Set construction HOW TO

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Darthmagpie, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. Darthmagpie

    Darthmagpie Well-Known Member

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    For instance the walls and mostly the floors of the Deth Star and the Tantive IV look like aluminum or steel sheet but I am preety sure I have seen pics of them being built with wood. Is it a laminate? Or a sealing process that can allow you to paint it without the paint soaking in and the wood grain showing?
     
  2. exoray

    exoray Master Member

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    Sanding Sealer...

    3 or 4 coats of common old fashion Shellac, sanded between coats and you should have a surface as smooth as you sanded void of all the wood grain...
     
  3. Darthmagpie

    Darthmagpie Well-Known Member

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    makes sense is that was set builders do?
     
  4. exoray

    exoray Master Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(Darthmagpie @ Jun 23 2006, 06:29 PM) [snapback]1266954[/snapback]</div>
    That's what wood workers do... Can't really say how any particular set builder would have done it...
     
  5. DarthJRW

    DarthJRW Well-Known Member

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    i have the star wars 365 days book, you know the one that talks all about the sets. and it says on page 28 that the deathstar walls were fiberglass panels that could be attached to scafolding to make wutever shape/ wall they needed
     
  6. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You mustn´t forget that the films were shot on 70mm material, in a time when analogue was the standard. So a lot of the details get lost on film, making surfaces look like something else really easy. I.e. I am pretty sure that they did not go to the lengths and prime every panel several times and then sand everything down to get a perfectly smooth surface.

    So it was (and still is) common to use wood as a basis and the paint it.

    What usually helps a lot is a coat of wallpaper primer, giving the surface a sheen, depending on how much you thinned the primer.

    As a basis to work on you can also use a decorative wallpaper that has no structure. You can then put everything on it that you want, i.e. plaster to make it look like a Tatooine sand structure.

    But since you are going to use it indoors for private purposes I guess, you want a perfect surface. There is no other way than either using chipboard or plywood that has been laminated, or use plywood and do as exoray suggested.

    To get a metallic look, you will of course need a metal colour and then probably several layers of clear coat or, again, that wallpaper priming stuff. The wallpaper primer is usually intended to make wallpaper watersafe, like in a bathroom, but it gives paint on wallpapers a very nice sheen that I usually have used on set to make dull looking walls appear more lively ;-)

    I suggest that you make a few experiments on smaller pieces of board, to get a feel for working with the different materials and how to achieve what look.

    Michael
     
  7. Darthmagpie

    Darthmagpie Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys lots of good info. I wasn't specifically talking about a wall or floor more of the method. for instance i think the pod racers were wood but appear metal. I used the floor of the Death Star as an example because you can see troopers running on it, of course the "tink, tink, tink" sound effects help but may be a better example would be the floor panel of the falcon they lift up when the are finished hiding.

    As well as sets I have often thought of doing the Emperor's chair. the best medium for me is wood but I want it to appear to not be wood. What the material should look like is unclear to me but Smooth black with out wood grain should do it. I like the shalack idea.
     
  8. TK9120

    TK9120 Sr Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(DarthJRW @ Jun 23 2006, 07:38 PM) [snapback]1266960[/snapback]</div>
    I think Gavin Boquet says in the same book that the sets are made of wood. Then they are painted to look like whatever surface they need.
     
  9. Jedirick

    Jedirick Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    MDF can be finished to look like any solid surface. used for set dressings, number of guys here use it for templates and forming blanks for molds.
     
  10. gonk27

    gonk27 Sr Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(Darthmagpie @ Jun 24 2006, 12:27 AM) [snapback]1266984[/snapback]</div>

    I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be at all suprised if the Falcon corridor floor panels were formica laminates, glued to a wood backing for rigidity. For the opening panels, quite a thin wood backing by the looks of it.

    Formica was used in the Falcon cockpit for the instrument panels around the sides and rear bulkhead according to the blueprints, and I've always thought the floors had the same sort of sheen. Probably also used for the Death Star control room consoles.



    About John Knowle's comment on the Death Star wall panels in the 365 Days book, I read years ago that these were actually vac forms stapled to wooden frames. They vibrate quite a lot as the DS is being attacked and troopers fall against them, more so than you'd expect from even thin fibreglass casts. The panels with the cut out oblong lighting strips are particularly thin and floppy. The Detentionary set included fibreglass panels though so maybe he had those in mind? or perhaps some other panels were reinforced with fibreglass? With the sheer numbers they made (even though they were recycled) vac forming would be a lot more cost effective.


    Jeremy
     
  11. CaptCBoard

    CaptCBoard Well-Known Member

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    There are several ways to get the look of metal on any hard surface. It really depends on what kind of metal you are going after and what kind of wear it has to endure. For instance, if you have an expanse of smooth, brushed metal, like the interior of a stainless-steel bank vault, there is a material made by Formica called 'Metal-Mica'. It is expensive, but the only labor involved is simply using contact adhesive to apply it to the walls and it can be shaped and cut just like any other Formica product.

    For a more 'medium steel' look, tempered Masonite is painted a dark gray and then sealed with a clear flat or satin finish. The color can be mottled using other shades of gray and even spots of old rust added using the appropriate color, usually with a sponge. Layering these colors helps sell the effect. The clear sealer is used just to keep the paint from wearing.

    There are also a number of metalic foils sold in very large sheets, usually vinyl based. And then there is the ultimate-- sheet metal. It can be shined up and buffed to a mirror finish, or treated with acids to take the surface down to dead dull. It is also the only surface you can reliably dent, if necessary. Sheet metal would be commonly used for flooring-- nothing looks like metal that the real deal and its probably the cheapest of all these methods.

    And yes-- I've been there and done that.

    Scott
     
  12. Darthmagpie

    Darthmagpie Well-Known Member

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  13. Hellclaw 01

    Hellclaw 01 Well-Known Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(Darthmagpie @ Jun 23 2006, 09:53 PM) [snapback]1267030[/snapback]</div>

    Medium Density Fiberboard
     
  14. Great_Bizarro

    Great_Bizarro Sr Member

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    Scott, do you know of any good sources of information on painting a faux metal finish on tempered hardboard? I am wanting to do my entertainment room in such a finish.
     
  15. DarthJRW

    DarthJRW Well-Known Member

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    :) if you have the book look on page 28
     
  16. CaptCBoard

    CaptCBoard Well-Known Member

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    When I do faux finishes, I just goof around with paints that seem like they might do the trick. In the case of metal, its just important the surface be dead smooth. To advise beyond that, I'd have to know the exact look you are going for and how large the surface area is.

    Scott
     
  17. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Sr Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(ManfromNaboo @ Jun 24 2006, 12:49 AM) [snapback]1266964[/snapback]</div>
    Sorry. The main unit was shot on 35mm Eastman.

    Some FX work was done on 65mm VistaVision.
     
  18. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    <div class='quotetop'>(HAL9000 @ Jun 24 2006, 07:20 AM) [snapback]1267154[/snapback]</div>
    Sorry. The main unit was shot on 35mm Eastman.

    Some FX work was done on 65mm VistaVision.
    [/b][/quote]

    Dang, you´re right, total brainfart on my side . 70mm would have shown much more detail than 35mm, regarding grain.

    Of course SW was shown in a few movie theaters in 70mm, but those prints were blown up onto 70mm.

    Michael
     
  19. vistaVision

    vistaVision Well-Known Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(HAL9000 @ Jun 24 2006, 02:20 AM) [snapback]1267154[/snapback]</div>
    Sorry. The main unit was shot on 35mm Eastman.

    Some FX work was done on 65mm VistaVision.
    [/b][/quote]

    Almost correct. VistaVision is a 35mm format, running horizontally, 8 perfs wide. Similar to the 35mm SLR format.

    The appearance of an object's surface in a motion picture will depend more on lighting conditions than the format resolution. If building a set for a film, I'd rely on painted plywood, MDF and other such materials as already described here. If building a set or a prop for a collection, consider wood for the base structure and laminate a smooth finish surface. Styrene sheet might be a workable material. You can get large (4 x 8 ft.) sheets, inexpensive, easy to work with and paintÂ… Laminate it to MDF or ply with contact cement.

    Marcus
     
  20. stonky

    stonky Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The only downside to MDF is it's weight - it's incredibly heavy. However, there is no grain or crown to deal with, so it's kinda 50/50.
     
  21. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    <div class='quotetop'>(stonky @ Jun 24 2006, 12:17 PM) [snapback]1267206[/snapback]</div>
    Yeah, I did a set two years ago with MDF boards, 12mm strong, 1,60mx3m in size, lowbudget production, not enough workforce, no forklift, no crane. That really was a pain to move them around.

    The advantage was their price and construction speed against classic framework walls.

    And regarding details on film, it is correct that it depends on lighting conditions, too, but I assure you that the finer details (i.e. brush strokes, wood grain etc.) definitely get lost in the end. Even worse on TV-shows, b/c the bad res. And of course 16mm.

    It is true that 35mm captures a lot of detail in a very well lit set. But still, the film stock lets you get away with a lot of cheating that the human eye doesn´t tolerate.

    Totally OT here, but there are going to be a lot of problems when the movie industry switches over to fully digital, since the rule of thumb there is "what you see with the naked eye, you see on film", if it is replayed on HD equipment. I am curious how this will affect production design department budgets.

    And in addition, what do you think we will notice once the OT has been transferred to HD ? If they don´t do a lot of digital cleaning, I think we are in for a few things or examples of fine 1970ies craftsmanship ;)

    Michael
     
  22. Darthmagpie

    Darthmagpie Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea of using a low cost plastic like Styrene as a skin. What about Sintra isn't that even cheeper?

    Great point ManfromNaboo, HD effects a lot of stuff. Most notably make up, you can't cake it on. I have a 62" HD and there are a lot of "good looking" people on film with heavy make up hiding acne and flaws.
     
  23. vistaVision

    vistaVision Well-Known Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>(Darthmagpie @ Jun 24 2006, 08:59 AM) [snapback]1267238[/snapback]</div>
    Sintra should work well. In my area, styrene sheet is more readily available, in more thickness varieties.
    I am also more familiar with it's working characteristics; very easy to score and snap clean "cuts," easily bonded to itself with MEK, easy to paint, etc.

    Sintra is a form of PVC, you can "weld bond" it with PVC cement. I don't know how well it takes paint, but I think it might be more stable over time than sytrene... I'm sure someone with more PVC/Sintra experience can provide better guidance. Might also be more expensive than styrene, that's been my experience.

    Marcus
     
  24. Great_Bizarro

    Great_Bizarro Sr Member

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    Sintra is nice stuff, you just have to watch what solvents are in the paint you use on it and don't breathe the dust from it when cutting sanding etc.. I used it for lots of indoor signage and solid pvc for outdoor. Sintra has a tendency to warp when it gets in the hot sun and pull away from what ever it is mounted to. I have been told that if you seal the edges of it it won't have that problem.
     

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