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Ark in Space

Started by d33j r093r5, Aug 03, 2021, 08:53 am

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d33j r093r5

Aug 03, 2021, 08:53 am Last Edit: Aug 04, 2021, 01:52 pm by d33j r093r5
Hi all,

This is not the next project I've worked on. It's actually the next, next NEXT project I've worked on, but I think it's my best one to date, so wanted to share it. It's also pretty much complete in terms of modelling it; it just needs subdividing into printable parts, and then, time and money permitting, it will become realised. :)

I was inspired a couple of months ago by some custom action figure work by a few of the members on one or more of the Custom DW Figures Facebook pages. Essentially there was a custom Sarah Jane in the Nirva Beacon outfit, and someone else had a made a series of cracking Wirrn. I was getting bored with console rooms and props, and wanted a challenge, so I started modelling the Cryogenic Chamber from Ark in Space.

Unlike the TARDIS Console Rooms, I really couldn't find any information regarding sizes or dimensions, no set plans, etc regarding the Ark. Which seemed a little odd, given how iconic the story was, and how beautiful the sets were. I had to rely pretty much on screen grabs, and estimations based on actors heights and general relations / proportions between them and items / walls / lettering, etc, and those between each other. Pretty sure it's not QUITE right, but I'm happy with where I ended up.

I started with some basic features, the shape and rough size of the floor, and some cryo-stasis pods. The stasis pods were all the same size, so I guesstimated the size based on a) the height of the tallest actor that we know was inside one, b) the rough height of how far off the floor the pod stood, c) the rough angle the pods were leaned back at and d) how the heights compared to Tom Baker and Ian Marter, who are 6'3" and 6'1" respectively.

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210616_0240.jpg

Obviously the pods extend all the was round, but as this is supposed to be an "open set" so to speak, I felt that closing it in would be a bit claustrophobic, not to mention hide the detail. I changed my mind later on, but that's why only half is see here. Anyway, once I had a basic idea, I started to add some detail...

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210616_1937.jpg

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... and fixed up the colouring of the walls...

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... and it was about now I changed my mind with regard to adding more sides. For one thing, on the actual set, the Doctor and Harry walked around further than that; you got see the extra pods. Not to mention the cupboard doors that Harry opened looking for a resuscitation unit, and finding a dead Wirrn instead...

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210618_2100.jpg

... the lettering was a bit faint, I can't remember why. Either the lettering was too thin, or I cut it in rather than extruding it out, or the brightness was too high. The door here is also too wide and squat, either because I had made it too fat, or it wasn't tall enough, maybe both, I don't recall that as well. Either way, they got corrected.

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Ummm.... TWO cupboards! Started to worry a bit again about closing it in. But the thing is, the set actually WAS open on one side, the side that we never saw. Figured I could leave it open as well and it should be fine. So, I added the extra cupboard.

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210619_1047.jpg

This was after 3 days worth of work mind you. Can't exactly remember how many evenings in total it was. And I DID have to come back and correct some dimensions afterwards as well.

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210620_2247.jpg

There were also 3 levels of pods, so I added in the floors in the side corridor...

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210621_0138.jpg

... you may remember in the show, the camera pointed down the corridor. We saw 4 banks of pods, and then into another chamber identical to the first. The Doctor even walked down there (where he made his grand "Homo Sapiens / Indomitable" speech). Thing is, there was no way the size of that would work as a model. It also struck me as odd that the BBC would build a whole other chamber that got used ONCE, for one scene. It would have made more sense to reuse the first one. As I was looking at the screen grab, I realised that there was yellow trolley in the other chamber, not only identical to the one in the first chamber, but in the exact reverse spot. Which, of course, makes sense if you're looking at a mirror. Yeah, I'm sure the penny dropped for a lot of you quicker than it did for me  ::) ::) ...

... anyway, once you're looking for it, it becomes obvious; you can even SEE it's a mirror, where the edges are etc. Also explains why there was no writing on the pods in the corridor; it would have been absolutely obvious to all viewers what they were seeing when looking at backwards writing. Anyway, they only used the mirror on the ground floor; that's why there's so much light in there as opposed to the upper levels, it's being reflected back. Anyway, I decided if it works for the BBC, it'll work for me as well! I designed it so I can slide a thin piece of Acrylic mirror down the back to reflect the corridor and cryo-chamber. Unlike the beeb's version, I'm not so worried about costs or logistics; my mirror will go through all levels  ;D .

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210621_1045.jpg

Something else of interest I remember about this stage of the model, was that the pods were a little too upright, and some of the positioning of details was not right, and/or not proportional. I ended up tilting them back a bit further and moved things around. Trouble was, now they weren't tall enough, and everything seemed a little squashed anyway. So, things got squeezed and scaled up a bit. It now looks a lot better, and closer to screen accurate. However, the overall, upright size of the room has increased another 5% or so. Oh well... c'est la vie  :P

I also started thinking about those upper levels; how the f*** did they get anyone down from up there? Sure, it's fine if you're in one of the corridors, they all have floors, but then how did you get up to those floors. And presumably, if this REALLY did exist, and the cryo-pods extended up much higher than these three levels, then a ladder would have been impractical (not that it would have made much sense for those 3 levels either. And again, the answer was right in front of me, but I hadn't really looked at it:


It's actually nice little details like that in a series like Doctor Who that make a difference; you really don't notice them, but they help add continuity when questions like this arise. Like, for what reason would the floor move? There was no point unless the whole thing went UP! It struck me that that would be a VERY cool feature to build into the model. I started adding things in that would make that possible in the model. Also extra features that you wouldn't see necessarily on screen. Like extra floors where the cupboards were (didn't make sense in a craft like the Nirva Beacon that they would waste the space).

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Having made my life that much harder with this now added level of complexity ( :-\ ), I figured in for a penny, in for a pound. See, this isn't technically the whole set. It's actually 2 adjoining sets that the actors could walk to and from easily, that you can see where they've come from and where they're going, without breaking continuity. That means, I have to make the door in and out... AND, model the control room that abuts the cryo-chamber (sigh). So, resigning myself to this extra work, I started screen grabbing more set shots, and got modelling.

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The basic shape of the room was comparatively simple. Getting the angles and relative sizes of the walls took a bit more work, but screen grabs and comparisons are again your friend in these circumstances.

The door was something I decided to do on the fly, and was reasonably simple to do. I figured it would add to the model if the door could open and shut. I designed it so that a separate piece could be slid in and out in the same way it was done on the show. I figured that it probably worked similarly on the actual set as well. You can see the gap I left for the door on the left hand side of the wall, and the gap in the door frame where it slides into it. I did the same thing on the entry door to the control room on the other side.

You may ALSO notice at this point, that I abandoned my moving floor idea. It was just getting WAY to complicated. besides, with the extra height where the cupboards were was blocking even MORE of the view into the room, and it was clearly was never actually built on set. So I kicked the idea to the curb, and opened up the wall section above the ground level cupboards.

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210622_2256.jpg

Added in the Microfilm archive, and the numbering., The colour and brightness isn't quite right in this image. I spent an inordinate amount of time on the numbering; I could NOT for the life of me find a font that matched! Mind you, this is the mid 1970s, so there may no longer be one that's an exact match. However, if anyone can tell me what it is, I would be immensely grateful.  :D :D As it was I kind of mixed and matched, adjusted sizes and kind of got it to a "make do" sort of appearance.

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210622_0424.jpg

The rest of the features weren't especially troublesome, it was just a question of getting sizes and positions about right, and making adjustments going along as more things became obvious or revealed themselves.

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210627_2254.jpg

You may also have noticed in a few images how high the walls are in the control room (if I remembered to include them in this thread). They REALLY didn't need to be that high, and in subsequent images from here, I had lowered it to something a bit more respectable. It was also obstructing the view (at least part) of the cryo-chamber. Lowering that wall means more of it can be viewed from that side, which is really what I want; this is supposed to be a diorama after all.  ;D

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210627_0230.jpg

Main Cryogenic Chamber Assembly_210626_0230.jpg

I returned to the main chamber at this point. There was a fairly important feature missing; the pod covers. Sculpting them as they appeared on the show would be a HUGE pain-in-the-proverbial job. The originals had probably been vacuum formed over a mould of some sort, probably a full body cast of someone who worked on the show. I was NEVER going to get that. I mean, you can now BUY small vacuum forming machines that you can use at home, but you still need a mould to work from. And my printers probably couldn't get the level of detail needed for that. So, like any person hurrying to finish a project and uncertain to go about it..... I cheated (sort of).

I used the person outline I had to make the cryo-pods, and just did a simple revolve with it. I essentially cut that in half, fused it with the piece I was using to make the full door, and then hollowed it out. it looks good enough...

... it took me a few renders to get the colour and brightness of it to something I was happy with though:

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210628_1422.jpg

"AAAAAHHHH!!! The Sleepers are Regenerating!!!"  ;) ;D

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... you may also notice the dodecahedron pattern on the floor, which also got added about now. I did flirt very briefly with adding the texture to the floor as it appeared on the show, but it added a level of complexity which wasn't really needed. It probably wouldn't have looked right in any case, would have made standing things on it slightly precarious, and my software REALLY struggled with it because of how large and complex the whole thing had got. Well... it's more a case of how much RAM I have (or in this case, haven't) got, and my graphics card showing its age. So I dropped it pretty quickly.

Really, the last thing to do on the checklist was add some extra details, like some decals, hints of piping, controls etc. Will show them off in short order...

Microfilm Archive Control Box:

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210705_1505.jpg

Control Room Main Control Panel:

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Control Room Circuit Viewer, Drop Down Board and Recording Device:

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210704_1446.jpg

... good view of the Animal & Botanic Section Door from this angle too.  :)

... aaaaaand I've just realised that there is a component missing. The cryo-inducer / transmat booth above the main control panel doesn't have the sliding door! Whoops! I guess there will be a second post to this thread after all, lol!

Anyway, I'll leave you with a few gratuitous aesthetic shots for the finish :)

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210705_0157.jpg

Actually, you can also see from these final shots that the alphanumeric designations to the pods have been added as well...

Main Cryogenic Chamber_210705_0342.jpg

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And remember:




Rassilons Rod

Looking excellent!
In the cities in the streets there's a tension you can feel,
The breaking strain is fast approaching, guns and riots.
Politicians gamble and lie to save their skins,
And the press get fed the scapegoats,
Public Enema Number One.


Coolest place to store action figures ever.  (No pun intended.)
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.

Jam Jar Lurker

Brilliant! I loved seeing the progress pictures.

"Have courage, and be kind... Where there is kindness, there is goodness. And where there is goodness, there is magic."

d33j r093r5

Aug 04, 2021, 09:17 am #4 Last Edit: Aug 04, 2021, 10:12 am by d33j r093r5
Quote from: Volpone on Aug 03, 2021, 03:17 pmCoolest place to store action figures ever.  (No pun intended.)
I suppose it would be; I think the CO figures are a little too rigid to cooperate in sitting nicely in those pods though  ::) ;D ⁠😂⁠