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Production Designer, Ben Wilsom, Talks Thunderbirds Are Go in Interactive Set


Production Designer, Ben Wilsom, Talks Thunderbirds Are Go in Interactive Set


Thunderbirds Are Go production designer, Ben Wilsom, highlights Amazon’s interactive fan experience at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con. 

Amazon Village is the immersive experience created for San Diego Comic Con attendees featuring an inside look at Amazon original shows, The Man in the High Castle and Thunderbirds Are Go in two separate tents.

In the Thunderbirds Are Go tent, attendees are treated to a 1:1 scale model of Thunderbird 2, piloted by a life-sized Virgil Tracy, take a daring rescue photo with Scott Tracy, and see some of the practical background sets used in the show.

Thunderbirds Are Go production designer, Ben Wilsom, also provided a tour of the interactive tent and spoke about the unique elements used in designing the set. Wilsom highlighted practical items such as lemon squeezers and pillow stuffings used on sets, including the 1:300 buildings and clouds featured in the interactive tent.

I’ve used a cheese grater. For one model, we used about six Dyson cleaners. It’s just interesting shapes. So, for example, the Dyson vacuum cleaner became a thruster on a ship. [We’ve used] keyboards and computer sticks. We started using Chinese take out boxes one night when working late. The next day, those containers became part of a silhouette on some buildings because they had these great shapes.

It’s about tricking the audience. The thing about our sets, as well, is that they won’t always hold up if you just stand and look at them. But, when you look through the lens, they just become this whole world, you know? And they work really well.

In his tour, Wilsom spoke about the close relationship between the production team and the animation team that made the seamless interaction between the animated characters and the practical sets work well in the show. Wilsom noted that he steered away a little bit from interiors lately because animation team can do interiors so well.

Wilsom spoke further about creating dynamic action sequences.

I love blowing things up [laugh]. I think we need that kind of tangible, sort of dust, debris and all that kind of stuff. I mean, that’s why we do miniatures.  Our talents are served better in the sort of action based sequences, especially outdoors.

In season 2, there’s a massive big dam. You know, water is very hard to do in animation. The other thing is that we are pushing to get more interaction between the vehicles and the sets. So, we built camera-ready vehicles. So, if we have Thunderbird 4 entering the water, we can now have him enter the water and then cut from the practical vehicle to the CG vehicle in the water. It’s really seamless.

The Amazon Village is open to San Diego Comic Con attendees from Thursday, July 21st through Sunday, July 24th at the corner of Downtown directly across from the San Diego Convention Center starting at 9:00am.

Library professional, co-host of the Comfort Society podcast, and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Tokusatsu Network from 2014 to 2018.

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