Good Omens, the highly acclaimed BBC / Amazon Prime adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s cult novel gets its DVD / BluRay release on 28th October. Miniature effects sequences featuring a Russian submarine and an American nuclear missile silo in the penultimate episode were provided by The Model Unit.
‘Director Douglas MacKinnon had come to us for the submarine sequences for the Doctor Who episode Cold War, and was keen to work with us again,’ explains FX supervisor Mike Tucker. ‘We were fortunate to be able to re-acquire the sub model that we had built for him back in 2011 and refurbish it for filming. The missile solo was built from scratch and stood about 12 feet tall.’
Also released on BluRay in October, Season 23 of the classic Doctor Who series gets additional effects for a special edition of Terror of the Vervoids, model unit supervisor Mike Tucker working alongside digital effects supervisor Rob Ritchie.
The Starbug miniature originally built over thirty years ago for series lll of Red Dwarf got another outing recently to help advertise a change of channel position for Dave. Despite having crashed more times than a ZX81, the model still looked as good as it did back in 1989.
The Model Unit is very pleased to have been involved in the effects for the forthcoming Amazon Prime / BBC Studios production of Good Omens, due to air in 2019.
Having worked with us previously on the Cold War episode of Doctor Who, director Douglas Mackinnon was keen for us to get involved in a couple of sequences for Good Omens too.
We’re not at liberty to divulge exactly what it is we provided at this stage, but the teaser trailer is available to watch online here:
The pilot of the new Gerry Anderson puppet series Firestorm was premiered at the recent MCM ComiCon in London. Working alongside producer Jamie Anderson, and Director/Visual Effects Supervisor Steve Begg, The Model Unit provided models and miniature effects supervision for the 9 minute, proof-of-concept ‘minisode’. Model Unit Supervisor Mike Tucker explains the appeal of the show.
“I – and most of my crew – grew up watching the classic Gerry Anderson series during the 60s and 70s, and are all huge fans of the extraordinary miniature effects work done by Derek Meddings and his team, so to get the opportunity to work on something that builds on that legacy is really special.”
The show is currently in pre-production, and filming is due to get underway in Spring of 2019.
The full minisode is available to watch online here: https://www.firestormhq.com
and embedded below, along with MCMCC reactions.
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.