WIP: ESB build after a decade 'on hold'


Ord Mantell

Hunter
I was lucky enough to snag a Michell stylus brush for a cheap price lately. It was missing the label, had some corrosion on the brush insert, and had some oxidation on the top side, which might be why the audiofiles didn't snatch it first. None of those problems are of any concern for its use a BF prop, though.


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So I had to revisit my shin tools to incorporate this. The anti-security vibro blade or some such nonsense name? I forget exactly. [/google]. Yes. Anti-security blade.

So for this shin tool I have the Mojofett stylus brush replicas attached to the Paterson squeegee leftover part with gaffer tape...

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The Mojofett replicas both have the second topside hole, but occurred to me while doing this and discussing it with intwenothor, only the outside brush would actually have the extra hole, because the prop guys had to drill that hole to make them join in their offset manner. They wouldn't need to drill the hole into the one on the inside. So if I ever get a second one of these, it means drilling a hole through it.

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the screw or nail that goes through them is a bit of a mystery to me. I've only seen exhibit photos of it. Looks like a tiny copper colored thing. I tried different screws. The ones that fit the threads of the holes have heads that are obviously too big. A nail might be the right thing to use. For now, I put in an undersized countersunk brass screw.

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I switched to electrical tape to try it out instead of the gaffer tape. After trying both, I think the electrical tape is correct. Throw a little rust on and done.

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tennantlim

Active Hunter
Preferred Vendor
What were your settings and type of studio lights used for photographing the jetpack with the beacon light on? Typically, the significantly higher power of a studio strobe would 'override' any bulb even at low power. Hence it would be ideal to do the shot in complete darkness and drag the shutter to expose for the bulb's illumination.

Referring to my shot of the MCR beacon, my camera setting was ISO 35, f/16 and 8 seconds of exposure shot in absolute darkness. The strobes were set to light the beacon optimally, while the long shutter captures the bulb's illumination. Because my set up was in darkness, I didn't have to worry about overexposing the ambience. For a white background, I would close down the aperture, drag the shutter longer, and light the background separately. Hence 2 flashes will expose on the same frame.

To negate the above, you would have to use a constant lighting source, such as LED panels, with which you can balance its power against the beacon bulb's.

Hope this helps.
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Ord Mantell

Hunter
What were your settings and type of studio lights used for photographing the jetpack with the beacon light on? Typically, the significantly higher power of a studio strobe would 'override' any bulb even at low power. Hence it would be ideal to do the shot in complete darkness and drag the shutter to expose for the bulb's illumination.
Great photo!

However, the point of my exercise was to get to a power value for the bulb that would be closer to the real bulb used in the film. Peter Suschitzky did not light the sets according to the brightness of the beacon light. I was just trying to see at what point does the brightness start to stand up to studio lights and what I know from my experiment is that a 10w (or higher) 12v bulb is very probably correct, and certainly a better choice than a very low power LED on a 9v battery.
 
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Ord Mantell

Hunter
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vintage sx-70 installed
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vintage microswitch installed
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primer on the helmet, the paint-grade MCR-ESB retrograded to circa 1979 with Elstree Precision Co. Ltd ears (thank you MachineCraft for the paint-grade option!)

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I had some concerns about the big depression behind the back of the left ear and was considering doing some surgery to the helmet to correct it. To illustrate the problem behind the left ear, I took photos trying to replicate lighting best I could. To be sure, its not an exact match, but I can see enough here to rethink my initial worries.

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The depression behind the left ear is not as bad as I thought and certainly was present to a degree in 1979. I do think it had gotten slightly worse from 1979 to 2012, but probably not enough for me to do surgery in this area. I will leave well enough alone.
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Ord Mantell

Hunter
So a bit of a hiatus through the holiday season, but finally back at it now. I've been doing more to the helmet to prep it for its exterior paint job. I wanted to make sure the shape was correct. I did a number of comparison shots to screen caps and promo stills and had a hard time getting the helmet to align to it's ESB screen shape. Even after correcting the eye crack and allowing for lens distortions, what I was seeing was not bad, but something was still off. I had always been a proponent of lens distortions being largerly responsible for the famous 'flare' of the helmet as seen in the movie, but I no longer believe that. I think the helmet was definitely wider at the base than in later years after the damage. Obviously the truth is lost to time and we will never really know, but I decided to gamble and experiment with the controversial approach of heatgunning the flare in. The biggest objection with doing the flare via heatgun is that you lose depth in the front to back measurement, therefore it's no longer accurate. I no longer believe this objection is valid. For one, we don't know the front to back depth measurement of the ESB helmet in 1979. Again, it's my opinion. Nobody has to agree. But here are some examples of my results after re-shaping the helmet:

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It's still not perfect, but much better than before. I tried and tried and could not get this kind of alignment before reshaping. This is more of an art than a science. The important part for me is capturing the spirit of the thing rather than a mathematical replication of it.

After this I heat-shaped the visor into place using the oven method, then used the heat gun to fine tune and to keep it malleable for long enough.
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I laid the interior with fiberglass cloth, following intwenothor 's terrific thread on his interior. I went with 2.6 oz fiberglass, converting to imperial from the 81gsm recommendation. I had to recut a bunch of these pieces and do them over to get better coverage.

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Being my first time working with fiberglass, I found out quick I didn't need nearly as much resin as I thought at first. I had to do a second layer, but the result was still meh. Sloppy to terrible. But at least it didn't ruin the helmet.

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painted the interior with acrylics, and although it's starting to look better, for the interior to really be authentic, you need to start with a white gelcoat helmet, then fiberglass it with the cloth (no layer of strand mat), and use blue tinting in the resin. There is plenty of paint from overspray in the interior of the original ESB helmet, but the deep blues are what I believe to be tinting in the resin itself. That's what I think. But paint works, too, if you're not making a museum piece. Also I think the 2.6 oz cloth was too light. Maybe go with slightly heavier. I'll do a few more layers of color washes on this and then fill in the rest of the interior.

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Then after getting the helmet in better shape and the visor in, it was still bothering me the left eye squint never really got corrected by fixing the eye crack or widening the base. There is a deeper structural problem which caused the left brow to sink and it's baked into the cast in a way that makes it virtually impossible to fix. But I think the left mandible is also part of the problem. It's skewed upwards a tad, adding to the squint.

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not comparing absolute lengths or angles here, just relative:

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So I decided to do more shaping to bring down the left mandible and open the left eye a tad more. Try not to laugh at this crazy method:
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After heat gunning this position real good at the eye corner this was the result.... success:

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The squint is still there but lessened quite a bit. Additionally, moving the mandible down has added to the base width and the "flare" just as a natural consequence since the eye corner is essentially the pivot point. This put a lot of stress on the corner, re-opening the previously fixed crack:

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It's no wonder the original helmet cracked in this spot. There is a lot of stress at this point. Patching this back up should be no problem. I was also happy to find out that even with this correction, the shaped visor still fits nice and snug, so I won't have to reheat and do it over.
 
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RamSkirata

Hunter
So a bit of a hiatus through the holiday season, but finally back at it now. I've been doing more to the helmet to prep it for its exterior paint job. I wanted to make sure the shape was correct. I did a number of comparison shots to screen caps and promo stills and had a hard time getting the helmet to align to it's ESB screen shape. Even after correcting the eye crack and allowing for lens distortions, what I was seeing was not bad, but something was still off. I had always been a proponent of lens distortions being largerly responsible for the famous 'flare' of the helmet as seen in the movie, but I no longer believe that. I think the helmet was definitely wider at the base than in later years after the damage. Obviously the truth is lost to time and we will never really know, but I decided to gamble and experiment with the controversial approach of heatgunning the flare in. The biggest objection with doing the flare via heatgun is that you lose depth in the front to back measurement, therefore it's no longer accurate. I no longer believe this objection is valid. For one, we don't know the front to back depth measurement of the ESB helmet in 1979. Again, it's my opinion. Nobody has to agree. But here are some examples of my results after re-shaping the helmet:

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It's still not perfect, but much better than before. I tried and tried and could not get this kind of alignment before reshaping. This is more of an art than a science. The important part for me is capturing the spirit of the thing rather than a mathematical replication of it.

After this I heat-shaped the visor into place using the oven method, then used the heat gun to fine tune and to keep it malleable for long enough.
View attachment 205688

I laid the interior with fiberglass cloth, following intwenothor 's terrific thread on his interior. I went with 2.6 oz fiberglass, converting to imperial from the 81gsm recommendation. I had to recut a bunch of these pieces and do them over to get better coverage.

View attachment 205689

Being my first time working with fiberglass, I found out quick I didn't need nearly as much resin as I thought at first. I had to do a second layer, but the result was still meh. Sloppy to terrible. But at least it didn't ruin the helmet.

View attachment 205690

painted the interior with acrylics, and although it's starting to look better, for the interior to really be authentic, you need to start with a white gelcoat helmet, then fiberglass it with the cloth (no layer of strand mat), and use blue tinting in the resin. There is plenty of paint from overspray in the interior of the original ESB helmet, but the deep blues are what I believe to be tinting in the resin itself. That's what I think. But paint works, too, if you're not making a museum piece. Also I think the 2.6 oz cloth was too light. Maybe go with slightly heavier. I'll do a few more layers of color washes on this and then fill in the rest of the interior.

View attachment 205706

Then after getting the helmet in better shape and the visor in, it was still bothering me the left eye squint never really got corrected by fixing the eye crack or widening the base. There is a deeper structural problem which caused the left brow to sink and it's baked into the cast in a way that makes it virtually impossible to fix. But I think the left mandible is also part of the problem. It's skewed upwards a tad, adding to the squint.

View attachment 205691 View attachment 205692

not comparing absolute lengths or angles here, just relative:

View attachment 205693

So I decided to do more shaping to bring down the left mandible and open the left eye a tad more. Try not to laugh at this crazy method:
View attachment 205694

View attachment 205695

After heat gunning this position real good at the eye corner this was the result.... success:

View attachment 205696

The squint is still there but lessened quite a bit. Additionally, moving the mandible down has added to the base width and the "flare" just as a natural consequence since the eye corner is essentially the pivot point. This put a lot of stress on the corner, re-opening the previously fixed crack:

View attachment 205697

It's no wonder the original helmet cracked in this spot. There is a lot of stress at this point. Patching this back up should be no problem. I was also happy to find out that even with this correction, the shaped visor still fits nice and snug, so I won't have to reheat and do it over.
Ord Mantell this was a really interesting read! Thank you for the effort.
In thers of the ESB helmet, what we also gotta remember is that hte original is MUCH thinner then the casts available. (I for one like that the repros are thicker stability and stuff. It only takes one look at the unaltered EFX ESB casts to tell, that the maybe should have done the original helmet a little thicker to prevent all the damage over the years and save us the trouble of trying to understand it. Oh well.)
As far as understanding goes, you, Ord, have done a superp job.
What I really need to congratulate on, though, is your movie-angle-and-lighing-reproduction. The best I have ever seen so far!
 

Ord Mantell

Hunter
Ord Mantell this was a really interesting read! Thank you for the effort.
In thers of the ESB helmet, what we also gotta remember is that hte original is MUCH thinner then the casts available. (I for one like that the repros are thicker stability and stuff. It only takes one look at the unaltered EFX ESB casts to tell, that the maybe should have done the original helmet a little thicker to prevent all the damage over the years and save us the trouble of trying to understand it. Oh well.)
As far as understanding goes, you, Ord, have done a superp job.
What I really need to congratulate on, though, is your movie-angle-and-lighing-reproduction. The best I have ever seen so far!
Thanks for the kind words, my friend. Yes, for some reason the motor shop which fabricated the helmet thought it would be a good idea to use fiberglass cloth instead of strand mat on the original which resulted in a very thin and rather delicate helmet. Which is why with all the stress at the corners, the helmet easily warped, giving it the "flare" the other helmets do not have. The other helmets were done with strand mat.
 
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RamSkirata

Hunter
Thanks for the kind words, my friend. Yes, for some reason the motor shop which fabricated the helmet thought it would be a good idea to use fiberglass cloth instead of strand mat on the original which resulted in a very thin and rather delicate helmet. Which is why with all the stress at the corners, the helmet easily warped, giving it the "flare" the other helmets do not have. The other helmets were done with strand mat.
Another curious thing is that it seemed to have MORE flare in the original movie, if that is indeed the fact, what you seem to believe. (I dont have an opinion on this. Im not qualified lol)

Why this would stricke me as so peculiar is, because as we can see from the archives, it was stored at least part of the time simply sitting on a shelf, which should INCREASE flare, not decrase it.
Also looking at the crack, you yourself kinda replicated that involuntarily, by also widening the flare. So how is it possible that the original helmet decreased its flare while still getting that crack. Questions questions questions...
 

joe

Hunter
This is probably way off-topic. But what mannequin did you purchase in the first page? I see you're able to safely rig up the jetpack and the mannequin doesn't tip over. Is it custom-made or a certain brand? I bought a simple $100 one from Amazon and it would fall right over if I tried to put on the jetpack, which is disappointing.
 

Ord Mantell

Hunter
Another curious thing is that it seemed to have MORE flare in the original movie, if that is indeed the fact, what you seem to believe. (I dont have an opinion on this. Im not qualified lol)
The reason why the helmet has more flare in ESB is because the eye corner and mandibles were not damaged yet. It was damaged after filming. Once that eye corner cracked it offset the alignment of the brow line and the mandibles and therefore reduced the flare.

Why this would stricke me as so peculiar is, because as we can see from the archives, it was stored at least part of the time simply sitting on a shelf, which should INCREASE flare, not decrase it.
The kind of flare you are talking about, from sitting on a shelf, is from the mandibles spreading apart from the weight of the helmet over time. In that case you see the bottom of the visor widen significantly. There has been no spread of that sort on the original helmet because the mandibles remain secure.

Also looking at the crack, you yourself kinda replicated that involuntarily, by also widening the flare. So how is it possible that the original helmet decreased its flare while still getting that crack. Questions questions questions...
That crack in my helmet was a crack I opened up myself earlier in the thread. You might have missed it, but earlier in the thread I showed my process of taking an MCR-ESB (raw G2 cast), where I sliced open the cast-in crack damage in order to realign the broken eye corner to it's pre-damaged state. In widening the flare I reopened that patched up crack, which only proves how much tension is in the eye corner, and hence probably why the original helmet cracked there in such a catastrophic way in the first place. And once that crack happened to the original, it released the tension holding the flare in place, and settled into state of lower energy, never to be recovered again since the structural integrity necessary to hold the flare was lost forever.
 
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