Back In The Room. 24th July

Aristotle Bridge

All wrapped up against the elements

With model box and drawings wrapped up against possible rain I set off to catch the bus to Chippy. From our mooring the walk was a far shorter one than if we’d been moored in Jericho. However the large puddles of water on the roads edge gave slight concern when buses passed by! Dry refuge had to be sought. Time ticked by, then more time. I’d arrived in plenty of time and with only one bus an hour I started to get very twitchy as even the Stagecoach app was jumping past the bus I was waiting for! Thankfully buses are colour coded in Oxford so when three came along together I knew the last one, gold, was my bus.

Oxford roads are totally messed up at the moment, road works here there and everywhere so it seems, but the bus made it through to Chippy only twenty minutes late, thankfully I’d aimed for a bus an hour early for my meeting, so I wasn’t late.

People! Louisa, Paul, Gemma, John, Liza and Sophie at the front

How nice it was to be back in a room full of people doing a model showing, only one joining via zoom today. We had the Lighting and Sound designers along with Sophie the costume designer, just Jo the props maker was missing today.

Sophie showed us her costume designs, I’d had a sneaky peek at them a couple of weeks ago to see what colours she was thinking of using, so our designs matched quite well.

Then it was my turn to show the model. Thankfully I didn’t get the model shakes which normally happens when showing a model to a full room. A couple of minor adjustments and additions were asked for by John the Director. All went well.

Trying to cut costs piece by piece

After this Gemma the Production Manager and myself sat down to see if there was anywhere we could try to save some money. Sadly my design has come in over budget, some tweaking and pinching of money from other places is possible, inflation and a few extra requests really hasn’t helped. Each set piece was looked at individually, the build discussed. I’d already amended drawings to include alterations to make the build easier. On the main set build we could only find a couple of things to reduce the cost, my painting would have to make up for this as extra details in the build may have to be cut.

How the rainforest portals would be put together was also talked about. Having the design printed onto canvas would be the best option as it would then match two cloths with the same look. Some work by me is required to get it printed in sections with overlaps to achieve the best outcome. Mike Todd asked about this process in a comment the other day. Basically my model designs are scanned at a very high resolution, then they can be printed onto various types of surfaces depending on what you want them to do. This is just like a very VERY big photocopy. Gauzes can be printed so that you can do transformation scenes, a scene in front of the gauze bleeds through to what is happening behind it. A front cloth which needs to be soft, far softer than could be painted by hand, this we’ve used a lot at Chippy. Scenic canvas for applying to set pieces, saving a Scenic Artist lots of work (in this case meaning I’d not have to work my socks off for an extra week). Designs can also be printed onto vinyl or mdf flooring.

Chair and notes

To do any of these your original artwork has to be as good as it can be, any mistakes will end up being 25 times bigger, the odd pencil line not erased will show up as a 1cm line. A jittery line will still be jittery, just bigger. In some cases painting by hand is more fluid, curves are so much easier to paint at 1 to 1 with a paint brush on a long stick. The mice and cats I had on the portals last year would have been enlarged from my model as blobby things, rather than the neat animal shapes I painted with the assistance of stencils. So printing has it’s place, but it comes at a cost.

The theatre

I could paint the portals this year, adding a week to my work load, this would save the budget about £1000. That decision in the end will likely happen next week when new prices come in for printing and building the set. So unfortunately the relief I normally feel on a day when I hand over a model was not present and I still have more work to do before the design can be signed off. Heyho!

Holly Hocks on Spring Street

Some time was spent checking what paint was already in stock at the theatre and making sure it was stored safely to be used in a few months time. Plans were printed and scanned for distribution. Time to catch a bus home.

The S3 gold I caught was also running late and it headed to Charlbury, I’ve never been there before. So by the time I got back to Aristotle Bridge it was 7:30pm, too late to do a few work jobs. Dinner was left over roast chicken pasta, an easy meal once the chicken carcass had been stripped.

An emptier bag than I went with

Mick had spent the day getting quotes for insurance for our house. The costs have gone up, hasn’t everything, and companies seemed to be reluctant to cover us for three lodgers at the house at a time. Mick got in touch with a broker to see if they could find a policy that wasn’t too pricey for us. We’ll see what he comes back with.

0 locks, 2 late buses, 2 many thousands, 1 and a bit increasing my work load, 3 possible days near Plymouth, 1st proper model showing since the pandemic, 2 boxes of paint, 4 litres Bona Mega, 2 not 3, 1 bored cat.

3 thoughts on “Back In The Room. 24th July

  1. Dave (scouts)

    It’s a nightmare on the roads. The A44 works from Woodstock road roundabout via pear tree to yarnton that your bus took have been going on for nearly a year and still not completed. We then hav the main A420 Botley road (west Oxford into city) closed under the railway bridge until end of October but might be delayed and it’s closed again next year.
    We also have had overnight and weekend closures of the A34 around Oxford to contend with and with so many diversion signs in place non locals were following diversions to closed roads.

  2. Mike Todd

    Thanks for all that detail – fascinating! I had assumed (since you always talk about the final sessions painting on your knees etc) that all the sets were done by hand so it was quite a surprise to hear that you electronically scale up from the model – hence why you have to be so precise in what otherwise would be more indicative. Earlier this year I too had a nervous wait for a bus (S4 in this case) outside the CoOp near Langford Lane Bridge!

    1. Pip Post author

      Much of the set is painted by hand. This year more of the set is printed just so that the look is the same across the set. I however will then be trying to match the printing as best I can when painting the floor. So my knees will still ache and I suspect my back will too this year.
      Ah the S4, bus to Thrupp! Oxford is really snarled up at the moment.

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