Building A Capture TrooperBy Victor Zuylen on 08-Jan-2013 00:00:00
By now many of you have probably seen Killzone: Intercept, the fifteen-minute fan film by Brian Curtin. The movie has tons of cool moments, but for us one of the biggest thrills was seeing the Capture Trooper in action. In fact, the most frequently uttered comment in the Guerrilla offices upon viewing an early cut of the footage was, “We have to get that suit.”
And so we commissioned the person responsible for Brian’s Capture Trooper suit to create a second one, to put on display in our Amsterdam studio. The suit, it turns out, is the work of prop maker Anthony Kitchens of Skylow Studio, who’s amassed a lot of experience creating video game props. We contacted Anthony to talk about his work and the challenges of creating the Capture Trooper suit.
“I got into prop making quite a few years ago, amateurishly modifying a Nerf gun or two, and stumbled into a world where anything is possible,” Anthony says. “I made my first mold about three years ago and I've been obsessed ever since.” Some of his other notable projects, which can be seen on his Skylow Studio website, include helmets and weapon replicas from Halo, a Nerf gun disguised as a plasma cutter from Dead Space, and a Hawkgirl helmet.
The Capture Trooper costume, however, was a lot more complicated than most of Anthony’s previous projects. “When I first got the task of creating the suit I only had two months to complete it from scratch,” he recalls. “Thankfully, Brian had already requested reference images of the Capture Trooper from Guerrilla, and as soon as they came in I immediately began studying them and taking measurements.”
From these measurements and approximations, Anthony’s first step was to work create detailed outlines in Illustrator. “These blueprints were then used to begin sculpting and building the different parts of the suit,” he says. “I used a combination of clay, PVC, and styrene pieces to create the mask and helmet. The arm blade and back pack were then created from cut pieces of MDF, PVC, styrene, and epoxy.”
The wrist and shoulder pieces were only sculpted once, since they could be molded and cast in duplicates for either side of the body. Similarly, some of the smaller elements repeated throughout the design, such as the latch elements on the shoulders, helmet and chest, were cast separately and attached later.
Once all the pieces of the suit were constructed, it was time for the molding process. “Each piece had to be prepared for brush-on or pour molding,” Anthony says. “The smaller elements were put into mold boxes and had liquid rubber poured over them, while the larger elements had to have the mold rubber brushed on in multiple layers.
After the rubber had cured, many of the molds required a hard shell called a ‘mother mold’ to be applied over them before the molds could be removed. “This is because the mold rubber is too flexible to hold its original shape once it is removed from the original piece,” Anthony explains. “I used fiberglass mat and resin to create the mother mold for each piece.”
With all the molds completed, each piece then had to be cast in plastic resin. The pieces that were intended to be solid simply required the liquid resin to be poured inside to cure, while the pieces that needed to be hollow required a different method. “For those pieces, I poured liquid resin into each mold in layers and rotated them around by hand using a process called rotocasting. Each rotocast piece was done by hand in 5 layers, taking roughly 45 minutes per piece.”
After all the pieces had been cast, Anthony carefully sanded and painted them to match the reference images. He also created an undersuit of adjustable straps and protective pads to hold the pieces in place on the wearer’s body, and added finishing touches like hoses and working lights. “It took me nearly two whole months and countless hours of work, but I finished the suit on time – and thankfully, it looks really good on camera,” Anthony says proudly.
So good, in fact, that he received a call from us soon after, asking him to create a second Capture Trooper suit specifically for the studio. “I didn’t mind doing it again, because I wasn’t working against a tight deadline this time,” Anthony says. “The second suit was done at a much more reasonable pace over the course of several months, which allowed me to take more time and pack in details that I might not have had time to add on the original.”
“All in all, though, I’d say this was the most complex and rewarding project I have ever undertaken,” he concludes. Judging by the end result, which now ominously guards our company trophy cabinet, we can’t help but agree.
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