Work by The Model Unit features in two of the big SF events on UK television this Autumn.
For Impossible Planet – the second episode of Chanel 4’s anthology series Phillip K Dick’s Electric Dreams – we were engaged by SFX supervisor Chris Reynolds and VFX Supervisor Tom Debenham to provide could tank imagery to represent the gas clouds and nebula.
These shots were then enhanced by Max Dennison and his team at DNegTV for use both as background plates for the spacecraft shots, and as projected images to be seen through the spacecraft window. These live action shots were achieved ‘in-camera’ by the production team via the use of high luminence projectors.
Meanwhile on Dave, Series Xll of Red Dwarf – which was shot back to back with last year’s episodes – showcases several shots featuring our Starbug landing pad miniature. Seen fleetingly in Series Xl, the pad makes its first major appearance in the series trailer.
We are delighted to reveal that we have been involved in an episode of the new series of Doctor Who, allowing us to continue our run of having worked with each of the four actors playing the Doctor since the show returned to our screens in 2005.
We’re not at liberty to discuss the details of our sequence just yet, but there is a glimpse in the series 10 teaser trailer:
UPDATE: you can now read all about our work on Thin Ice in our feature post here.
Principal photography has now commenced on Origin Unknown, with Katee Sackhoff in the lead role.
After the first manned mission to Mars ends in a deadly crash, mission controller Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Wilson (Sackhoff) assists an artificial intelligence system, ARTI. Their investigation uncovers a mysterious object under the surface of Mars, that could change the future of our planet as we know it.
The film is directed by Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dullul, an award-nominated visual effects artist who recently signed on to direct the much-anticipated Robin Hood reboot, Robin Hood 2058. While simultaneously directing music videos and commercials, HaZ transitioned into scripted fare with his sci-fi short film Project Kronos, which became an internet hit on YouTube and Vimeo.
The screenplay for Origin Unknown is written by Gary Hall, based on a story by Dulull. The Director of Photography is Adam Sculthorp (aerial unit on Prometheus and Spectre). The VFX will be handled by Territory Studio, Paddy Eason is the VFX Supervisor and The Model Unit is providing miniature effects.
Visit the movie website here: originunknownthemovie.com
The eleventh series of cult SF series Red Dwarf arrives on Dave in September, and the Model Unit have been involved with both props and miniature effects sequences for the new series.
Written and directed by Doug Naylor, and produced by Baby Cow Productions, two series have been shot back-to-back, with audience recordings taking place at Pinewood Studios.
Whereas previous series have allocated the effects work to one overseeing company, Series Xl and Xll have split the work across a number of vendors, and The Model Unit has been working alongside model crew from the Magic Camera Company, as well as the digital effects team.
Model Unit regulars Nick Kool and Alan ‘Rocky’ Marshall – both veterans of the first 8 series of Red Dwarf from the BBC VFX Department days – joined Effects Supervisor Mike Tucker for the recent model shoot, continuing a relationship with the show that stretches back 28 years.
The Model Unit is currently engaged in programme of refurbishment of props from the classic era of Doctor Who for the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.
Working with Brad Kelly of BBC Worldwide, several vintage props and costumes from the 1970s and 80s have been earmarked for restoration, as part of an on-going programme intended to bring items that have not been exhibited for decades to a new audience.
That programme had been launched with the restoration of the original Davros costume and chair, last seen in 1985 in the Colin Baker story Revelation of the Daleks.
Using the original moulds, and by tracking down contemporary dressing elements, the prop has been returned to its last screen-used appearance, and presented to a new audience of ‘Doctor Who’ fans for the first time in a over a decade.
Further refurbishments are planned over the coming months.
Working alongside director and VFX supervisor Hasraf ‘Haz’ Dulull, the Model Unit has provided models and miniature effects effort for the forthcoming British SF feature Origin Unknown.
Miniature Effects Supervisor Mike Tucker explains how the Model Unit became involved:
“I was contacted by DoP Adam Sculthorp, who had acted as our 3D Supervisor on the 50th anniversary Doctor Who story, The Day of the Doctor. Adam explained that Haz was looking to achieve the bulk of his effects through practical means, and we were more than happy to get involved.
The challenge has been to try and bring Haz’s high-end, cinematic vision to life within the confines of an extremely tight budget, but the shoot that we have just competed has resulted in some truly epic looking shots.”
Live action photography for Origin Unknown is currently scheduled to take place early next year.
The second BAFTA Guru interview on VFX, with contributions from Model Unit Supervisor Mike Tucker, is now live on the BAFTA Guru website, and on YouTube.
Hear from the visual effects experts behind Avatar, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man, Doctor Who and Sherlock on how they bring the impossible to life on screen, how technology has changed the visual effects process and how beginners can get their start in the industry.
The Model Unit is very proud to announce that it has been nominated, alongside Real SFX, for an RTS Craft & Design Award for the practical effects work seen in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.
For miniature effects supervisor Mike Tucker this is the fifth time he has been nominated in this category, having previously been put forward for individual awards for 999 International – Missing in Action, The Brighton Bomb, and Horizon: Last Flight of the Columbia, and under the Model Unit banner for Human Body – Pushing the Limits.
“Having won the BAFTA earlier in the year, its fantastic for the team to now get a second nomination, and I’m delighted that it’s for a show that really showcased how well practical effects can work within a modern drama production.”
– Mike Tucker, Visual Effects Supervisor
For more information about the Model Unit’s work on this episode please contact Mike Tucker.
The shows of Gerry Anderson – including Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO and Space: 1999 – have been benchmarks in the creation of stunning models and miniature effects, and the Model Unit is very proud to announce its involvement with Firestorm, a brand new science fiction series from Anderson Entertainment.
Following in the grand tradition of those well-loved series created by his father, producer Jamie Anderson has assembled a team of practical effects designers and technicians, with the goal of recreating the texture and feel of those ground-breaking shows, but using the very latest materials and cameras to bring those effects bang up to date.
Model Unit Supervisor Mike Tucker explains the appeal of the project:
“There are a huge number of people now in the visual effects industry – myself included – who are only here because of the influence that those Gerry Anderson series had on us. A large number of my regular crew are huge fans of those shows, and in particular of the work of effects designer Derek Meddings, so to get the opportunity to work on a project that puts models and practical effects at the heart of the production is incredibly exciting. I’m extremely grateful to Jamie, and to VFX Supervisor Steve Begg, for inviting us on board.”
The initial plan for Firestorm is to fund a pilot via the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, with the hope of then going forward into production of a full series.
More information can be found on the project here: Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm – Filmed in Ultramarionation by Jamie Anderson
Following the recent announcement that Wimbledon Studios Ltd has gone into administration, the Model Unit is pleased to announce its return to the historic Ealing Film Studios in West London.
Model Unit Supervisor Mike Tucker explains:
“The move to a bigger space at Wimbledon allowed us to handle two huge projects for Doctor Who that would have been very difficult at our Ealing facility. However, given the unfortunate situation that has arisen at Wimbledon, it makes perfect sense for us to return to the studio where we first set up shop in 2005.”
The move is taking place during the last week of August, and the Model Unit will resume normal service from September 1st.
For more information please contact Mike Tucker on 07973 636518, or at firstname.lastname@example.org