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).

August 17, 2009

8/17/09 Update

I'm back from my trip, and even though I was a thousand miles away from the project itself, that doesn't mean nothing was done. While I was in Canada, I made the shark for the scene. Made out of sculpey, the shark was based off a Nurse-type shark, the same one in the movie (according to my brother). When I came back, I got it painted and ready for installation.

As in the last update, I worked on the main features of the the set, with divers and coral. The last few days before I left and the past few days after I came back I worked on the mechanical aspects of the scene. This is a very animated scene, with the shark plummeting towards Conseil and Ned as they dive out of the way and at the same time, Nemo raises his rifle and "shoots" the shark--all in sync every time, all the time. Everything had to be in perfect sync, or the shark would actually attack the divers! This was done with a series of cams and levers that pulled string and such for all the diver movements; all the cam are on the same axle, so they stay in sync. One of the cams triggers a switch at the right moment so that a light-bulb in Nemo's rifle lights up, "shooting the shark" (This was the only way I could simulate it; I thought about using a laser pointer, but tests were not satisfying).All of this was extremely hard to engineer and figure out with the small and odd shaped footprint of the set; it would have been a lot easier in a larger set. Everything had to be carefully rigged above the set so no mechanics were exposed and mainly so that everything cleared everything when it came to all the moving parts.

A closer look at the cams:

It looks complicated, but once I get a video of it in action, it will all make sense.

A shot of the divers and the shark at the point of the "attack";

There was no way to support the shark that could be hidden, so I opted for a plex rod that suggests that it isn't suppose to be there. You can see the strings for the divers a little bit, but there's nothing I could do about that. Sometimes you can't have everything; I'll take having some animation even if you can see the strings and rods.

Nemo "shooting" the shark with a red 12V light:

The other problem withe mechanizing the scene is leaving enough room for lighting. I have to have room for the water effect and the two lights for the scene, which will be hard to create the right effect with this big mechanism smack dab in the optimum rigging area for lighting. So that's my current problem that I'll be working on this week. I should be able the finish the scene up soon so I could start the next scene with Nemo playing the organ.

In the meantime before I get an official video, here's a very quick GIF animation of the scene in action (which will take a moment to load). It doesn't show the scene reseting, however.

For those of you who actually follow this blog weekly: I'll be moving my posting day to Sunday's instead of Monday's starting next update now that college has started and Monday's are very long days for me.