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 28, 2009

6/29/09 Update

The Salon/Dinner scene has been coming along smoothly. Thank goodness for good drawings or this scene would have taken a lot longer to do and it wouldn't be as accurate. Plus, you throw forced perspective into the equation and this scene becomes one heck of a hurdle to overcome. But at this point, I'm nearing the end of Phase two of this set and I should start the character figures and add more layers of detail.

Continuing with the last post, I created the ceiling for the set, something that I usually don't do for my sets (just about all the sets that I do, or will do, will have open tops for lighting and mechanisms and to be lazy and not make ceilings). At this point, reality is sealed out and the forced perspective beings to look more convincing.

Everything was painted sort of a dark grey. This shot below shows the set all painted with the ceiling off, to help make the process easier.

Once the paint dried, I weathered the pipes and stuff with matte medium and black paint. Then I painted the floor with a dark brown. In the movie, you can't really tell what the color the floor is because of the number of carpets laid out on the set, so I just went with a dark brown.

Speaking of carpets, I went through Google and grabbed some hi-res shots of some victorian-esque carpets that I will use for my set. Using the floor-plan drawings that I distorted and used to initially build the scene, I key-stoned the photos so that they were parallel to the edges of the set, keeping with the forced perspective illusion. In the photo below, you can see the test prints that I did, in black and white, to make sure they looked right in the scene before I printed the good color versions of the carpets that I'll use. I installed the bookshelves, all which taper to a smaller width at the farther end. They all angle too, towards the vanishing point, depending on their position vertically. I only made brackets on the side of the shelves that face the viewers, since the brackets on the opposite side of the shelves will be hidden by books.

The books on the shelf are standard dollhouse books, just trying out for scale and such.

Seating made out of foam are placed roughly where they'll go. The red paint is mainly just to seal the foam, another coat will be added as well as a few more washes will make them look more realistic. One thing that I didn't consider doing when I was cutting masonite for the floor was creating the two recessed areas for the seating on both sides of the set where the iris windows are. I didn't think you'd be able to see the non-recessed floor because of the seating and curtains. Well, it turns out that you CAN see the non-recessed floors even with the seating and curtains. At this point, I can't cut out those sections because I can't get the jig-saw in there because I've build so much and the dremel won't cut through two layers of masonite. So at this point I just have to accept that I goofed on those two little areas and I'll have to get creative with paint to make the floors appear recessed in those areas. At least they're areas that most people won't really notice, being that the characters up front are the focal point.

Here are two piece of furniture that I built for the scene, the specimen table and the side table. These were built according to the distorted floorplan drawing so that they add to the force perspective illusion. The Specimen table was very straight forward to make, I adjusted all the blueprints for that in the computer and built it out of styrene. The side table I just kind of made up since it's only featured in one scene in the movie and there aren't really any good pictures of it at all.

The two items look totally weird and their proportions and angles look not right at all. But when placed in the set itself, they look just right!

Although there are no pictures of it now, currently in production is the pipe organ, which is a bit of pain to make because of the forced perspective, resulting in it being only 1/2" deep. That'll be were I'll start off next week's post.