It’s amazing what the kids can do with computers these days

•May 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Click here to see what I’m talking about.

Or maybe there are spaceship launches in Chicago…?

And asteroids look like … potatoes

•April 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

IMG_4376 IMG_4375 IMG_4374Asteroids have long been described as looking like potatoes.  Therefore, for our opening scene with asteroids, we’re going to use … potatoes! Specifically, I got some good old russet potatoes, as well as a red, but the star of the show is clearly the big yam.  A little spray paint, a few impact craters added, and they should look quite nice on film.  Later I’ll tell you how we’re going to make them spin as they slowly roll through space…

Here’s Nina working on asteroids while Erin tweaks the paint on the concrete bunker set.

Building the first set

•April 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

bunker 4

Bunker 1 IMG_4378 IMG_4377IMG_4382IMG_4379

We’ll be shooting in the studio at Northwestern, and space there is at a premium. There’s already a set that remains built full-time (typical living room), as well as one large section of the studio that is a green screen, so we must be able to build and strike our set pretty efficiently.  The script calls for a concrete room (as in an unfinished building), so, I decided to make it out of 2-inch foam which can be painted to look like concrete and be moved around really easily.


I planned the set and modeled it in Cinema 4D. I Made up a list of parts and measurements, and everyone got to work. First, everything was measured and cut, then the painting began. Took a while for everything to dry, but the faux concrete treatment actually worked really nicely.  Found it here. We let everything dry overnight. What’s nice about this is that the whole set can stack up in a 4 X 8 space.  I decided to put it all together in a dry run, which took me about 90 minutes working alone.  With everyone involved it should go up in about 15-20 minutes, and come down in about 10.  I think it looks pretty convincing!



•March 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Working on storyboards for the sci – fi short.  As usual, the piece I thought was going to be 8-10 minutes is now feeling enormous.  Will have to start cutting down soon, but first I’m just going to get everything on paper.



•March 26, 2014 • 1 Comment

Took it outside and dusted it with white spray paint.  I think because the model was black to begin with, and spray painted gray, I won’t need to go back and do the wash technique.  I’m pretty happy with the detail, and the depth!  Might give it a second dust coat of white, but maybe not.  I don’t want it to be too bright or shiny — will film better that way. 

I strung it up by its wires and seems to be holding just fine.  Will post some pix of how it looks in the actual film, but that will be a few months away…


Spaceship Model Build Day Two

•March 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Took a trip to Home Depot and got about $25 more, so my total cost is now $125.  This included some putty (not auto putty, but wall putty), a couple of thin plastic buckets, some more bolts, washers, and lock nuts, and some very thin wire. I decided to take the model apart again, so I could better attach the top and bottom plates to the main body.  Also, I realized I needed a way to hang the model, so I wanted to be able to run a couple of thin wires directly to the middle dowel rod.

Next, I started with the putty on the panels.


I set that mess aside to dry, and got to work on attaching the bottom engine panel to the main body.  I used a combination of glue and bolts with washers. Easier just to show:



And then I devised a way with a long bolt to attach the engine plate directly to the wooden dowel rod.


Here’s what I did with the wire:


I’ll put an identical one in the top half, and that way I can suspend it to shoot it without having it spin on a single wire. The wire is very small: 24 gauge. Hopefully it will be strong enough: this model is quite light. Previous models I’ve made have been mostly constructed of PVC, and they ended up weighing nearly 30 pounds.

Then, I started putting on body panels. Yesterday I realized I should have gotten some .5 mil styrene panels, but at HD I actually got something better: these super cheap plastic buckets. About $1.95:


You can cut them apart with scissors.  With a ruler and scissors, I was able to cut out some uniform “body panels.” The hot glue gun made putting them on a snap:



Because this was so easy, and was going to look good, I decided to backtrack and just clean off the mess I’d made with the other panels and the putty. It was never going to work, and would make for a ton of work.  So I cut up the other of the two buckets and went to work on the top half. After that I added lots of greebles. I used a combination of the hot glue gun and the model cement. I took both sections outside and gave them another coat of the gray primer.

At H.D. you can get little samples of paint, and they’ll even mix them for you, which is really cool. So I got a pure white and ordered a black mixed but stupidly forgot to go back and get it before I left. I got a cheap paint brush, and the idea is that with the black you make up a super diluted wash, mostly water with some black paint, and let that seep into the cracks and crevices. Then you take a brush and get some white paint on it, dry it off as much as possible, and then do a dry brush of white paint. My thought is that I’ll first give it a coat of white spray paint, then go for the black wash and the dry white. Hopefully this will give it nice detailed texture.

Just brought them back inside from the painting… looks good!


Now it’s time to put another hole in the top for the wire, mount the top section with glue, bolts and nuts, and then re-glue the equator and put it all together.

Spaceship model build day one continued

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Now back to the main model. I took it outside as well and give it a light coat of the gray primer spray paint. I like the fact that these flower pots were black to begin with, because when I make the score lines they will show up black. It will have a built in contrast that I can lighten up, rather than trying to darken a white model. The PVC piece on top looks a lot more integrated now. Obviously, I’ll cover up the wood screws.


I was inspired by something I saw on the web (can’t find it now) to try and add some panels to the model to break up the round shape. The idea is then to fill the gaps with body putty that can be sanded or painted.  I made them out of the 1.5mm styrene sheets


Putting them on looks kind of rough – I used the hot glue gun, which works great, but the alignment is obviously a problem. I’m going to give it a shot with the body putty (I will probably use drywall compound instead of body putty unless I can find some at home depot).












I put these across the top section. On the bottom section, I started adding greebles and score lines.





Now it’s off to Home Depot to get body putty, some more sandpaper, and a few more nuts / bolts / odds / ends to attach the engine section to the rest of the body. I realize now I should have gotten some thinner styrene sheets, like .5mm, to cut up and use as body panels. I’m a long way from the hobby store so might see what they have at HD.