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Dalek Blog - Week 1

The Making of " DALEK #D157 " Week 1 - Project Introduction


What is the unit about?

Unit 5 for the 1st years, and Unit 9 for the 2nd years, is a chance for us all to work on 'live' projects. Groups of 2nd year prop makers act as managers whilst the 1st years act as their workers. It is a chance for us all to develop collaborative and professional skills which are indicative of the workplace.


What were the different projects?

There were a handful of different projects this year, ranging from a Worthing Theatre pantomime production, in-house dance shows, and assorted display pieces for around the college site. Whilst projects may not have been as broad as previous years due to COVID, there has still been a great variety to work on and plenty to do.

I was put onto the "GBMC Dalek" project; a display piece for marketing to take to open days and help showcase the props department here at the college. I was really excited when told which project I was on as it sounded like a great challenge and was already a Doctor Who fan.

Before we all met each other I was initially anxious as our group was really quite small with only two 2nd years, and two 1st years. Some of the other groups had six managers, and eleven workers!


What happened before Day 1?

Before us 1st years were put into groups, the 2nd year managers had spent a month planning, researching, and preparing for the start of making. They had to talk to the client(s), understand their brief and budget, order in materials, and plan out a schedule of work for the following weeks of making. 

Scale cardboard maquettes (prototype) of a "Mark 3" Dalek.

These were made by one of the 2nd years before we met on Day 1. We can use models like these to help guide our understanding of the making process.


What happened during Week 1?

On Day 1 we met the rest of our group and then went through the project brief so we all knew what was going on and what our plan of action was. We then got straight to it, and started getting on with work!


Due to the technical design of the Dalek, we spent a lot of time preparing our materials and drawing out the designs precisely. This did take up quite a bit of time, but by getting it right now, it meant less work for us later on. I was able to apply skills such as working precisely - knowing which side of a line to work from - and use some basic mathematics such as trigonometry.


We had to draw out the designs by hand using pencils and rulers.

Having a set-square (the triangle thing) allows us to draw lines with perfect corners at right angles; to make sure everything is straight.


It wasn't always as simple as drawing out shapes. Sometimes we might hit a problem and not know what the cause was. When that happened, we would work as a team to figure out what was wrong, and use the maquettes to help visualise the problem.


We started making from the base up, so, once we drew it, we cut out the base. This was quite big so needed two people to hold the wood whilst it was being cut.


The base is made from plywood with three casters (wheels) on the bottom for it to be rolled around. To make it lighter to carry, a hole was cut out of the middle.


Because wood has grain (the stripy texture), we needed to fill and sand the surface; this is what the white stuff around the edges is. We "killed the grain" to get a smooth, shiny surface.


By the end of Week 1, we managed to construct the wheely base of the Dalek, draw out the side panels for the skirt, prepare the 'ear' lights, and also count out all of our hemispheres for the skirt.


Not everything has to be hand-made.

For the 'ear' lights we took some egg-cups and worked them down to get the shape we wanted.

What did you think of Week 1?

Looking back over the whole project, I think Week 1 was the most difficult (although still very enjoyable!). This was because we were all still getting to know each other and understand how we would work as a group; working as part of a team is an important skill to have and will help you in the long run.

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