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.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Mars Does Have a Ruler!

It didn't take Jody very long to whip up a hotwire foam crown to establish herself as the leader of Mars. Hopefully she'll put that broom to some use during her reign as Princess!

JODY EDIT : "Um, I was just getting ready to hand the broom off to Jamie. Everyone know's it's the court jester who has to sweep".
With the basic shape laid out, and the hotwire crater glued in. We just need to cheat the front of the set with a couple more layers of 3" foam. I doubt they'll ever shoot below the surface, but this gives them some flexibility to see down into the crater. I do believe one of the toys marches to his death into the crater.
Due to adding 6 more inches to the front edge of the set piece, we needed to fill out the rest of the underside with offcuts so it will sit on it's table surface without wobbling all over the place.
With type1 styrofoam being the least dense of the foams we use, I feel better if I bore 1 3/8" holes through all the layers and inject foam into the pockets. We spray it with water first, then put tape over the openings to compress the foam expansion. This will give us a strong glue core of additional bonding strength.
We moved onto the hardcoating for the main play base next.
The crater looks fantastic, but I think I'll break the edge of the base when it hardens up. I feel that transition is a little harsh at the moment.

The 2 main rocks that will act as blinders on each side of the set were sculpted and coated next. These will barely be in frame during the shoot, but they will block the camera from shooting off the set, cause that can really suck sometimes! Especially if it's our fault :)

They wanted the surface kind of swiss-cheesy looking, so we started by chipping away at the dried hard coat, and melted in rough pockets with a torch.
The very back, third row of the set has 3, 8 foot stylized mountain ranges. This will blend the foreground right through to the painted backdrop. Our hot-wire bow cutter is adjustable up to four feet, so we just roughly ran it down the length of the sheet, letting the bow shape the face.

Using our smaller hot-wire bow cutter, I shaped the main rock that will play center frame of the commercial. I wanted this to look like several alien rocks, jutting out at sharp angles. The little bow cutter is quite a bit slower than the big one, but in time it did the job great.
The final shapes look really cool. There's three of them, all at different angle, and will look so good on the textured base.

The middle of the set, which is just behind the main set, was made from 6 sheets of foam, cut into pie shaped pieces. When these are all together, and tilted toward the camera, it will have a nice, large curve to it, sort of like a horizon line. This whole surface will get a similar texture to the main set. Although we don't need to hardcoat the whole thing. Mainly we'll just use the hardcoat as a filler between the different shapes, blending them together.
 My other new tool is this 4 foot 11 inch tall mud mixing machine. It mixes the mud very well, but the hardest part of using it is trying to get it started in the morning!

 With all of the pieces now coated, Saturday will be the painting day. I hope it goes super quick, as I haven't finished the bathroom at home yet, and I'm getting a little tired of looking at it!