Cystic Fibrosis & Lockdown/Shielding Due to my Cystic Fibrosis I am classed as a Clinically Extremely Vulnerable person, which means during the pandemic brought on by Coronavirus aka COVID-19, I’ve had to go into shielding since the lockdown first occurred in March 2020.
During the lockdown and shielding, I turned to film making and explored what films I could make using the resources I have in green screen and the edit suite software such as After Effects and Premiere Pro. I’ve already made blogs about this at the time as linked below.
I learned a lot about working with green screen, building 3D CGI sets, animation and choreography, which as you can see in the final video below how these come together to make a film.
During the making of The Muppet Show, I realised the basic set used was too small for some of the puppets used, so built a much larger set in the spare bedroom, which has since been built to a much larger scale for the more recent Doctor Who film projects.
Inspiration of Doctor Who & Cystic Fibrosis storylines In 1998 I wrote a story called Genesis of a Time Lord, which used Doctor Who to tell the story of what it is like to live with Cystic Fibrosis. In 2003 I took an extract from the novel and made a film. Here is a link to a blog about the making of the film and includes a download of the original novel.
Considering the resources, edit suite and lack of actors, I feel I did a good job of the film, which sees Wythenshawe Hospital and the Cystic Fibrosis clinic used as a backdrop. The receptionist, Pauline Jacklin, and Professor Webb in the film aren’t actors, but actually work in the Cystic Fibrosis unit and played themselves. Professor Webb has looked after me since I was 16 years old and I’ve known Pauline Jacklin for at least 20 years. Pauline since retired in December 2020.
Master of Deception came about as a suggestion by a fellow Cystic Fibrosis, friend Chris Strand, who played himself in the episode. He watched Genesis of a Time Lord and suggested I did a remake with the resources I now have.
Although I thought this was a brilliant idea, I knew keeping faithful to the novel version of Genesis of a Time Lord still wouldn’t be possible. Mainly due to the number of actors, costumes, props and sets required. The scale of the production and budget would be similar to the BBC.
However the idea behind Master of Deception was to use the Genesis film as an explanation why Earth is often invaded by Daleks, Cybermen and other Doctor Who aliens whilst telling the story of how Cystic Fibrosis life would have been affected had the Cystic Fibrosis gene had not been discovered in 1989.
How film making has helped with lockdown/shielding Filming has helped keep my mind working. Plus there’s a lot of physical work involved too. Making the console changed how I make films vastly and the episodes COVID, Master of Death and Planet Unknown were tests to see what I could and couldn’t do with the resources I now have. I’ve learned a lot from these and learned how to work with green screen and the console to give the films a professional finish.
Future Doctor Who episodes I’ve written episodes 5, 6 and 7 with the script for episode 5 almost ready to start filming.
Episode 5, Master of Dimensions, will look at how the Cystic Fibrosis community interact with each other. In reality interactions usually take place on social media such as Facebook. In Doctor Who, the story looks at how the Cystic Fibrosis community interact with each other through dreams.
Episode 6, Evolution of the Silurians, will look at the basic science behind the making of vaccines and treatments, not just for CF, but for general illnesses. This episode will feature a new look Silurian.
The costume I have (Silurian Hybrid) was designed and made by Robin, who is also writing the script. The Silurian Hybrid will feature in the episode and become a new companion for the Doctor.
Episode 7, title TBC, will explore a behind the scenes of how the TARDIS scenes are made, which sees the Doctor visiting Peter. This will more or less be a documentary drama with some comical interactions between the Doctor and Peter.
Inspiration for the Doctor Who episodes When writing and filming these recent Doctor Who episodes, fellow Doctor Who fan Robin, who lives in the Isle of Man, has inspired how the history of Doctor Who can be used to make new episodes whilst fellow CFer Chris, who lives in Manchester, has inspired how the workings of CF and related issues such as diabetes can be used to make CF-related storylines.
I’ve been building what the TARDIS interior would look like to make it practical for the Doctor and his companions to travel in. Plus it answers questions about food, rest and bathroom activities.
Below are a few images with guidance of what the TARDIS could look like. I start off with the overall plan of the main part of the TARDIS.
You may recognise the shape of the overall TARDIS plan from somewhere. If the plan was seen from a different angle, you may see it resembles the dematerialisation circuit as first seen in Jon Pertwee’s storyline, Terror of the Autons as pictured left.
Leading from the console room to the corridor, you will see doorways midway down that lead to living quarters. Each living quarter has a double bed, wardrobe and a bathroom.
There are 6 bedrooms as usually it takes 6 Time Lords to pilot the TARDIS. Each Time Lord is allocated a panel on the console to allow a smooth and safe journey through time and space. As the Doctor explains in Journey’s End, “six panels, six pilots. I’ve had to do this single handed.”
Moving away from the bedrooms, I now take you to the first recreational room where the travellers can relax, eat and enjoy a little timeout.
Water for washing and drinking is extracted from atmospheric water generators, which are similar to household dehumidifiers. They condense air by drawing it over a cool surface to bring it to below dew point.
Water from the shower is recycled and used for toilet flushing. From the toilet, the flushed water and soil is used for the plants as compost. There is no waste. Everything is recycled.
The recreation room has fruit trees and a food preparation area. The food machine on the left is programmed with all the molecules required to replicate food such as fish, meat and dairy produce that would usually require livestock. The vegetation grown in the TARDIS not only feeds the travellers, but is also a source of oxygen.
In the green room there is a continual growth of vegetation. The sphere seen in the second image of the above slideshow provides energy similar to the sun to allow photosynthesis.
Within the greenroom is a spiral staircase to the lower levels. The basic layout is the same, but each room serves a different purpose. Their functions include a medical bay, library, a gym with a swimming pool and a second control room.
This set now holds a lot of potential for more episode that explores the functions of the TARDIS. It’s just a matter of time before more TARDISodes are written and filmed.
During the second lockdown in the UK due to the rise in the spread of COVID-19, as part of my exercise regime, I decided to venture out to Parys Mountain, Anglesey with a 1/8 scale Police Box to see what interesting footage I could take of the model against various backgrounds.
Back at the studio, After Effects came into play to turn the location from a landscape in Anglesey to something alien landscape.
Having taken a few shots of the model Police Box against the views offered by Parys Mountain and applying special effects using After Effects, this gave me an idea to do a quick episode in the TARDIS whereby the Doctor lands on a mysterious planet not recognised by the TARDIS databanks with an almost disastrous outcome.
After the basics of the script was written, I went back to Parys Mountain to film some action shots. In the image comparison below, the before image shows me running away from something, but what?
Following on from the previous Doctor Who episode, Master of Death, you may recall I made a mistake in the positioning of the CGI background in accordance with the TARDIS console as illustrated below.
Not only did I correct this error for this episode, but also added quite a lot of detail to the TARDIS CGI set for future storylines as illustrated below.
This episode was more of an experiment to test the potential use of the 1/8 scale model Police Box, location work and look at how the CGI set of the TARDIS could be expanded for use in future episodes.
Location filming took place over 2 days and the studio filming 3 days. The editing took 2 weeks to complete due to all the special effects applied.
This explosive episode was made as a test for the new TARDIS set, working with a 1/8 scale model TARDIS, location filming and ability to create an alien world and explosive sequences.
For at least 2 years I had the idea of creating a fictional conspiracy thriller that explained why the chlorine in tap water had a more noticeable taste from time to time. The theory involved biological warfare of a deadly virus programmed to choose its victims genetically. This is all I had for the basis of the storyline…until now.
Doctor Who viewers already know the Master (portrayed by John Simm) became the Prime Minister of the UK in the 2007 series of Doctor Who, but I felt we never really saw the true extent the Master went to get this.
Master of Death is a mini-episode that fills in the gap between the episodes Utopia and The Sound of Drums.
Filmed during the lockdown, Master of Death has been another ambitious mini-episode where the entire storyline is told through the eyes of the Doctor and also a special guest appearance in the TARDIS.
The script for this storyline was carefully written so the lines could be interpreted in 2 different ways. The first interpretation is believed to be from the Master as he finalises his plans to assassinate key figures and the second interpretation is from the Doctor as he works to save the key figures whilst allowing the Master to carry out his plans.
What this episode demonstrates is we already know one key figure featured in this storyline isn’t dead. So whilst the Doctor may not be able to change history, he can undo the Master’s attempts to change history.
The writing and finalising the script for Master of Death took 1 night to do. Filming took place over 2 evenings as did the editing.
The breaking news report of Aretha Franklin’s death in 2018.
The original ending didn’t include the change of background from a plain white wall to the classic TARDIS interior.
The “solar goggles” the Doctor wore are similar to those Matt Smith’s Doctor wore in the 2010 episode, Vampires in Venice.
Since making Master of Death, the 3D model of the console was applied to the 3D set of the control room. The result brought on the realisation the background is incorrect as shown in the image comparison below.
As shown in the 3D illustration, the navigation panel should be facing the scanner screen and door control facing the main doors.
Of course, being Doctor Who where anything can happen, this error will be written into the next mini-episode that’s being worked on.
After 8 weeks of building the TARDIS console and a further month finalising the script for COVID, plus 1 week spent filming, editing, polishing the effects and making sure the mini-episode flows well, I introduce to you, Doctor Who – COVID.
When the freshly regenerated Doctor receives a call from Martha about a deadly virus, the Doctor realises the virus is closely linked to his past and quickly sets out to save mankind from a terrible fate.
Filmed during the lockdown, COVID has been an ambitious mini-episode where the entire storyline is told through the eyes of the Doctor in the TARDIS.
The date, 22 February 1289, shown on the navigation screen is the date the first episode of William Hartnell’s fourth storyline, Marco Polo, was transmitted (22 February) and the year the storyline took place (1289).
The navigation keyboard only works when the telepathic circuit globe aka plasma globe is either switched off or removed from the console. Otherwise, the keyboard, even though wired, doesn’t work.
The whole episode took 3 evenings to film and edit.
The title sequence takes 3 hours to render, which is a long time considering the duration is 30 seconds.
This past week has seen dramatic progress in the TARDIS Console. The dry weather has allowed me to place the table of the console onto the garden table outside to finish drilling or sawing the last of the holes required for fitting the controls.
One task I also did was to fit dowels into the switch housing to install onto the relevant areas of the console.
I have started to feel really pleased with how easy and quick the console is progressing now all the parts have been either bought or cut and assembled.
Even though the console hadn’t been painted or the finishing touches added, just seeing this one panel with controls loosely installed brought a sense of life in the console.
In the above photo, you can see the control switches, all of which a dummy switches, which in this console design will refresh the readings each of the display of the meter. The top-left meter will measure the gravitational pull of the planet, top-right the radiation levels, bottom-left the oxygen levels and bottom-right the water levels. The glass globe in the centre is the telepathic circuits for the Doctor to either communicate with the console or with the Time Lords.
To the right of the switches, you can see a hole ready to take another control. This control will be to jettison any samples the TARDIS collects from the exterior before dematerialisation. This panel will be playing an essential role in an upcoming mini-episode I plan to film once the console is complete. A trailer for which can be viewed below.
On Tuesday, 7 July 2020 the console was ready to receive its undercoat of paint, which took about 2 hours to complete.
On Wednesday, 8 July 2020 the console received its final coat of metallic silver colour and once dry, I was able to install most of the controls that didn’t require further work prior to installation.
The next blog will be a Doctor Who mini-episode that will show the TARDIS Console complete. For more information, see Doctor Who – COVID for details.
Well, what a busy week it has been with the TARDIS console. There has been a huge progression with the time-travelling unit. With the panels securely in place, the easy part of this project has started…marking out the panels where the controls are going to be.
The above development of securing the panels together on the day of the last post, Sunday, 28 June 2020.
The upper frame was a little tricky to construct due to the angle the cut, but with the help from Mark, this soon came together.
With the panels are secure, I have started marking out where the controls are going to be installed. The first being the holes for the air vents to allow circulation inside the console during operation of the lighting, computer and effects.
Originally, the keyboard was going to be flat against the panel but I found the angle uncomfortable for typing, so this shelf has been built using the offcuts of MDF from the panels.
I’ve now cut or drilled holes where lights, meters and switches are to be placed. I still have some parts coming for one panel, so this gives me time to work on how the table will be secure to the base and applying castors to the base for easy manoeuvrability.
To get an idea of what the console will look like, I installed some of the controls and light housing. I am starting to feel a sense of completion now all is coming together nicely.
The fault locator was made by Robin G Burchill, who inspired me to build this console when I watched his Doctor Who film, Prisoner 71, the film that I mentioned in Doctor Who fan films.
The device is made from an old housing for a radar scope used on a boat, which Robin cleaned up and restored. He installed LED lighting that rotated as though it is a working radar scope.
The image below shows how the part originally looked.
This week with the help of Mark, we’ve been focusing on making the frame for the table. The hard part will be cutting at an angle using hand tools.
You may notice the right panel in the below photo looks loose. This is going to be an access panel to the electrics.
With the lower part of the table complete, this will make the upper part easier to put together.
The heavy-duty tape you can see in the photo below is securing the upper part of the console together to make it easier to install the frame.
The size of this console design is perfect for working within the small film studio. The adjustment to the height of the table now makes using the console user friendly without the need to lean forward to use the keyboard and screen that will be built into one of the panels.
To give you a little idea how the finish will look, I’ve identified console characteristics from Jon Pertwee’s 1971 (as seen in The Claws of Axos), Tom Baker’s 1976 (as seen in The Masque of Mandragora) and Matt Smith’s 2012 (as seen in The Snowmen) consoles.
Now the basic model is complete, the past week has been spent looking at the JP control panels and studying the essential controls as pictured below with what they do to identify what parts I can gain access to for substitution of what was originally used.
Below is the pdf showing a clearer view of the controls diagram and parts.
On the control panel below you can see 2 meters and between them the telepathic circuits as used in Planet of the Daleks. Obviously these were specially made and not an item that’s easy to come by. Rather than spend time and money replicating these parts, I decided to use a plasma globe instead, which I already bought a few years ago.
There are a few switches, dials and levers on the JP console that would be time consuming to replicate, so inventing my own controls using modern day parts readily available will make my console an original design based on JP’s era as the Doctor.
Now all the controls and materials have been purchased, you saw last week I had cut the panel pieces out. The last couple of days I’ve spent making the plinth.
This wasn’t as easy as I imagined to be honest. I realised I needed the assistance and guidance of Mark, whereby I held the pieces together whilst he drilled and screwed the frame together. Then we swapped roles where he held panels in place against the frame and I drilled and screwed the panels onto the frame.
With the plinth finished, I can now start to assemble the table of the console. The 3D model and control overview plans will help vastly to put the controls into place. However I do still have parts yet to be delivered.