Member News  |  20 April 2021

The SFX and special-makes company delivers fast-turnaround large scale ‘Hop Drop’ prop and on-set effects for a popular celebrity prank show.

The fifth outing for production client Masscom.98 saw Artem designing and building a space simulator capsule for Ramez Galal’s latest celebrity prank show – Ramez Has Lost His Mind.

The Ramez shows are a hugely popular staple of the MBC slate, airing on its global channels and platforms daily during the month of Ramadan. This year, unwitting celebrities were invited to shoot a promo for a new Buzzland theme park in Riyadh, during which they joined the inaugural ‘flight’ of the Hop Drop capsule. In each episode, the show captures the celebrity’s horrified reactions when the capsule actually does take off – lifted by two giant cranes – and things appear to go horribly wrong.

Artem designed and built the Hop Drop capsule in its West London workshops in just three weeks, before airfreighting it in two halves to Riyadh, where it was reassembled and fitted out by technicians from the company’s West London base, prior to scenic dressing, testing and rehearsals.  Masscom.98 shot three episodes per day and Artem techs were right at the centre of the action, delivering effects from both inside the capsule and on the ground.

“We are used to tight deadlines and challenging briefs from Masscom.98. In the past, we’ve delivered realistic ape suits, a modified robot arm and a hydraulic rig capably of lowering a Land Rover into quicksand –and out again, obviously! We’re never sure what Ramez will want to do next but it’s great to be part of his extended team.”

Mike Kelt, Artem Chairman and SFX Supervisor

The Build

The capsule – which measured approximately 5.5m x 3.5m x 3m high – was hand-built around a frame of box and c-section steel, strong enough to withstand being lifted and tilted at height by two cranes. The exterior skin was made of 3mm aluminium and the interior was wood, panelled with foam and leatherette sections. Tinted 4mm polycarbonate windows and a 20mm clear acrylic floor enabled a clear view of the outside world once the prank was underway. The unit sat on a remote-controlled motion base, built by Artem and incorporated in the scenic design by Masscom.98’s production designer.

Inside the capsule, seven rally-style seats were surrounded by screens and blinds, on which were projected images of Space (all AV provided by the production), and the dark upholstered panels were fitted with LED lighting. The fitted blinds and carpet could be drawn back at speed to reveal exterior action. The capsule also included ducting and fans for ventilation and recesses for hidden cameras.

The Effects

As the prank commenced an Artem technician on the ground operated the motion control base, which another  technician – masquerading as a ride passenger – delivered a number of cued pyrotechnic, smoke and water effects via remote control set ups once the capsule was in the air. Artem also provided bad smell effects for a disguised Ramez to set off – the first indication that all was not well with the Hop Drop.

Ramez Has Lost His Mind can be seen on MBC Masr daily from 12 April 2021 and on Ramez Galal’s YouTube channel.

See the capsule prank in action here.

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