The Making of The Daleks' Master Plan
By Derek Handley & Dean Rose

 
 

Dean Rose Talks us Through the Making of...
Episode 12 - Destruction of Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phew! The final episode, and what an episode to have to reconstruct. An early draft of this episode, which contained placeholders, looked pretty good but certainly outlined the need for some quite specific animations and composites. Chris Petts had been developing models of the various permutations of the Dalek control throughout this story which had been covered by design set photos in most of the episodes. However, for episode 12 we wanted to use something different for the underground base. I asked Chris if he could produce a CGI control room and light it in such a way as to give the impression of it being underground and quite claustrophobic. Chris produced CGI models based on memory sketches provided by Richard Landen and also a short animation over which the writer credit could be superimposed, in line with the script. This animation is exceptional and I'm sure most viewers will find themselves rewinding the tape at this point. Chris also produced a new CGI model of the Time Destructor both lit and unlit and generated several orientations of it. This features throughout the episode, except in a few shots where original photos are used towards the end of the episode.

In parallel, Stuart worked extremely hard on this episode producing many short CGI clips that would ultimately be scattered throughout it. These were almost entirely of Daleks moving in various directions and performing specific tasks or movements. These certainly help to bring the episode to life.

While Chris worked on the interior of the control room, Stuart produced a set of the exterior door to the same control room. It was delightful when these two pieces of work were merged together to form views into the control room from the corridor. This brought a nice sense of continuity to the recon as Chris's set now led out through one of Stuart's doors and out into Stuart's corridor. Stuart was then able to complete further animations such as the Daleks advancing on the closing control room door and another clip of them exiting the control room.

For this episode Stuart also produced one of my favourite composites - a dead Mavic Chen. For this Stuart used a screen grab of Chen looking skyward and created a composite representing Chen on the floor. The resultant image was of Chen looking very much dead with his eyes rolled back into his head what a genius!

Reconstructing the various effects of the Time Destructor was quite a challenge. The camera script explains how the Kembel jungle is transformed to desert by a locked off camera shot showing the jungle cross-faded to desert. To do this shot, I started by creating an image of the Time Destructor lying in the sand. This was taken from an authentic set photo showing Steven holding the device. Steven was painted out and the original time destructor replaced with one of Chris's models. Within Photoshop I then created an extra layer between the Time Destructor and the desert and inserted an image of the Kembel Jungle floor. To improve the transition between the two images I traced the contour of the sand dune obscuring the bottom of the Time destructor and copied this to make an equivalent contour in the jungle layer. This would prevent the device from moving or different amounts of it being revealed as the transition between the two terrains occurred. One final effect I was keen to maintain was the pulsating of the Time Destructor, which I felt should remain constant throughout the transition. This was achieved by making a layer within the video editor containing only the lit portions of the device. This enabled the device to operate at a constant rate of flashing as the terrain changed. Zooms in and out were added last of all to improve the framing and drama of the shot.

Ageing Sara was a fairly easy effect to achieve. The camera script called for Jean Marsh to be made up to about 50 years old when the viewers first see the devastating effect of the Time Destructor on Sara. To achieve this I took screen grabs of Jean Marsh from a modern production and pasted these onto her SSS uniform. As Sara ages further we are fortunate enough to have authentic photos of May Warden acting out Sara's death scene. These were added in at appropriate places with the addition of a short animation from Stuart. This was a reworking of an early version of one of Stuart's test animations and shows Sara fall and move her hands through the sand. Sara is next seen as a skeleton and again, luckily, authentic photos survive showing a skeletal hand protruding from Sara's uniform. The camera script then describes a shot of Sara's hand, now lines of dust, as it is scattered to the wind. BBC documentation mentions that this was achieved by laying down lines of bicarbonate of soda and then blowing these away with a wind machine. However, when Derek and I tried this it was quite a different matter. Derek had some building sand to hand, which we scattered on a table for ease of filming. We then positioned an old jacket on the sand, complete with freshly prepared SSS sleeve markings. Then, in authentic BBC tradition, we tried to use lines of bicarbonate of soda. The problem was that the sand was damp and the bicarbonate of soda instantly set rock hard. We tried a few other powdery materials and these had much the same result before eventually waiting for the sand to dry out a bit and using flour. For a wind machine we tried blowing manually and using a hairdryer. We eventually found success with a powerful lawn leaf blower, though on the first take this proved too powerful and blew the jacket across the garden. However, by regulating the flow (eg standing further away) we managed a respectable second take.

You would think that obtaining a few seconds of footage of clouds racing across the sky would be relatively easy, but no, this footage was a real pain to locate. At one time both Derek and I had a stack of about a dozen videotapes each with "Cloud?" written on the spine. Eventually (more or less at the last minute) something appropriate was located and used.

For the final scenes, where the Daleks advance across the desert terrain, camera shooting script documentation still survives. This enabled us to accurately reconstruct the final Dalek scenes. I must admit I'm not very keen on the BBC editing for some of these shots, such as the Dalek defocusing and the final Dalek fade out. The shots may not be very pacey but at least they are accurate.

Towards the end of the episode the camera script makes several references to a "photo blow up". This was a bit of a mystery as no documentation describes what it could have been and what it would have shown. It is first referred to after the final TARDIS interior scene. At the end of this scene the script says to strike TARDIS (eg finished with the interior set) and set photo blow up. There is one final reference to mix to the photo blow up under the caption roller.

During the original recording of this episode a large proportion of it was pre-recorded as telecine inserts. This was probably because of the use of a wind machine and sawdust in the studio plus the filming complications of this episode, such as Sara's aging, Dalek embryos in the sand, the TARDIS dematerialising, etc. In fact, towards the end of the episode very little of the episode is not a telecine insert. If you think about it, all of the desert scenes would have been pre-recorded. The only scene that would have been set in the desert and not pre-recorded is the final dialogue between the Doctor and Steven. If you consider that the photo blow up was probably a large photo of the desert set then suddenly everything makes sense. The Doctor and Steven can now have their dialogue in a calm desert setting (it is unlikely that a desert set would have been built just for this one scene). It would also then be appropriate to cross-fade to the photo blow up under the roller captions as the camera would fade from the TARDIS dematerialisation to another shot across the landscape (i.e. the photo blow up).

There is one final piece of evidence that supports this theory. In the production documentation there is a copy of a memo dated 7th February 1966 from Innes Lloyd, which describes various reasons for episode 12 overrunning in the studio. These were basically that the roller caption machine kept sticking and that at one point a stagehand appeared in shot during the roller sequence. It is quite likely that the stagehand had wandered in front of the photo blow up. If the captions were of conventional black background type then this could not have happened.