dalekboy (dalekboy) wrote,

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The importance of first-hand research...

So, I've recently been doing some research on the old Hartnell TARDIS for a small project, and as I looked around the 'net, I got slightly depressed. I kept finding CGI renderings of the Hartnell console room, and to be frank, most of them were pretty bloody good. Great level of detail, the consoles looked good, the lighting was good.

And it came to mind that I'd been left well behind.

Back in the late 90's there was only one really good Hartnell era TARDIS console out there - mine. I was way ahead of the other fans, the level of accuracy and detail on my console was exceptional, all the way down to things like one particular screw having red paint on it, shit that no-one else would notice or care about. But I'd done the work, I'd spent six months researching the thing, and it was pretty damned good.

That and my daleks are what got me involved in Who3D, and from there got me involved in a bunch of wonderful craziness, including a major part of a possible BBC Wales Doctor Who animated series.

Yes, I know I bring it up a lot, but let's face it, it's as close as I'm ever likely to get to working on my favourite show, and I'm still stunned and proud that it ever happened.

My other proudest moment was unintentionally fooling the Restoration Team. For a Who3D video that was being shown at a convention to drum up support and new talent, I'd been asked if I could do a copy of the old black and white spinning BBC globe. We could have just used one off a video, but thought it'd be nice if everything on the video was our own work. So I set to copying the logo - built a globe, timed the spin so it was right, matched the slightly uneven lighting, rendered it out, and we popped it on the start of the video.

I got an email from one of our group. Apparently the guys from the Restoration Team had been looking for a really clean copy of the logo, and asked where we'd come by ours. They were stunned to find it was an animation, and asked if they could have a copy. Don't know if they ever used it for anything, but I was pretty stoked.

Anyway, after doing a hell of a lot of work, I got burnt out and basically stopped doing computer modelling and animation. I just couldn't do it any more. Before I dropped out, there were some pretty fabulous modellers out there. Chris Sutor did some pretty amazing work, and Rob Semenoff's work was (and is) awesome. I'm really pleased to hear that Rob has picked up work doing stuff for the Doctor Who DVDs. He was always able to make something that looked incredibly detailed, in a fraction of the time it took me.

I remember being quite annoyed at one point when DWM did a piece on fans doing 3D Who and missed out our little group. At this point we'd been asked by the producer of the Death Comes to Time audioplay to do a special poster to auction off as a charity fundraiser (if I recall correctly, I didn't work on that particular project), and even some test animations, amongst other things. A polite email to DWM at the time never received any sort of reply. But I digress.

Over the years I've tried again and again to get back into modelling and animation, but would only ever work for a week or so before it'd become all too hard and I'd lose interest. I was still too burnt out. And then I had the stroke which added a whole new layer of difficulty to trying to get back into it. So, I've never built a New Series Dalek model, never built a new series TARDIS or console room, never completely finished my original TARDIS console room, never really done anything that didn't use my already existing models.

And in the last week I suddenly get to see a bunch of folks doing truly lovely work, including one of my old mates from Who3D getting to work on the DVD releases, and I just felt like a useless old has-been. The days of me having any worth or value to the scene were over, the next generation of modellers and animators had left me well behind. I was really feeling down.

Except... then I noticed something...

Every single Hartnell TARDIS console had the exact same error. It wasn't so obvious in black and white, but could easily be seen in colour. It was my error.

When I had researched the console I had worked very hard to get everything exactly right - hell, even the fast return switch was in there, modelled in painstaking detail - except there were two errors I had deliberately put into the console. One was a silly bit of fun, the other was a slight artistic colour change, and they were basically a way to keep track of if anyone outside of Who3D used the models or claimed them as their own work.

I don't know if they're still online now, but there used to be a bunch of reference pictures up of my console, including a nice overhead 'plan' shot (which I've included below). And what would appear to have happened is that people used my console as a reference to build their own, and in all probability, those people have had people use their consoles as a reference, and so on. And the colour error has been replicated over and over again.

People must have assumed that because it was such a detailed and accurate console, that it's all spot on, and have done no detailed follow-up research for themselves. So now everyone puts in my changes.

How cool is that? How can I not totally love that? I love a good joke, and this is one of the best jokes of all! I've accidentally pranked an entire subsection of fandom, and you just know that some of the wider section of that fandom are also fooled any time they see one of these models and praise its accuracy. And as the error continues to get replicated, so it becomes more and more set in place as part of the the show's design canon.

I have, unintentionally and probably permanently, changed a small element of the Doctor Who universe.

How can I not love my life? *grin*

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Tags: doctor who, fandom, interesting or important links, my stuff, perception shift, things that delight me, wicked grin

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