Hidden away in an unmarked building in a quiet industrial park outside of Los Angeles, CA is a prop builder’s
Nirvana. As a “do it yourself”
community, we meticulously study
everything we can related to the
props designed and built by the
professionals. I was allowed a peek
into their world when I had the
opportunity to tour one of the most
respected and sought-after special
effects studios — not once but
twice! I was granted access to
Started in 2007 by partners
Lindsay Macgowan, Shane Mahan,
John Rosengrant, and Alan Scott,
they have been sought out by major
movie studios and advertising
agencies to work their magic.
Characters have been created
there for such movies as Jurassic
Park, RoboCop, Iron Man, and
Terminator. They were rewarded for
their work on Real Steel and Iron
Man with Best Visual Effects Academy Award nominations.
Also, they have contributed work to hundreds of
commercials including the Aflac duck and the Kia hamsters.
I was fortunate enough to see the Aflac duck in action. It
was a special treat to see a character that I had seen on TV
come to life before my very eyes (Figure 1)!
Working for Hollywood presents its own set of
challenges — impressing the critical eyes of not only the
camera, but the director and audience as well.
Although it is unlikely that any of us will have the
opportunity to work or build in a facility such as this, we
can certainly learn from what they do. We can only hope to
assemble such a talented staff of fellow artists to assist us
with our creations.
This model is the one I have been working towards on
several of my latest builds. I have
attempted to develop a team with
various skills in order to complete a
fantastic character. Trying to pull
together a team of builders with
complimentary but different skills
can be a challenge, but the reward
is well worth the effort.
In my quest to continually
expand my knowledge, this
opportunity was a dream come true!
My host for the two tours of the
facility that I was fortunate enough
to meet was David Covarrubias. He
provided me with an experience that
I will not soon forget!
I started following David’s
creations after purchasing a Stan
Winston Studios video that
showcased David’s skills as he
walked us through the creation of a
set of servo driven eyes. His easy-going personality carried through to
his presentation of the material
which made it fun to watch.
I was also fortunate enough to
meet and briefly visit with Richard
I do not want to simply tantalize you by highlighting
how the pros do things, so I have included several
additional resources to help you learn some of the same
We are going to visit a few of the departments that are
This month, I would like to take you on a journey that will give you a rare look inside a
prop builder’s fantasy land!
Legacy Effects By Steve Koci
46 SERVO 08.2017
Figure 1. David brings the Aflac duck to life.