Brain in a Jar

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Tyler Brown, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Tyler Brown

    Tyler Brown New Member

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    A show I'm getting ready to work on has a Brain in a Jar. It's not going to be visible up close. Maybe 15 feet away is the closest anyone is going to be viewing it.

    I'm looking for some ideas on how to make the brain readable for what it is from that distance and ways to trick out the container. The challenge is making it to scale but still making it visually engaging. What about ideas to make it look a little steam punk/pulp science fiction?

    If you've made one before what were effects that came off well?
    I've got a two month window before I need to have this thing done so I'm
    exploring ideas.

    Cheers!
     
  2. robstyle

    robstyle Master Member

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    Distilled water, fake brain, glass jar. Or double the fake brain out for cow brains if you can get them from a butcher before they hack them up. The issue with real tissue (skeet skeet) is it will both cloud the distilled water and start to break down almost immediately with little bitty particles floating around.

    Personally I hate anything steam punk. Its always clunky add on bits that dont do anything and have no function. If its right for the project, do it.
     
  3. Contec

    Contec Master Member

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  4. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    For me a classic for a brain in a jar is either a preserved brain in formaldehyde or a brain with lots of wires and with bubbles coming up from the bottom of the container. Maybe make it look a little like the jars they use for heads in Futurama, but put something on top so you don't see all the bubbles breaking on the surface. And lights, it will need blinking lights on top and/or bottom.
     
  5. robstyle

    robstyle Master Member

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    Id have to disagree with blinking lights as it doesnt add anything to the practicality of it. Many times the work spent on self contained lighting a prop is voided by on set lighting. Without knowing the prjects, setting, sets, lighting, how its going to be shot... I have to assume its going to be shot on RED or 7D or something inbetween. Pending the on set lighting, blinking lights can screw with things. On an art dept standpoint, blinking lights are just horrible for anything other than a warning or danger visual. Pulsing light would be different but it would have to do a rotational pulse between possibly three bulbs. This would keep constant light on the item and avoid the dreaded blinky lights. If doing pulse lighting you can do this super cheap with off the shelf dimmer switches placed in a control box and small bulbs with a master outlet that simply plugs into the wall.

    As an example I once had to build a pre red box English phone booth that strobed, flickered, pulsed, sparked, smoked and caught fire all with a person inside. The self contained lighting was simple yet the DP and lighting guy were sort of moron's. They shot it completly different from what we had talked about and what it was built for. They lost the shot and effects in doing so. Instead they went with an on/off set light the lighting guy thought looked better. It looked horrible, just like someone flipping a switch on and off.
     
  6. ONEYE

    ONEYE Sr Member

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  7. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yeah, I got a little carried away there at the end.
     
  8. exoray

    exoray Master Member

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    If you go with real tissue, use Everclear, Bacardi 151, 'Moonshine' or any other 150+ proof clear grain alcohol, the tissue will slightly bleach out and change color but won't break down for many, many years... High purity grain alcohol is a common 'safe' nontoxic alternative to formaldehyde in many labs and displays...
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  9. robstyle

    robstyle Master Member

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    Thats good to know next time im stuck in a lab overnight with a hot chick.
     
  10. Tyler Brown

    Tyler Brown New Member

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    Where did you get the tubes for the jar's? I'm thinking some sort of fish tank container but I'm still not sure what direction I want to go.


     
  11. Tyler Brown

    Tyler Brown New Member

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    Thanks man, that is one of the things I absolutely needed. :)
     
  12. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    Depending on the show it could even go the Cain route from Robocop 2 and have the brain and a bit of spinal cord.
     
  13. ElliotStone

    ElliotStone Well-Known Member

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    This was the first image that came to mind when I read the thread title

    [​IMG]

    Like Contec posted above, I think the jello mould could be a good option. How about an online Halloween store. To make one yourself you could also use some foam or material similar you can carve/shape in the rough size/shape of a brain with a weight in it, maybe use a type of chaulk to pipe on the texture, let dry and paint as desired.

    Depending on your set lighting, I like the thoughts of illumination from below, as if the closest people will be getting is from 15ft it would help to make it clear that it is without a doubt a brain in a jar.
     
  14. TK-2126_MD

    TK-2126_MD Well-Known Member

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    If u have a Medical school close to u ( or better yet if u know anybody that is studying any thing that's health related) the first yrs they all tend to study the same subjects. u can have access to either real brains ( Formaldehyde isn't used any more, less then 3-4% now a days or highly detailed plastic replicas) u could cast one of theses and use as a base for the one u want to make or use.

    As for a jar, look for thous old Glass giant pickle jars they rock for stuff like that.
     
  15. epilepticsquirl

    epilepticsquirl Sr Member

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    I've got a shark suspended in formaldehyde that I keep in a jar I'd like to give that treatment to. hmmm... decisions.
     
  16. hydin

    hydin Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'd love to set up something like Caine from Robocop 2. Loved the eyes and spinal cord, and bubbly effects.

    I am in kinda the same boat with figuring out what to use though. I still wanna make an Iman gland in a display jar, but damned if I can figure out how to get it to stay halfway in the tube without floating or showing a little fishing wire gluing it in place.

    Chris
     
  17. thegreatgalling

    thegreatgalling Sr Member

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    Just throwing this out there, but can you use real animal brains? You might want to stop by your local butcher and ask where you might find a whole cow brain.

    They are usually marked as "beef brains."

    To me, that seems the most realistic. There are also a few inexpensive rubber brains on the Bay:

    http://shop.mobileweb.ebay.com/searchresults?kw=Fake+brain&x=0&y=0&cmd=SKW
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  18. jedichase

    jedichase Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Please write AB-NORMAL BRAIN on one for us Young Frakenstein fans. Also the jars shown below are quite simple and would be easy to make 15 of them.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Hazelrah

    Hazelrah Well-Known Member

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    If this is a static piece I would go with something like this...
    Rubber Human Bloody Brain Prop

    and then submerge it in you clear container in this product...

    Lucky bamboo complemented by transparent water crystal beads

    The great thing about this stuff is if you add enough crystals when they expand the compress together tightly and look like a fully liquid filled container... you just may need to rehydrate the crystals now and then to keep them expanded.
     

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