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Jw Tardis Lamp

Started by Angelus Lupus, Nov 14, 2017, 12:35 am

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Jun 13, 2018, 06:24 pm #30 Last Edit: Jun 13, 2018, 07:21 pm by Kingpin
I'm afraid I must also note my scepticism over your description of the assembly of the lamp on the filming prop.  I'm not an expert in the field, but I don't believe the existing photographic evidence we've seen so far backs up your account.

Quote from: jtvincent on Jun 10, 2018, 05:47 amHello, this is my first post other than my introduction. If I'm not mistaken, the Fresnel lens on the current boxes are commercial plastic porch-light lenses (2 quid). There is a Frisbee base, and a simple Tiki torch bottom and cap (8 quid).  It's all DYI.   It's held together by drywall screws.  The supports are PVC tubing with glue-gun and CA glue.

I can't completely dispute the possibility of a plastic fresnel, though I believe the Matt Smith/Capaldi-era boxes used glass ones.  However, I'm not seeing the frisbee element, nor what's specifically taken from a tiki torch.


The lowest level of the lamp (or it could be argued the highest level of the roof that isn't part of the lamp) is square.  It may not be immediately obvious from the photo, but the shot from Doctor Who Magazine #523 dispels any confusion:


Now, I acknowledge you could be referring to the curved circular section just beneath the fresnel, but I believe making this section out of a frisbee (as well as kit-bashing the rest of the lamp) seems unlikely, given the proliferation of replica facsimile ship lanterns.  It seems less hassle for the production to just by a pre-existing lamp (like they did for Matt Smith and Capaldi's filming boxes), and just modify it where necessary.

Quote from: jtvincent on Jun 10, 2018, 05:47 amIt's dauntingly simple. For the new box, there is a commercial plasma globe (15 quid), glue gunned into place with a blue plastic filter around a florescent screw-in bulb on the beacon. The plastic Fresnel lens is cut around the glass globe and just glued on there.  It's the easiest part of a TARDIS to make.

A plasma ball?  One of these:    


And a florescent screw-in bulb?  Plasma balls aren't renowned for how much light they give off... Why would they bother fitting a plasma ball in the TARDIS lamp?  Given there's nothing from the shots we've seen so far to suggest anything like a plasma ball, and given how utterly alien (pardon the pun) such a feature is to how a Police Box lamp worked, this is one of the most unlikely details from your description.

If I understand your assumption correctly, that the widest bulge of the fresnel is the plasma globe, and the bits above and below it are the cut down porch lens, I believe there are photos of the prop on location that disprove that suggestion:


The fresnel looks like a solid piece, rather than two separate pieces sitting against a glass globe.

And the glass itself (as well as most of the assembly) looks very close to this commercial model discovered by Cardinal Hordriss:


Another shot disproving the plasma ball supposition:


The above shot also disproves the blue filter supposition.  The blue glow has always struck me as being the result of the internal lighting (Blue LEDs, rather than a florescent bulb), rather than some sort of filter... And the production crew wouldn't go to the effort of removing and adding the filter for daytime shots.  Either they'd make the "glass" blue, or leave the filter in 24/7.

As for it having PVC tubing for the struts, I'd imagine they'd got for metal, rather than the more fragile PVC.

As noted by Galactic Probe and Karst, your explanation doesn't seem to line up with what we can see in the photos.


Putting my two cents in for what they're worth; I highly doubt that the prop designers would go to so much trouble to glue a PLASTIC porch light to a GLASS globe. Never mind the fact that there'd be obvious contrast between the two materials, it's an astonishingly ineffective method when they already know that there's alternatives, i.e: the "New Haven" fresnel.

Angelus Lupus

Sep 25, 2018, 11:29 am #32 Last Edit: Sep 25, 2018, 11:29 am by Angelus Lupus
Cross-posting these images from the JW Tardis thread, for reference:
A mixed-up non-conformist, trying to fit in.


Well I think that picture clearly shows what it's not!!!

I want notes, lists and answers by the time I finish this here Juicy-a-Box! WARNING: I am Thirst-ay! And it is Fruit Punch! And it is Delicious!"

Angelus Lupus

That reminds me, I'm slightly annoyed because I broke my plasma ball recently.  >:(
A mixed-up non-conformist, trying to fit in.


I want notes, lists and answers by the time I finish this here Juicy-a-Box! WARNING: I am Thirst-ay! And it is Fruit Punch! And it is Delicious!"


Am I the only on thinking that that doesn't look like a fresnel lense?
I'm not even nearly an expert, just from experience googling them...
Just a thought...
Never wear black with colour; it makes the colour look cheap and the black look boring.


It's supposed to be a fresnel lens, but "modernized". Like....why?? Why would you need to modernize such a classic shape? I'm all for innovation, just look at the Converse II's, they took a timeless design and updated it using present day materials and it looks beautiful. This just looks sloppy and badly done.


Also, does it look to anyone else like they took the "nipple" bit off the top of the Ed Thomas Eccleston-Tennant prop and slapped it on top of this lamp to anyone else?


Sep 25, 2018, 09:24 pm #39 Last Edit: Sep 25, 2018, 09:33 pm by Kingpin
The "fresnel" is probably the result of:
•Concessions to make the item cheaper/easier to mass produce.
•A poorly-drawn production illustration, potentially as the result of someone using the internet as a quick reference, rather than holding the genuine article.

Type "reproduction ship's lantern" into an image search and you'll get results that look a lot like this lamp's "glass", in addition to ones that look more authentic.


The paint wear and chips seem to reveal a brass colour underneath the blue paint.



Sep 26, 2018, 08:26 am #41 Last Edit: Sep 26, 2018, 08:46 am by galacticprobe
Quote from: deafeningsilence on Sep 25, 2018, 07:17 pm
does it look to anyone else like they took the "nipple" bit off the top of the Ed Thomas Eccleston-Tennant prop and slapped it on top of this lamp to anyone else?

Well, not really; at least not to me. It just looks like the top of a standard "Cold Blast" oil lantern that was stuck on the top. The nipple on the Ed Thomas TARDIS lamp was much larger that what we're seeing in these photos.

And I think Kingpin is pretty close with his theories on the Fresnel lens. This is more of a "ribbed glass chimney" used on modern lanterns. Making a genuine Fresnel lens is extremely expensive, and you have to get the calculations for the light's focal points just right or the lens won't refract the light the way you want, and it wouldn't look as bright as a plain glass cylinder.

So the next best thing is to use one of these modern ribbed glass chimneys. (Just like we do in our endeavours to build replicas - of any props - this is the BBC probably saying, "That's close enough". If we can do it, why not the professionals?)

A chimney like that in the US would run about $20; having a Fresnel lens like that made would run into the thousands. And having worked on ship's running lights, and buoy lights, I can tell you the lenses for those have a budget all their own because the Fresnel lenses are so expensive to replace.

You can buy a lantern very similar to the one here for only $139.97 US (Vermont Lanterns, Ship's Anchor Lamp), presuming the base of the lamp is about 7 inches in diameter. A replacement chimney that looks like the one in the TARDIS lamp is either $14.99 US (13.5" Nelson Oil Lamp Chimney), or $19.99 US (15.5" Nelson Oil Lamp Chimney), if someone wanted to build this lamp from scratch. (Even the full lantern would cost less than a tenth of what it would cost to have a Fresnel lens of this style made, and in this day and age when everyone's money is tight, even the entertainment studios feel the squeeze. And again, if we can say "Eh, that's good enough" when we do our builds - especially when it saves money with a "close enough" item - then why would we criticize a film studio for doing the same thing, especially when they can put all that money to better use? Besides, it gives us a better chance at making our replicas match the actual prop! :D)

"What's wrong with being childish?! I like being childish." -3rd Doctor, "Terror of the Autons"