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).

October 18, 2009

10/18/09 Update--Unused effect and Squid fight construction

Sorry for putting this off for two weeks, it just works out better this week in the situation I'm in with other stuff in the way. Construction is going ahead on the squid fight, the most anticipated scene in the whole show. We'll take a look at an unused effect for that scene and the changes made to make the scene simpler, but still have an impressive look.

Two weeks ago I started on the squid fight, but more specifically the window effect I mentioned briefly in the last update. This effect would entail the viewing window being drenched with water as if there were an actual storm on the other side of the glass. This would give a scene a storm feeling as in the movie, since wind and fog is hard to replicate for this purpose.

This effect would consist of a tray of water underneath the viewing window, with water being pumped to the top of the window to another tray. This tray is hinged and counterweighted, so when the tray filled up, it would dump all the water in it at certain intervals. The water would run down a chute, down the window, and back in the tray at the bottom.

Unfortunately, the effect only worked at it's best on paper. The thing did work, with the tray system and such, but the way the water ran down the window didn't have the right look and feel I was going towards; it was uneven and hard to control.

The maintenance of the effect was also an issue that I really didn't want to deal with, being that it is using real water. So, I decided to scrap the effect. In the end, all I did that weekend was ruin a perfectly good piece of foam core from all the water testing. I decided to go with a plain viewing window, with no added effects and such.

With no "storm effects" to be used in the scene, I found it difficult to even simulate a storm without water running down the window or fog to represent wind. All I did have was a strobe light to represent the flashed of lightning. Then I realized something. If the scene were to be only seen in flashes of light, there the scene would be completely dark. With that, there would be no need to make a fully animated squid, since it cab be a static figure with the same effect. I could also simulate the storm simply by adding lines of fishing line to represent rain--which would catch the light from the strobe and create a neat look. So really, this scene is a really easy scene to make, despite what's going on in it. Nothing would actually move because even if everything was animated.

Construction now started on the inanimate scene, but it would feel like stuff was moving because of the strobe.

The deck of the Nautilus was constructed out of foam core.

Then I worked on the backdrop, which consisted of coving the corner and painting the actual walls of the table black. I also painted the Nautilus deck at this time with a gray (I didn't think I would detail it, which I later did).


I detailed the "breathers" of the deck and sprayed the whole thing with a hammered bronze finish. The squid has also been started in this shot, the basic body out of foam.

The tentacles are currently being done out of sculpey, with a wire armature and aluminum foil to bulk out the thin layer of clay (to save on weight and material). I would do a full 10 tentacles, but since the viewer wont see all of them in the flashes of light, I'm only doing 7.

The tentacle in the foreground is the test one out of sculpey. This method of fabrication is a lot faster than trying to figure out how to make it out of flexible material.

I'm hoping to get the squid done this week and maybe 3-4 sailors that will fight it. I will be very lucky if I actually finish the scene, but I'm being realistic so I don't think that'll happen. I might also get  a head start on the next scene since that needs to be done at the end of the month too.