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How to create a prop for a TV commercial

Show model for the Pickwick Lie Detector

This Lie Detector has been designed and produced as a prop for shooting TV and Website commercials. So only the outside appearance mattered: the model in fact is a show-model and it cannot detect anything. Still it perfectly does the job for which it has been created and even includes some functioning parts: the front cover can be opened, the buttons each have a light and the dial can rotate.
The Lie Detector featured in an Internet commercial for Pickwick tea.

The model has been made by creative studio The Lemmens Company in Amsterdam. They design and create models for films and commercials, for theme parks, promotions campaigns and also for industrial and interior design.

2D sketch on paper
2D sketch on paper
Sketches by the art-director.

The model was commissioned by Framfab, an Interactive Marketing and Web Consulting Business. Framfab developed the complete marketing campaign, and the sketches (2D, paper) for the lie detector came from the Framfab art-director.

Based these sketches a 3D geometry has been created in Cinema 4D, by animation and design studio Freestyle Graphics. This 3D geometry next has been divided into two separate parts: the front that contains all interesting details, and the back which is a simple freeformed 'bulge'.

Back part in 'Cinema 4D' CAD
Toolpaths in DeskProto
CAD data in Cinema 4D and CAM data in DeskProto.

The geometry of the Front part has been saved as STL file, and next imported into DeskProto in order to calculate the toolpaths. As can be seen in the DeskProto screendump, the 3D geometry only defined the main shape of the front part, without the holes. Lemmens used a special technique to efficiently create accurate holes: these were defines in a 2D DXF drawing, and then in DeskProto a 2D Operation was used to cut the four holes out of the main geometry.

The milling machine in action
The milling machine, detail
The front part being machined.

Milling has been done with a CNC-Step High-Z machine made by Heiz CNC Technik in Germany, with a PC-NC controller. The illustrations show the milling of the front part in 3D, so before creating the four holes. The front was made in Renshape tooling board, as this part needed to be very accurately detailed and finished.

The buttons and the front cover have been machined in Renshape as well, with the Pickwick logo as nice detail the cover. This logo was imported as 2D DXF file and then projected onto the curved 3D geometry by DeskProto.

Stack of slabs to form the back part
Back and front part after milling and sanding
The stack of slabs, and next the back and front parts.

The back part of the geometry has been created using a different method. A method as simple as it is innovative, invented by Lemmens in order to save time and money. Lemmens has used the DeskProto strategy 'Contour only' a number of times, different levels. Each toolpath then was used to machine a slab of MDF board. The slabs were glued together as shown in the illustration. Note that the inside corners between the slabs indicate the actual geometry, so by removing material with an abrasive disc the part could be finished.

The resulting model, assembled
The resulting model, assembled and finished
All parts assembled ... and finished.

Further work the model included sanding, spraying, assembly, connecting the rotating dial and the lighting, and adding the product graphics for the dial plate.

Website screenshot 1
Website screenshot 2
Two screenshots of the Pickwick website, inviting to start the test.

The resulting model is also used for an Internet 'truth-test': a small game where you can send some questions to a friend or colleague and see if he/she gives true answers.