When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

miniatures finally

We finally got the start of our computer files from our art director Mike Borthwick last night at 10.30! I know he was crunched for time in order to get them to us as soon as possible. I got to work right away converting his files into files suitable to use in Aspire. The bulk of these files will be machined as 2D flats that we will mitre the corners, and glue up in layers. The set structure pieces will mainly cut from 1/8" pvc sintra. I chose this because of the build timeline of 3 1/2 days. Sintra machines with no burring like styrene plastic does, and it glues and paints like no tomorrow. Mike drew all the parts at the scale we were building at, as to speed up our side of things, so we wouldn't have to do any scale conversions. That Mike, he's alright! When I got to the shop this morning, I started on machining the "stone" tile layout that would be cut from 5/8" MDF. I used a small 60 deg. v-bit to cut the grooves between the stones.
 I added a slight texture base in Aspire, and projected the toolpath onto the surface of that texture. The theory being that as the v-bit moved up and down with the texture, it would make the groove thicker and thinner, more like real stone.

  As the base was being routed on the Techno cnc, I moved on to carving the 6 mountain peaks. As this commercial will have 3 ASIAN inspired environments, we used the Huangshan mountains in China as our reference pics for color and shape. It took a couple of hours to rough carve all the peaks out of styrofoam. We decided to use type2 styrofoam, as this would make carving them with a knife a little easier on the wrists!

   After the mountains were all carved, I moved on to fabricating the miniature stone wall that would wrap 270 degrees around our 4 foot diameter stone bases. Jody moved on to hard coating the mountains with plaster. It was a good day work wise, which is good because the director Michael Patterson is arriving from L.A. and will be coming to the shop tomorrow to do some lens tests with the miniatures.


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