The Abyss models

boatbuilder1

Well-Known Member
hey guys does anyone have the cinefx issue about this movie
I really need to get a hold of one from what Ihave been told they are now unavailabe as a back issue
I am drafting plans for a 1/24 scale model fully functional rc submarine
I would like to hear from any one has can help and I would like to reimburse for the help

chuck
 

Goldenrod

Sr Member
Carl Horner was one of the model builders on that production.
He was also my model miniatures instructor for about 3 semesters at the Art institute in Pittsburgh way back 91'. He had some really cool stories.
-Goldenrod
 

JediDeni

New Member
Hey Goldenrod, AIP, IDT Class of '90 myself. How ya doing?

Carl had some good stories about the H-wood biz. I got the clear impression he didn't care for the "King of the World" at all. Are you still in contact with him? At the time I was graduating, he was making the television set (that gets tossed down the stairs) for the NotLD remake. I had been offered the chance to make it, but I had to turn it down because I was getting ready for portfolio review and didn't have the time. RRRRRR......

Anyway, cool to see a fellow IDT guy here.


Dennis H.
 

cobywan

Sr Member
IDT Seattle '93. Not much to tell. Although I did work with a guy who worked on the huge Titanic miniature. He still has some parts of it at his house.
 

Pauleysolo

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I knew Carl Horner when I was a model builder at Brick Price Movie miniatures AKA Wonderworks way back in 1987--Didn't he shave his head and join a strange religion or something??
 

JediDeni

New Member
Well, when he was at the Art Institute, I want to say his hair was about shoulder length- not long, but not short either. He was, to me anyway, philosophically religeous. We would talk some about it, but I wouldn't say he was fanatical in any way.

Actually, he was a great instructor. Anything you needed or wanted to know about- he was there for you. He and his wife started a company called Miniatures from Mars, but that was right around the time I graduated and I only ran into him once after that. Good Guy.

Chuck, I think I have a magazine or something that had an interview with the guy who built the minisubs for the Abyss. I'll have to look around and see if I still have it. Didn't intend to highjack your thread.


Dennis
 

JediDeni

New Member
Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen. Found 'em. (sorry, wrong Cameron movie)

American Cinematographer Dec. 1989, vol. 70 no. 12, pg. 78

It wasn't exactly clear, but it looks like the mini-sub filming miniatures were built by Dave Goldberg at Dream Quest Images. "The mini-subs turned out to be just under 24"...."

"DQI's excitement over being able to fit all their effects equipment into a two foot, 1/8th scale minisub...."


Starlog #145 has an interview with Ron Cobb. It shows a concept drawing he did of the Flatbed front 3/4 view and a painting by Steve Burg of the rear 3/4 view as well as two small photos of the full size Flatbed front and rear.


Starlog #146 has an article about the Abyss. It says the full scale craft were built by Can-Dive Services Ltd., a Canadian commercial diving company.


I still think I recall seeing a model or RC that someone built already, but I can't seem to remember were I saw it.

HTH


Dennis
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I realize this thread is over five years old but I just found it and thought I'd pop in.

I was the model shop supervisor at Dream Quest Images on The Abyss. My crew built and shot all of the "dry for wet" motion control miniatures, shot in heavy smoke to represent being underwater. Among other things, we built the 1/8 scale submersibles (Cab and Flatbed), the 1/8 scale Deepcore rig, 1/8 scale wrecked USS Montana nuclear submarine, and a bunch of other stuff.

The 1/4 scale RC submersibles shot underwater were built by Walt Conti. The functioning portion of the full scale submersibles was built by Can-Dive out of Canada with cosmetic shells and details added by Don Pennington. Brick Price Movie Miniatures built the wet-for wet models (Benthic Explorer, another smaller Deepcore, and a smaller scale USS Montana.

I'm happy to answer any questions I can about the models, at least what I can remember! It's been over 20 years.
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hi Dave! Great info.
Can you remember anything about the Alien hardware that was used? It wasn't all CGI was it?
The only CGI was the water tentacle "psuedo-pod". The rest were all models. When Lindsay goes out to hook up the oxygen cylinders she encounters two alien ships. The first was the "Scout". The model was about 12 inches long and shaped kind of like a bicycle seat. The Scout leaves and the "Manta" ship rises up. That model was shaped like a Manta Ray and about 3 feet across. Jim Cameron wanted the alien ships to be transparent and for the audience to be able to see the strange mechanical workings inside. But for them to still be unmistakably vehicles, not the alien life forms (NTIs) themselves.

The hulls of both models were vacu-formed from clear UVEX plastic sheet. UVEX is often used for the vacu-forming of outdoor signage and letters. I think the Scout hull was made in three pieces and the Manta six. They were held together with clear packing tap along the seams. Both models had to be self illuminating. The most interesting thing was the use of custom blown glass plasma filled bottles inside the models that could be illuminated and give odd alien looking light patterns. In addition there were pieces of neon and fiber optics used for additional illumination. Since any internal structural armatures would be seen they were made in organic sculptural forms out of aluminum, which was then polished to a mirror shine. Polished plexiglass structures were also added for additional details.

Both ships were shot "dry for wet" on motion control rigs. Each different practical lighting component was shot as an individual pass to be composited together later on the optical printer (remember, this was long before the advent of digital compositing). Additional bluescreen mattes and reflection passes were also shot. One interesting byproduct of the UVEX hulls was that they flouressed ever so slightly under ultra-violet light. So and additional glow pass was shot as well.

The plasma bottles turned out to be very problematic. No two bottles would glow the same way. And the appearance of the light would change from day to day, depending on the temperature and humidity. One day though we had a literal partial meltdown! The plasma bottles are powered from very high voltage transformers. But unlike neon, they only have one cathode. The electrical energy was then discharged through a grounding wire taped to the outside of the bottle and then run around the aluminum armature and out the back to a ground connection. On one setup, the ground wire didn't get connected or came loose. During one of the long motion control passes, the MC supervisor, Scott, noticed an orange glow coming from behind the stage curtains where the Manta ship was being filmed. He thought "Wait a minute, the Manta is supposed to be glowing blue, not orange!" He ran over to discover the rear of the Manta model engulfed in flames! Molten plastic dripping onto the stage floor. Turned out since the electrical energy could discharge though the ground wire it turned into heat combusting the UVEX shell. Fortunately the hull shell was the only major damage, none of the intricate glass structures were broken by the heat. We had a replacement set of shells made and repaired the model for additional photography.

I'll bet CG models can't do that!
 
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Chronicle

Official Licensee
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I would love to have a model of that manta ship. My goodness that would be cool. Thank you so much for that information. Is there anyone out there that could replicate the lighting effect for those models in a way that would be suitable for a museum display? I would love to have that ship built.

Clay
 

autoprops713

Well-Known Member
That is some awesome info on the alien ships Dave! I remember reading about these in the Cinefex article years ago and thinking wow....glowing gas studio models! There were a couple of b&w pics in the magazine but do you have any others? I would love to see someone do a vac-form studio scale replica!
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hi Dave! Great info.
Can you remember anything about the Alien hardware that was used? It wasn't all CGI was it?
That is some awesome info on the alien ships Dave! I remember reading about these in the Cinefex article years ago and thinking wow....glowing gas studio models! There were a couple of b&w pics in the magazine but do you have any others? I would love to see someone do a vac-form studio scale replica!
I'll see if I can dig up some other pics. The truth is, this model was all about light, it didn't look so cool just sitting there un-lit.
 

Firefoxm31

Sr Member
two models I always wanted to make, the Manta and the Ark..I did a top view cad of the Ark already...no info on the manta...looking forward to seeing photos if ya got em Dave

Cheers,
Will
 

Aginwald

New Member
Thanks for the great info!
Would you have any pics of the various subs models? Especially the human subs. They really looked awesome (as did the alien stuff by the way).
It's a shame there's no kit for similar research/exploration subs, no problem for military stuff, but oustide that...
 

vistaVision

Well-Known Member
Just how BIG is a 1/8 nuclear submarine!?
It was huge! Like 70 ft. long... Dave and his crew built her as crashed and sitting on the ocean floor. It was very cool. We shot it on Stage 5 at Dream Quest with our overhead motion control gantry (itself a marvel of engineering). All dry-for-wet in smoke.

My first "screen-used" model came from this set. When they were getting ready to strike the model (almost all of it into the dumpsters!) I had asked Dave to save me something off of it. He said he'd try. A couple of days later he presented me with a large, jagged-edge chunk of the sub's hull. Styrene and expanded foam and lumber! He had ripped out the midship's hatch for me! This area of the sub had gotten a couple of good close up shots in the film. A most wonderful and recognizable piece. Thanks again for that, Dave!

I gave this model to a friend several years ago, not sure if I even have any pictures of it. I'll have to look. I do know I have pics of the Montana set, all the little subs, the Bud puppet and the NTI puppets. All prints, would need to find them (just moved and everything is packed) and scan them. Maybe I can get to that one of these days...
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yup, the Montana was huge. 70 feet long and about six feet in diameter. I found out years later, that my model crew had set up a sort of club house inside the hull with a mattress, TV and mini-fridge and would hang out in there when they got too tired to work!
 
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