The Man In 18C (new "D.B. Cooper" movie) - RC Groups
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Dec 28, 2012, 12:53 PM
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Mike James's Avatar

The Man In 18C (new "D.B. Cooper" movie)

Hi everybody,

I'm doing the aircraft-related CG work for the new film, "The Man In 18C". This is the story of the infamous "D.B. Cooper" hijacking in 1971, where Cooper managed to obtain $200,000 in cash, and then to parachute from the aft "airstairs" of a Boeing 727.

I've modified my previously-built 3D model of the 727, and have also started a follow-along article, for those of you interested in the 3D-to-movie process. That article is at Here are a couple of early renders, after updating the model to look like the actual aircraft used in the incident.

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Dec 28, 2012, 06:58 PM
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HELModels's Avatar
Must be nice! How long did it take you to become proficient enough with any kind of rendering program before you went pro? Did you learn on your own or were you trained specifically to do 3D?
Dec 28, 2012, 07:13 PM
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Mike James's Avatar


I'm 58, just to give you a reference here.

I'm a private pilot and skydiver, and spent the biggest part of my life as a drummer and musical arranger. So, aside from reading countless books, and later, using the internet to learn from others, I had no "formal" (college-style) training in 3D.

I started as soon as it was possible (late 1970's) as a programmer. (We all did, because there was no software.) Following NASA is what inspired my interest in 3D, but in those days, the only people who could do anything resembling what we have today were big agencies with supercomputers. I kept producing what I could, then sold my last commercial program in about 1992, and since then, have been strictly a user.

So, close to 20 years as a user of 3D software, with the vast majority of that directed toward aviation/aerospace. I started selling tutorials for RCers, and producing RC designs and UAV's in the mid 1990's, but have only exclusively supported myself with 3D modeling since about 2007. I've always been a freelancer, and choose not to try and work for big graphic companies. That is, as you'd expect, both great and terrible.

A friend of mine recently wrote this on Twitter...
"The best/worse things about being a freelancer are summed up by Mel Gibson, at the end of "Braveheart", when he screams "FREEEEEDOM", while being disemboweled."
Last edited by Mike James; Dec 29, 2012 at 01:18 PM.
Dec 30, 2012, 04:43 AM
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Artful Owl's Avatar
Hi mike. arrrr your work is quite good;-). I have started using Solidworks and altho I am picking up things pretty quick I am having a hard time envisioning how I can use this program to model R/C aircraft in particular the internal structures and skin. You mentioned you sell tutorials. Did you use solidworks for this? I'm interested in you tutorials. can you post a link to something you think might help or do you know of any. I have been searching fruitlessly on the net so far.

Regards Artful Owl
Dec 30, 2012, 02:40 PM
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Mike James's Avatar


Thank you!

I switched to Luxology's "modo" application in 2008, and have been using it since then, both for my work and for the tutorials I produce. ( )

If you're doing fabrication, Solidworks is a better choice for that. There are many tutorials available through Solidworks, and also on YouTube, etc., although you'll have to find what suits your needs.

Good luck.
Jan 07, 2013, 09:09 PM
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Way to go, Mike!
Jan 07, 2013, 09:10 PM
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Way to go, Mike! That will be an awesone add-on to your extensive 3D modeling resume. I hope it opens more doors & opportunities to your liking because you obviously paid your dues & have a great talent with this stuff.

You forgot to add 'early vintage pattern plane designer' & 'balsa dust inhalation enthusiast' to your life skill accomplishments!

Jan 07, 2013, 09:14 PM
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Mike James's Avatar

Thank you!

Hi Peter,

I learned a lot from EXCELLENT builders like you!

It's yet to be confirmed whether this film will get the financing it needs to move forward, but I have my fingers crossed. If it does get done, it should be a fun opportunity to work a little differently than with previous projects.

As soon as I know the facts, I'll let everybody know here.
Thanks again, Peter!

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