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).

January 9, 2010

Official Full "Crawl-thru" video

The final video of the 20,000 Leagues under the Sea project showing every scene as if someone were crawling through.

"Press Shots"


"Intro/'Whale of a Tale"

"The Monster attacks"

"Discovering the monster"

"Burial Ceremony"

"Dinner with Nemo"

"Nautilus heading to the island of Crespo"

"Shark Attack"

"Nemo plays his organ"

"Squid Fight"

"Nautilus approaches Vulcania"


"Looking on/ The End"

January 7, 2010

Squid Fight in 3D

Grab your Red/Blue 3D glasses, this shot is in 3D! The rain was added digitally to enhance it because there was no rain to begin with.

Quick Refurbishment

Now that I have more time than I did when I finished the project, the last few days I went back to fix a few things and make them better.

"Plus-ing" the sign

When I originally installed the sign for my project, I did it in a rush. The party that I was trying to get the project done and open for was only in a few hours and I simply didn't have the time to put it in properly. I simply took the fluorescent fixture that would backlight it and screwed it directly into the plywood below. I hot-glued the plexiglas sign to the edges of the fixture and masked the light leaks around it with black electrical tape. I later painted the plywood with a blue to try to mask the texture, but it didn't do much.

The sign looked alright when I did it, but I wanted to clean it up and make it better this time around. And for safety reasons, I want it to be as close to the plywood as possible, so that it doesn't snag any clothing or for the sign's safety, not get broken. To do this, I cut a hole directly into the plywood for the light and into the scene behind it (the one with the blacklight Nautilus cruising). To ease the installment of the light fixture, I removed the scene so I can access the wall. That scene also had developed a leak in the  bubble water box so the removing of that temporarily for maintenance made putting the sign in easier.

Here's the plywood wall on the outside with the light fixture now recessed into it. You can see the blue painted around it for a quick (and unsuccessful) fix for the plywood texture.

From there, I smoothed out the plywood and areas around the light fixture with joint compound, and when it was dry I gave it a sanding.

At that point, the entire outside of the table was different colors and different materials. The entire thing was given a coat of paint to make it monochromatic with a neutral color. It looks a lot more streamlined.

Around the light fixture I airbrushed a sort of "glowing Nautilus"; this is to give the sign a glowing look even when the sign isn't on, and when it is, help accentuate the lighting. Since the shot below was taken, I redid it so it was a little more subtle.

Then I drilled some holes in the plywood and bolted the sign on (it has bolts epoxy-ed to it from the back). 

Here's the finished sign installed during normal daytime lighting. It just got polished and cleaned so it's reflecting all the clutter on my desk!

With the fluorescent bulb turned on...

And at night:

Now the sign only sticks out about 3/8", rather than 1 1/2" which makes it less susceptible to damage. And it looks much cleaner than before.

I hoping for the final video through the table to be done by Saturday.