Sam remotely controls 4 HARVESTERS that collect and process the lunar surface to extract HELIUM3, a perfect and clean fuel for nuclear FUSION back on earth (this is a reality - Duncan is going over to the states to give a talk about Helum 3 to NASA!). Sam has to drive out to the Harvesters to collect the Helium3. Named by the company MATHEW,MARK, LUKE and JOHN, there are supposed to be FOUR Harvesters wandering around the moon. With the miniscule budget we had, four Harvesters wasn't ever an option, so we got round it by building one and having interchangable name plates. It was then a matter for the continuity department to make sure He had the correct plate (or plates - there were three) in position for any given scene. Again, 3D computer renders from Gavin, but mostly featurless at this point. I get the green-light to detail as I see fit, using one colour illustration as inspiration . So there were only certain areas where I could do some serious detailing. You can see the simple shapes I started out with, to get the thing fleshed out took only two or three days. Then the REAL modelmaking begins...
2 DAYS - i THINK No prizes for guessing what material the Harvester was made from. Wonderful FOAMEX or FOAMALUX (a brand name). The obvious choice, as, like gerty and a lot of the company hardware, it was flat-sided, angular and chunky. This was intentionally meant to give a corperate feel and I think it worked. we always have a scale figure nearby so we can be mindful of the scale. this was one 12th scale like the Rovers and the Base. Dr Who - David Tennent stands in as he's about that size.
BILLS TRACKS Bill handed me some toy crane tracks, which hed stuck together until they were the correct length for the Harvester, but I had to check they were going to fit before I took it any further. I clad some thin Foamex inside for dressing later and Bill figured out a way of doing the broad track (using cut-up car mats and foamex strip) which would be applied later. Now I had to think of a way to attach them to the body and make them removable.
SAFE TO GLUE Once I know there are no major adjustments to be made and everything works, I glue the main structure together and the masking tape that was previously holding it together can now go. Ive even sorted the scoop arms at this point and beefed up the harvester ends with upturned dumpster toys (orange)
QUITE A BEAST The first rough assembly is always good to do as soon as possible. I can see the finished item in my minds eye a lot easier now.
PRINTER CARTRIDGES More time saving 'wiggets' were disected printer cartridges (in grey, next to the orange). cut in half and washed thoroughly under the tap. couldnt have magenta dripping all over the set now could we?
TOY DIGGER ARMS More toys came my way in the form of digger arms, which were a pretty good length for the smaller center scoops. Not that strong, but then they didnt have to push any REAL dust - or so we thought. I put some tiny wheels low down at the back so you wouldnt see them, to prevent the scoops from buckling backwards when they snagged on something.
MORE FUN You can see Bills broader track in position here and I was having fun dressing around the LED torches installed for the headlights. I also thought lengths of ladder would sell the scale and be a practical detail to add.

The Harvester was to be shot along with the Sarang base in the background, as a scavenged, older unit, used for spare parts. if shot at the end, we could have put more time into the hero harvester and trashed it goodstyle for the scavenged scenes because it wasnt needed again. We were told that the Sarang base scenes were to be shot FIRST. Without the time to build two harvesters, Bill suggested hiding the innards behind panels, which we could remove or replace as required. Unless you knew where to look, you'de never know they were there and even then...

As It happened all the hero shots with the entire Harvester were shot FIRST........D'oh!!

IN HINDSIGHT..... Maybe more of a time restriction, but, one much larger removable section would have been more noticable than several small ones
NOT ORANGE ANYMORE Grey Plastic Primer is what we prefer for spraying models wth before anything else as it etches into the plastic and so subsequent layers key to it and dont flake off AND it evens out all the different tones into one and makes it harder for the underneath colour to poke through and influence the colour on top. Brings it all together!
PAINT PROCESS Some of the primer grey I may use as an actual colour, so I mask some panels off now, before I go any further.

Jokingly posing here for the 'Cinefex shot' as we all quip in the trade. serious face of concentration and all.

Ironically, this made it into the pages of Cinefex! at last!!!! Only taken 20 years!!

LITTLE SHOVEL Another small piece of input was this shovel at the end of a chain. Unfortunately the chain caused problems swinging side to side during high speed filming, so had to go. The Shovel survived - not that you can see it in the final film as nearly all of the detail at lower levels is obliterated by the computer generated moondust.
HIDDEN WHEELS The toy tracks wouldnt actually be the practical way of moving the harvester as they werent made to support this kind of weight (and believe me we tried - it just wasnt going to happen) so I had to support the majority of the harvester on 4 trolly wheels. You can also see the extra detail I neednt have bothered with. many access panels too, for threading of electrical wires.
NEEDS SOME COLOUR I think thats it. all the construction work is done. Now its a matter of painting it.
I FELT IT WAS RIGHT Knowing that the Harvester was travelling on felt on stage, I had to duplicate conditions in the workshop. the wheels were on a vertically adjustable piece of timber inside. The amount of weight bearing down on the rubber tracks had to be just so. took about 5 attempts to get it just right. I think it was so fine, the added weight of the arms might have made a difference. Should have thought of that at the time!! Luck for me it was alright on the night (as they say)
FIRST DIRT As there is no rain on the moon and only 6th gravity, I couldnt rain-streak the dirt, but just hope things like static, magnetism, odd bits of grease, would help dirt to cling to the Harvester. In corners mostly. The Harvester was chucking up a LOT of dust too - would be weird if it was clean. Everything was done in the biggest rush possible - if Id have had more time - I might have done a better job, but then you run the risk of it looking contrived if you labour over every blob of grunge. Chuck it on!!
MORE DIRT This is where all the used moondust is ejected. spewed out is what we ended up with. maybe there should have been MORE dirtying down!?
LAMP TEST Those new LED torches are really bright! You can see a close-up of some of the wiggetting behind the front panel, but it has not yet been weathered!
SWITCH ON There was also a lamp at the rear, which Bill switches on prior to the cameras rolling.
TAKE FOUR A tricky little scene where the rover drives into the back of the harvester - not a shot we were aware of until the last minute. Richard St Clair pulls the rover. eventually, there was enough footage to edit together into the final sequence to make it clear what was going on.
THE TROUBLE WAS... The Harvester was a film model and not a practical piece of hardware. we just didnt have the time to make it so. Thus, the harvester would only really travel along a truly flat surface - not something you're going to find easily on the moon, unless you're behind a Helium3 Harvester!l The set had to be checked for rocks and bumps prior to each take.

....A line from MOBY DICK...yet thats how all the MOON vehicles were moved. tungsten wire is fine and strong enough to pull a heavy object like the Harvester. Bill cut his hand pulling this beast.

I didnt spend much time on stage - I was far too busy in the workshop - which I feel more comfortable with anyway.

DEPTH OF FIELD Main problem when shooting from eye-level (as one should when shooting miniatures - thats the law as set down by the late great DEREK MEDDINGS) is depth of field - and the foreground being out of focus. This was just a shot I quickly took. I think production sorted any problems they had with DOF in post-production.
A CLEAN SWEEP again, notice the flat surface for the Harvester to travell on.

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