Our new Model Making for Animation Diploma students have well and truly settled in and have been impressing everyone at the School with their amazing recreated sets from iconic film, The Shining. We caught up with Model Making course leader, John Lee to find out more. In addition to running the course, John is an experienced and active model maker in the industry and has created models for films such as Frankenweenie, Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs and while developing the course, he was busy working on the upcoming, highly anticipated new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, which is due for release on the 15th December.”

(Second set from The Shining recreated by the students)

What is the process the students have gone through to make the model of the Shining set?

“Firstly, we screened the film and took frame grabs from two scenes and from those pictures, we created drawings and then worked out the scale from that information. The scale we decided to use was 1:6 because it’s a useful scale for stop frame animation models. It’s not the only scale animators use but it’s a good general scale to make detailed, accurate model sets and puppets and it looks good on camera.”

(Iconic scene from The Shining)

Why did you choose The Shining?

“I happen to really like the film; it’s iconic and it’s a film you can watch repeatedly and get something different out of it each time. Both the imagery and the production design are outstanding; I thought it would make two nice model sets.”

(Students learning how to use the laser cutter)

What techniques did they need to use/ learn?

“The students have had to learn a whole host of new techniques including how to use a wide range of industry standard machinery in our new purpose built workshop. They have learnt machining techniques on equipment such as a lathe, panel/ circular/ band or wall saws and pillar drills plus moulding and casting. The School has never had the benefit of this kind of equipment before and this as well as the Model Making students’ skills should dramatically speed up the whole filmmaking process.”

What were the challenges and how did the students overcome them?

“The challenges the students have had to overcome include learning to work accurately and respect the scale so nothing looks out of place. The purpose of The Shining build was to try and reproduce that live action set accurately at 1:6 and the level of detail necessary to make things look real. They had to accurately recreate the props, the paint finishing and achieve practical lighting so all those things come together to make the shot look real. This will really help the students when they start work on the NFTS graduation films next year as they’ve already experienced making something at that scale with that level of detail.”

What’s next for the students?

“The students have now started a two-month puppet making module. Each student will make a stop frame animated puppet based on their own design. Watch this space for more updates and photos!”

For more information about the NFTS Model Making for Animation Diploma, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/modelmaking