas that would look appealing or strike a chord with the viewer. Therefore, I am forced to find ways to undergo a production value augmentation without having the budget to match. Does this sound familiar to anyone out there? If so, let me offer some advice.

Keep in mind, I haven’t solved all of my issues. After all, we are the ultimate problem solvers and will always have hurdles to clear. However, I have a solution to your prop problems. Make them!

Yes, making props is the solution to many of your creative issues. Crafting your own props can be the solution to a strict budget while being the ultimate practical effects. Furthermore, you won’t have to figure out how to add them in post, which makes your imagery more believable.

I recently had the prop dilemma when I started pre-production on a laser tag series that involved bringing laser tag and sci-fi lore together. I wanted realistic weaponry that would be used as lasers in the final images. Of course, since I was already going to have to add the laser blasts in post, I did not want to have to add the guns as well. The reason for this, is that you lose the sense of realism as you add more assets. Once I decided not to use stock images as assets, I was faced with a decision to render the guns in 3D or find props.

As I searched for props, I was finding expensive prop guns that would require shipping and long waits. That would not work, so I shifted my focus to rendering guns in 3D. The issue with 3D rendering is the length of time it would take to model and texture various types of weaponry to include in the final images. I did not have enough time to sit down and create 3D guns for a couple of weeks. I must admit, I get impatient when it comes to creating sometimes.

After getting myself down for a while, I realized I could make my own guns. I hopped on YouTube, and found some really helpful links to turning nerf guns into realistic props!

This looked like fun! I jumped on Craigslist and found 3 nerf guns for $30. After playing with them for a while, I stripped them down and started painting them. After giving them time to dry, I assembled them and set them aside for the shoot.

In total, it took me about 1.5 days to disassemble, paint, and reassemble. This process would probably take less time if you do not care about having functional nerf guns after the fact.

With paint and guns, I am into the project for about $50. However, I now have three prop guns for any shoot that I could need them for. These will be invaluable assets going forward.

You will find that creating content is a balance between finances and creativity. Any way that you can circumvent the boundaries of finances and logistics is a great way to launch yourself into a new realm of production.


I guess I can add Prop Master to my repertoire.

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