Monday, February 6, 2012

Making display pedestals or other cylinders

We're working on building a pop-up shop for Ms Brown, the new M&M character debuted at yesterday's SuperBowl.
The shop is in the style of an art gallery so we had to make the 5 display pedestals you see here.

So, to cut the circles for the tops and bottoms of the pedestals, we attached a plywood piece to extend the table of the bandsaw, (photo #2) and pre-cut square blanks of plywood on the table saw whose dimensions were the diameter of the circles.
Finding center of these squares, and the center of the extended bandsaw table, we screwed the plywood blank through its center point exactly onto the line of the center of the plate, so that the side of the blank touched the bandsaw blade,(see example photo #3). Rotating the blank around this centered point, we cut out our circles(photo #4)
We actually stacked two blanks to cut them in pairs and marked the radial "hour" marks identically onto each edge, while they were still stacked, so we could exactly line up the struts, which you see in left of  photo #1 . We then cut away the center of one circle, leaving a ring for an open bottom so we could eventually put weights in there for stability.
Attaching these struts very carefully to keep the unit square, we made the framework,  and then rolled a strip of 3/8" wiggle wood on to it to wrap the piece.
You can see the basic idea in photo #1 - though what's not shown is that we used a common car ratchet strap to give us the leverage to cinch the wiggle wood skin tightly to the pre glued struts. The skin was then stapled to the struts, using 1 1/4" narrow crown staples.
Wiggle wood is rather rough so to finish the pieces, we sanded them lightly first with #150 paper and then skim coated the entire surface with vinyl spackle, to take away any hint of wood grain. We sanded with #220 and spackled them again after this to make a fine surface for the paint. Prime painted, and spot filled/sanded again as needed.
Luckily these pieces were to be flat white, which is a very forgiving finish, so filling and sanding was fairly straightforward. If they had to have a shiny surface, we would have wrapped them in formica, Italian bending poplar, or other smooth sheet product, as a final surface over the wiggle wood.
And there you have it... easy cylinders that will each hold about 100 lbs of sculpture.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creating the Nastradamus music video set

As you might've seen yesterday, this was the Nastradamus set I found in our portfolio the other day. It's a bit old, but still worth a mention.

This is how it was done- short version:

We talked with the production designer about the idea of an flattened dome shape for Nas's control room. More interesting than a straight up dome, and more complicated too. Curves of any kind add complexity to a set but these were regular and radially symmetrical which worked in our favor. The designer did a few hand drawn (or "pencil") drawings and we used these to scale out the curved struts that formed the basic skeleton of the dome. These we cut out of 3/4" plywood and rough cut trapezoidal panels from "wiggle wood" (bendable plywood) that would become the skin of the dome. We modified a large commercial industrial fan so the blades were longer and just a bit more futuristic. Loaded all into the truck and drove off to some big soundstage in Queens.

Wiggle Wood
Once there, the very first thing was to hang the fan plumb to give us a perfect position for the center of the dome. Essentially we built the set around that fan. We erected the struts radially around the center, using a laser level to find the exact lines, like the hours on a clock face. This then formed the frame which we could begin skinning with the wiggle wood panels. We fine cut these on site to bend into the spaces.

The commercial industrial fan we modified

Oh, did I mention that a quarter section had to be removable and seamlessly replaceable to allow for camera access? That little detail is worth another post in itself, especially since they told us about it after we got on set...but ANYhow,  we added the plexiglass for the windows and other details, sprayed the whole thing silver.

Nas came in and did his thing and left with the entire crew to get all the outdoor shots.

When it came time to strike the thing next morning, we just popped out a few panels and gave it a little shove sideways... It wobbled a bit and then the entire structure spiralled in on itself and lay flat on the stage floor. Perfection! It was the easiest and quickest take down I ever did.

And right there's the irony inherent in this Biz.... everything may appear real and solid, but it's all ephemeral. Everything. Smoke and mirrors.

Much more to say about that. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nastradamus: A Project in Retrospect

It's always fun to look back on past projects to see the work you've done, and what's come of it since. After going through the Daddy-O portfolio recently, I came across a project from a while back - the set we did for hip-hop artist, Nas, for his 1999 release, "Nastradamus."

Here's a shot from before he got there:

And a still shot from the finished video:

You can watch the full music video here. It's wild to build a set and then revisit it a decade later to see that a half-million people have viewed it on YouTube. And just think, if every one of those people gave me a dollar...! 

There are lots of other great projects in the Daddy-O portfolio. Have a look at our books for Print, Theater, Film & Television, and Environments, and feel free to comment and ask questions here on the Daddy-O blog, or by tweeting @thisisdaddyo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Building a Pop-Up Shop

This a little project we did last week - the plans and story boards came into us on Monday, we had estimate and costs approved, started build Tuesday - Thursday,

Painted it Thursday-Friday, loaded truck early Saturday, and installed job ready for opening on Sunday morning.
 ...We're striking it out of the venue today.  My Favorite phrase these days... Ah, Show Biz!
Here's a litte video we made: