Posts Tagged ‘Craig Charles’

Couple of Videos on the Model Work on the BBC SF Comedy, Red Dwarf

February 24, 2021

These are another couple of videos I found on YouTube. In the first, model makers and special effects technicians Bill Pearson and Steve Howarth talk about their work on series 10 of the show. It’s a deleted scene from the film Sense of Scale, which appears to be a movie about the work of model makers like the two. It’s one of a number of videos about the creation of model effects for films and TV series like Red Dwarf, Space: 1999, Alien, Aliens, Outland, Flash Gordon, the 1990’s version of Total Recall, Coneheads, The Fifth Element and The Empire Strikes Back by piercefilm productions.

RED DWARF X miniature effects – YouTube

The second video comes from the channel of someone styling themselves Duane Dibley (the Duke of Dork). As fans of the series will know, this is the stylistically challenged alter ego of the Cat. In it, Bill Pearson talks about his work on series 4 of the show when production was moved to Shepperton. He talks about how some of the props and effects ended up in skips, including one that was damaged by Craig Charles. Money was tight, and so instead of building the scutters from scratch, as they had in the first series, they used parts from radio controlled cars and electric screwdrivers instead. They also recycled props and bits of set from other shows, including a Science Fiction film Ridley Scott had completed filming there. It was only after the series ended that Patterson realised he had never made one of the major vehicles in the show. But his chance finally came when he asked to make one to be given as a prize in a quiz show.

Super Models (Featurette With Red Dwarf Model Maker Bill Pearson) – YouTube

Red Dwarf is one of my favourite SF shows, and one which, in my view, deserves its longevity and cult status. It’s really fascinating to hear from one of the team of talented artists, model makers and technicians which gave this show its great SFX. These still stand up today when miniature work has largely been superseded by CGI. Pearson mentions this in the first video, saying that he’s proud of their work on Red Dwarf, but thinks that he’ll now spend the rest of his life working in low budget projects, because the major films and TV series have gone over to CGI instead. This is a pit, as I’ve a great deal of nostalgia and respect for the practical special effects used in the Science Fiction and Horror movies I grew up with. As spectacular as the CGI graphics can be, there’s still a popular demand for old style practical effects. Harbinger Down, a horror film that came out a couple of years ago, was made using these traditional special effects techniques to cater to audience keen to relive the pleasure of the type of effects they’d enjoyed in Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Pearson, Howarth and the others, who worked on shows like Red Dwarf are immensely talented artists, and I hope their skills will continue to be in demand by producers and directors, who appreciate the value of good, practical special effects.

Megabot’s Paintballing Combat Robot

December 7, 2015

Yesterday, I posted a piece about the ‘Beetle’, a giant construction robot built between 1958 to 1962 by the US air force for constructing atomic planes. This is not quite as awesome, but almost. It’s video from a maker’s fair in the US, in which the guys from Megabots talk about the giant robot they built. This robot is also built for warfare, but only of the simulated kind. Instead of real weapons, it has a giant paintball gun. They’re intending to produce a walking version of the droid, and then kits so that others can build their own. Then they hope to stage fights between in a stadium.

Here’s the video:

It’s very much a scaled-up, and more terrifying and amazing version of Robot Wars. That was the TV programme on in the 1990s-early 2000s presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Philippa Forester and Craig Charles, which showed battles between small, home-built, radio controlled robots. That was fascinating to watch, and some of the robots devised by ordinary people working at home were fascinating and ingenious. This looks like offering the same on a mind-blowing scale.

Here’s the titles from the UK Robot Wars series.

It’s all rather like the 1989 SF film, Robot Jox, directed by Stuart Gordon, the man who brought the world the classic HP Lovecraft-based horror movie, Reanimator. Robot Jox was set in a post-Holocaust future, where war had been outlawed. Instead international conflicts were settled through a battle of champions, humans controlling giant fighting robots, as shown in the trailer here.

Hopefully, the Megabots’ scheme should be rather less lethal, if no less exciting.