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Key to Time

Started by d33j r093r5, Aug 05, 2021, 03:05 pm

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d33j r093r5

Aug 05, 2021, 03:05 pm Last Edit: Aug 05, 2021, 03:07 pm by d33j r093r5
This was actually a really fun one to do, in spite of the lack of information out there. There's some screen grabs, and photos of models other people have made, a LOT of them incorrect. There's very few shots from Keys that other modellers have made, not many good ones, and usually only from one side. Makes modelling it VERRRRY tricky because of all the funky geometry.

There's not many renders I have of these; there didn't seem to be a lot of point. If people would like to see them from different angles, let me know and I'll do my best to accommodate. :)


Key To Time Segment 1_210805_2125.jpg


People who HAVE made accurate models of this tend to be VERY cagey about it, largely because they're a source of bread and butter for them. And they make them the same way the props department at the BBC did: make the basic shapes of the pieces in plaster (the story of the guy who designed it and sliced it up the way he did is a whole other thread! Remember, he was doing it back in 1978, when there wasn't any CAD software, nor access to technology like 3D printers in order to make the initial pieces!). Then, created the inverse mould from those pieces, and finally used a clear resin pour into the moulds to get the final Key. It needed some sanding and polishing, but that was essentially the process.


Key To Time Segment 2_210805_2125.jpg


The holes on each side I'm not certain about. Part of me thinks they MAY have been easier to drill once the Key was assembled and held firmly in place by a jig, but knowing the process needed to go through in order to make them I'm also thinking that might have been a very risky way to potentially damage a scene-critical part. It COULD be that he predrilled a plaster cube, and then segmented it, but that would have been messy and clumsy, not a clean or effiecient way to make parts you want to cast a mould from. The most laborious process would have been to make the individual pieces allowing cutaways for where they knew the holes were going to go, but it would have been the safest and most likely method to produce a positive final result. I honestly don't know...


Key To Time Segment 3_210805_2131.jpg


... fortunately, I don't have that problem  ;D

In terms of the original prop, I understand that John Nathan-Turner actually took it with him when he left Doctor Who. It turned up many, many years later in someone's collection, but they had turned yellow from age and cigarette smoke. ⁠😟⁠⁠😟⁠⁠😟⁠ I think they may have suffered some damage as well, being left in sunlight and / or dropped. I'm not certain what happened to them after that.

... and all of that is kind of hearsay as well. To the best of my knowledge, that is what actually happened. However, I did not go into any kind of rigorous research for this, it was just information I picked up along the way (that I thought was interesting). It's possible I've been led a bum steer, and that I've got it completely wrong! Cest la vie  ;)


Key To Time Segment 4_210805_2132.jpg


For my own model, I was finally able to get hold of someone who actually DID have a screen replica that he'd purchased years ago from a guy who had made screen accurate moulds from the original, but had stopped making them years before. he was happy to share some photos with me of the individual parts, with numbers. he was in a bit of a hurry, so he gave me what he currently had, which meant that I didn't have them from every angle. No matter, I enjoy a good puzzle; working out the geometry from what I had was a nice challenge! :)


Key To Time Segment 5_210805_2128.jpg


It took a few iterations as well. I confused certain sides of parts with others during the modelling process, which left me a bit stumped for a while.

Reflections and the refractive index also threw me a bit, because sometimes you could swear that geometry was there that wasn't, and vice versa.

A couple of the parts were mislabelled as well, which meant that when I was comparing the parts to screen grabs from the show, some things didn't make sense. And it didn't help that from certain angles, a few of the pieces had very similar geometry on some sides to other pieces! AND, they all had to fit together nicely in a perfect cube, so you KNOW when you've made an error, but now you've got to try and find where and what the error was!

Not to mention HOW to actually assemble the cube, what pieces go where and in which orientation. I remember assembling the cube at one point with 5 pieces that all fit PERFECTLY together, but the gap left for the 6th piece was split into 2 parts, on opposite sides of the cube! <facepalm><headdesk><bodywall>  ??? ??? ::) ::)


Key To Time Segment 6_210805_2129.jpg


The last part, the 2nd Segment probably gave me the most difficulty in terms of it's geometry, both because of how similar it looked to the 6th segment from a certain angle (and I had no really good shot of it from the other side), and because both the 6th and the second had been mislabelled. The way I finally managed to get the geometry was by extrapolation from I already had. I was confident the other pieces were correctly designed, I just needed to fit them together accurately, so that that they left an (accurate) negative space for the 2nd segment to fit into. I was reasonably confident I had when I not only did have a configuration with such a space, but the geometry kind of looked like the images I was working from. And it worked.  ;D

... and voila! A fully assembled Key to Time!


Key To Time Assembled Segments_210805_2130.jpg


At some point I'm going to make a full scale replica of this. At this stage I'm not certain about how to go about it. The BEST way is to cast it in resin, exactly the same way as it's been done in the past. I, however, have absolutely NO skills in that arena, and have too much else going on to either learn how to do it, or to actually go through the process of making it. 3D printing it won't cut the mustard on this one. However, I AM making the files available to everyone. I will let you know when the link is available ;)

D.
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d33j r093r5

Oh, one final thing; I did a fully rendered animation of the Key, as you will see below:







I stupidly forgot to turn the floor off when I was making this, so the 6th segment periodically disappears (you'll see what I mean when you play it). But it really doesn't interfere or distract too much from the overall, so I decided to leave it. Besides, it took over a WEEK to fully render and compile into a smooth, reasonably hi-res, and small-ish size to be able to publish effectively, and it ate ALL of my PCs runtime while it was doing it (I very BADLY need an upgrade. Actually, if anyone has an Nvidia Titan RTX they don't want / need anymore send me a PM).  ;D

D.
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Dalex

Wow, that looks fantastic!  Love how you've captured the crystal clear effect, I know that's tricky to do!

This brings back memories:  Back in 2013 I had a local factory create a set of Key to Time replicas in Lucite, and in doing so I dived into the research of coming up with accurate models.  I started with a Sketchup model that someone else made, then did a bunch of tweaks (including adding tracer holes) to make things screen accurate.

I just checked and it looks like my models are still online.  Curious to know how they compare with yours!

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/8d77728f1154e98a5a7a4448bd610d10/Key-to-Time-With-Tracer-Holes
https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/7cac29d16b1f48ec5a7a4448bd610d10/Key-to-Time-No-Tracer-Holes

Cheers,
Alex
Dalex

d33j r093r5

Quote from: Dalex on Aug 27, 2021, 09:14 pmWow, that looks fantastic!  Love how you've captured the crystal clear effect, I know that's tricky to do!

This brings back memories:  Back in 2013 I had a local factory create a set of Key to Time replicas in Lucite, and in doing so I dived into the research of coming up with accurate models.  I started with a Sketchup model that someone else made, then did a bunch of tweaks (including adding tracer holes) to make things screen accurate.

I just checked and it looks like my models are still online.  Curious to know how they compare with yours!

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/8d77728f1154e98a5a7a4448bd610d10/Key-to-Time-With-Tracer-Holes
https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/7cac29d16b1f48ec5a7a4448bd610d10/Key-to-Time-No-Tracer-Holes

Cheers,
Alex


Hey Alex, thanks for the kind words.

I had a look at your 3D models via the links you provided. Pound for pound, they look identical, I can't see any difference  ;D . What source material did you use? I was going off images someone with a replica sent to me, but there was still a lot of getting my head around the 3D geometry based on 2D pictures, and which one was which from the various angles. At the end I wasn't 100% sure I had got it right, although I couldn't see any visual difference between mine and other replicas I'd seen. Looking at yours I feel a hell of a lot more confident  :D  :D .

Cheers,

D.
ERROR READING DRIVE C: (A)BORT, (R)ETRY, (F)AIL (I)GNORE?

Dalex

Quote from: d33j r093r5 on Aug 27, 2021, 11:48 pmWhat source material did you use?

My primary source of reference was the Key to Time DVDs, as there are many scenes where you could pause and replay to get a good idea of what each segment looked like.  I also found a paper cut-out that someone had posted online many years ago, which I soon discovered was inaccurate (after examining the DVDs) so I fixed the plans and built myself a correct paper model to use as a reference.

Speaking of the DVDs, one interesting thing I discovered watching them is that one of the segments was not actually used at all, and instead another segment did double duty:  If you watch the beginning of the Stones of Blood you'll see the 2nd segment, and if you compare that with the 4th segment featured prominently in The Androids of Tara, you'll see it's the same one!  No idea why they decided to re-use a segment twice, guess they thought no one would notice.  Fortunately since we have all the other segments, it was easy enough to derive what this "missing" 2nd segment looked like.

And of course there was Darksyde's Sketchup model, which I used as a basis to make my own Sketchup models, cleaning up some of the minor inaccuracies and adding the tracer holes.

My original goal was to produce a plaster mold of the Key to Time and do the casting myself, before abandoning that and switching to Lucite.  I posted my progress on several threads on TheRPF (should be easy to find if you search for "Key to Time" in quotes, or I can DM you the links).  Looking back at those threads I see they also contain additional details about my research, including trying to figure out what the size of the Key to Time was, as well as pictures from the factory production run.

Quote from: d33j r093r5 on Aug 27, 2021, 11:48 pmI was going off images someone with a replica sent to me

Curious to know which replica this is!  (Feel free to DM me.)

Quote from: d33j r093r5 on Aug 27, 2021, 11:48 pmLooking at yours I feel a hell of a lot more confident  :D  :D

Likewise, this makes me feel more confident about my replica as well!  :)

Cheers,
Alex
Dalex

d33j r093r5

Quote from: Dalex on 30 August 2021, 04:15:53Speaking of the DVDs, one interesting thing I discovered watching them is that one of the segments was not actually used at all, and instead another segment did double duty:  If you watch the beginning of the Stones of Blood you'll see the 2nd segment, and if you compare that with the 4th segment featured prominently in The Androids of Tara, you'll see it's the same one!  No idea why they decided to re-use a segment twice, guess they thought no one would notice.  Fortunately since we have all the other segments, it was easy enough to derive what this "missing" 2nd segment looked like.


YES! That was one of the reasons I needed other source material, I couldn't rely entirely on what I was getting from the show. Not that it mattered much, the quality of my videos are WAY below DVD quality, so it was hard to get an idea of where edges were.

I should add that I did some cross-referencing with a few other images I found about the place, to make sure I HAD got it right. There don't seem to be a million variations out there, only 2 or 3, which made life a bit easier.  ;D

D.
ERROR READING DRIVE C: (A)BORT, (R)ETRY, (F)AIL (I)GNORE?