Thursday, December 4, 2008

From globe to helmet

Jumping back to my contributions to my friend Daniel Lenneer's film Wavebreaker I thought it could be interesting to chronicle the tranformation of a terrestrial globe into a steampunk diver's helmet. Danny wanted a classical surface supplied diver, or "hooka diver", for his underwater epic. This meant either buying, borrowing or making a big, clunky diving helmer. The two first options quickly went out the window, which meant it was up to me to construct a fake version. All of the underwater footage was to be shot against a greenscreen, so the helmet just had to look good enough.

I started off with a globe I bought at a garage sale for a trifle. Dismantling it was an easy task, but getting rid of the printed paper wrapping was not. It took several days to clean everything off.

I placed the cleaned globe on a hard polyfoam bust I always use for maskmaking, and built up the shoulder and neck areas in Chavant clay. There was a visible seam between the two plastic halves of the globe so I covered that with Apoxie.

The shoulder / neck part was cast in latex, reinforced with cotton until it took on a leathery feel. It was then reinforced with hot-melt glue. I would've liked to cast it in plastic instead, but there were no money for the necessary materials. But this solution worked out fine. The portholes in front, at the top and at the sides were plastic saucers made to hold water for flower pots. I cut holes in them and built up the grids in the portholes using Apoxie sculpt over cardboard frames. Other stuff added was a plastic medicine jar as a valve, and the lid from a container of vaseline. This particular diver had the look of a hooka diver, but in fact he had a steampunk air supply solution in the shape of air tubes on his back, hence the small pipe in the back of the helmet.

When all the details were added and secured the whole helmet was spraypainted flat back.

And here's the finished helmet, painted in brass and aluminum with airbrush to give it a mottled, worn look. I also added a real brass valve to the right (your right) of the helmet.

Danny tries it out and seems pleased with the result.

A couple of frame-grabs for Danny's first composite try-out. I also made some underwater plants/animals/fungi/whatever in rubber, for the divers to pick when they go hunting for food on the ocean floor.


jriggity said...

This is so freakin cool !

thanks for shareing how ya did it.


McTodd said...

More awesome work! I love the way you take the most unlikely of everyday objects, and ingeniously transform them into fantastical things!

Emily said...

wow! That was brilliant reappropriation! Super impressed.

a guy in a gorilla suit said...

A one-man army. Latex, Clay and Silicone. He begins, where McGyver scratched his head... At land, at air, and now under water.

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