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University Graduation! And at our university, the University of the Fraser Valley, that's the biggest party of the year. So we celebrate in as much style as we can make. This year, the events team wanted some props for students to get their all important social media pictures (#UFVTrades, #GoUFV #UFVAlumni, #StudentLoans)with, and this is that story.

So, we present to you, our Massive Marquee Letters! There was a bit of misinterpretation of communication during the initialization of the project, but we are pretty happy at how it turned out...

Step 1: What Was Actually Asked for VS What We Ended Up With.

Picture of What Was Actually Asked for VS What We Ended Up With.

I was in my office, mumbling to myself as I was marking a stack of my students electronics diagrams. Then the phone rang, and I did the responsible thing of answering it. (aka, I jumped at the chance to procrastinate.) It was Tricia and Courtney, who were planning the event and decorations, and the conversation went something like this...

Them: "Hi, we were wondering about making some photo props for graduation, and wondering who we could ask to make them. So we thought we should phone you."

Me: "Um, OK? What were you thinking?"

Them: "We were thinking we should have some giant letters for the students to take pictures with. For out front of the building as we get ready. We thought you can make them on your machine"

(Here is where it all started to diverge. They were actually thinking small enough to hold,about 16 inches tall and having me cut them on the laser, but "Giant letters" to me only starts at about 4 feet tall and I was already thinking the 5x9' CNC.)

Me: "Oh yeah. We can make those. We can't really go larger than 4 feet wide though before we would need to deal with seams though, so as long as they aren't larger, we should be fine."

Them: "Oh that would be perfect"

(This had escalated swiftly in size, but they were happy and weren't letting me know though. Strike while the iron is hot!)

Me: "If we are going that large are they just going to be plain? Or are you thinking lit and like an old-school Marquee? Something freestanding so the students can stand around it in the parking lot?"

(Here my imagination was starting to take over... Bad move, should have kept it simple. Would have been so much less work.)

Them: "Oh for sure. That would be amazing!"

Me: "OK. I'll make a sketch tonight and if you're cool with it, we can get this thing going."

After that,we talked a bit more about the details about when it was needing to be completed, budget, etc. As well as who all else would need to be involved in order to complete this. That night I made them a sketch of the concept, and they approved it...

ohoilett3 months ago
Giant letters are better than small letters.
jkimball3 months ago
I want to hear how the story ended, when the person who wanted letters 10x smaller than what they got saw those godzillas roll up.
memestra (author)  jkimball3 months ago
We are a small university, so there is always lots of chatter. So Tricia and Courtney had both seen pictures, but the first viewing in real life was still quite exciting. I would use the term "Giddy" to describe the overall attitude. It was a lot of fun.
You gotta go to Burning Man. You are prime for it. Brilliant imagining and execution. Thank you for sharing.
memestra (author)  Ricardo Furioso3 months ago
Thanks. I've never attended but always look forward to the pictures of the machines and inventions people bring out. It does seem a hotbed for DIY designs and unique uses of materials.
Ask yourself this magnificent question: Where else can you go where every single person (from all over the world) who you meet is having the very best time of their lives (for a whole week) and is there for two reasons—to meet you and to show you what they brought and see what you have brought. Astounding.
JerryB323 months ago
A great build! I'm sure that many will follow your "over the top imagination" with their own rendition. The font has a great impact, and the lighting is perfect. My only critique is that the bases distract from the awesome look of the final outcome. I would recommend a simple box shape base ( 1 foot high by 4 feet wide by the necessary length of the letter-phrase. It would provide the needed stability to hold the letters upright and also serve as a platform for the students to stand on for photos without the conflict of the "font-curves" and the "base-curves". It was great to see the students involved in the build
ufv stand.jpg
memestra (author)  JerryB323 months ago
Great graphic of that. To be honest, I struggled with the bases. With the plywood dimensions, we couldn't get letters taller than 4 feet. But we wanted them to end up as 5' tall overall, so that people can get their pictures peeking through, over, or around them. I set them up in the the shop, but 4' in front of people was just to short to give the desired presence.

Originally I had looked at single base, but it would need to be 12 feet long, and that makes portability and storage a problem. Events also wanted to be able to setup as a semicircle or line. So it ended up as individual bases.
JerryB32 memestra3 months ago
What restrain is keeping you from making the letters taller. The sheet of plywood is 8 feet long. I don't know the constraints of your CNC, but I figured you could just flip the artwork to protrait. And... I understand the dilemma and your frustration of being cut short on you over-the-top design design. Isn't that Mr. Murphy in the room?
memestra (author)  JerryB323 months ago
It was really the fonts that were the constraint. In order to be inline with university guidelines, we can't modify them for events and promotions. Which means keeping the aspect ratio the same as the original font. Although the sheet was longer (96"), I had to bind my design to the largest letter size that would fit width wise (48"), as well as allow a tooling and hold down tolerance around the edges. And all 3 letters need to stay the same size. That meant the largest ended up around 4' tall by about 46" wide, and the others a bit narrower. Bigger would have been nicer, but that would have meant dealing with seams, and I couldn't afford the time. I'm still super happy with it though.
jimbayes3 months ago
It sounds like the size was difference was Spinal Tap in reverse.

Looks great.
memestra (author)  jimbayes3 months ago
When it comes to sizing, these letters go to 11!
jimbayes memestra3 months ago

Instead of tiny Stonehenge the school got giant letters, which was a better result for your project.
MJestes3 months ago
How do You get your font to be large?
I am trying to get some letters 18" to 2' tall on Mac.
memestra (author)  MJestes3 months ago
I can't actually answer from a Mac perspective, as I don't use one of those. But for my windows software (Visio) I can just type any number into the "Font" box and it goes to that.

I'd suggest the route I used with Inkscape, of tracing the font and and turning them into Vector files. Once they are created and saved as vector files, you can import them into your design software and then just grab the edges and corners to increase or decrease any dimension.
TheFischLife3 months ago
Those letters turned out really cool!
Mimikry3 months ago
... I'm very familiar with "my imagination going way over the top", so I can feel you :)
in the end: nothing is as cool as blowing away others with the outstanding (and unexpected) result!
great work!