8th May – 12th May
The construction of the bar was complete, so it was time for me to move on to coloring it. Alessandro said to me at the beginning of the day that, if possible, he wanted to keep the wood grain visible in the finished product, to maintain authenticity. I began considering different ways I could achieve this. The only paint medium we had was acrylic, and if applied neat would just mask the wood grain. Therefore I did a sample of the paint diluted, and although the colour was close, the wood just completely absorbed it, making the colour weaker and requiring far too many layers to achieve the desired finish. Because of this, I tried using Button Polish to see how that would come up on the wood. The colour at first was weak, but after a few layers, built up a good tone with an effective texture, as it had a slightly varnished finish to it; unlike the acrylic on its own that dried completely matte.
After a few layers of button polish were applied to my sample piece, I decided to try putting the acrylic paint (diluted) over the Button Polish. This was extremely effective, as it gave the desired colour, and because the polish had primed the surface, the paint did not get absorbed as easily, giving a richer colour and saving time as less layers would be needed. I used Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna, and varied the ratio of each depending on whether I wanted an area to be darker or lighter.
Two layers of Button Polish + paint (left) – Two layer of paint (right)
Two layers of paint on the Button Polish (left)
Difference between paint being layered up more – richer colour
First layer of Button Polish
Layers of Button Polish + first layer of paint
Second layer of paint
Seeing the process visually is good, as when you are doing it, sometimes it is hard to see changes. Looking back at the pictures, I can see that each layer I did made a considerable difference. I diluted the paint more in some areas, and less so in others, to keep the variety of textures and mimic the visuals given to me by Alessandro. This process took a considerable amount of time, as each layer had to dry before another could be put on. Plus, to keep the wood grain visible, I had to put each layer on very thinly, which took longer than anticipated. However, I am pleased with the overall finish of it, and glad that I took my time on it. Alessandro and Director and Cinematographer of the project were all very pleased with the outcome, and Alessandro than asked me to do the same finish on the skirting boards, doors and windows for the set. When it was finished painting, I put two final layers of Button Polish over it, erasing any areas that were too matte and giving it a slight shine, similar to the visuals give to me.
Before the layers of Button Polish
This is the door Alessandro bought in to fit into the Pub set. He felt as the other elements were being made from scratch, that it would save time to buy some of the parts in. This door and the windows he bought were made of something different to the bar and skirting boards, and so required a few more layers of Button Polish to achieve the same effect.
The same had to be done to the skirting boards and columns (for the bar – Alessandro bought these in). The columns were the hardest to achieve this finish on, because of their shape and the material they were made out of. The paint and the polish seemed to just sit on top of the material, and take a while to soak in, which made the process far longer and also made it difficult to see what areas needed more paint etc.
I was was pleased with how the skirting boards turned out, as I managed to get them to look the same as the bar. Challenging, as Alessandro ran out of Burnt Umber paint, so I had to comprise my own out of Burnt Sienna, Black and Yellow Ochre. I finished them with Button Polish so they had the same texture as the bar, to keep it all consistent.
I sawed the columns down to size and glued them in, I had to hold them in place to make sure they stayed in the correct place and didn’t slip under the weight of the bar. I also had to put the wood finish onto beams that would I would later put onto the ceiling. I enjoyed making and watching the plans develop into 3D set pieces, and it was a very good experience for me to see how the plans for objects are drawn up, as the plans were not necessarily always how I would have imagined them to have been done.
I had a small break from working on the Pub set, as I was the only assistant in on Wednesday afternoon and there were some pieces that needed completing for the test shoot the next day. The two polystyrene half-spheres would be hills, and needed painting and texturing. I made a base green (using one of the visuals as a guide), and put it on as a base layer, before gradually adding yellow and white to the mix to add other colours onto the half-spheres. Once dry, they would then be textured with fine green shavings (bought) and trees and fences would be made and put on them to match other elements of the set, to bring the Countryside Road scene together.
Nafisah then went on to texture the ‘hills’, and put props on them such as the trees and fences.
Once they were done, we both went with Alessandro and Ed (Producer), to do a test of this scene – to see if anything needed adapting and to test angles and timings etc. The scene is very reliant on man power, as it needs multiple people to assist in moving the parts around in sync. After the test, Ed suggested that the hills be filmed still and then edited in with movement, as it would be impossible to get two people to be completely in sync and keep the shots clean. This was definitely a good experience for me, and immediately made me understand how important it is to continually test props and shots, to make sure there are no surprises on the allocated day of shooting and that everything can be run against a plan knowing how everything works behind the camera.
I was asked by Alessandro to continue with the Pub set, and carried on to make the walls to attach to the skirting board. They needed to be textured, but the designs had not been finalised by the team yet. Texturing the walls would be far easier with the skirting boards detached, however Alessandro said he wanted the set put together to see how it would look, so asked if I could put the walls together anyway and work the textures on afterwards.
I had a few issues when constructing the ceiling. The initial process was simple, the size of the ceiling was bigger than one piece of foam board, so I had to divide the ceiling into two parts and then stick them together before putting the printed ceiling texture onto it. Then, the beams had to be stuck on. This went wrong the first time, as I need to cut 4 of the beams down to fit the bar into the set. I did not realise this until I had began sticking the beams on, so I needed to pull them off and have the ceiling texture reprinted. Although I had reviewed the plans, this taught me to ensure I have covered every area of the plans thoroughly enough. Luckily, it was not a mistake that could not be easily changed, and it didn’t take me long to rectify it. I did however, find the plans confusing at times, as I had to look at them facing a certain way, but the actual ceiling would be flipped when put onto the set, so everything had to be done the opposite way to how the plans showed. Confusing at first, but I got the hang of it and stuck the pieces on. However, I had to make some adjustments to the beams as they were on the plans, because they did not allow room for the ceiling to sit on the walls. Therefore, I cut 0.5cm (the depth of the foamboard walls), away from each of the beams, to ensure the ceiling would fit.
The beams with 0.5cm cut off
Another issue came to light when I put the bar into the set. Because of the floor being made out of foamboard, that added an extra 0.5cm to the height of the set, problematic to the final piece as it meant the bar was higher up and slightly clashed with the ceiling. To solve this issue, I first of all cut a 0.5cm add-on to the walls. Although the resolution was along the right lines, 0.5cm was not enough to account for the space needed, and so instead I added a 2cm foamboard extension to all of the walls. This allowed enough room for the bar and beams without there being any issue. As the texture was not already added, this was easy to do and did not effect the design.
(Below- the beams obstructing the ceiling and wall connection before they were cut)
Nafisah and I went into the main studio where they were setting up for the shoot of some of the sets, and it was really interesting to see the bits of sets coming together to make the final thing. Its also really good to see how they will use elements in different ways to create visual effects, and really beneficial to experience how really basic materials and techniques can be used to produce something much bigger. It looks much different on camera, and the screen was constantly being referred back to as their main point of visual, as this would be how it was viewed in the final film.
The next step was to put the textures on the walls. A brick texture had been ordered but had not arrived, so Alessandro printed the textures for me to put onto the walls. He also did the same with the carpet, by finding a pattern he wanted and overlaying a texture onto it to give it a carpet effect, a technique I had not thought of before, so that was a good tip.
The next stage was to fit the doors and windows. However, as soon as I went to fit them, I could see there was going to be a problem. Alessandro had ordered these parts, but did not check the measurements against his plans. Therefore as I went to fit them, the door was a few cm too narrow for the gap, and the windows were about an inch too big. A good learning curve for me to see and work with.
I used the leftover beams and fitted them to each side of the door way. The door then fit, however, the gap was still slightly too big to glue to door in, so I got some Balsa wood and put a thin strip on either side to allow enough space to glue the door in without it moving around constantly. This would not be a problem as I could just paint the Balsa strips using the same technique as I did with everything else. The door was then fit in, and I taped it in place whilst it dried as there was not much room for movement.
As seen in the picture above, There is a gap between the top of the door and the side beams. I cut some more of the beams up and put one small piece either side, and then put some Balsa at the top to give it a cleaner finish.
The top of the door before paint
Glue drying – doors taped shut to prevent any movement
For the windows, I had to cut away some of the foamboard to allow them to slot straight in as designed. This was very simple and didn’t take long, however the problem was with the skirting, and how it clashed with the windows when they fit in.
There could be no gaps between the window frame and the foamboard, as it would effect the lighting when filming. So although the window fit in and I added foamboard underneath the bottom of the frame to prevent light coming through, without cutting the skirting board, there were big gaps either side of the window frame.
The only issue with cutting the skirting board was that the Balsa wood splinters really easy, as I have learnt many times from this project. I made sure I had a sharp blade on my scalpel and had to put pressure on the remainder of the Balsa so that it didn’t snap, and took 0.5cm off of each side, allowing for the frame to fall into place.
Once all of these issues were rectified, I could begin putting the set together. It would only pinned together as the director stated he wants to be able to take the walls apart during filming to have access to all angles.
The space between the bar and the ceiling is so the bar can be lit when filming.
I was very glad to have independently worked on an entire set. It was good to see how it all came together from technical drawings and plans, to 3D work ready for shooting. It definitely gave me a small sense of what it would be like to work on independent projects, and opened my eyes to a variety of different opportunities linked to scale models. I also got a sense of attachment to the set, and although I know that most of the time you will have to constantly pass work around to the next practitioner as part of a working process, it was beneficial for me to work on every part of it, working on a variety of different skills all at once.
Friday 12th was the first day of filming, so there were lots of small things that needed doing, most of which were not pre-planned, and instead were decided they would look effective on the day. I had to make clouds using cotton wool, and cut out silhouettes of bushes and trees for the background of the fairground scene.
The final task I had at NFTS was to work on the props for the Pub scene. Alessandro had bought in all of the furniture, and wanted me to paint it using the same technique. However, a lot of the furniture had been varnished in manufacturing, and the paint would not sit properly on them, so I sanded the varnish off of them before repeating the painting technique on all of them. Towards the end of the day, a few of the MA students approached me and asked how I achieved the wood stain effect across the entire set. I shared my technique with them, and felt encouraged that they enjoyed what I had produced. It’s good to be able to share knowledge, as it can help people achieve exactly what they envision in their designs.
Before and after paint
Before and after Button Polish
Before and after sanding
Before and after sanding
Before and after Button Polish