Dave: Many thanks. Sanity (or lack of it) is something to foster... it often helps. Seriously, it is a learned and required skill being able to focus for great amounts of time on repetitive and tiny details.
It can be referred to as ‘being in the zone' where you get to a point where the rest of the world is blocked out and all you are aware of is the task in front of you, almost a dream state. With experience it happens naturally and is a normal condition of the brain and is required to handle being able to not move for many hours and is quite startling to come out of it and it is the end of the day, you can get so involved and focused that you are unaware of all else.
There is a danger, though, and that is the strain on the body and eyes and is vital to break the day up with walks and gentle exercises to stop the body ceasing up. With keeping ones sanity, we love what we do so that is most of the battle and the ones that can't cope with intense focus will move onto larger jobs while the few that can focus will become specialists.
Dave: Every job is new and I have to think about it... never get complacent. Some jobs are very complex and I do freak out but have to step back and just think about it for a while. The way past the freak out stage is to break the task down into small sections and look at them individually and understand what is required to build that small piece, and then look at the next one and so on. The complete job will soon start to make sense and become manageable and less frightening.
But yes, I still freak out. When I can relax into the actual build it is easy for me.
Dave: Yes.... and no, not while I am using it. I have actually had a ‘real job' way back in the dim past, right when I was starting out and had to have some sort of work to make an income.
Dave: Putting my finger on one item is a very difficult thing to do as I get a great deal out of so many of them. The very first model, for a TV commercial, was a service station and built with a friend of mine and the first time we saw something we had made on the TV... that was pretty amazing.
The most rewarding would have to be something that was of great challenge technically and skill level. I have built a few big challenging models for films but have had a difficult time from the production company so they tend to leave bitter tastes in my mouth that are hard to separate from the job itself.
Some of the collectibles I do for Weta certainly rate in challenge and technical and I have a very easy and looked after time of it at Weta so one that would fit all categories is the one being revealed in this newsletter.... I hope, otherwise this last sentence would look a little silly.
Dave: Not sure what the question is???... Lego??? Lego is very cool and I have built with Lego all my life and is a great way for young children to learn how to use their imagination.
Dave: I used to be, then worked very hard for a long time.
Dave: There is a lot of this question in (11). As stated before... the best training is what you do yourself and all of you wanting to work as a model maker will not get very far without that initiative.
I can take a design and figure out how to do it, cost it, put a crew together and build it to fit all requirements and that is because of experience and that is because I built stuff... always built stuff, I learned by doing and making mistakes and then figuring out how to fix them. There were no classes to go to.... there was no such thing as the internet...
I just did it because I did not know that I could not, it did not even occur to me that I could fail so everything was a different level of success... there were no failures just lessons and a step to doing it again and again and again. There are related courses to do such as carpentry or other crafts and some places have basic model making but you have to do the research.
Put in several hours a night on the internet looking at the universities and polytechs and other classes to see what is out there. But, the best lessons to learn are the ones you create yourself. Again, none of this existed when I was a kid, I am completely self taught and it did not take long before I was hired on the spot. Determination and commitment and a solid belief in achieving a goal.
Dave: Very cool stuff.
Dave: This is something I know nothing about and have not seen it for years so do not have a clue. [editor's note - Weta isn't currently working on an Evangelion project]
Dave: There is no secret to materials and doing stuff for yourself means that you can use anything at hand without incurring great costs. Yes, you could get better results with better materials but not absolutely necessary. Visit your local hobby store and look at the amounts of plastic building materials that are relatively cheap.
The patterns for the large miniature of Orthanc was mostly built in wax because it gave the results required and was very easy and quick to produce and after moulding, could be used again. Buy a bunch of model railway magazines and look at how they build their models from a wide variety and very low cost materials but the basics are wood and plastic and are what I learned on. To get the same amazing results...... practice. Again, wood and plastic (such as Evergreen) are what I use the most when I build the collectibles.
Large movie miniatures require higher grade materials and lots more of them and there you are getting into high density foams, putties, resins, metals etc. The higher end models do require lots of expensive materials and there is no real way around that but hobby can be done very low cost. You mention pressure chambers so I assume you are referring to casting.... to do this properly there is no other way unless you are prepared to spend time filling holes. As far as scale... this is utterly subjective and different for every job.
For special effects the general rule is as big as the budget and time will allow.... big gives better realism. For a collectible, it has to sit on a shelf so has to be small enough to do so and the most acceptable scale is 1/6 but this varies depending on the company producing them... there is no answer to this one and if it is something you want to build to then only you can figure out what it is. Perhaps look at the scales of commercial kits and base your work on that so you can use those kits in your dioramas.
Many thanks to you and keep building stuff.
Dave: You should read our 1 June newsletter!
Dave: See 34.
Dave: This is a very open question as every model varies. Also, are you referring to movie models or collectibles? On average, the larger movie models could take around 3 to 4 months and that is with a large team of people and the smaller ones could be around 2 to 3 weeks with a couple of people.
With the LOTR collectibles, again, they vary a great deal. Something small such as a helm is around 4 days with 1 person then 2 days for moulding and casting and painting. Other LOTR collectibles - Bag End 13 weeks - Orthanc 8 weeks - Rivendell 26 weeks - and the latest project 34 weeks. All of these projects had several people working on them.
Dave: Being able to build very small accurate detail and this, referred to in (24), also requires being able to focus for long periods of time.... and a great deal of patience.
Dave: Urethane resin, styrene plastic, aluminium, putty... basically the same as most other things. The techniques are similar, just different shapes being built. Yes, any shape requires varying ways of tool use and techniques. There is nothing unique about the Exosuit, as far as model making, that doesn't apply to building a model aeroplane or anything else. I'm trying to think of relevant tips.... to build bulk shapes, wood and putty is good but the smaller the detail the stronger and denser the material has to be to hold the detail.
Doing very small round details I would use aluminium or brass and turn it in a lathe. It has to be metal to be strong enough to work on. Other tiny shapes can be done in styrene plastic and with care, very fine detail can be carved into it. With repeated detail only one is made then moulded and several are cast out in urethane resin. Hope this helps but remember that the one main factor that remains the same is the skill you develop then you can apply that to any task.
Dave: This is difficult as I enjoy most of what I do. On a professional side, working on such things as LOTR was great.... big models, mixture of sculptural and engineered and seeing them on the screen... all good fun. Hobby side, working on my Thunderbirds replicas is very satisfying as this is what inspired me as a child and I get a great deal of fun out of discovering what model kit bits or toy they used to build their models. There is no way to describe what it means to us to make these replicas. If I were to choose one... I would ere towards Thunderbirds replicas as this was the inspiration, the passion that formed at an early age and what will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Dave: This isn't something we can even discuss.
Dave: Lego and other building blocks. Lego is as legitimate model building product as anything else, building a piece of art from a selection of materials. As a small child it gave me many hours of fun and a huge learning curve creating a desire in me to build things.
As an interesting side fact - watch the film ‘Thunderbirds are go' when the giant space craft, Zero X, crashes into the city at the end of the film.... a good part of that city is built out of Lego. As I got older I moved onto model kits but wanted to make other things that could not be bought as a kit. Watching my dad build models out of wood, I started to experiment with wood and so my earliest original models were in wood and from there was to use those old plastic kits to detail the wooden models and from there it was scratch building.
The best product for a child to sculpt with is ‘play dough' or ‘play-doh' it is very common and most pre schools have it and can be easily made at home with edible materials. Do an internet search for ‘play dough recipes' and you will find plenty but basically it is flour and water and food colouring with other bits and pieces. Kids can make shapes with it and if you want you can bake it to turn it into a, reasonably, solid sculpt to put on the shelf.
Dave: Good things come to those that wait... check out our 1 June newsletter!
Dave: Refer to 43 and 35 and 34 and... oh, just check out our 1 June newsletter!
Dave: As involved as this question is... read everything that I have already written and most of it is covered there. As far as how long I have been doing this, from playing with Lego till this day, a little over 50 years... before then I was just too young and, besides, Thunderbirds and Doctor Who had not been invented to inspire me.
As a professional... around 35 years.
At school I did woodwork, metalwork, tech drawing and the standard art classes and all helped to develop skills with building and the use of tools. The intricate detail comes with doing it a lot.... the more you do it the better you get as with any training.
Sculpting animals is all hard for me as I am not a sculptor and do very little of it. There are extremely skilled sculptors here and they do that work. I play with it a little but have a long way to go to get that good. The rest that I have not covered in this answer is covered in previous answers but the best way to find out is to get on the internet and do the research.
Dave: So would I and is something that we talk about.
Dave: We would love to see those things displayed but it is not up to us. They have been shown in different museums in the past.
Dave: I don't know.
Dave: The most useful and frequently used is the styrene plastic strip from ‘Evergreen' and everything that I work on has some in it.
Dave: I guess that it would be going back in time and working on Thunderbirds or moving to Wales and working on Doctor Who because, as stated before, they are the inspirations that got me started.
Dave: Most of what I have just written covers this. The best advice is to keep doing what you are doing... making things and get as much experience and skills as you can. Again, do the research and look for web sites that show you techniques for sculpting, set yourself projects and tight deadlines (build a discipline) and with this you will learn what is important and what is not so you don't waste time. Weta has very rigid deadlines.... it has to.
When you finish a project, keep it and put a date on it. Don't look at it for a few days but instead move on to the next project. Go back and look at the earlier one and see if you feel you can improve it, what feels good and what doesn't and set tasks to work on improving those skills. Continue on with the next sculpt and do the same thing and with this you will, hopefully, gain skills and an understanding of what works and what doesn't. After a long period of time you can line up all your sculpts, in order, and see the gradual improvements.
It also helps to show them to an experienced sculptor to get real feedback... someone that has no problem saying if it is bad... sometimes criticism, even if it is hard to take, is a very good thing to make you see what you are doing in a clear light. It is called constructive criticism.
Too much incorrect praise can cloud your judgment. With sculpting, the most important skill is understanding anatomy, body proportions and movement. Find out if your collage does drawing (or life drawing) classes, this is a brilliant way to learn anatomy. Even our most skilled and experienced sculptors continue to do life drawing classes. As far as working for Weta, set up a profile on the site and keep updating it and then keep practising and studying and if you can show determination, discipline, good ethics and all those things as well as an improving skill then you have every chance of making it but there are many people wanting to work here and only a very few places so you have to show exceptional abilities... but, it is up to you and the effort you put in.
Dave: There are many materials and many, varying uses for them. Some of the most used materials, here, are high density foams that are good for machining and carving by hand. They are very versatile making them convenient to use on most jobs but they have toxic dust and fumes so require full protective gear and not suitable for general use.
A very easy to use and very versatile material is wood and it is used for structure, carving, work platform (sculpting or model making on) and at times, building entire models out of. Acrylic sheet is used to put a solid smooth skin on a model. The Model Smiths Freighter (image at top of the facebook page) has a wooden frame and acrylic skin - the containers are all wood.
There are many model kits pieces all over it for quick to do detail.... another common material, model kits.
There is another material that was used for most of the LOTR models - urethane resin (in sprayable form and castable form). These are high end materials that can only be used with specialised equipment and workshops but perfect for very rapid reproductions. For smaller builds, styrene plastic is a wonderful and versatile product and comes in sheet or a multitude of strips and available from hobby stores. It is easy to shape and glue and most of the tiny detail we do for the collectibles is done with styrene.
Standard filler putties are used a great deal for making complex curves or general filling but should be used with respirators and extractors. As for resources to learn.... the absolute best one is yourself by doing it over and over again.
Read through all that I have written here as I have covered this subject several times. Use the internet to find local polytechs of classes for model making and related subjects, go to the book shops and look for magazines and books for hobbyists such as model railways.... there are many hobby magazines for many subjects but, above all, keep building as there is nothing that can be better than that if you want to learn.
Dave: Yes, it's still on - especially for you, but you are the lucky last. The answer is Yes. And No. When I build a model for a movie project, there's almost always a design that has been through a rigorous sign-off process between the designers and the director. And then it's my job to build that. There is of course some room for interpretation as the designs are in two dimensions and I'm adding a third. It's an iterative process between myself, the designer and the director.
Previous articles in this series include:
Last week, we gave you the opportunity to ask questions - whatever you wanted to ask from our senior model maker David Tremont, who's been with Weta "since 9/11 happened" as he puts it.
We had a record number of questions and Dave has spent five days of his own time answering them. Dave is very passionate about his trade and he has taken NO shortcuts in giving you the best and most honest answers.
Without further ado - here's what Dave has to say:
Dave: I hope that I cover all questions. I have to be a little vague, at times, as current jobs are still confidential and some of the questions would be better served if I could reveal them..... but no. Some of the questions get repeated so I will refer back to the earlier ones, if I remember where I left it, and try to add a little more so if you are one of the earlier ones you may get more information with later questions and answers so read on.... or you could turn off the computer and go for a nice walk.
It takes a while to understand the intent of some of the questions so my answers may waffle a little as I gather my thoughts.... I tend to nibble around the pies crusty edges before taking a big bite of the meaty goodness... unless you are a vegetarian but it is OK as cows are also vegetarians so it's fine to eat them.
I never mind answering questions but, remember, these are my views and should not be taken as absolute... make your own choices and observations, create your own experiences by doing it. But above all use the internet, do the research. We have an amazing and very powerful tool and access to vast amounts of knowledge right at our finger tips. What I write here is only scraping the surface as space and my time is limited.... do the research, you will find vastly more information and alternatives on what I am writing.
We are too used to, or complacent with, the internet. It is there as a tool to use and the best advice I can give is learn to use it and it will become one of the best tools in your tool box in the search for knowledge and potential employment. There is also a vast amount of information from people, like me, that is there to read.
Dave: This one is not as ‘straight up' as it could seem as there are many challenging and technical problems with what we do. Size is not necessarily the most difficult. All our collectibles are fairly technical because they are not just a one off but have to go into production so there is a great deal of planning on how many pieces, how to solve moulding problems, how to prevent fine detail breaking, and many more.
The larger pieces are a technical challenge. As a personal technical challenge, the latest piece (Barad Dur) would be high on the challenge list because it is all very tiny detail and took 1500 hours to build. I often build very tiny details, for our collectibles, and they sit on a 2" square piece of wood with detail so tiny I can barely see it even with magnifying glasses so these details would be amongst the most challenging and technical because they still have to be straight and square and accurate.
It is impossible to hold something that is as small as a pin head so I would lightly super glue it to the end of my figure so I can shape it. I have to be a little vague with this as most of what I am working on, to better illustrate this question, is still confidential.... but stay tuned.... soon.
Dave: I know nothing of this one and Weta may not have had anything to do with it.
Dave: Sorry, but no. With the company that builds full size ones, just down the road, it is unlikely we ever will but we did get involved in their model kits right at the start.
Dave: He, being me... it is my old company logo - The Model Smiths. ‘Smith' coming from the old description of occupation such as Blacksmith or Metalsmith. My grandfather was a Blacksmith, for a time, and so was my father in his younger days. And now, I am a Modelsmith. The space freighter was the design on the business card and that came from loving spaceships and the freighter was a little different from the usual.... I just built a model of it.... but was a little impractical as a business card so I hung it on the wall.
Dave: Thunderbirds and Doctor Who. Both these shows were, and still are, a major inspiration. Thunderbirds more so with all of it being miniatures and Doctor Who with the magic of adventure. I was young when these shows started and was totally captivated by them and would always try to replicate what I saw with Lego. This was all the gunpowder but what really lit the blue touch paper was my father. He was a brilliant carpenter (as a hobby) and built us kids simple toys out of wood and when I watched him build something from nothing... well..... bang!
In the picture at the top of the facebook page I am holding the wooden Thunderbird 2 dad built for me when I was 8 or 9. As far as getting my start.... I have always built models, from a very early age, starting with Lego and working my way up. All through my school years and on, I trained myself. Model making was what I wanted to do... to make models the same as what was on Thunderbirds. Back then I had no idea of freelance... it was school then a career working for a company.... tried it but was not happy. All this time I built models and continued to learn and build experience. Opportunities started to come up as people would ask me to build them things.
I took a leap of faith (in myself), left the ‘real job' and pursued model making as a profession. A very scary time as I knew how to build models but no idea how to run a business and earn from it. I stubbornly pushed forward.... never looked back and gradually gained work with model making and special effects companies as well as setting up my own workshop to do freelance work.
Dave: As I get older my eyesight gradually fails me and I need to wear glasses to work and read so one would think that I should do more larger things but I do more and more smaller things and this also relates to your earlier question. So new skills and techniques would relate to being able to build very tiny details and keep them precise. But it is not just building it, we also have to be able to mould it and reproduce it so I have to make sure there are no gaps and other issues that would be a problem for very small silicone moulds.
I very rarely sculpt and so am not very good at it other than basic shapes so would love to gain better skills with it. Weta have some of the most skilled sculptors there are so, normally sculpting would go to them and I do envy their abilities.
Dave: Refer to (5). I always wanted to do it, just didn't understand what ‘profession' was. The realization really came to me when I worked as a TV Technician and Model Maker as a hobby.... I was miserable with my job and longed for the model making... this would have been my late teens.
Dave: Refer to (7 and 5) and yes, adding to this, I started out making my own stuff. I saw something on TV and could not buy it as a toy so made my own version. As a younger child it would have been Lego and bits of wood or general building blocks.... may not have been brilliant pieces of art but was a start and the first step in a very long journey of learning and discovery as to what I can do when I want to. That was also enhanced by what my father built.
Dave: A lot of hard work and an absolute belief that it will happen. The first thing is to be able to build models and have basic experience and understanding of model making and then a great deal of time going to, or writing to every model making company you can find to get an interview and find out if they are hiring and what are their requirements and if they take on people to train.
If you are experienced and have the knowledge then it is as simple as setting up a workshop, understanding how to run a business then start advertising your business and going to every company that may require models and props etc. It is a long and often sole destroying experience and why so few get there but it comes down to you and your determination.
For me it was all of the above and then a gradual, year after year, gaining of experience and getting known by people in the industry. It is funny but, the film industry, at its worst, can be a very cruel and nasty place and will destroy people if they let it but is the only venue for the type of model making I love to do so it was a natural progression that I would end up in it.
Dave: The unfortunate thing about professional model making is that there is never long enough time to build something.... there is always a budget and schedule to work to. With this there are two categories - hobby and profession.... the first one is down to you and however much time you want to spend on it.... the second follows time and budget and there is never enough of each so answering this is never going to match a time someone would spend on it if it is their own time.
This is a job outside of Weta as I am only a tiny part, of this place, and one of many people so will not claim to be responsible for the work here (collectibles aside) but long ago I did a wharf and part of a town that must have been about 40 sq meters ???? at 1/10 scale. That could have been the largest single model and, being in the film industry, there would not have been enough time and, from memory, would have probably been 3 or so weeks to do with a small team of people. It was blown to pieces and was a pile of smoking rubble at the end of it.
Dave: I have never had any ‘training' as such to be a model maker. It has all been an absolute passion and self taught simply by doing it. I have built models from a very early age so by the time I was able to do it as a profession I had a lot of experience and things to show to clients and employers. There are many helpful skills to learn such as wood work, metal work, art (design, life drawing, technical drawing etc), sculpting.
Some universities have associated studies such as architectural model making or engineering model making and some have basic model making. The best thing to do is research universities and polytechs in your local area but the greatest school is the one you create yourself by doing it. Go to your local book and magazine store and look for publications on hobby model making and start reading them. Most give a very good insight into modelling techniques across a large range of building but you have to build things and remember that even the mistakes are a good learning curve so never be afraid of making them.
Dave: Mutual friends told Richard about me and he and Tania sought me out and talked me into joining them which was a big deal as I had a workshop and a business in Australia which had to be closed and packed up when I decided to make the move.
Dave: Also refer to (7). Again, by doing and never stop doing it. The greater the experience and variety of skills the better chance there is of getting professional work. There is no real easy answer to this as some can be lucky while others struggle and never make it. It all comes down to the individual person and how hard they work at achieving their goal.... no one else will do it for you. There is no easy answer and always comes back to ‘the future is what you make yourself'...... I heard that in a movie somewhere.
When I started out there was no one to talk to and very few companies to get work with and those ones did not want to talk to a kid. I had to create everything for myself and build a collection of models that I could start showing people before finally getting a chance. It is not easy to be taken seriously, when you are very young and starting out, but you have to persist and earn the respect. Keep building stuff and build a folio of experience. Another important point to make, while I think about it, is to never exaggerate on what your experience and skill levels are... exaggerating may get you work but you will be caught out when you don't deliver and that would be an end to the career.... it is a small world and most effects companies know each other and often ask each other about people so word does get around.
And in saying that, good work and ethics also gets around and really does help in getting known and more work potentials but don't just rely on that.... still do the footwork and internet research.
Dave: Models are just one of many tools in telling stories and not an absolute requirement. Well made big miniatures will greatly enhance the story and show us worlds that could never exist... but these days..... so can digital builds. When I was young a miniature or matt painting was the only way to show impossible things then digital came along and, after a few hiccups, helped to enhance those miniatures but now digital is completely replacing the need for any model work and yet the stories are amazing. It used to be a way of saving money, for example, the story has a big aircraft crashing... well, you could do that with a real one if you had the money but not usually the case so it would be done with a big model.
But the physical model has now been mostly replaced with digital models but either works very well in any storytelling and will always be....it is just that the artists have now changed. My focus will always remain the same as in a passion for model making. Sometimes we, as model makers, can have an input into what is built because we have an understanding of what works with models and this greatly enhances focus and passion with the greater involvement.
Dave: WAY FRIGGIN COOL!
Dave: Making something very small look and move as if it were real is a particular passion and so does not matter if it is a car or plane etc. As an actual model making exercise, things with interesting textures and surface detail such as military models are a fun challenge.
On the creative side, science fiction such as spaceships and robots etc are way cool as I can let my imagination have a go. As you can gather from this, there is no one answer... it is an overall passion for me. One particular hobby side for me is to build replicas of Thunderbirds and other Gerry Anderson shows as this was my original inspiration.
Dave: Also refer to (15). I started B.C. (before computers) and everything had to be built by a large group of skilled people. Scenes had to be painted on sheets of glass to enhance a shot, creatures had to be animated by hand, mattes had to be hand drawn and shot one frame at a time etc.
Then the early days of digital came along and we saw very simple and impossibly smooth test shots which took weeks to render. Film makers threw themselves at this and we were told that we should look for other careers..... they very quickly realised how impossibly slow and difficult and awful these new effects looked.... miniatures came back with a vengeance and much bigger and better than ever and never looked so good.
Arts such as matte painting and rotoscope rapidly diminished and soon disappeared to be now seen as a lost art. It has been several decades and digital technology has become an overwhelming powerful tool and we are now on the cusp of becoming extinct artists just like the rest of them. Model making will be a quaint artistic choice for a film maker as with shooting black and white or a hand animated stop motion films. Technology changes and we have to change with it.
As far as being a model maker there is less and less in the film industry but a great deal yet in collectibles, architectural, engineering etc. The possibilities are limitless but a good film maker will utilise all available tools and I believe that well build miniature still have a place and are greatly enhanced with the use of digital technology.
A model will have the random chaos that nature has and a model tank, for instance, will move like a real one because all the same rules of nature apply to both but in the digital realm all nature and its chaos has to be programmed in and if the digital artist does not have the real world experience the sequence will look fake and fail.
We humans are very sensitive to what looks real and what does not even if we do not know why. The greatest digital artists are the ones that have worked in the real world for many years so model making and real visual effects are a vital part of a production and should be retained by film makers.
Digital does, though, give a greater freedom to film makers and also allows them to be lazy as ‘ they can fix it later' and allows them to change shots right up to the end. Large miniatures are very expensive to build and even more expensive to film and once the filming is done.... that is it... it is committed and to change anything requires a very expensive reshoot.
Digital eliminates all of this and allows complete freedom. It is still an expensive process but the freedom is a very powerful draw card for the film maker. Miniatures require a great deal of very specific planning months ahead.
Dave: The best way to know what future work we do is to look at the news letter.... anything not in there.... can't talk about or we don't know what it is, yet. As for work, we have enough people right now but if you are interested in working at Weta and believe you have skills Weta can use then the best way is to fill out the online profile on the web site. They all get looked at and discussed.
Dave: I know!
Dave: You have an advantage of long term hands on experience. It is never too late to change career and as I have written earlier.... it all depends on how much you believe in it and how much effort you put in to achieve it. You have to start now and do the research. We now have an amazing advantage over what I had when starting out... the internet.
Everyone wants to be noticed and so are on the internet making it a lot easier to do research. Set up a note book next to your computer and start making notes on model making companies and which ones work in the film industry. If you are prepared to travel you have a better chance. Research the film credits and find out what companies they used to do the effects, build up profiles and start contacting those companies to find out if they hire and what they want then start applying. But, there is something I should point out to anyone seeking work in this business.... never exaggerate or overstate what your abilities or experiences are, we see it all too often and those people will not be seen, by us, again.
Most companies, at least the ones worth talking to, are OK with a lack of experience and will help and guide people. The greatest thing anyone can have is honesty, passion, enthusiasm, a desire to work, determination, work well with others (and a lot more of these slightly bigger and tricky words). Actual skills is often a little down the requirements list with companies looking for people and it is all the ethics stuff they like to see first. Skills can be taught but, sadly, ethics all too often can't.
Dave: I use a great variety of materials and it all depends on what the job is. If it is to be the finished product then it has to be more sturdy, if it is a pattern to be moulded then it can be anything as strength is not as important. With film models, say, a building, it will be a one off and has to stand up to the rigors of filming which can be transport and handling, very hot studio lights and the occasional camera running into it. The heat is the biggest problem and I have seen acrylic melt under the studio lights.
A good sturdy wooden structure works well here and stronger acrylic detail is best. When other weaker materials such as model kit parts are used then fans are needed to cool the model. When building collectibles theses are ‘patterns' and will be moulded allowing a greater range of materials and don't need to be as strong and most are fairly small. My most used material is styrene plastic and can be bought in a variety of strips from a company called ‘Evergreen' (available in hobby stores).
The next most used is wood, usually MDF and then aluminium, brass and for organic shapes filler putties or plastacine. With experience you will get used to different materials and find favourites that you will use more than others. When it comes to tiny detail the materials have to be strong to hold up to being worked with. The detail on the Orthanc Tower collectible was shaped in styrene plastic strip (evergreen).
Dave: There are many rewards... I get to do what I love to do, it is amazing to see my work up on the screen, right now I am working in a great environment and I do enjoy being able to advise or help others... when time allows.
Let me set a scene - raining outside, I am warm and dry inside sitting at my bench in a quiet workshop, the radio is on or music playing or listening to one of the Big Finish audio plays and I spend the day making models... that is rewarding, need I say more.