Planning for Spring Again
Bobby’s Birthday is on the horizon. Let’s get ready!
By John Holdun on November 28th, 2017
An article about Bobby’s Birthday
Welcome back to the blog! Hope you had a nice November. I did!
I tried hard to stop myself from thinking about anything related to Variable Stage in the weeks after Graveyard Swing, but I don’t work that way, so we’re back with a lot of updates, most of which are just thoughts I’ve been having.
First, I’m adjusting the schedule of this article series such that new updates are published every Monday. I’m the kind of person that will work right up to a deadline, no matter how minor or arbitrary that deadline is, and that means I was putting off work until Monday or Tuesday to be able to fit it into a Wednesday blog post. I’d rather feel that inspiration over the weekend.
Production for Bobby’s Birthday starts in January, as (I think) I’ve previously stated. But December is for pre-production! You can read every article about earlier production of this attraction over here, but here’s the basic rundown of this attraction, kinda based on where we left off last Summer:
- I originally planned to open this attraction last Spring, then pushed it back to Summer because I wasn’t working quickly enough, then pushed it back to this coming Spring because I still wasn’t working quickly enough and Halloween was fast approaching.
- This attraction is broken up into five self-contained scenes, designed like pages in a storybook.
- Each scene is comprised of an animated tableau and a recorded narration track with music.
- The audio for each scene lasts roughly a minute, for a total "ride time" of about 6 minutes (which includes some interlude music while traveling between scenes).
- Guests will move between scenes at their own pace (this is a walkthrough) but light and audio cues will dissuade them from passing from one scene to the next before that scene’s narration has finished.
- Scenes will either be activated by motion sensors, guest-activated triggers (like a button or pressure mat), or a timer. (You can read lots of words I wrote about how this process might from last April: Rolling Walkthrough Flow Control)
That article from April landed on an extreme variation of a traditional walkthrough, where one party at a time uses the entire show space to experience the attraction. I still think that idea has merit, but I don’t think it’s what I want to do for this particular production. I’ve come back to the horseshoe-shaped layout, with five scenes that are 10 feet wide, 4 feet deep, 7 feet tall, and 1 foot off the ground. Here’s a floor plan, intercut with the Graveyard Swing 2017 floor plan for comparison, since I’m planning to book the same venue:
This floor plan will make more sense when I finish the December project: a complete 1:12 scale model of the set! This harkens back to some of the earliest work I did on Graveyard Swing 2016, where I built tiny sculptures and put them between cardboard walls, except this one will be based on the real world and serve as a meaningful reference. I’ll be able to take the backdrops, for example, and scale them up 12 times to serve as a real model for the final painted pieces.
I’ve also decided that scene 1 will be an animated film, rather than a physical stage. There’s a lot I want to capture in that first scene in establishing the characters and their world, and I think that’s better suited to footage than two puppets. You can read the earliest draft of the script for this show, from exactly one year ago; it needs some changes.
The schedule I laid out in that blog post a year ago is still pretty much what I expect to accomplish, one year later:
December’s deliverable is the interactive animatic; January’s includes the stands for every figure and set piece in the show, along with a complete set of wire armatures; by the end of February all the animation and sculpture will be finished (in that order); March’s conclusion marks a full paint job, marketing materials in the wild, and the whole show in boxes; in April we premiere.
But if that’s the plan, why did it fail so miserably last year? There are a couple reasons, but I think the biggest one is that I spent too much time sculptuing. I built a lot of characters that I was pretty pleased with, but never really got past the first stage of papier-mâché on any of them, let alone finer surfaces or paint. I’m dedicating more time to the project this Spring than I could last Spring (not having a girlfriend this year helps), but that’s still not quite enough time. I thought a lot over the last few weeks about how I can increase my productivity and I’ve hit upon something that I think is going to be effective and adorable.
Rather than rigid sculptures, the characters in Bobby’s Birthday will be stuffed animals! I have a hunch that designing, cutting, sewing, and stuffing a pattern will take less time than the sculpting process I’ve used up to this point, and I won’t have to think quite so much about which parts of each figure needs to move, since they will be flexible, and they’ll be much easier to store, since I can take out the stuffing and end up with a pile of fabric, and, like I said, I think animatronic stuffed animals will be so cute. I’ve never really sewn anything of consequence before, so it will be a rude learning experience, but I plan to create at least one figure that is suitable for use in the show before the end of December. More on that, of course, as it comes along!
I am so ridiculously excited to get working on this project again and I hope you’re excited to read about it. Next Monday, I’ll have some work done on the scale model which I can start sharing with you. Whee! See you then!