Monday, June 1, 2009

Interview w/ Bruce Brackman from Prototype Source

FF: What exactly is Prototype Source?

Bruce Brackman: Prototype Source was started in 1986 by myself and Dorian Duke as a fabrication facility to assist a variety of design disciplines realize their visions three-dimensionally. We have been involved with Furniture, Toys, Medical Devices, Architectural Elements and lots of small Product Designs.
We quickly became focused in the Automotive Design area ... supporting several of the major Automotive Manufacturers who had opened satellite Design Studios in the Los Angeles area. We have built several significant Concept Cars such as the "New Beetle" and the "Corvette Sting Ray III."
Our involvement in the Automotive Industry led us to an opportunity to re-create a fleet of Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles in conjunction with famed Automotive Stylist "Harry Bradley". We were instrumental in the Mechanical Design concepts and produced a Wind Tunnel model which we tested at Caltech's.

This was the beginning of our focus on Promotional Vehicles.

FF: How many promotional vehicles has Prototype Source made?

BB: It is hard to say ... but I would guess there are over 50 vehicles that we have built as Promotional Vehicles and probably another 25 Concept Car projects.

FF: Tell us about about the process of going from initial concept to finished vehicle
BB: Typically we are contacted by a Marketing Company ... or the Marketing Arm of a Manufacturer ... with some sort of idea they have for a tour which involves a special vehicle. Sometimes they have a sketch that we will use as a basis for our design. Sometimes we do some brainstorming and come up with a Concept Sketch that everyone is excited about.
If there is a lot of "Sculpting" involved ... we like to build a scale model so everyone can get a complete view of the subtle details. From the model we can digitally scan the surface and machine the image full size in Styrofoam. We use Fiberglass to reinforce the foam or create a hallow shell to be used on an appropriate chassis. Details such as lighting, electronics sound systems, games and gear storage are integrated into the available spaces. Final paint and surface finishes are applied and the vehicle is ready to hit the road.

FF: What were some of the most challenging design aspects to create?

BB: The most challenging component on a Promotional Vehicle is finding ... or making ... a Windshield that will fit the desired shape. Custom shapes can be made but are expensive for One-Off. If you have a fleet of vehicles it can make sense to shape your own.
There are also State and Federal D.O.T. regulations that need to be addressed when designing something special like this. Special Driver's Licenses are needed if the vehicle is too big or heavy and overall height and width dimensions which can limit your design envelope.

FF: Do you maintain ongoing communication with the companies you build the vehicles for? Or keep up with the various vehicle tours?

BB: We are always available to our clients and tend to have repeat or ongoing relationships with them. Some of the larger fleets even have a GPS based Diagnostic System on board so we can check the status of most of the mechanical systems on-line. Usually get to see the vehicles in their regularly scheduled "Down Time" just to keep up on the overall conditions or add new updated show components.

FF: Do you have more promotional vehicles planned for the future?

BB: Sure ... we always have inquires about Special Projects. Companies are finding that a Promotional Vehicles can target consumers on a "grassroots" level ... in a way that can leave a huge product "Impression" for a lot less money than they can in other forms of advertising.

FF: Do you have a personal favorite promotional vehicle that Prototype Source created?
BB: I think we all liked "Mr. Peanut's Hot Rod" the best. We have a bunch of "Hot Rod" guys in the shop and this had all the features of a real Hot Rod ... just much bigger. It was all our design so we just kept adding details as we went along. The crew had a great time building it and the client was really happy.
Of course the Wienermobile is also a big favorite ... it is the Grandfather of all these Promotional Vehicles. We have built 8 of them as well as a "Mini Wienermobile" ... based on a Mini Cooper ... that was also a really fun project

Thanks to Bruce and everyone at Prototype Source:

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