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Model Futures

11 May 2014

In a special one-day event, 'Model Futures' celebrates the art of science fiction model making in film and television with talks and presentations by industry insiders.

Since the early days of silent films, model effects - or 'miniatures' - have played an important role in creating screen illusion. With the use of models film-makers can create scenes - or even entire worlds - that would otherwise be impossible to capture on film. British film-makers have proved particularly inventive in developing the art of miniatures, allowing the UK to become a world leader in the production of science fiction and fantasy films - notable successes including 2001; A Space Odyssey, and the Star Wars, James Bond and Superman franchises. Television too has provided a showcase for model making skill, in series such as Dr.Who and Blake's 7, and most famously in the many programmes devised by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson - among them Thunderbirds, UFO and Space:1999.

Industry Talks in the museum lecture theatre:


  • A one hour presentation on how the Thunderbirds episodes were made including hundreds of behind the scenes photographs

Alan Shubrook, 12noon

  • Cause and Effect, 50 Years of the BBC Visual Effects Department

Mat Irvine, 1.30pm

  • From Monotrains to Moonmobiles - The Art of Mike Trim

Mat Irvine in conversation with Mike Trim, 3pm



Tickets are now on sale, please click here to purchase yours today
Please note: you must purchase tickets individually for each talk.

We are offering two offers on tickets - use the codes provided when at the checkout

Buy two adult tickets and get a £3.00 discount on one ticket - MODELFUTURES2014
Buy two child tickets and get a £2.00 discount on one ticket - MODELFUTURESCHILD

PURCHASING TICKETS ON SUNDAY 11TH MAY: You may buy tickets for Model Futures on Sunday 11th May outside the Lecture Theatre doors 30 minutes prior to each lecture.

About the speakers


Mike Trim, Special Effects Designer

Mike TrimArtist and designer Mike Trim entered the film industry in 1964 after leaving Art College, when he joined Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Thunderbirds production team as a model-maker. He soon became an essential member of the team's special effects unit led by Derek Meddings, taking on the role of story board artist and designer.

During the production of Thunderbirds, and its successors Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, the Secret Service and UFO, Mike was given the task of designing dozens of futuristic craft and installations, all of which would be constructed in miniature by the studio's model making team. These would then be filmed using ingenious special effects techniques to create realistic visions of the future, which still captivate viewers today.

Following the closure of the Andersons' studio Mike went on to work as an illustrator and concept artist in film and publishing, with perhaps his most famous work being the cover illustration for the Jeff Wayne 'War of the Worlds' concept album. More recently Mike's work has included revisiting the Anderson world with illustrations for the Haynes Thunderbirds manual, and commissions for Airfix box art, examples of which are featured in the museum's current exhibition.

Mat Irvine, Special Effects Designer 

Mat IrvineMat Irvine spent over twenty year in the BBC Visual Effects Department. There he designed and created special effects and models for a variety of programmes ranging from Doctor Who and Blake's 7; through Horizon and QED and onto award-winning dramas Edge of Darkness and The Singing Detective. He also appeared in front of the cameras on Saturday morning kids' programmes such as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore, and co-presented the design and technology programme TECHNO.

Other television credits include Future Fantastic, a Tomorrow's World spin-off, which he was one of the producers and directors and Robot Wars, which he co-devised. Most recently he has worked on both new Doctor Who and its spin-off, The Sarah-Jane Adventures, for which he operated K-9. Mat has also written various books on science, special effects and model-making, most recent titles including 'BBC VFX' with colleague Mike Tucker, and 'Scale Car Modelling'. Mat regularly gives talks and presents displays of original props and models at conventions and modelling shows, and also holds regular events such as smallspace and HaMeX (Hanslope Model Expo) at his local village hall in Buckinghamshire.

Alan Shubrook, Model-Maker

 Alan ShubrookAfter applying for a job in the art department at the Slough studios of AP Films (later Century 21 Productions) in 1966, Alan was instead taken on as model-maker in the special effects department on the strength of a model building presented at his interview. Alan continued working in the department as a model-maker and special effects assistant until the studio closed in 1970, helping to develop new model-making techniques.

During his time with the company Alan would spend spare moments photographing the work of the effects unit, building up a unique behind the scenes record of the processes they employed. After Century 21 closed, Alan entered the publishing industry, while continuing to work as a photographer.

In 2007 he published 'Century 21 FX Unseen Untold', a behind the scenes book about Century 21 featuring many of the photographs he had taken. This was followed by 'Special Effects Superman', a photographic record covering the film and television work of special effects director Derek Meddings.  In addition to these books, Alan has also presented illustrated talks about his work at Century 21.


There will be a Lancaster flypast on Sunday 11th May at 11.10am.

IPMS Hendon Model Show

The Model Future Talks will run alongside the IPMS Hendon Model Show which takes place between 10am and 6pm at the museum.

More Information

If you would like more information please email whatson@rafmuseum.orgor call the event organiser on 0208 358 4997.

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