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).

July 6, 2009

7/6/09 Update

Slowing down a bit this week, so this will be a shorter update than most (mainly because I don't feel like doing a long update today!). I also jumped around this week, looking at other areas and reworking some effects.

The water effect I created for the Burial scene was a solution that worked pretty well from the time that I did it. I knew it could be better and simpler, but I couldn't figure out how--until I found the solution by accident. While inspecting the mechanism in the dark with a flash light, the reflective tape that I have on my flash light caught some of the light from the light box above and shot a flutter of light on the ceiling. I noticed it and I began play around with it. I realized that the reflected light could work well as a water effect by having a bunch of these reflectors on strings moved by fans scattering reflected light in a random fashion. I had a "duh moment" when I realized how the effect could be made simpler! The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland uses this technique for making the "gold" in the Treasure scene "sparkle" and "shine". I built a quick prototype and spent 2 days fussing around with different angles of the reflectors, fans, lights, and different string lengths to obtain the optimum effect. Eventually I got the right positions of everything and the results were amazing.

There's the new effect, a lot simpler and more effective than the last one, which is a big improvement. Parts of the old mechanism that I had installed are still there, awaiting dismantling. Here's a video demonstrating the new effect:

Back to the Salon scene; I'm starting to get tired and burned out on it, I can't wait to do something different!

More parts are going in, this week it was curtains and more furniture. I made a quick organ that I'm not really happy with; I kind of rushed it because I didn't feel like doing it the day that I did it. That's something that'll be redone before it's finally installed. The pipes for sure will be redone; I might even do a computer printout, considering making those pipes in such a small scale is not an easy thing to do. I'm not even going to make the seat for the organ, since you won't even see it if you weren't looking for it. Despite the lack of detail of this organ, I'll make up for it when I do the scene where Nemo plays the organ next month. The organ in that scene is a lot larger and it'll be as accurate and clean as I can do it. (I'm thinking of even gold-leafing the pipes!).

I made some curtain out of paint soaked Kleenex folded in an accordion pattern. Once I put these in, the scene really started to come together! They still need to be glued in and have cords attached so they can be pulled back a little more.

I built the dinner table itself, and like the side table in the last post, I had to make up the legs of the table since they can't be seen at all. The table tips back and is keystoned, keeping in mind the forced perspective illusion going on. I should be onto making the chairs next and then I'll start the daunting task of making the figures themselves, probably starting with Aronnax first. At this point, this is what the scene looks like as of the time of this writing.

Although not shown, I started experimenting with lighting on this scene with 12V lights. It'll be tricky since the lighting conditions are really particular and replicating the effect in a smaller scale will be tricky.