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.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Were back.......but never really left!

After the waterslide job, Jody and I took about 5 days off to tackle some projects at home, mainly our deck!
Then, every project that rolled through the shop, we were unable to post anything on.
One project we did just finish though, was some giant letters for a commercial shoot.
The letters were to spell the word "SOFT" at 9 feet tall.
I didn't document it fully, but I did capture some pictures!

 First up was drawing the file to size. I do all my technical drawings in Corel, and this job was no different! Corel has a ton of great features, that cross both the CAD and illustration borders with ease.

The first letter we tackled was the the "O". All the letters faces were cut from 3/8" MDF, while the curved returns were table sawed from 1/8" Marsawa plywood. Being that these will just get coated with Zinser primer as their final coat, the grain of the Marsawa didn't need to be filled. Man this was big! In fact, it was too big for any truck we could rent, so we built it in 2 pieces, for final assembly on set!

The S was a monster as well! Wrapping the inside of the letters with the 1/8" was a borderline Herculean task. Me, Jody, and about 30 clamps to be exact. We did break a few sheets in the process though. I tried wetting the sheet at first, but instead of breaking with a snap, it just kind of folded like wet cardboard. But in the end we succeeded!
The F and T were saved until last, as they were all straight cuts from the 3/8" MDF. I was going to use 1/4" MDF, but I was worried that it might warp when it comes to painting.

The actual shop build took us 3 days for all the letters. Being that the pieces are so big, and heavy, the painting was to be done entirely on set, to prevent any damage to the finish. Plus it also meant we didn't have to be very careful loading the truck.
On load in day, we got to the studio around 1:30, and started assembling the O. This was the only letter that needed to be put together. It also meant doing the seam filling as well. We did that with compound 45 for speed, and ease of sanding. Still though, by the time it was all filled, sanded and painted, it was midnight. Good job we're only an hour and a half drive from the studio.............It was a late night by the time we got home.

We had a great team of P.A.'s at the studio that made moving and installing the letters really easy!
In order to make the letters safe, and not have them roll away, I made base plates from 3/4" plywood. Those are the bare plywood forms in the picture.
These got lag bolted to the concrete studio floor, then the design of them allowed for the letters to be tilted up and over them. Once standing, I drove screws through the back side of the letters, and into the base plates.

The finals looked great with the actress!
The O was my least favourite of all the letters to deal with. It was big, a pain to put together, and fill, and paint! So once it was wrapped, we barrel rolled it into the studio, and cut it up with a sawzall! THAT was the best part of the job. Getting to cut it up was quite satisfactory for me! But not before snapping a picture of Jody in the middle!
All in all, the build was pretty good. There was another element to the job, and a big one at that, but I can't post about it until the shoot airs on television..............................

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