Creating a small spaceship cockpit set

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by jeremiahjw, May 5, 2012.

  1. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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    I'm planning on creating a small spaceship cockpit for a short film project. I'd be trying to make it as cheap and simple as possible.

    The size is going to be around that of a Viper or X-Wing cockpit, I'll also be going for a similar design.

    I'll use acrylic sheeting for illumination panels, and for the one or two interactive displays that will be in the cockpit, example below. The screen UI will be added in as an effect.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The screens will be illuminated from outside lighting, like you see in the photo below. I'll probably also use plywood for support.

    [​IMG]

    I won't worry about buying buttons and electronic parts for the controls and such, I'll use angles so that I can hide or insinuate things. It's going to be a fairly short sequence with tight shots and shallow DoF/lens flares.

    Where I need your help:

    I'm using foam for the interior of the cockpit. What are my paint options, is there any spray paint that won't melt the foam? Are there any sites out there that detail the construction of science fiction sets, so I can get ideas for building my own? Any suggestions you guys have?
     
  2. Jonny B

    Jonny B Active Member

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    What kind of "Look" are you going for?
    Clasic Buck Rodgers/Commander Cody with big dials and gears.
    Clasic Battlestar Galactica with ~military~ button panels and screens everywhere.
    Star Trek: Next Gen with tutch panels.

    What's the budget....wait...IS there a budget?

    What kind of stuff do you have access to? We can do ths Apollo 13 style and come up with the best "fixes" :p
     
  3. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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    Gritty metal with shiny touch screens.

    I dug through my files and found a rough idea of what I'm going for as far as the space/shape.

    [​IMG]

    I'd refine it more, but it gives you a basic idea of the space I'm looking at. The top part would be covered with a window.

    The main screen at the front would have the graphic UI elements on it that would be added in post, I'm going for one of those light up touch screen kind of things like you had in The Island.

    [​IMG]

    So basically, I'm looking for advice on building it with foam (painting, etc) and looking for other BTS shots of similarly designed cockpits. :)
     
  4. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    The thing about doing such a set is that there's many methods that you can use, depending on what you're wanting to do and how much money you're wanting to spend.

    A while ago, there was a fan film called Broken Allegiance that had a website that had several behind the scenes making-of bits, one of them included set construction where they designed a spaceship bridge that could be modified to represent three different spaceship configurations. Unfortunately, the site that it's housed on is not running like it used to. I do, however have the video, but I can easily explain what the set was constructed of: scrap wood, computer parts and vintage car parts. And, much like what you've explained that you are planning on using the light panels for, the production borrowed the Okudagrams method from Star Trek: The Next Generation for some displays for the ship.

    Some have suggested using PVC piping to create the skeleton of your craft's cockpit and use the thin sheets of wood you'd find at Home Depot/Lowes to create the surfaces of the inside of the cockpit, and cut out sections to allow for the panels where the displays will go. Or, instead of using wood sheets, you can use foamcore board and paint them with acrylic paint.

    The guy here created a quick and dirty cockpit for a 48 Hour Film Contest for a parody of the Death Star Assault.

    There's a post over at the Indy Mogul forums that discusses spaceship interiors and sets. In fact, I posted there once about the Broken Allegiance back when their site was still up.

    I found this PDF file at TK560.com that could also be useful. It's on how to construct the cockpit for an X-Wing and Y-Wing design from Star Wars, but it may be adjustable for your needs, or at least give you a few ideas: http://www.tk560.com/CockpitSet.pdf
     
  5. Jonny B

    Jonny B Active Member

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    The old saying "No need to reinvent the wheel." comes to mind here. These are a few nice cockpit shots of some Macross VF's (steal what you like and move around the rest:rolleyes ):
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As for painting foams, water colors will work... but any spray paint will result in the same melted mess.

    Grab something like this....
    [​IMG]

    Chop it up in PAINT or COREL DRAW to get this....

    [​IMG]

    Print it out... and then use some rubber cement to glue it to a frosted piece of plastic.
    Use some gaffers tape (duct tape) on the inside to block light, then illuminate this piece with just a light bulb.

    Prest'o! cheap easy to build cockpit that has some serious cool factor in it.
     
  6. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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    @CB2001 - Thanks for those links!

    @Jonny B - You gave me a really good idea for secondary display screens

    So, I know I'm using the foam. Does any liquid (non-spray paint) paint/primer work, or do I have to use a specific kind? What do I use to connect sheets together at the corners, or to stick a piece of foam on top of another and make it stick?
     
  7. Caveneau

    Caveneau Sr Member

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    Very cool.
    I've always wanted to try building something like this but don't have enough room in the garage.
    I'd like to see more pictures from the set.
    How's the film coming along?
     
  8. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    No problem. Always doing my part to share info for filmmaking. :)

    I'm assuming it does. I have not yet experimented myself with foam. But I know acrylic paint sticks to foamcore board (as it's been used in a variety of tutorials by Indy Mogul, for example: the BTTF Hoverboard tutorial). However, I say experiment to see what works and sticks and what doesn't work and doesn't stick. Even production designers experiment with materials to see what works and what doesn't so that they'd be able to use it for a production.
     
  9. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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    I haven't started any part of production, other than planning the ship design. It's more of a teaser, less than 2 minutes long. The main part will be building the cockpit, then I'll have some post work doing FX for the exterior of the ship.
     
  10. WarPig

    WarPig Sr Member

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    What kind of foam are you using? If the "floor mat" type stuff, check out the foam costume build threads: you *can* paint foam, but you need to seal it first. Plasti-Kote paints work, and if you seal the surface with a thinned white glue, it should take primer then almost any other paint.

    The problem the costumers have with painting foam is that it may chip or crack, being on a flexible surface. If your panels are static, you should be able to paint them with no chipping problems.
     
  11. Yellowjacket

    Yellowjacket Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When building the first cockpit for our next film project, my brother first built the entire thing out of cardboard to get a feel for the fit of all the components. It was dead on to the finish in size and feel and made it much easier to flesh out all the wood and metal that made up the finished piece.
     
  12. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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    @WarPig - I'll be using RS Styrofoam sheets

    @Yellowjacket - LOL! I was trying to figure out how to make a "model" of the ship before doing the real thing, cardboard hadn't occurred to me.

    I found these from another scifi film that involves a spaceship cockpit (I posted an exterior photo in my OP).

    It has the look I'm going for, and I got some design ideas from it

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Basically, that, but with touchscreens and white light panels instead of electronic buttons.
     
  13. Caveneau

    Caveneau Sr Member

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    Very cool.
     
  14. jeremiahjw

    jeremiahjw Member

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  15. BruceKenobi

    BruceKenobi Active Member

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    The idea of recreating a VF-1 cockpit is an excellent idea, Kid's Logic made a 1:6 scale diorama that is very good for referencing too:
    VF-1 - cockpit 3Q behind Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit 3Q behind light-up Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit 3Q front above Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit 3Q front Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit front Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit side behind Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit side close-up Kid's Logic.jpg VF-1 - cockpit side Kid's Logic.jpg

    If you think about it, it's quite narrow, and you could do some stuff with wood panels, get some switches. I like the idea.
     
  16. brandomack

    brandomack Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Where are you located? If you're near me i would be happy to assist you. I'm a Scenic Carpenter in the Film Industry.
     

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