Theatrical Design – “Scrooge & Marley” @ The Dickens Christmas Fair

•January 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Dickens Christmas Fair, a San Francisco Bay Area favorite for over 33 years (created by Red Barn Productions), has been home to several Aeronaut Productions ventures. In 2012, the management of the Dickens Fair wanted to add some special touches to their event in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. One of these changes was a complete overhaul of their theatrical presentation of “A Christmas Carol”.

The Dickens Fair is a show with over 750 interactive performers and is full of theatrical environments that immerse guests into the world of 19th Century London during Christmas. We were commissioned to make the world of Ebeneezer Scrooge an interactive, yet economical, set to better highlight the performances of the show – which is meant to surround the audience for 9 straight hours.

So, Peter designed a 12′ x 12′ stage. He was inspired by the set design for the 1981 production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeny Todd”, in which the set moved, and turned, and transformed to represent a plethora of locations.  On this 12’x12′ platform Pete designed the set with a “fireplace” that would fold up and down like a hideaway bed, curtains on a series of tracks that could separate the space for each scene (or, just serve as bed curtains), and a light system that would be self-contained.

Here are the blueprints.

Next, Pete spent some time mocking up the set in a 1/12 scale model.

Once the model and blueprints were complete, production began in Red Barn Productions warehouse facility (Construction by Miguel – Painting & Finishing by Tabbitha).

The set was completed and installed for the 2012 Dickens Fair, and was met with great satisfaction from both the audience, and the performers who enjoyed the versatility of the set…as well as the acoustic properties which made their performances cut through the throng of guests visiting the show. This was just one of many theatrical designs that the Aeronaut team has had the pleasure of working on.

Photo courtesy of “marianme”

“THE SPIRIT MACHINE” – A Prop From The Other Side

•January 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Once again, Aeronaut Productions was called in to help on a strange project – an independent film called The Spirit Machine. The team and White Room Artifacts contacted us because their roster was just too full to complete the project in time, and suggested that Pete tackle the assignment of building the title prop – a fanciful version of Thomas Edison’s Spirit Machine.

The Director of the project sent us a couple of concept renderings, and we set about on a “Junk Expedition”. Our budget was low enough to dictate that we’d have to “Kit Bash” (i.e. taking pre-existing junk, piece it together and then paint it to match the concept), so Pete’s supervisor, Don, and Pete went to every scrap yard and thrift store they could think of. And this is what they found…

“Kit Bashing” at it’s most epic! All the parts for The Spirit Machine laid out in the White Room studio.

Next, Don & Pete laid out all the pieces and began to fit them together – trying to find the appropriate shapes to match what the Director wanted out of the prop.

Don doing a preliminary “fitting”.

Then, once we had found the perfect configuration of pieces, Pete packed everything up and took it back to his home studio and set to work on building The Spirit Machine.

We were also commissioned to build a volt meter for some insert shots. Most vintage ones were just too expensive, so Peter had to build a replica from scratch. He even rigged it so the needle would jerk around as if being hit by surges of electricity.

Don, from White Room, and Peter finished the final assembly at the White Room studio, where the Spirit Machine was reviewed by the Production staff.

During the move from the studio to location, a couple of the little pieces on The Machine were broken. So, Pete “saved the day” and arrived with his bag of glues, wire and tape…fixed her up, and even wound up puppeteering some of the bits for some insert shots. Here are some pictures from the shoot…

The gent playing Thomas Edison – pretty striking resemblance.

Another shot of Edison – the crew was trying to light him and the machine at this point.

Almost there…

Shooting begins. The machine was lit internally from several vintage-style bulbs for extra authenticity.

The Machine waiting for insert and close-up shots. The volt meter is resting on the front part of the platform – which Pete puppeteered during insert shots.

Director, Timothy Plain, working with his crew. We were impressed on how professional and quick the production staff were on this film. Thank you, Timothy, for having us on this film!

Here is the Teaser Trailer for The Spirit Machine. The prop we built has some marvelous shots of it in action. The teaser was used for a successful Kickstarter campaign, and now The Spirit Machine is in post production! Yay! We will update when this film is going to go public! Enjoy!

The Spirit Machine is Copyright 2013 Spin Dry Productions.

Drake’s T.A.R.D.I.S.

•August 27, 2012 • 4 Comments

Our friends, John and Monique, have an amazing son named Drake. This kid has proved, time and time again, to be a creative and resourceful young man who has contributed to some of Aeronaut Productions’ more elaborate ventures. During AP’s production of Legion Fantastique, Drake concocted an idea, on his own, that during our “Squid Feeding Show”, our giant “squid” (nicknamed “Archie”) should “eat” him during the big finale. We went along with it, thinking it would be a fun little trick to spice things up – and it proved to be one of the most popular versions of our show.

Drake is a major Doctor Who fan. Our Creative Director, Peter Overstreet, met up with John by chance at a grocery store. Pete asked John what Drake would like for his birthday. The reply was, “anything Doctor Who“. Pete’s brain immediately began to swirl with ideas. Pete has been a fan of Doctor Who, himself, since he was 3 years old (his first Doctor was Jon Pertwee) and he saw a kinship with Drake – plus he wanted to do something special for his buddy.

Pete then thought that it might be fun if the crew built Drake his own T.A.R.D.I.S. console! We looked through all the scraps of wood, and bits of plastic and metal left over from our Steampunk museum exhibit…and found that we had enough stuff to make this mad dream come true! So, Peter and his buddies Mike and Ryan  teamed up over the course of 3 weeks to build Drake’s TARDIS.

So we began the construction process…

PRE PRODUCTION

First – Pete made a quick model of the prop in MAYA and sent Drake’s parents a schematic of the basic concept. Once he had their approval – the building began.

Next, we laid all the parts out to give ourselves a more realistic idea of how things could be put together.

Then Pete began cutting and laying out the console part using mostly scrap wood.

We were now ready to get into building the console…

CONSTRUCTION

Pete assembled the pieces…

…and then realized the console was being build to butt up against a wall, and only needed 3 sides! So he had to modify and smooth-out the sides with automotive putty.

Then, Pete’s friends (Mike & Ryan) helped him with the construction of an IKEA chest of drawers that would serve as the base of the console. Once that was built, an initial coat of paint and texture was added. The crew then set about laying out where all of the switches and dials and other fiddly-bits would go (thanks to Tom D. for his contribution of all the old electronics from a disused power station).

We then began with the painting and decoration of the console. This was a long process as this piece was mostly improvised…and we ran into space, and methodology, issues along the way… But the end results were very satisfying.

A while back … Pete found one of those decorative desktop “bubble tubes”. The pump was broken, and the color wheel motor was kaput – but the tube still held water and the light worked. Mike found a way to hook it up to a fish tank air pump and we installed it into the “Central Column” part of the console. We couldn’t have the pieces moving (not enough space), but the bubbles gave it a sense of movement.

We installed some LED tree lights and a vintage-style “Edison Bulb” into the console…and then fitted the bubble tube with a backing board.

We finished up all the parts and affixed some flexible acrylic sheeting to the column and…ZAP!

After 3 weeks (off and on) we were ready to give it to Drake…but not without some celebration in our crowded little basement. We were trying, desperately, to beat the clock to his birthday party…and we had done it! Not only that – we were starting to get jealous…because the console was looking REALLY cool! With all of it’s lights, working switches dials and levers – all of us Doctor Who nerds were beginning to envy Drake’s childhood…and vowed we’d probably wind up making one for ourselves at some point.

Before we packed things up for the night (the night before the birthday party) we decided to have a little fun (yes, I know the video is sideways…YouTube is processing the video so it will be right-side-up):

INSTALLATION

Peter’s wife and partner, Cat, provided the transport of “Mr Smith” (the code word for the console…just so the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled). We pulled up to the Woodruff house, where the birthday party was in full-swing. It was Doctor Who themed…complete with “make your own sonic screwdriver” activities, “Pin the bow tie on The Doctor” and an amazing Dalek pinata made by Drake’s mom.

While the kids attempted to “EXTERMINATE” the Dalek pinata, the console crew quickly sprang into action and installed the console in Drake’s bedroom with lightning fast speed!

PRESENTATION

When the console was ready, John called his son to his room. There was “something going on” that only Drake could deal with. Up Drake came … wearing his bow tie and brandishing his sonic screwdriver…and found Pete awaiting him. Pete was wearing his Tom Baker scarf (and brandishing his own sonic screwdriver) and was blocking the view of the console until…well…maybe you should see Drake’s reaction for yourself…

Pete then gave Drake the note, and read it to him.

The letter read as follows:

Dear Drake,

I found this TARDIS on an asteroid somewhere outside the universe, and I could think of no better person to care for it than you.

There are a few things to know when you care for a TARDIS -

1. Be gentle with her. A TARDIS is like a pet and a friend.

2. Feel free to travel through time and space – just try not to change history…too much.

3. Fezzes are cool.

4. Don’t blink!

5. Avoid the Statue of Liberty for a while – there’s a good chap.

6. There’s no point in being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes!

Good luck, Drake … and enjoy your adventures as much as I have mine.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

-The Doctor

p.s. Allons-Y!

This was one Doctor Who geek passing on a cherished hobby to a new generation in Pete’s eyes…and this was their shared moment of glory. Drake and Pete spent several minutes reviewing the workings of Drake’s TARDIS….and then we left him alone to get acquainted with his new time machine. Apparently, Drake had been asking his mom if there was any way he could have a console for his birthday. Monique had to keep telling him that the BBC doesn’t make them for just anyone…and that it might be too expensive. Pete had no idea that Drake had been wanting one so desperately. There must have been something in the time space continuum that told Pete that now was the time to build one.

Thanks to Ryan, Mike, John, Monique, Mark, Kathy and especially Cat for helping us in making this special little boy very happy on his birthday.

Photo by John “Smith”

The 5th Annual Steam Explorer’s Consortium Hosted By Legion Fantastique

•November 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Grab your pith helmets! Polish your boots! Get the boiler stoked and ready! It’s time for…

The 5th Annual

STEAM EXPLORERS’ CONSORTIUM!

Saturday – December 10, 2011

11am – 7pm

AT

THE GREAT DICKENS CHRISTMAS FAIR

The Cow Palace

2150 Geneva Avenue  Daly City, CA 94014

*******

In what has become a Dickens Fair tradition, the Steam Explorer’s Consortium is always a great time and is a fun chance to show off your fanciest accoutrements and hone your steampunk character. We’re playing it a little differently this year, and we have some splendid prizes in store for you! For more information, head on over to Mister Fogg’s blog.

Come visit La Legion Fantastique in our splendid new space, make friends, have adventures and join us in our enduring  quest to uphold the virtues of  Science! Exploration! And Imagination!

Signing off,

Louise

AKA

Miss Mary Grant, Legion Librarian

Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination – Grand Opening Celebration!

•October 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This Sunday, the public opening event for Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination will take place. We hope to see you all there!

DATE: Sunday, October 23rd
TIME: 1pm – 5pm
INFO: There will be a ribbon cutting, special guests and some fun themed activities. We’ve heard rumors of some of the local groups coordinating costumed outings to the museum – we would love to see you all in your steampunk finery on opening day!

Click here to view our official press release.

Click here to go to the Facebook invite for this event.

*

Admission to MUZEO is $13 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under, ages 3 and under is free. Group tour discounts (for groups of ten or more) and senior discounts are also available. Admission allows visitor access to both Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination located in The Carnegie Building, and The Queen’s Gallery, Victorian Art from the Private Collection of Dr. Howard & Linda Knohl; an exhibit exploring the history, masterpiece paintings, literature and 19th century lifestyle of the Victorian era, located in the Main Exhibition Building.

MUZEO is located in the heart of downtown Anaheim, at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., just two miles from the Disneyland Resort. Validated parking is available in the parking structures on Center Street Promenade. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets online go to http://www.muzeo.org, or call 714-956-8936.

Hey – That’s Us!

•October 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

On the second floor of the Muzeo:

And So It Begins

•September 30, 2011 • 1 Comment

After weeks of building. . .

 

 

. . . painting. . .

 

 

. . .and planning. . .

 

 

. . .it’s finally time to pack everything up and head down to Anaheim!

 

 

Watch this space for more photos and fun as Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination begins to take shape in the galleries of the Carnegie Building at the Muzeo!

 
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