Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Today we have a motion-blurred action shot from the Kalidah sequence!!! Sorry, Drew...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Today's raw frame of the day showcases another little moment from the book that we've chosen to include in our adaptation. Fun fact: Steve, Sean, and I all tried to get our hands in the gloves, but they were all too big. Well, we could fit in them just fine, but it made the hands look radically different than they do when they're on the puppet. So we had Mare put them on, as well as a duplicate of the shirt, and she ran through a load of Scarecrow hand acting on her last day of shooting.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Stupid Irene left me sans electricidad for very nearly 24 hours, hence the lacking of a raw frame yesterday. Hopefully now all our natural disasters are behind us and we can get back to updating on the daily. Today's frame is from one of my favorite bits. Scarecrow's head popped off when we yanked him for the Lion attack, so we rolled with it and added this fun little moment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oz Wars Episode V: Murphy Strikes Back

I recently read a quote from David Fincher. It said, "The fact is, you don't know what directing is until the sun is setting and you've got to get five shots and you're only going to get two." To that I have only this to say; thanks for JINXING me, jerk.

As anybody who's been following the Facebook or blog will know, last Wednesday was our day for shooting the Good Witch of the North. To that some of you are saying, "What? But I thought you filmed Glinda back in 2009." Well you just get the HELL out of here. But yes. Good Witch of the North. Wednesday. However, you may not know that filming was originally supposed to take place on Monday.

Our seamstress woes continuing to hound us, we needed to procure the GWN's costume through more... off the shelf-type ways. But we didn't want the costume to LOOK off the shelf. To that end, Sean scoured the internet looking for all the right pieces, a preamble to the ensemble we would assemble. He ordered the various parts from the disparate collection of websites, and chose the fastest shipping available for all. They should have arrived in time for the 22nd (that's Monday, in case you've forgotten). But they did not. Not all of them, anyway.

That meant we had to reschedule our shoot with Stacey. According to the tracking information, the costume was only going to be just late enough to annoy us, not late enough to cause massive delays. So we pushed back to Wednesday of the same week. And that Wednesday was kind of the day that the shoot HAD to be.

Very shortly Stacey was going to be both moving and starting a new job. On top of that... I'd been in Virginia since before the fourth of July. I don't know if any of you have ever lived somewhere for nearly two months with no income of any kind. Even with no rent to pay, you end up burning through whatever you've saved up. Very quickly. So Wednesday was quite literally the LAST day I could afford to stay in Virginia. Well, I could have stayed a few days longer. I just wouldn't have had the money to drive back home.

Oh. I'm leaving out a piece of that irony thing the hipsters and beatniks are so fond of. The week before, Sean had swapped shifts with somebody so that he could have the Monday of the originally planned shoot off. The shift he swapped for was on Wednesday. Which he'd previously had off. So he had to be into work by two, which meant he was going to come in, do the make-up on Stacey, and then head to work.

The last piece of the puzzle to slot into place: The effervescent Norman Rowe was allowing us to continue to use his air-conditioned ex-workshop as our shooting space, for the sake of the make-up. Even without himself present. What a guy! However, that's about a forty-five minute drive from where Sean lives.

So now that you're familiar with all the major players, let the story unfold. In case shooting with Stacey went past two, Sean and I went to Norm's in separate vehicles, so Sean could leave and go to work without stranding me there. I'm a little better with mornings, so I was out there before Sean was (more on that later). Stacey showed up a little early, and we went over a couple of things while we waited for Sean.

When Sean showed up with the make-up and costume articles, we wasted no time getting down to it. I didn't mention it on the blog, but we HAD done that second practice run with the stipple and new applicators and make-up. It went quite well. So Sean was feeling pretty confident in his abilities. And he stippled like an old pro. Stippled his brains out. Stippled Stacey's face off.

There's a good joke here about Sean waxing Stacey's upper lip, but I'm too afraid of Stacey to make it. Sorry guys.
It was cool to witness the process from the other side, watching the stuff go on all white and opaque, pulling and folding the skin as it dried. And despite Stacey being of similar age to myself, and quite honestly having nicer, tighter skin, the stipple was working better on her than it ever had on me.

Being Chloris Leachman sure is GLAMOROUS!
Sean finished stippling, he and Stacey both did a little make-up action, Stacey working the foundation, Sean working the... old people... spots... We got the wig on Stacey, no mean feat, considering her very ample supply of hair, and had a pretty decent ol' Good Witch of the North standing in front of us. Not bad for two hour's work.

"How're my highlights?" "You're whole head IS a highlight, dear."
Now. Sean sort of... doesn't function in the mornings. At all. That's not intended as an insult. In fact, he actually REQUESTED that I place this disclaimer here. So he kept forgetting things as he packed up his truck, and he actually had to turn back to get things on two separate occasions. Then he got about halfway along before realizing he didn't have his camera with him. The camera which he uses for his promo shots.

I know what you're thinking, clearly I had MY camera with me. And I did. And my camera DOES take stills. But it's not a still camera. So the resolution of the resulting photos isn't as high as with Sean's camera. Which meant that all our promo shots wouldn't match. And that would never do. So after he finished with the make-up, he left to go back home to get his camera, and Stacey and I got started filming.

But it was apparent as soon was we began that there was a make-up malfunction. The latex was starting to pull away from her mouth, something that didn't happen in the tests we ran on my face. The more she talked the more it pulled away. We paused a couple of times and tried to adhere it again, but it just wasn't happening. I called Sean and told him the situation, asked if we could just yank the latex off her and go young. A contingency he and I had discussed before.

I suggested we rename her the Sunburned Witch of the North and write in a tragic tanning-bed addiction backstory. I was voted down.
He said he wanted to see the problem for himself before committing to the yank. So Stacey and I took our lunch break while we waited for Sean to return. Then we recorded her dialogue for the Queen of the Field Mice. Then she did some more line rehearsal. We had a while, is what I'm saying. Forty-five minute drive.

So Sean returned, and after examining the stipple decided that we'd best yank. So we let Stacey peel her face off, and then discussed what to do. We were really down to the wire in a horribly uncomfortable way. We thought we knew what had caused the problem with the adhesion, but we were already running late, with no time to reapply the make-up that day. And as I think I've made abundantly clear, this filming HAD to happen that day.

The best we could do in our current circumstances was to do a little 2D make-up to age Stacey a bit, at least, and just get this stuff done. Sean painted all up on Ms. Pratt's face, then he had to depart with a quickness. Stacey and I then got back to filming the Witch.

Yes, I know. We're supposed to be the FAITHFUL adaptation. There's that irony thing again.
It went quite well, surprisingly enough. I had the rough edit of the Dorothy footage on hand to ensure that I got everything I needed. Stacey was pretty well familiar with her lines, she took direction well, and we were able to get through all the material in a timely fashion. And the performance is great. Exactly what I wanted this witch to be. Which is why we gave such a young girl the part in the first place. It was a good audition. And it's a fun, quirky, and comical character that provides us with quite a bizarre introduction to the Land of Oz.

Let's pause for a moment to reflect on this: She's shaking the recently desiccated remains off these shoes so that she can present them as a reward to a little girl for killing the very woman whose... powder now fills the air... In a children's story...
But at the same time, it's a little disappointing. Because visually, it's not everything that we wanted it to be. Hopefully it's still a part of the movie people will enjoy. Stacey killed it, at least, and her weird, upbeat performance is a good counterbalance to Mare's understated perplexity as Dorothy.

We'll just need to contrive some reason for the shockingly young GWN to be wearing an old lady wig in-universe... So be on the lookout for THAT in the tie-in media...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Apologies for the bloglessness of late, dear friends. Also to the people who read this blog. In trying to stay one step ahead of that damned Irene, my travel plans were all mucked up, and Wednesday night I didn't even have internet access. I drove all day Thursday, and spent much of today unpacking my things and getting my computers back to... not being dismantled in boxes. So I haven't had time for the Good Witch of the North journal entry. But it's coming tomorrow, promise. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek by way of a raw frame.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Our most recent request was something that I won't be able to fulfill until sometime around next week, so today it's my decision again. And I have so many choices. How would you guys like a little something from the Wicked Witch shoot on Sunday? Here she is, all moodily lit by keyhole and whatnot.

Remember to make your requests in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. They won't be fulfilled tomorrow. We're filming the Good Witch of the North with Ms. Stacey Pratt tomorrow, so expect a GWN-y journal entry. Our last act of filming for the summer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Sam on the Facebook asked for a frame of Dorothy interacting with Aunt Em in some way. Like in the book, there's not a lot of interaction between Dorothy and Aunt Em. We get down to business with the cyclone pretty quickly. The best I can do on that front is this image of Dorothy speaking to Aunt Em while picking herself up off the floor. She'd just lost a tug-of-war to Toto, y'see...

Got a request for something you'd like to see? Make it. In the comments below or on the Facebook page, which you can find through the widget on the right.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Done

FINALLY. After three days of shooting and two postponements, we've wrapped photography on the Wicked Witch of the West! Thanks to Norm's careful adjustments and preparations, today was our smoothest, most efficient day yet.

I drove Sean and myself over, and we arrived right at the same time as Norm, about quarter to nine, nine being our agreed upon start time. We unloaded our respective vehicles and started setting up, and most importantly got those sweet, sweet AC juices flowing. The atmosphere was just a little tense because none of us knew what to expect from today, given our Witch history. Right around nine Marie showed up with her son, and we got started ASAP.

The contact lens actually went in pretty easily, all things considered. Took a few tries, but not nearly as many as our other three goes. Just a bunch o' ol' pros, here. Norm then immediately started with the mask. He'd ordered a new batch of Skin Tite for us, and he again used that to adhere the mask to Marie's face. Once that had set up he used more Skin Tite to blend the mask to her face, and painted over all that with greasepaint. It looked fantastic, probably the best it's been yet.

You'll have to take my word for it. Here's a picture of Norm.
Norm had taken the time to redo the glove aspect of the hands entirely. The tops, the original appliances, were the same, but the gloves were all souped up. Marie slipped into them, and that was that, no problems at all with fingers this time. A couple nails popped off towards the end, but at that point it didn't matter.

Overall, the make-up experience was much more successful. The lip held up very well, and Norm only had to touch it up a couple times. We were able to move through the last of the Witch material very quickly, much faster than last time. And we'd saved all our dialogue for today, too.

Dialogue, y'know... The script words that you talk with.
One small little hiccup, and a highlight for me, was Marie swinging her cane up to hit a subordinate, only to make contact with a tracking marker, which broke apart and crashed down next to her. Her startled, frightened reaction was hilariously un-Witch-like. Expect to enjoy the footage of that bizarre juxtaposition at some point down the line. For now, here's a picture of the broken marker... Lucky you...

Almost... FREUDIAN, innit?
Probably the most important scene we got today, which we hadn't got any shots from on our other shoots, was the Witch's final scene. It's all pivotal and stuff. YOU know why.

Because it's the scene where the Witch destroys Dorothy and gets the shoes, right?
We also had a little more fun with the Cap of Quelala. Because making somebody wear that thing is NEVER not funny.

It reaches comedic heights Dane Cook can only ASPIRE to.
After we'd wrapped on the most important new stuff, and while the lip was still holding strong, we had time to reshoot a little bit. There was material from the first shoot that was serviceable, but not entirely to my liking. Namely the scene in which the Witch summons the crows.

She tried to call the crows, but unfortunately she didn't have any bars on her whistle.
Shortly after we finished with that, poor Marie started to feel very nauseous, and was afraid she might vomit. Ever the trooper, she didn't want us to get her out immediately, she wanted to finish all the material first. We blasted through the last shot we needed, her tearing out a bit of her hair. Which we'd saved until last for obvious reasons. Once that was in the can, Norm and I rushed Marie out of the mask, and she immediately breathed a sigh of relief.

The nausea seemed to have passed for the most part, and Marie was agreeable to do one last insert with the gloves on. A simple swap of the umbrella for the cane. And so I present to you here the very last shot of Marie Rizza as the Wicked Witch of the West.

She just brought a cane to an... umbrella... fight...
And that's it... we're done with her... Well, on a photography level, anyway. There's still so much editing and visual effects work left. And after that we'll need to do ADR with Marie. It's still a weird feeling, after we've all been so worried about getting this done, and coming down to the wire to get that Banner Elk stuff... It's all over with.

Our Witch responsibilities have all just... MELTED AWAY...

Oh SNAP! How could I not?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sheepish Raw Frame of the Day

So... I said there wouldn't be a raw frame today, and a journal entry instead. I'm just a lying, cheating scumbag, I guess. Little hiccup with regard to our scheduled shoot today. Didn't happen. Lucky for us, we reserved Sunday with all involved as a back-up day, and we're go for then. So today's entry will be tomorrow and we'll do tomorrow's frame today.

Elad made our inaugural comments request yesterday. Can you believe nobody else has requested that way yet? Friggin' Mark Zuckerberg, amirite? Anyway, he requested a frame from the same scene as yesterday's frame, wherein Dorothy and Scarecrow stop for lunch. We staged the scene a little differently than the Denslow drawing, to allow for the Scarecrow comedy antics all the kids are clamoring for, but I figured I'd honor his request anyhow. Sheesh, convoluted raw frame explanation today. Like Charlie friggin' Kaufman up in here.

Malkovich Malkovich raw frame requests, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich comments below or Facebook Malkovich.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

I get to choose the raw frame AGAIN today! This is so totally my week! I went for something not terribly exciting, but at the same time quite important. Or at least I think so, anyway (and so does Sean). It's Dorothy eating bread. Which happens in the book. Which is important for the movie. Because it's one of the ways of showing that Dorothy's journey takes a few days. And also that Dorothy is a human person.

Got a raw frame request? Make it in the comments below or on the Facebook (widget to the right). If we can fulfill it, we will. But not tomorrow. Tomorrow we're doing more Witch shooting, so we'll have an actual journal entry. Whether you LIKE it or NOT.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day REVISIT

Since we had another bout of requestlessness, I thought I'd take this opportunity to prove to you that there IS a grand plan to the whole, "Raw Frame of the Day" caper. So here we have our first ever raw frame of the day revisit, which is fittingly the counterpart to our first ever raw frame of the day. I'm not entirely certain that this is a final shot, but it's certainly a big step forward, and it is how the folks at Banner Elk saw it a couple weeks ago. I thought it might be interesting to some to see that progression, should we choose to revisit this composite later on down the line.

In case you don't remember what it looked like in the before state, click here to take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to that mystical time of... July...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Charlie on the Facebook asked for a look at Dorothy discovering Scarecrow in the cornfield. So this is that. And a ratta-tat-TAT!

Yeah... Got something you want to see, perhaps accompanied by inane rhyme? Make your request for a raw frame of the day in the comments below or on the ol' Facebook.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Raw frame of the day is dealer's choice today, apparently. Now that it's going to look slightly less friggin' crazy, I thought I'd show the raw Dorothy element that was used in the new splash panel.

To avoid having me force a raw frame upon you like I have today, make a request in the comments below, or on the Facebook. There's still a bit that remains unfilmed, mostly the smaller roles, but a good guideline is to ask for Dorothy, Scarecrow, or any of the witches (starting Monday). Also remember that something from the book involving props is more likely to yield an interesting result. We can only look at Mare standing in front of a green cloth so many times, am I right?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Bryan on the Facebook asked for a frame from Scarecrow on the pole in the river, which is something we don't have yet for numerous reasons, and may NEVER have as a "raw" frame. So instead, here's a shot of Dorothy mournfully regarding Scarecrow as he recedes into the distance.

Raw frame requests can be made in the comments below or on the Facebook. If we have it, we'll show it. Unless it's the Wicked Witch of the West. We have plans for the Wicked Witch of the West.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Logan on the Facebook requested bucket Dorothy. So bucket Dorothy is what you see now before you. It's Dorothy, but... She's got a bucket... Wonder what THAT'S about...

If you've got a raw frame you'd like to see, request it on our Facebook (which you can find through the widget to the right) or in the comments below. Charlie and others have felt the sting of disappointment from requesting something we've not yet shot, but if a request CAN be fulfilled, it will. Promise.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Nicholas on the Facebook requested a frame of Dorothy clicking her heels. So here she is in the process of doing just that. It wasn't shot how you might think.

Got a raw frame you'd like to see? Make a request in the comments below or on the Facebook. Seems to be where all the cool kids are doing it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Bryan requested an image of Scarecrow talking to Oz. So that's what this is from. The first time he meets Oz, though. The lovely lady Oz.

If you have a raw frame request, make it. Where, you ask? Why, in the comments below, or on the Facebook.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And Now For Something COMPLETELY Different...

Man, we do some weird stuff sometimes. Anybody who's been to the cast page on our website knows that we've cast the Good Witch of the North. And that the actress we've cast is an attractive young lady. Anybody who's read the first book will know that the Good Witch of the North is a pleasant old lady. So our casting choice would seem at odds with the character as described, AND as illustrated.

This is when the screaming starts...
Stacey brought this unique energy to the part, and we thought that having an old-looking woman who moves and sounds younger than she should would make the character other-worldly. Which is suitable for a character from what is essentially... some other world. So the problem becomes how to make Stacey look like an old woman.

Maybe we could just wait fifty years...
The hair is easy enough to take care of, and the white wig we bought will do the trick just fine. But her face is a little trickier. We had a guy who was willing to come out for free, if we would cover some of his expenses, and handle wigs and old age make-up for us. But then he got a paid offer from some Broadway thing of some kind, and he decided to go for that instead. Can't blame him for that, I'd have done the same.

But that left us with no way to age Stacey. After a little bit of looking around, I found a very insightful tutorial for applying old age stipple, and it seemed like something Sean or myself could do without too much difficulty. It's just this liquid latex stuff that you sort of... stipple onto the face, and it creates this wrinkly layer on top of the person's skin. Like when you used to rub Elmer's glue on your hands in grade school.

Time in a bottle... Only backwards.
So Sean ordered some stipple, and I figured since he's the art major he can be the applicator, and offered myself up as guinea pig. Didn't want the first time he worked with the stuff to be with poor Stacey. My one stipulation was that we wait until our presentation at Banner Elk, in case the material didn't agree with my skin in some horrific way.

Banner Elk done and over with, last night seemed like a good night. Who does anything on a Wednesday anyhow? And so we broke out the nice brushes we'd picked up the night before, our liquid latex old age stipple, and my face. Sean started dabbing the stuff on, and my eyes almost immediately started watering. It smelled like he'd brought back a fish from a vat of chemical waste and just started rubbing it ALL up on my face. He was using a brush to apply it, but pretty quickly it started to ball up in the bristles and ruin the brush. Supposed to use a sponge, I guess.

Maybe he's born with it...
Having none on hand, we moved ahead with a wadded up paper towel instead. At my insistence, Sean stayed well away from any areas with hair, and I had shaved and washed my face before we began. I had to contort my face in weird ways to try and pull the skin tight while the material dried.

Vaudeville is NOT dead.
We ended up putting on a couple of layers, and that's when the wrinkles really started to show. It worked best around my mouth and chin, because those were the areas I have the most control over, and could really pull my skin around while the stuff set up.

Steven Tyler doesn't seem to care for his new haircut...
It also helps if you use your face and work with the stuff a little once it's been applied.

nonaC, the camcorder of choice for L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...
Our testing successfully completed, it was then time to remove the gunk, because I don't want to spend the next week looking like somebody who aged REALLY strangely. The tutorial had mentioned a remover, which we'd neglected to buy, but also said that the stuff should be able to peel right off. And it did.

"I TOLD you you shouldn't pick at that, man."
It felt weird as hell coming off, and it did hurt a little on the neck, where there were more little hairs. Also, Sean's a terrible make-up artist and got near my hair anyway, so there was some surprise pain in store when I peeled my forehead, as well.

It's really surreal to have David Cronenberg direct a scene in your life...
After all the stuff was removed, though, I felt delightfully smooth and exfoliated. And as you can see here, we ended up with what looks like a little ball of dead skin and hair. But it's not. Well, except for the hair. The hair is real. But the rest is just latex. It feels like picking up a popped balloon.

Some of the newer Pokemon just feel lazy...
Mild pain and grotesqueness aside, it was a successful test. Sean learned about what works and what doesn't when applying this junk, and we did a little more research to figure out some additional materials we'll require. Once those arrive we're going to give it another test run on me before we shoot with Stacey on the 22nd.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raw Frame of the Day

Bryan requested a shot of Dorothy removing Scarecrow from his pole, so here's a shot of Dorothy removing Scarecrow from his pole.

Requests. Make them in the comments below or on the Facebook. I will fulfill them, if I can.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raw Frame(s) of the Day

To make up for the spotty updates, and for not having exactly what has been requested, I'm doing to raw frames today. First, Jared and others on the Facebook have requested the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. Our plans for the Wicked Witch of the East are slightly (don't panic, book lovers) more involved than just a pair of feet under a house, and as such, we've not yet shot that. So instead, here's an image of the shoes being presented to Dorothy shortly after they've been removed from the Witch's feet.

For our second image, Sam requested Dorothy on her bed in the Kansas farmhouse. So here she is, in the middle of being rudely awakened by the crashing of her house.

Raw frames can be requested in the comments below or on our Facebook. We'll fulfill them as best as we're able.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Banner (Elk) Weekend or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Writing Lengthy Entries Nobody Cares About

The Facebook promised that raw frames of the day would resume today, but the Facebook is a filthy liar. Take a bath and be more honest, our Facebook. I figured that while it's not 100% movie-related, I'd be remiss to not do an entry about our journey into the weird, wild land of Banner Elk.

I'll start up front by saying that sadly Marie Rizza couldn't be there with us. She'd been committed to go for a while, and I know she was looking forward to it, but a string of mishaply mishaps led to her having to stay behind, much to our dismay. That left just poster artist and occasional grip/behind the scenes documentarian Jeremy Bertz, writer Sean Gates, and myself.

The plan was to leave around seven in the morning on Saturday. The drive was supposed to take about eight hours, and we needed to be there by four to check into our hotel. We invited Jeremy to come over and spend the night at Sean's, in the interest of saving precious morning-departure time. A Batman Begins/The Dark Knight marathon later, and we were all just aimlessly wandering around the house, or packing our bags. It was about 5:30 in the morning, and we were all just sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for 7:00 to hit.

Then we realized how moronic that was and decided to just leave now and get there early. We were on the road at about quarter to six. Jeremy was the designated driver, since he seems to quite enjoy driving long distances. Sean and I had offered to share the load, but Jeremy didn't seem interested in the idea. So we took advantage of our "not operating the motor vehicle" status and napped in the car at various intervals.

Along the way we hit some mountainy mountains and foggy fog, but we got there without incident, in one piece. Well... in three pieces... Because there were three of us. We didn't like, get mashed together into one organism or anything. That WOULD have been an incident...

It was like Extreme Ghostbusters up in this highway! You're welcome, children of the nineties and nobody else.
So yeah, we arrived in the same number of pieces we'd left in. And found ourselves in the perfect location for the zombie apocalypse to break out. Tiny little town, on a mountain, with no cell service, regardless of the carrier. Luckily for us, the rage virus remained dormant for the weekend.

Since we arrived at about 1:30, and our presentation wasn't until 7:30, we had a little bit of time to poke around the town, and more interestingly, check out the now-defunct Land of Oz theme park, which these days only opens on rare occasions.

You have to drive further up the mountain to get to it, and up some winding one lane roads. We got lost and had to turn back more than once. Once we made it, though, it was... um... weird.

Imagine this being the first thing you see when you get out of your car at the top of a mountain...
The entrance area is all pretty underwhelming, with a beat-up, unmarked path leading you to a little fountain and... Uncle Henry's mountain-top gazebo... Because we all remember that from the books, right? It had a stunning view, though...

Kansas, world-renowned for its mountain ranges...
So we were all being cool and ironic and whatever, making fun of the park and stuff. But then you get to the Kansas farmhouse, and it actually starts to be pretty cool. It was that area that had my personal favorite part of the park, a very impressive Dorothy...

In her adult years, Dorothy was a strange lady. She stopped buying dresses at age ten and had Toto taxidermied...
She instructs you to go into the farm house and look for Aunt Em, but to make your way to the cellar if you hear a storm brewing. Subtle, Go-Go Dorothy, very subtle. So you go through the little house, and you DO hear a storm brewing. Which means it's time to make for the cellar.

The lamp may be a little anachronistic, but they had a microwave in the kitchen... No joke.
I'm not entirely sure HOW they managed to slip me that LSD before I went into the cellar, but man... Most psychedelic tornado in the history of everything.

If tornadoes DID look like this, the Weather Channel wouldn't have such low ratings. Especially on Friday nights...
Once your acid trip is over, you find yourself in a very cool, very slanted and run-down version of the Farmhouse.

They'll probably go with a different interior designer next time...
Upon exiting, you see the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East.

It's always the same old story, you kick back, relax, put your feet up on a rock, and a large house lands on you.
And then you're all up in the Land of Oz and whatnot.

See? I know because the SIGN told me.

You make your way along the Yellow-brick road, and encounter the various characters from the story.

Looks like there's gonna be a RUMBLE! Be cool, boy...
The highlight for me was Jeremy skipping down the yellow-brick road and being genuinely startled by the sudden appearance of the Cowardly Lion.

You can't plan stuff like this... THANK YOU, sleep deprivation.
We then paid a visit to the Cuddly Witch of the West, and after that it was all sort of downhill. They hadn't set up any of the Emerald City stuff, so the last sight was sadly the Wizard's ramshackle hot-air balloon.

It was so boring, it put Jeremy to sleep...
Overall, though, a fairly cool experience, and one I got plenty of video of. We wound our way down the mountain a bit and returned to our hotel, where we gathered up the materials for our presentation. One nerve-wracking drive down an extraordinarily winding road later, we managed to find the Buckeye Recreation Center, where the evening's festivities would take place. Sadly either my hands were full or I was presenting, so I don't have any pictures or videos of the aforementioned festivities.

When we showed up, a little Oz fashion show was just beginning, with people showing off their various Oz costumes or articles of clothing. After the strutting and sashaying had reached its conclusion, everybody piled into the... um... main room thing... Where stuff was going to happen, starting with dinner.

Sean, Jeremy and I wandered around the room trying to find a table with three consecutive seats, to no avail. And by the time we were done searching, we had trouble finding even single chairs we could split up into. Luckily the lovely Jane Albright, convention-organizer extraordinaire, was on hand to arrange seating for us. Apparently they'd had some last-minute attendees, and had found themselves a little short of seating.

The three of us were split up and moved to three different tables, scattered all the way across the room. In the back-woods on a mountain, no cell-service, and split-up... I TOLD you it was like a damned horror movie... But instead of rabid zombies who desired to feast on the flesh of the living, we found ourselves surrounded by rabid Oz fans who desired to feast on the catered Italian food and have pleasant conversations. Seriously, it's like they had forbidden mean people from attending.

We were second to present after dinner, and I think it went fairly well. We started with Sean giving a little introduction while I hooked my laptop into the projector and speakers. It was a longer introduction than he'd planned for, though, since Jane and I couldn't seem to locate the jack for the speakers.

Once we were all set up, I began by showing the crowd the concept scene in its current state and walking them through a little bit of the visual effects process. They all laughed at the appropriate parts of the scene and at least remained quiet while I bored them with CGI wireframes and rough composite shots. Then we showed them a sort-of-completed excerpt from the scene in which Dorothy first encounters the Wicked Witch of the West.

Little harder to gauge the reaction there, since there were no jokes to laugh at or anything, but it seemed like they enjoyed what they saw. I did hear a few people express excitement at the fact that our Witch had an umbrella... So our kind of crowd, I guess.

After that, we had a little Q&A session, and everybody was very complimentary and asked good questions that a better man than myself could have provided interesting answers to. Sadly they were stuck with me, but I tried my damnedest. After our presentation there was a break in the programming, and people came up and told us how much they enjoyed what we'd done, and how much they were looking forward to seeing our film. Like I said, jerks were apparently banned from attending.

And so the trip to Banner Elk was quite a positive experience overall. We met some very nice people, although it's hard to socialize when you're all in a room with the express purpose of watching presenters present presentations. Plus we had to sneak out early on Sunday in order to get Sean and Jeremy home in time to get some sleep, as at least Sean had to work the next day, and poor Jeremy hadn't had much sleep at all the past couple of days. Can't nap in the car when you're the driver.

I feel like I should end this with a clever line of some sort, but I'm fresh out.