Artem Case Studies

DEVS - Quantum Computer Minim (UK) Productions Ltd

‘Having worked successfully over many years with Artem, they were my first port of call on this project… Over the years I knew the quality they could deliver, with the range of skills and equipment they provide. I also knew that they would be willing to be flexible and responsive to how we work… the finished product is a stunning piece of work.

- Mark Digby, Production Designer

Artem’s tenacious technicians were faced with a challenge of mega proportions when Art Director Ollie Hodge, of Minim UK, commissioned the company to create a full-size quantum computer for new sci-fi television drama ‘Devs’. The eight-part thriller by DNA Films, FX Productions and Scott Rudin Productions follows the story of computer engineer Lily Chan as she investigates the secretive development division in her company after the disappearance of her boyfriend. The series is written and directed by Alex Garland, known for Ex Machina, Annihilation and Never Let Me Go, and stars Sonoya Mizuno and Nick Offerman.

Simon Tayler, who led the project for Artem, says: When we were approached to build a full-scale model of a near-future quantum computer I was presented with a mind-bogglingly complicated scheme. It was only by breaking the project down logically into parts and looking at the generic elements of the construction that I could start to think about how we could actually build it.’

Working with a team of CAD designers, engineers and model makers as well as specialised subcontractors, Tayler formulated a masterplan for the fabrication, construction and installation processes. The quantum computer build involved complex and highly precise metal milling, polishing and gold plating, and required an enormous amount of accurate wire bending. When assembled, the model stood four and a half meters high and comprised thousands of individual parts, each cut, machined and polished to a mirror finish. Components included eleven large gold-plated 15mm aluminium discs, approximately three thousand connectors, numerous laser-cut and folded stainless steel parts, curved metal rods, coils, wires, and a central shaft and base frame. In addition forty illuminated clear acrylic panels were fitted into apertures in the plates of the computer and each plate was fitted with inward facing LED strips and an encapsulating band around the edge.

Mark Digby, Production Designer on ‘Devs’, describes the quantum computer as a ‘central character’ in the show: ‘We always set our bar high and no less so on this architectural prop. The highest level of materials and finishes and mechanics were required... It would get a lot of scrutiny and need to deliver maximum design and screen value. Knowing how challenging we are as a design team in terms of ambition and style I was confident that Artem would be the right choice. That was reaffirmed by Ollie Hodge who was the art director and manager of this important aspect of the show.’

To ‘operate’ the computer, Artem designed mains-controlled linear actuator mechanisms to move the rods and coil in reciprocating and rotating action for extended periods. In combination with the integral LED lighting this created a truly stunning effect.

The quantum computer was assembled in two sections for transportation and was installed into a Manchester studio by Artem technicians, with the help of our custom-designed chassis system. This enabled the two halves of the computer to be precision-placed into position on the set for fixing.

‘The finished model looked absolutely beautiful in Mark Digby’s fantastic, futuristic set,’ said Simon Tayler. ‘I can’t wait to see the series on screen.’

Devs will premiere on Disney's ‘FX on Hulu’ channel in the US from 5th March 2020. International release details are yet to be announced.

View the Devs trailer here.

Industry
  • TV
  • CAD CAM
Discipline
  • Electronic Design
  • Mechanical Rigs
  • Models & Miniatures
  • Props
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