Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mike's Verizon Shoot

Before anything else, this post is about Mike Senna's R2, not mine. I went along as the "delightful assistant" (as the production company later wrote).

First, here is the commercial on YouTube.

The quick backstory is that Lucasfilm was looking for a screen-accurate droid in Southern California that had a fully deployable life form scanner for a Verizon commercial. Mike posted to the group, but after not finding a suitable match, he decided to build the life form scanner into his droid and do the shoot. He had the life form scanner done in an impressively short amount of time (like under 2 weeks from having nothing to being done).

On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, Mike and I headed up to Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA for a production meeting scheduled at 1:00pm, on Stage 23.

We arrived early and unloaded Mike's van. He actually brought both his droids, in case they wanted some 2-legged shots.

The stage had a perfect replica of a Verizon store built within it. When inside the set, you'd be convinced that you were in a real store.

We went over the next day's shooting plan with the director and crew, and Mike's R2 took it's spot on the set for the following day.

The production company put each of us up in a nice hotel in Santa Monica and treated us to a fancy dinner with them.

On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, we returned bright and early for the shoot. Gotta love craft services!

In the morning we did the shots facing the actors, with R2's back to the camera. We did 83 takes(!), changing up the pacing, dialog and lens width (wide, medium & tight). Mike operated the dome and foot motors, while I handled the deploying of the life form scanner and the holoprojector (which was cut from the commercial).

In the afternoon we did the shots facing R2, with the actors' backs to the camera. The visual effects supervisor asked if we could make the holoprojector brighter. I had brought the super-bright LED array that I had prepared for a high-profile event that got cancelled, so it finally got put to use. Unfortunately, the hologram sequence was cut from the ad, so those lights are cursed to not be seen.

Love those hi-def displays!

We did another 40+ takes from this angle, as well as various close-ups.

After a nice 12-hour day on set, we were finally done, and the crew took the usual pictures with R2.

The only proof that I was actually there.

Commercial shoots are always really interesting to me, having done two or three of them myself. When you consider the writing, storyboarding, shooting, editing, visual effects, legal, etc., it's pretty amazing how much work goes into a 30-second spot. And then there's the blogging...

The full photoset is here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Over 80,000 Served

Over 80,000 served, quite literally. I missed the rollover!

I believe we hit the 80,000 mark on Friday, January 13, 2012. When I checked the SiteMeter the next day, I saw we hit 80,079.

This is the first time I missed a multiple of 10,000 visits, so no one gets the mythical, non-existent award this time.

Time to update the stats.

It took 1 year, 10 months and 24 days to get to 10,000. It took another 1 year and 17 days to get to 20,000. It took another 11 months and 19 days to get to 30,000 visits. It only took another 7 months and 15 days to get to 40,000. It took an additional 5 months and 1 week to get to 50,000. Slowing down, it took an additional 6 months and two days to get to 60,000. It took almost exactly 5 more months to get to 70,000. Finally, it took 5 months and 10 days to get to 80,000.

Thanks as always for all the visits!

Friday, January 13, 2012

R2 Builders at Discovery Science Center

Tonight the local Southern California R2 Builders paid a visit to the Discovery Science Center, which is hosting the "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" exhibit, a collection of props, costumes and displays from the Star Wars movies.

My droid was joined by droids and droid parts supplied by Gene Arena, David Annetta, Tom Piedmont, John Boisvert and Roy Powers. We arrived between 5:00pm and 5:30pm, and started setting up.

The members-only event started at 6:00pm, when were joined by the 501st and Rebel Legion, as the guests made their way in.

At 7:00pm I gave a presentation in the theater about the R2 Builders Club, and also how I built my droid. Before the audience came in, we gave it a quick test. That screen was really nice.

Afterward, we came back out for more fan interaction.

This guy was all smiles after I let him play one of R2's sounds.



The Tuskens must have some sort of adoption program.

The event wrapped up around 8:00pm. It was a very successful evening, we're scheduled to be back on Sunday, February 19, 2012.

The photoset is here.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Worked on Front Logics, Finished PSIs for Mike's Second Dome

Today I worked on the front logic harness and finished installing the PSIs for Mike's dome on his second droid.

My half-baked idea for the front logic harness is to leverage the mounting holes that are in the board. These holes align with the bezels, and in theory align with the holes in the aluminum surrounds that I drilled and tapped earlier. I drilled four holes through a piece of flat PVC to use as the main mounting board.

I then screwed in the bezels and surrounds from the back with two of the four mounting screws, and did a test-fit. My plan is/was to build a base that attaches the mounting board to the dome ring. The pieces for the base and supports have been cut and fit, but they have not been glued up yet.

Unfortunately, I'm having trouble getting the aluminum bezels perfectly lined up, so I've put this on the back burner for now. Instead, I worked on the PSIs. I cut two layers of partially opaque plastic to tape onto the inside of the dome for each PSI hole.

I also cut a round piece that gets taped halfway into the PSI pipes, to act as light diffusion.

Finally, I decided to use the PSI circuits I soldered up, rather than those that come include with the JEDI electronics, for a couple of reasons. First, I think mine will be brighter, and second, the PSIs with the JEDI system require the front logics to be set up, and I'm not there yet. Yes, I use masking tape to hold the small circuit board in place.

Not bad. The rear PSI looks to be in good shape as well. I loose-fitted the front logics in place just to see how they would look.

Not much time remains to work on this, as the week is about to get busy.