Saturday, December 17, 2022

Film Design: Designing an Irwin Allen Panel

If you've seen the old Irwin Allen television shows Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, or Time Tunnel, you probably remember what I refer to as "The Irwin Allen Panel". In the early 1960s the 20th Century Fox studios prop department bought surplus U.S. Air Force equipment and made some modifications, including taking the indicator lights and hooking them up to a series of chaser-boxes, thereby producing sequenced blinking lights.

The equipment was already "old" but that did not stop producer Irwin Allen from utilizing them for his futuristic television programs. (Makes sense; 1960s aliens in silver face paint no doubt would operate 1950s Earth equipment.)

By the way, the panels appeared in the television series Lost (2004 - 2010). My guess is they are still available for rent.

When designing my (as of yet unfinished) short film Hyper-Reality, I used the panels in question as a guide. The story requires a retro look. I had a lot of fun conjuring up this piece of fanciful equipment, but credit must go to Dennis Pike for the hours of construction, and wiring the many light bulbs ― "blinky lights" necessary to sell this machine as coming from a 1960s Irwin Allen television program.

The photo affixed above features a crew member operating a piece of projection equipment.

1 comment:

Simon St. Laurent said...

A special shout-out to Emily for advising me to skip surfacing the prop's back in pink silk Chiffon. You were right: it would have been an unnecessary expense; and it would have added nothing aesthetically.