VALIANT – A USC Thesis Film by Robin Phillips and Crew

I am always honored to show on Modeler Magic the works of up and coming film artists! This specific artist has already captured the attention of several main stream Hollywood film making professionals…. some of whom have assisted in this very production! I welcome the works of Robin Phillips. Assisting Robin are several talents: Tom McDowell, Rich Suchy, Greg Boettcher, Ed Romo and Olivia Miseroy! Not to mention Fon Davis and Jason Kisvarday. Special thanks are to be noted to New Deal Studios with their artist’s, noted above, participation.




Hello Everyone!

I thought this project might be of interest to the community and I wanted to see if you all might be able to help out! Below are pictures from my thesis at the USC film school entitled “Valiant.” What you’re seeing is the namesake of the film, a scratch built tilt-rotor cargo plane thats home to the film’s air-pirate trio. A work of amazing generosity, she was designed by Tom McDowell in the UK, CG modeled by Rich Suchy in Los Angeles, and built by a team of friends at New Deal Studios led by Greg Boettcher, with Ed Romo and Olivia Miseroy (all fantastic and talented people who volunteered much of their time to help put her together).






The Valiant was designed to be the millenium falcon of aircraft, looking rough around the edges but at the same time a hell of a beast. Tom did the initial design, and Rich did an amazing job incorporating elements from the C123k aircraft we filmed our live action parts in.



The model build started with a CNC routed shape that was vaccuformed over to create the hull, wings, and engines.




Greg then worked his wizardry to craft a hard rubber internal frame (supported by two heavy duty metal rods), and crafted the backbone that gives her 5 hidden mounting points.



The hull is covered in aluminum and led tape, rivet lines having been cleverly added with a pounce wheel (it blew my mind when Greg showed me how to do this).




The guns were kit-bashed from 24th scale model kits, with a little bit of scratch building on the top turret. Each turret is stop-motion animatable. She also has hidden landing gear attachments with pop out magnetic doors. The painting and aging involved alot of water based muck toned paints (burnt umber being the brown of choice I believe), some witchcraft, and a sea sponge.



the valiant 01


When we set out to make Valiant, we’d originally thought that CG was the main way we’d have to go. Though some surprising revelations in the cost of good CG rendering – such that proved cost prohibitive on our student level budget – combined with the opportunities that arose when we started to meet model makers (they’re still out there and doing amazing work!), we had to jump at the chance to work with miniatures. The film is a star wars/ indiana jones style serial adventure, and we’d gone thru painstaking measures to nail the tone of those films. Having similar styled FX was too good to pass up (and, ironically, cheaper with more consistent images). With the CG model, we’re able to match move the plane when she needs to fly thru our cloud environmentals, as well as combine elements from the miniature and the CG model to approximate what Matt and Ian and New Deal do best – CG enhanced miniatures that hide the magic tricks from the audience’s eye.


My friends and I are running a kickstarter right now to help pay for the rest of our miniatures – An Airship cruiser / star destroyer-esque behemoth that Fon Davis and his team are helping out with, and a diesel-punked english pub that my good friend Jason Kisvarday has offered to build – as well as for our motion control camera rig rental. Any donation will us do our part to keep this art alive, and hopefully blow peoples minds when everything is finished!


Check out the airship design bellow, it’s a real monster:


airship concept design 2


I hope you all enjoy! Check out the kickstarter too, as we’ve got some cool stuff we’re giving away!



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