In 1997 a great big bastard of a Red Dwarf model was built for the re-mastered project. It was too big to properly film in a motion control studio, so this ‘pencil’ model was forever immortalised in CG form in both the re-mastered project and Series VIII a year later. 14 years on, and that beautiful, detailed model will finally make it on to the screen for Series X.
We’ve known that models were on the cards for a while, now, but the confirmation that this Red Dwarf model will be used and, in Seb’s own words, it’s “had a full refurbishment, and may well have lost a fair bit of weight around the midriff” strongly suggests they’ve cut it down to BtE dimensions. It is exactly what I was hoping for and that new lick of paint looks absolutely gorgeous. It certainly doesn’t look like a model that’s been moth-balled for over a decade.
This Red Dwarf model was originally built by the BBC visual effects department which, as you know, included various people who now work for Mike’s Tucker’s Model Unit. Unfortunately, today’s update strongly suggests (the exact words used are “The new model shooting unit”) that the original build all those years ago is going to be as far as their involvement in Series X goes.
At this point in the show’s history, it’s not just about the decades of model work experience present within The Model Unit, but the experience they all have with Red Dwarf itself. The progression of the model shots from series to series is very clear, such as the experimentations with snow in III leading to the beautiful snowy model set created for Quarantine. Presumably the new series will have shots more complex than stock Red Dwarf fly-bys and the absence of all that combined knowledge is definitely a massive loss. The last time this happened we had the brilliant Bill Pearson for series VIII, but that was a series with minimal model work. At this point it’s possible we’re jumping to conclusions, but losing The Model Unit (presumably including Pete Tyler, their DoP of choice) is a bit of a gut punch.
What we know for sure is GNP have brought in Peter Talbot as the head of the new model unit. His CV makes encouraging reading, with such classics as Moon, Batman Begins, Batman, Memphis Belle and, erm, Don’t Die Too Hard! so his experience and abilities are not in question and I’m really looking forward to seeing his team’s work on screen. We should be hugely excited and grateful that models are back but I do feel like the guarantee of quality we’d have with The Model Unit isn’t currently there. They leave behind some very big shoes to fill…
But, you know, at the end of the day JUST LOOK AT THAT FUCKING MODEL. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. A video is coming later today, so hopefully so we’ll get a look at the whole thing and see what it looks like post buzzsaw.
EDIT: The video’s been posted and it seems to show the model mid-refurb. The paint job really was in quite a state, so massive props (lol, get it?) to the art department for the spruce up. Still haven’t seen it in all it’s shortened glory, but I’m sure I’ll get over it.