Tuesday, December 19, 2006

North Pole Workshop (a themed environment)

For a little while now I have been designing an idea for a small, indoor themed environment/experience of Santa’s Workshop. It’s basically like a very small theme park with attractions and other themed activities. Imagine taking an area of Disneyland (Frontier Land, Toontown, Fantasyland, etc.) and making it a small, separate theme park. I have a few sketches of the main entrance to the Workshop and I hope to draw more soon.

The entrance area will be outside as opposed to the rest of the Workshop which is indoors. Towering in front is a landmark formation of the North Pole. I wanted this pole to appear at first to be man (or elf) made but when you get close you get the impression that is a natural creation that appears to be growing up from the earth and bursting through the ice.

Just past the Pole is this small building that contains a “secret” entrance into Santa’s Workshop which is suggested to be hidden underground. I thought it would be fun to somehow make this building appear magically from the snow when the visitors approach it. This one room building is what I call a “Crowd Divider.” It breaks up the visitors into smaller groups for a more controlled and smoother entrance into the attraction. A good example of a Crowd Divider is the stretching elevator room in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. These kinds of rooms also help to set the tone in order to prepare the visitors for what they are about to experience, rather like an Overture for a theatrical production. This room contains every image possible of Christmas in our culture. For example the building itself is deigned to resemble a Christmas Tree.

In the center of this round room is this globe showing the complicated flight path of Santa. It is designed to look like it was carved out of wood.

Above this globe is this dome ceiling that wraps around the base of the tower’s vault. In this dome are suggested silhouettes of iconic structures from around the world.

A long pole that hangs from the center of the tower reaches down to a spot just above the globe. Attached at the base of the pole is the “North Pole” sign that points at the top of the globe. Also attached by a rod to the pole at the spot just below the dome is a small model of Santa’s sleigh. The sleigh rotates around in a circle (this is due to the pole that is slowly spinning) suggesting Santa’s flight around the world. I’m still in the midst of drawing the rest of the elements of this richly detailed room. Whatever I don’t finished designing this Christmas I will continue developing during every Christmas to come, as is my tradition.
There are much more exciting things to come!
Preview: This room will become completely animated and a whole sequence of events will occur around the audience leading to the secret entrance.

Why We Missed Church on Sunday (Part 4 of 4)

I stopped the car and motioned to Josh to come listen to the scraping. Puzzled, he took a look at the front driver’s side tire where the noise was the loudest and then just started laughing. Fearing the worst, as usual, I said, “Oh great, what now?” He looked up and with a slight chuckle, he said, “Darling, you ran over a cone!” When I had pulled into the gas station earlier, in my distress, with limited visibility, I must have inadvertently taken out one of the safety cones near the driveway of the gas station. Just as we were regaining our composure, two mysterious gentlemen in an unmarked pick-up truck showed up and said, “Hey, you already fixed the tire?” Realizing that this must have been who “Joe’s Towing” sent to help us out, we apologized for beating them to the punch and explained our new dilemma. They managed to un-wedge the giant piece of orange rubber from under the Corolla and we all went about our merry ways. All I could think on the way home at 2:00 a.m. was that this was “one for the blog.”

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why We Missed Church on Sunday (Part 3 of 4)

After obtaining the necessary phone number, I got a hold of Josh who had been sick for the past four days with a hacking cough (which is why he wasn’t with me in the first place). Thankfully he had not yet taken his nighttime cough syrup so he was okay to drive. I sat in the Corolla with the doors locked and memorized Josh’s cell phone number while I waited for him to come rescue me. When he arrived, we were optimistic about changing the tire ourselves with the help of the instructions he had printed from the internet. We managed to get all of the crap out of the trunk and uncover the spare along with the necessary tire changing tools. Everything was going fine until we got to the part where you are supposed to unscrew the lug nuts. Josh tried and tried to get them off but, possibly due to his weakened state, they wouldn’t budge. We decided to take advantage of the free 24-hour roadside assistance that our car insurance offers and resigned ourselves to wait for the estimated thirty minutes it would take for someone to come help us change the tire. After about twenty minutes, and having seen a guy, possibly under the influence of some mind-altering substance, urinate on the air/water machine, we were getting impatient so Josh started wrestling with the lug nuts again. Since I was wearing real shoes and he wasn’t, he asked me to stand on the lug nut loosening tool (whatever it’s called) so that the leverage would be enough to loosen the lugs. It turns out that 135 pounds (yes that’s my real weight) was just the right amount. We also speculated in our most intelligent “sciencey” sounding voices that the metal must have cooled and contracted since our last attempts so even if we had tried this method before, it may not have worked. We got the tire swapped out with no other problems and called the insurance people back to cancel the roadside assistance that had not yet arrived. We decided to cautiously depart the gas station and head home. I agreed to drive the Corolla very carefully since there was basically a plastic tire on the car now. As I started to pull out of the driveway, I could hear some kind of scraping sound. My first thought was that we had done something wrong and now the car was probably ruined but then I realized the scraping was coming from the front of the car so my next thought was that the engine was probably about to explode because I had put too much stress on it by driving who knows how long on three regular tires and just the rim of the rear driver’s side tire… To be continued…

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nuts About YouTube!

My Nutcracker teaser trailer is now on YouTube! This may make the video more accessable.
Check it out!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why We Missed Church on Sunday (Part 2 of 4)

It was still raining when I pulled into the am/pm Arco station on Rosecrans and Carmenita in Norwalk. I did happen to have my phone charger with me so I had decided to march into the convenience store and demand an electrical outlet where I could plug my phone in and get Josh’s phone number. That’s almost how it went. I parked the Corolla next to the air/water machine, foolishly thinking that maybe one of my tires was just a little soft and all I would need was a blast of air in one of them. As I got out of the car all hopes of that were dashed when I looked at the rear driver’s side tire- or what was left of it. The tire was completely shredded. It reminded me of the tire that the T-Rex chewed off the truck in Jurassic Park. I have to admit I was a little relieved that nothing more traumatic (or expensive) had happened. As far as I could tell, the rear axle was still in place, I hadn’t been dragging the muffler, and there were no zombies in the trunk (this happens more often than most people would like to admit). I knew where the spare was and I knew I could probably figure out how to put it on the car but it was raining and I didn’t want to get my “man skirt” dirty so I gathered my dead cell phone, the charger, and a pen and entered the mini-mart. There were about four people ahead of me buying beer and/or gasoline so I patiently waited my turn, returning the perplexed looks of the other convenience store patrons with a sheepish grin. Finally, I approached the counter. I don’t think the gas station attendant was prepared for my request because she just stared at me blankly as I told my sad story without any pauses, the way I talk when I’m a little bit nervous, “Hi-I-have-a-flat-tire-do-you-think-I-could-plug-in-my-cell-phone-somewhere-just-long-enough-to-get-my-husband’s-phone-number-and-call-him-from-the-pay-phone-to-come-and-rescue-me?” It took her a moment to process what I had just said but then she pointed toward the “Coffee Station” on the other end of the store and I thanked her profusely and headed straight for the outlet… To be continued…

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Claus

I’ve loved the whole concept of Santa ever since I was a child. I never really believed in the existence of this mythical person but that never stopped me from enjoying and creatively exploring the whole idea of who Santa is and what he does. Being the picky child that I was with my imagination I pretty much defined to myself who Santa is, where he comes from, what he looks like, how he works, where he works, etc. Yeah, I was a weird kid and I guess I still am. I won’t go into all the detail that I created in my life but I have some fun examples of what I feel explains how I see things.
Since I’m a movie fanatic a particular film mostly defined for me who Mr. Claus is. It’s a fun and corny 1985 film called Santa Claus: The Movie, Starring Dudely Moore and John Lithgow (3rd Rock). This is an odd film because it is basically divided into two movies. The fist half is about the genesis of Santa and the second half is an odd ball 80’s adventure with two annoying children. Whenever I watch this movie I only watch the first half because the second half is just not worth it. This film creatively presents how Santa came to be and it has wonderful Swiss inspired Production Design (i.e. Santa’s Workshop and his slay).
As for the way Claus looks, aside from the classic Coca-Cola Santa by Haddon Sundblom, I’ve always looked towards the paintings of Dean Morrissey.As you can see I'm an old fashion kind of guy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why We Missed Church on Sunday (Part 1 of 4)

Before I left the company of my fellow Scottish band members in Santa Monica around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday I had pulled out my cell phone to call Josh and let him know I was on my way home only to discover that the battery was dead (again). Oh well, I thought, I’ll just go straight home and hopefully get there before anything could possibly go wrong- after all, people lived for centuries without the crutch of electronic devices to get them out of trouble. So I was on my way home, it was dark, it was pouring down rain, and I was wearing a kilt, complete with the knee-high socks and spats over my shoes. Everything was going fine until I started hearing a strange noise coming from the rear of the Corolla. I immediately panicked. This car has made lots of funny sounds and they have all been expensive to fix. I had a quick and terrifying flashback of the time Josh and I managed to fry the car’s original engine because apparently it needed three gallons of oil every twenty miles to keep it from throwing a rod (don’t worry, I don’t really know what that means either- that’s just what the guy said it sounded like when we started the car again). This sound was different though, and it wasn’t coming from the front- which I thought was probably a good sign because even I know that most of the things that make the car go are located under the hood not in the back of the car. Still, there was something wrong and I didn’t even know exactly where I was- somewhere on the 5 Freeway I think. I knew I probably wasn’t going to make it all the way home so I decided to get as far as I could and find a well-lit gas station with a pay phone. This plan did have one flaw though, I didn’t have anyone’s phone number memorized or written down. Not one, I couldn’t think of a single way to get a hold of one single person, especially someone I could call in the middle of the night. The only numbers I had were trapped inside my dead cell phone… To be continued….

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Perfectionist's Predicament

Okay, so, Josh has been bugging me to write something for this blog and, to be honest, I’ve had lots of “bloggable” moments as of late I just tend to save them as stories to tell people in person- that way they get better every time I tell them. I have trouble with the concept of a blog because I am such a perfectionist when it comes to things that other people will be reading. It’s fine when I say it and it sounds ridiculous but once it’s committed to print, that’s a different story. I place unrealistic expectations on myself, expecting to be an amazing writer that everyone will love even though it’s just a blog for crying out loud! Of course it’s not going to be perfect. I guess there’s just that silly little fear in the back of my mind that someday I’ll be trying to get a job as a writer for “Newyorker” magazine and someone will unearth old blog entries that I haphazardly wrote, thinking no one would mind a few spelling or grammar errors- I would be ruined! I feel the same way about emails and even notes I write in greeting cards. Yeah, so pretty much I’ve got some issues to work through. If you could all bear with me, maybe I can just ease into this whole world of journal entries for public viewing. Oh, and don't worry, I'm not planning on ever working for "Newyorker" magazine- "Mad" magazine maybe, but not "Newyorker."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Teaser Trailer Premier

Click the image below to view the trailer.

If you want to have a high resolution version of the trailer just email me at joshuak@mail.com

Coming Soon

For the past year I have been working very slowly on a Christmas themed project. It is an animatic which is basically a storyboard that is put on film and edited with music and sound effects, an animated storyboard. This animatic is a fake teaser trailer for a film that does not exist (at least not yet). These are the rough sketches that I made over a year ago, which I have now finished painting in Photoshop. It has taken me a year to paint all of this because it was the very first piece I'd made using my tablet; I had to figure out how to paint this as I was making it. It is also something that I have been working on inch by inch whenever I have had time between other projects.

The animatic trailer is finally completed thanks to my dear friend Michael Olson, who spent 6 hours straight editing it with me over his shoulder. He created exactly what I envisioned and MORE! I love this man!

As soon as I figure out how I plan to premier the teaser trailer on this blog. If you can't wait till then and you want to see the video now just let me know (joshuak@mail.com) and I'll send a high quality version to you.