February 06, 2015
Nevermind Cumberbatch vs Redmayne, molten metal and a British casting house will be the main stars of Sunday night.
New Pro Foundries, a casting house based in Drayton, Middlesex, has created more than 250 BAFTA masks for the ceremony, all in batches of ten. Originally designed by US sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe, the statues are recognised globally as a symbol of excellence and have been produced by New Pro Foundries since 1976.
Patrick Helly, the director of New Pro Foundries, knows the value of industrial engineering and how the awards he produces differ from their Hollywood counterparts:
"They are made of a totally different material in a totally different process. Ours are crafted. They are more near art objects. In my opinion the Oscars are industrially produced objects."
Production begins by creating the back of the mask, the core. The mould is then filled with sand and compacted. Once the sand solidifies, it's turned out and the mould is placed together and sealed. Meanwhile metal is melted. Phosphor Bronze (PB3) was chosen by The Academy for it's colour and tone and is heated to 1090 degrees Celsius before being poured into the moulds.
The moulds are left to cool for around 40 minutes before the masks are knocked out and the edges are smoothed and finished. Before being presented at the ceremony, the masks are polished by shot blasting them with steel.
The back of the masks bear two symbols, an electronic symbol and a screen. The combination represents new technology coming together with cinematic production to create the best of modern day film and television.
The process differs from our Royal Household investment casting process, which works using wax rather than sand, but the results are equally as impressive. Watch the full process video below.
Photo credit: BAFTA / Marc Hoberman