Below is a sample of the detail parts required to build Barad-dur. This image strip is made up of five pictures taken ½ a metre from the surface, of the studio miniature, and the next image shows where it is on the tower. The section covers 500mm x 1500mm of actual surface area with detail overlapping from one image to the next.
This gives an example of some of the parts going into the build, using my mould numbering system. There would be about eighty mouldable components going into this section with additional ‘fill in’ details that can’t be built yet, as they will have to be made to fit between the details when the bulk of it is built. Most of those will be one off pieces. There are some castable details, in this image, that are yet to be made.
Building these small pieces of detail can take a day minimum to several days each and require a great deal of focus which gets difficult to maintain day after day and I find myself getting fidgety and unable to focus so I get up often and move about for a while with a good walk every couple of lunch times. I have to distract myself from thinking about being uncomfortable and one way is to listen to audio plays and being a big Doctor Who fan... I love to listen to the fantastic Big Finish Doctor Who plays which really helps me get into the 'zone' where I can shut out everything and focus. It may seem odd that I would use external means to focus but it works, as in I have made models for many years and can now be done without full conscious thought. I can get lost in the Doctor Who story and continue to build. I don't go into la la land all day but only when working on very repetitive sections such as pressing 1000 ½ mm brick imprints into foil or making a length of stairs that are ¼ mm each step. It is an odd feeling to literally be one mental step away from what I am doing and be involved in the story and not be fully aware of the build to then become fully aware of it when it is done.... if this sentence is making any sense, but it can become a task that seems to happen a little under full awareness.
It was towards the end of October that Leonard joined me to work primarily as a sculptor, and to help me out with model making. Like me, the first look at Barad-dur was a little daunting, for Leonard, so I gave him the first few days to ‘get used to it’ and start building tiny patterns.
There is a large section of rock to sculpt but that can’t happen until the model making is done and so to speed that up Leonard will be a model maker for a while, before getting onto the rock detail.
Here Leonard is blocking out the rock detail on the middle tower section.
Model Maker David Tremont continues his story about the creation of Weta's next collectible environment - Barad-dûr - Fortress of Sauron.
This is the second part - if you missed the first, you can read it here.
October 2011 - This business is rarely a fixed point... rarely the same thing... always in flux... we work on many jobs, usually in short intervals. Even on large films, which run for many months, we would be working on many individual things, which would take days to weeks or a couple of months to do. Collectibles are the same as the average piece can be from four to six weeks, rarely longer and often quicker. As of October 2011, Barad-dur has just gone past eight weeks. It has not yet broken any records but I am not even half way... yet. During this single job, seasons will change, it will go from very cold to... well, not as cold.
Above is a good example of the scale our collectible is at and why the detail is so tiny and becomes such a problem with reproduction. The solution is being able to cheat the scale of detail while retaining the look of the overall piece. This section is mirrored left and right, so I only build half of it then join two together to make the final piece. It, and sections of it, are used elsewhere on Barad-dur.
I continue to make parts but resist the temptation to start assembling the model as it is more important to get as many of the castable pieces done first, as they take time to do and it is inefficient to do them later where I may end up waiting for parts to be able to finish what I am doing.
The collection of small parts continues to grow and I have just delivered pattern #50 to the collectibles moulding department, led by Bruce, by the usual Friday moulding time. Each container above has between one and five different components, which slowly fill as Bruce, the mold maker brings in new castings.
Pattern #51 and onwards is already underway. It has become very tricky to track so samples of the pieces are stuck on a board (parts manifest) with its corresponding mould number (see above). The studio miniature is very complex and impossible to track the detail so to not make the same part again, a month later, it has become vital to have a very accurate tracking system and I can take my board out to the miniature, look at a new section of detail and decide if it is a new build or I can utilize parts of what has already been done.
The images above and below show moulds and the parts board. I have now been on this job for what seems to be ages and I look at this board which does look like very little has been done so I have to remind myself that each of these pieces takes several days to make and I have done other work, on this project, as well. The studio miniature was built the same way with many mouldable detail sections that are repeated over and over again and cut up and fitted to other parts which is making it tricky to work out what is what and not repeat myself.