January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

While we await the responses from our previously announced guests, I thought I’d get the ball rolling on one more Dark Matter crew member Q&A.  Victoria Klein, pictured above, is the show’s props master.  She and her team are our resident MacGyvers, crafting futuristic weapons and otherworldly tech using anything from electric toothbrushes to paper clips.  Over the course of the Dark Matter’s first season – and well into its second – they have created some truly inspired gadgets, guns, gak and who-knows-whats.

Today, I start taking questions for Victoria.  Let’s delve into the workings of her devious mind.  Post your queries in the comments section.  I’ll gather them up over the course of the weekend and then send them her way Monday morning!

While we’re on the subject, here’s a little something Victoria and co. came up with for a future episode.  What is it?  As always, I don’t ask because, like you, I don’t like to be spoiled.  But it does like mighty cool…

January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

My first guess was hat, but I’ve been told that was incorrect.

January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

Top view suggests more at work here.

January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

The symbols on the side are giving me Stargate flashbacks.

January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

Flick the switches, press the buttons and it lights and…does what?

January 22, 2016: Dark Matter Props!  Another Fan Q&a!

Even though we’ll never feature the bottom of the device, the props department still goes that extra step in fashioning this beautiful underside.  They clearly take pride in their work!

35 thoughts on “January 22, 2016: Dark Matter props! Another fan Q&A!

  1. Question for Victoria, When you are tasked to make a prop that is not described very well or in much detail to you, how do you get started? How do you get your inspiration? You guys do a fantastic job, the detail of the props are amazing.

  2. Victoria & co’s gizmo reminds me of the head of an antique naval x-ray machine I once worked with …. so, is this part of a mechanism that probes the minds of H8 prisoners to get info or ‘the truth’ from them?

    Ooo, I sounded quite the serious One there, didn’t I. 😶

  3. Is that a futurustic bean-cooker (referring to the photos of the rop Joe showed us, lol)?

    In all seriousness, I do have my education degree in visual arts (not teaching though, the film & tv bug bit me along with the acting mosquito). I do things voluntarily in the indy scene in Winnipeg, but would like to actually go beyond that. What woud be the best way for someone who might want to work in the props department for a show (like Dark Matter) to gain an entry-level job so they can perhaps make a living at it?

    Hoping those questions are alright!

  4. You are so right about the symbols. If this were for a Stargate show I’d have to guess it was some kind of portable wormhole generator, which maybe it is anyway. The 4 round vents inside make me think it could be some kind of communication device or atmosphere conditioning unit.

    Or a stasis pod for Bundt cakes!

    Questions for Victoria and Company:

    -As someone who frequently scraps together gadgets out of random stuff I have handy, my finished products are usually heavily influenced by what I have nearby. When you’re tasked with making props, how much of the final product is from design and how much is influenced by the items you have on hand?

    -Do you have any particular avenues of inspiration when you’re trying to design something that’s never existed before?

    -How much glue, solder, and paint do you go through in a season? What kind of supplies do you keep on hand as the “basics” for prop building?

    -Can I come over and make some toys with you guys?

    Thanks, Victoria and Joe!

  5. Hey Victoria! Great work!

    I’m going with “Personal Luxury Nuclear Accelerator”. It looks great, but I hear it’s hell on batteries.

  6. Mystery prop: I think it’s an interplanetary transport container for harvested organs, human or other species.

    Off-topic Q for Victoria Klein: Would you please share the source of that lovely sweater?

  7. I’m with Patricia on this one. It feels like its some kind of torture device.

    @Ponytail How’s your dad doing?

  8. Victoria and co., When you added the symbols to the gizmo (featured above) 1) did you come up with new symbols or already established symbols from previous show(s), and 2) do they mean anything (you keep a database of the language) or did you make them up as you created the gizmo? Thank you for all the cool props – excellent!

  9. It’s a roomba. Totally. 😀

    Question for Victoria: what type of schooling do you need to be a props master? If someone wanted to get into the field, what should they study?

  10. Whatever the above featured prop is, it’s incredibly cool!

    Questions for Victoria:
    Regarding this particular prop it has a vintage look to it. Why did you choose the color blue when it lights up? Are there certain colors that light up or show up better than others when captured on film?

    When designing props for certain characters do you go by function of the device itself or do you take into consideration each person’s characteristics to fit a prop to their personality? E.g. Bubba is big & blocky and belongs to Three, while Five who is petite & quite colorful in her attire has all these small gadgets & those awesome steampunk goggles.

    What was your most challenging prop to design from S1?

    Who or what are your greatest influences?

    Is there a Holy Grail of props?

  11. Future-century Ouija board/spirit channeler

    Great stuff, Victoria and team. Well-designed props can really enhance the dramatic credence of a scene.

  12. Hi Victoria, I’ve loved everything you and co did in the first season! Speaking of the past say your on he very first ep, how do you know what you will need?? Also how long does fours swords last?? Take care!

  13. Hi Victoria! Love the little blue sci-fi donut 🙂 Did you guys assemble it or did you buy/rent from a prop shop? Also, if you got to switch places with one other crew or cast member for one day, who would it be and why? Cheers!

  14. Victoria et al, great job on the prop Joe posted! The prop made me think of it as an modern and updated Antikythera mechanism; especially with the arcs on the bottom. Which leads me on to my questions:

    What drove you on the artistic styling for this piece? I’m seeing a few “Stargatey” stylings (gold paint, arcs, and glyphs). Are you a Stargate fan?

    I’m also wondering about the materials and machining used. CNC mills? Water jet cutters? 3D printing? Feel free to get techinical, I’m an engineer and you got me curious how this one was built.


  15. hi, Mark Nicholson here, stargate prop guy who remembers things like this way too well. those symbols are REMARKABLY SIMILAR, but not exactly like any stargate symbols I can recall. Defintely got a goa’uld or wraith vibe to it.

  16. a Dehumidifier..?
    a Dyson Blowdryer…
    a desktop Popcorn-Microwave…
    a BINGO machine…
    the device that picks out my LOSING LOTTERY TICKETS!

  17. My question for Victoria is, what is the most unusual solution you have arrived at to make a requested prop?

    I love that round hat, engine part, temporal displacement, thing-a-ma-jig shown here. Great detail through and through.
    And am very impressed with all of the props used in DM, so realistic, believable and cool! Each one helps “sell” the story!

    Well, I’m sitting here in New Jersey watching the snow pile up. We have a state of emergency declared. So I will wait for high winds to subside before rolling out the snow blower. Not complaining, as this is the first snow of any substantial amount we have seen this winter. It’s oddly beautiful.
    My heart goes out to folks in Kentucky stuck in their cars on I-75 for long hours now.

    Stay warm and safe everyone!


  18. An ice cream maker? Is there no way to get a shot of the bottom in a scene? It looks very cool! No questions because the others already asked some great ones.

    How are you Maggiemayday? How’s your pop Ponytail?

  19. I love props. They make the setting more real. And that one is gorgeous. It has a Buck Rogers Art Deco vibe (which, by the way, would fit perfectly in my living room/library/music room).

    I agree with what Joe said: the detail on the underside of the base is exceptional.

    I’ll go along with those that suggested it is a holoprojector/communicator thingie.

    All the questions I was thinking of have already been asked, so I’ll just wait for the answers.

    Thanks in advance, Victoria and crew, for taking the time to talk to us.

  20. Maybe it’s a cosmic donut…. Hehe…. I think it’s a portable power source…

    Questions for Victoria (pick your favourites, you don’t have to answer them all)

    1. What makes a prop suitable for the screen?

    2. Where do you source materials to use and do you have things stored just in case they might be useful in future episodes.

    3. What’s your favourite prop on Dark Matter? I liked the puzzle box.

    4. What’s your favourite guess for the mysterious glowing blue donut thing?

    5. What was your first job, film or non film?

    6. Did you have any favourite books or comics as a child or teenager?

    7. What’s something we might not know about Joe?

    Cheers, Chev

  21. Blue is my favourite colour. As to what it is…..a holographic projector for communication!

    Some questions for Victoria –
    Do you have a computer database of all the props you’ve made, a hard-copy one or both?

    Do you ‘recycle’ a prop by adding/removing parts of it for other characters/episodes, or do you always start from scratch?

    What is your favourite category of prop – weapons/hand-held gadgets/set-dressing?

    Are there certain colour schemes you like to use?

    Many thanks 😄

  22. Joe, did you take Akemi’s little vacuum to work and give it to Victoria? Akemi’s going to be mad at you!

    Questions for Victoria MacGyver Klein…

    Did you watch MacGyver? (It was my favorite show)

    Did you know Joe worked with MacGyver on SG1?

    What would you do if Richard Dean Anderson showed up on Dark Matter? It’s possible ya know. He could have a guest spot.

    How old were you when you started making things out of nothing?

    Over your career, what object are you most proud of?

    What type of personality/imagination do you have to have to do what you do?

    Thanks Victoria for taking the time to answer our questions!

    All you East Coast friends stay inside! Build a fire and stay warm and safe.

    @ Drea and Tam – My dad is the same. The rehab facility is threatening to dismiss him because they cannot keep him if he is not improving. But they have not done it yet. We have begun looking for alternative care. My mom wants him at home with a personal caregiver. That is horribly expensive for 24 hour care. Believe it or not, but a good nursing home would be cheaper, but my mom doesn’t like nursing homes. He stays the same, but occasionally will have a good day or two that will give us hope, but then the next day he will be worse again. His brain is getting foggy. He talks about when he was in that place before, but he has never been there before. I will be taking over my parents financial matters as soon as we can get all the paperwork done. My 90 year old mom should not be doing that anymore. She just isn’t sharp enough anymore and I’m afraid someone will take advantage.

  23. @ Frank289 @Gforce & @TamDixon – LOL! good ones! 😀 Gary @gforce – Update on the new family member?

    Mark @Comfracto Absolutely LOVED! the work you guys did on the backs of the bridge chairs in SGU! Very Cool and memorable! xo

    Carol @ 2cats Hope you and the family are staying safe and warm there in Jersey!

    @ponytail Unfortunately I know exactly what you mean with the finance stuff. I do the best I can with my mom but it seems any time my attention gets distracted to other parts of my already all too busy life my mom gets taken advantage of by one salesman or another or the banks and necessary service providers are intimidating and taking advantage of her senility and otherwise diminished thinking capacity to get her to pay more for everything! Its a shame there are folks out there willing to prey on the elderly just to make a buck!

  24. A guess as to the function of the “device” — a wormhole communicator, like Thogar suggests. At first glance I thought the symbols were Earth Zodiac symbols. But that was just my brain trying to make sense of unfamiliar symbol-shapes. Their presence on the device harks back to the StarGate address symbols. This emphasizes the possibly small controls.

  25. A follow up on the new prop — as much effort as was put into the “never-to-be-seen” bottom, that part of it would make a wonderful table-top inset. In the sense that the device could “hide in plain sight” upside-down somewhere.

  26. It’s a star map of course. Or it is a communicator to the person from the necklace in season 1. I’m sucking at name recall right now.

  27. Could that thing she’s holding be that interdimensional portal thing-ama-bob you referred to in posts ages ago?

    The props dept. on a sci-fi show is where I can definitely see myself having the MOST fun working. I am truly envious of those lucky few that get to create, almost at will, futuristic and crazy looking gadgets. It’s the final touches and subtly honing in on what the piece is actually going to look like that would be the most fun for me. I’m sure they feel somewhat likewise.

    Not surprisingly, a lot of my questions for Victoria are going to be largely similar to those I had for Linda McCormack….

    How long have you been in prop making?

    In that time, how much have you seen technology change and affect the way your job is done?

    I assume it’s made things easier in some respects, but has it also made things quicker to fabricate, more repeatable, more reliable, more…?

    Do you use any kind of 3D modeling and/or printing?

    What kinds of things (other shows/movies, industries, looks, machines, etc.) do you and your team take inspiration from when making a “device”?

    How much of any particular item that is “brand new”, i.e. a DM-only piece, is cobbled together in a mish-mash of parts to create something unique versus something that is fully sketched and fleshed out before anything is actually formed? (Obviously, if something has a distinct purpose and will be featured on screen prominently, I understand how you’d want to draw it up, make it gorgeous, and build it from scratch, but I’m asking more about the everyday stuff you see in the background on tables and shelves, the “set filler” type stuff.)

    Sorry to ask such a long question, but I find it quite amusing to learn how stuff is repurposed into something else and because you see it out of context and in a sci-fi show, your mind immediately attributes a lot of thought and hard work went into something to make it look tech-y and futuristic when really it was just a bunch of paint and glue. My case in point: there were brown pillars with water/gak in them in the background on the set of Stargate Atlantis that were largely made up of the foam packing forms from boxed items that were shipped to the studio. That’s awesome!

    Thanks in advance! Keep up the great work!

    -Mike A.

  28. Ooh, I want one! Love the underside and the cool symbols, it would make a very fine hat.

    For Victoria; what was your favorite Lost Girl prop?
    How can I make my living room look like The Dal on a budget?
    What is your fave DM prop so far, and where do you source the cool props?
    And where can we buy those cool super shiny camp plates from the prison?

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