This blog is here to document my latest 2009 project, an extensive recreation of the Disney 1954 movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea through a series of detailed miniature dioramas, all contained under my model railroad table. This will be a "crawl-thru" type attraction (What is a crawl-thru? Read about it here).

Like Disney, I usually tend to keep everything under-wraps until I unveil the final product at the end. However, by keeping everything a secret, I end up not taking any photos of my projects and it is often disappointing to not have any documentation in the end showing how everything worked and was constructed. This time, however, I will document every step in the process of the creation of the project with photos and drawings (and maybe some video) illustrating each leg of the construction. Even though the posts here will be chock-full of spoilers, it will show the amount of work that goes into this and other projects--which is often under-appreciated.

This blog includes weekly updates that consisted of notes, ideas, photos, and maybe some video of what was worked on each week up until the estimated completion date of December 2009. (It was officially finished on December 10th, 2009).

June 8, 2009

6/8/09 Update

Progress slowed a bit this week, other projects and stuff were in the way, so this update may be a little shorter than previous ones (there will be many more of these kind of posts!)

Still working on the Burial scene, slowly, but progress is progess. I'm starting to install the scenes themselves, so lighting situations and height angles can be locked in and finalized. Most particularly, the Burial scene, which requires delicate lighting conditions because of the water effect, was the first to start installation. I've  already installed the two first scenes that I did, the Monster attacks and the Discovery. Since these scenes were very lightweight despite how big they are, I mounted them to the walls with L brackets and 2 X 4's.  What's nice about having them so high up (they require a low viewing angle) and the absence of supports, is that they create a very nice storage place which will be useful when more scenes are created and installed; my supplies will need a place to go. Here's what the work area looks like now:

(A big project makes a big mess!)

Even though the the Burial scene is not finished,  at this point it can be worked on while installed. I installed the water effect, which includes the lighting mechanism to be hung from the ceiling. The light source for the effect was also put in, a quickly built "light box" of aluminum lined foam core box with a 4W CFL bulb (Eco-friendly so far! This bulb is great, even though it's only 4 watts, it's pretty bright. This bulb actually has quite a history in my attractions, it served as the green floodlight for the caverns in my Pirates of the Caribbean, the red floodlight for the tottering columns of my Submarine Voyage,  the outside moonlight for the Conservatory scene for my Haunted Mansion, and now it's being used on this project--still going strong!) I still will probably add more CFL bulbs to brighten up the scene a little more, it's a bit dim at this point. The box just looks bright because of the long exposure.

I also modified the water effect mechanism a bit. As shown in the previous post, the cams that move the plastic sheets back and forth are mounted a half turn from each other, or on opposite sides of the drive shaft. I changed one cam so that it is only a quarter turn ahead of the other cam. This way, one sheet "follows" the other in movement, and the results are much better and more realistic. 

I haven't finalized the height of that scene yet, so it's just sitting on a stool and will probably be quite a bit higher when it's installed. Raising it up higher towards the light source might also help brighten up the scene a little bit too. Also shown in the photo above is the new backdrop that was painted again for the scene; the old one was too short in height and length and the seam was in the middle. 

The divers are coming along, or should say diver. The master copy should be molded pretty soon. Once I make a bunch of castings, I'll have an assembly line of parts to make the five divers. The only thing I'll have to do is make a new helmet for Nemo, but other than that, all the divers use all the same parts. Although on one of the divers, the "baldy" one, I'll have to grind off the "crown" on top of a casting to create that helmet. Here's a the diver  ready to be molded: