50 Years of Pirates

Pirates of the Caribbean

Here’s to one of the iconic attractions from the Walt Disney Imagineers and the very hand of Walt himself as it celebrates 50 years in Disney’s Parks, Resorts, and now Films. The original Disneyland attraction was the last ride Walt personally participated in developing before his death in 1966.

The piece above is an older illustration, and one in a series of the “Carry On” memes requested, I did for the Disney Parks and Resorts Social media team for their Facebook page ad other outlets. The illustrations proved very popular with the campaign gathering well over 35,000 likes on Disney’s posts.

Although not an original attraction when the Magic Kingdom opened the Pirates of the Caribbean quickly became one of the most popular attractions when it opened on December 15, 1973. The reason why this ride was not in place for the grand opening of Walt Disney World, was due to Florida’s proximity to the actual Caribbean. Walt’s team thought being so close to the historic origins of these pirates, the audience would have no interest in the ride; a Western themed cowboys and Indians attraction was slated for the park.

The Imagineers changed their plans, however, when word got out that there were no pirates at this park. They quickly drew up the plans, based on the original design. Although not as extensive and immersive as the original ride in California, the Pirates of the Caribbean maintained the same story line and major features of the original.

The attraction has gone through some refurbishment over the years. The first, and most controversial, was eliminating the lusty rapaciousness of pirates. No more chasing women, only food and drink. This lead to a lot of criticism from longtime fans even from Imagineers themselves.

The second major refurbishment came in 2006 when the ride that inspired a movie was now being updated to include that film’s characters in the story-line. Including all new characters from the film in the ride: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). These new parts are all voiced by the original actors from the films.

Fun fact: the position of the pieces on the chess board were carefully arranged by Marc Davis so that any move results in a never-ending game.

doodles

Sketchbook

I have always found the sketching, or doodling, during the day helps me process problems I am working on at work. It allows my mind to wander a bit, taking focus off of the immediate issue at hand and gets me flexing some other parts of my brain as I ruminate on solutions to the work of the day.

Sometimes these sketches are part of a larger concept or sometimes they are just random themes that surface as I let the pen take over the page. I am rarely without a trusty moleskine sketchbook and my folio of drawing tools; I usually have several types of pencils, pens, and brushes ready to tackle any creative block while I am on the go.

Typically, over lunch, I will spend a brief bit of time concentrating on some specific sketch that is in service to a larger project that I am working on at the time. But throughout the day, in meetings, breaking from a task, or just waiting for others to arrive, I can usually be found passing those micro-moments with my head down sketching.

iron trooper

Here is an updated video on the Iron Trooper project I have been working on these past few weeks. Part of the process is allowing the paint to dry sufficiently in between colors while the other is a complete muck-up on my part in repainting the helmet.

I had to sand the gold paint down after an unfortunate accident with some of the masking for the eyes of the trooper; the tape left some residue that could not be cleaned off the helmet so I opted to go back to the beginning. Unfortunately, I did not sand down far enough on the gold parts and that led to the crackling you see I believe.

So the next step is a full complement of battle damage that I will showcase once the project page is completed and posted in the coming days.

scout trooper

Scout Trooper

The Empire Strikes Back is arguably the best movie in the Star Wars filmography. Directed by the legendary Irvin Kershner, it is the second film produced in the ongoing Star Wars saga.

Continuing with their technological achievements from the first, the team that produced the film extended the Strormtrooper designs to match the destinations used in the film. One of these planets was the Forest Moon of Endor, or Tana, and it has one of the best chase scenes in any of the films between these new Scout Troopers and Luke and Leia.

They filmed the scene in the Redwoods Forests of Northern California at 3/4 speed using Steadicams; once the footage was played back at 30X normal speed the casual walk through the forest became the plates for the high speed chase between the Empire and our heroes in the resistance. According to Garrett Brown, the cameraman for this sequence, for every 1,000 feet walked created only 16 feet of film footage.

I have a series of Star Wars helmets that are in production and this is an early version of the first concept. There will be more to come and if you have a favorite helmet that you want to see in this series, drop me a quick note here.

sketching

I have never underestimated the importance of sketching. Over this past year, I have carried at least one sketchbook and a litany of drawing and painting tools with me nearly every day. During lunch I will spend time drawing; sometime randomly but more often than not my next idea I want to paint.

This video was my first attempt at time lapse of drawing something. There are some logistical issues to work out while videoing while I am drawing, most notably, the camera is in your way but I like how this test turned out.

beginning fabrication

Beginning Fabrication

As a diversion, and to learn some new techniques, I have designed a Star Wars/Marvel mashup and have been painting a Stormtrooper helmet in the style of Iron Man’s helmet. Having never worked with vinyl as a medium, the process has been devoted to learning to paint and fabricate a physical product. There has been much that I have learned and more to paint and refine before I am finished, but here is the process thus far.