If you read my previous report on this piece….or watched the propupvideo you will know that this was a cool piece of kit….but now I had a very nice email from the gentleman who originally made it for the production and was kind enough to put me right on a few details.
Here is the message!
Actually…WETA didn’t build this…I did. BACKBONE ENGINEERING CORP.
Stumbled across your video….what a blast from the past.
Drop me a line if you would like and I will shed some light on this particular prop.
And don’t be too hard on the shippers…a grip dropped this prop on set…almost fell off the rock face to the ground 20′ below…that is why a great deal of the damage is present.
and then followed up with this:
Your info on the cost was right…I think after all of the dust settled it ran about 26K. This included everything that you have as well as all of the molding used to make the other “dummy” pods. I made the giant container that the pods came in as well.
The container was welded aluminum with plastic details….and weighed a ton. It had to float at a specific angle and a specific depth…so you can imagine I had cracked the buoyancy text books out for that contract.
Speaking specifically about the pod (keeping in mind I had all but forgot about the thing until seeing the picture on your site)
The pistons are just dressing….they never did a thing. When you open and close the panels you can hear the gears back turning the drive motors which are located under the floor of the unit. If I remember correctly there were 4 in total…1 for each panel.
The handles were servo driven as you mentioned.
I only had about 3 weeks to make this as well as 3 dummies and the capsule that they came in…so it was a mad scramble. I was located in toronto and it shot in halifax…an 18hr drive. It took 2 days of driving to get to set and I was putting final touches on it in the hotel room at the end of day one of driving since my shop was so pressed for time due to schedule/concept changes….what an adventure that was.
The only real issue on set came when I was in the middle of the lake filming the capsule and a grip decided to move the pod that was situated on that rock face. He slipped…dropped the pod…and smashed it quite a bit. We hadn’t finished filming with it yet so I spent all night trying to McGyver it back together to make the next days shots. Needless to say it def. lost the new car smell after that shoot day. That is why the smaller panel just “flops” about. From what I recall the gears were cracked on the drive when it was dropped….since some of the panels were in the open position at the time.
I want to thank Jason for following up with me. Its rare that the gentleman who makes the props learns that they are in “the publics hands” and I appreciate him shining a spotlight on this piece.
Thanks again sir!