This is our page of Show media, with videos at the top and images lower down. At the bottom of the page is a complete year-by-year show history.
Here we have some videos from our shows over the years - just click a thumbnail to the right to watch one of the vids.
To see the slideshow controls, hover your mouse over the big pic. If you want to restrict the images to a certain show build (years 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11), click one of the buttons beneath the thumbnails.
Here's a list of the shows, and how they went, by year.
Our first show went really well, considering that we were still programming arm motion 2 hours into the run on the first night. Out of a 3 hour show.
The show was pretty evenly divided between child fare and adult fare. The running order was:
2 clips from Harry Potter (the first one)
"I am 16 Going on 17" from The Sound of Music
2 clips from Shrek (the first one)
Pride and Prejudice
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
Apocalypse Now (the "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" scene)
A Bug's Life
"Go Tell it on The Mountain", our big finish.
In 2007 we started the first night an hour late (due to technical difficulties) and the show ran 30 minutes, which was TOO LONG. On the second night we tightened it up by cutting two of the clips. On the plus side, in 2007 the center Skull on the proscenium arch - Peter Graves - talked and sang. In 2006 his lower jaw wasn't completed in time for the show.
The Comedy and Tragedy masks the first year were only painted. In 2007, they were 3-d models that could sing. Two other skulls that sang were named Click and Clack. They were mounted on the Torms, small walls at the front sides of the stage. The 2007 show running order was:
"Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast
Lord of the Rings
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
"Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White
The Empire Strikes Back
Cut from the second night's show were "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from Guys and Dolls and the gravedigger scene from Hamlet. That's showbiz.
This was our first year with an original script, "Pirates Of The Scary Beings", and two big ships in the yard that needed to do a bunch of tricks. That was all hard enough, but then we just got So. Rained. Out. It poured on us (including hail) the last three days before and through Halloween. Hands down our hardest year ever.
The lights and all of the light cabling got soaked and wouldn't work, and that started a snowball of bad. On Halloween day Dave and Ken were hanging new lights, and those would get wet and wouldn't work, and I was trying to set up the skeletons and they would get wet and not work. Or their wiring. Whatever.
The perfect example of this is what Dave ended up having to do for the lights. He'd hung and programmed (I think) about 15 lights for the show. None of them worked. The first night, he ended up using only three lights - that had just been hung - oh, and he wasn't controlling them automatically in any way. When it was time for one to go on, he'd plug the end of a long extension cord for that single light into an electrical outlet. He had three extension cords, and he just plugged and unplugged them the whole night when a different character had to talk. The second night at least he had a small 6-channel light board to use, but I think he was still only using four or five lights for the show.
Suffice it to say, that year's show did not really go as well as we would have wished.
It was the Pirates show again, and it went MUCH better. For one thing, to eliminate one source of problems we built a rain roof over the front light position. I think it helped, although we didn't get as much rain as 2008. Also working better was:
- the Cursed Rage actually collapsed like it was supposed to
- Fricassee actually disappeared like he was supposed to
- Fricassee reappeared in the crow's nest like he was supposed to
- the Cursed Rage's mast was painted
- the Cursed Rage's mast collapsed (like it was supposed to)
- all the pirates moved (well, until partway through the 2nd night when Captain Black developed the DT's and wouldn't do anything except tremble)
- Simon's arm bled when he cut it
- there was a Kraken effect
and really, I could just keep going. It was a much better show, and very well received, and a huge relief after the previous year's fiasco.
The first year of "The Death Of Rock", with BONAPARTE, the skeleton rock band. As usual with a new, original show, we ran late with building. The casualties this time were the in-show videos, the "Beyond The Music" segments. The show was built around the band doing four songs, with a video between each one. The first night only the first video was complete. The second night the first and third were complete, but the second was missing.
We also kept fighting with the guitar animatronics, trying to get the musicians fret hands moving up and down their guitars. Oh, and did I mention Stu? Our drummer had no arms at all, nothing. He bobbed his head real enthusiastically, but with no arms and no legs he wasn't really playing the drums very much.
Despite this, it was a pretty successful year all told. There was a lot of video stuff that worked. First, just the fact that we had a huge (7.5 feet by 10 feet) screen over the stage to show live camera feeds while the band played - that was super cool. We had two camera positions, front of house and overhead, and our camera ops Max, Laurie and Charlie did great and had fun with it. Ken was doing live switching to the big screen that was really slick. All in all, the show worked.
In our second Bonaparte year a lot of things worked better, but for me, it all comes down to three things. First, Stu the drummer had arms, and they worked really, really well. Second, we had all three in-show videos done.
Third, and this had been written into the script from the beginning, Nero flew during the last song. He sang the first verse, and then he lifted off the stage - pulled by two wires - and soared up to about 18 feet off the ground. It was very cool. We stuck D-cell battery packs and radio receiver animation circuitry into the cowboy boots that we'd put on him JUST to carry the batteries. He spent two choruses and a verse flying, and everybody loved it.
Live switching video ran smoother and was super fun again, and we ended the show with something I'd wanted to do, but hadn't figured out how to. I wanted to end with a confetti cannon shooting confetti out over the crowd. But I thought - do I really want to clean up all that paper after the show nights? I was ready to scrap the idea completely when Ken came up with a brilliant, perfect solution.
We gathered up a LOT of dead leaves (thank goodness Halloween's in fall), crumpled them up, and shot them out of the confetti cannon. It looked great, behaved like real confetti, and was zero cleanup. The next day, you really couldn't even tell we'd done it, the leaf pieces just melted into the ground.
Thank god for collaborators.
The first year of "Ulna-13" saw the installation of all new skeletons...Dave calls them the Mark-2's. The coolest thing about them was the new skulls. The old skulls had jaws that worked (of course), and they could nod. The new skulls have those animations, plus the ability to turn left and right, and the ability to tilt side to side. They look great!
Unfortunately, we used new servo control boards in 2012 that we discovered were waaaaaay too susceptible to the elements. If they sniffed just a little bit of corrupted serial data, those boards would shut down until their power was cycled. But even with that, we got the show up, and it was pretty fun.
Perhaps the most fun part of this show, though also the most arduous, was all of the blue screen work. We had three skelenauts that needed to be inserted into footage of a space voyage, so we set up the living room as a blue screen studio. We'd done that before, but not on this scale - and not with us having to wear blue suits! At one point, Ken, Me (Chris) and Maia were all in blue suits at the same time shooting footage...at four in the morning. Boy, what we do for art. (ha ha! art...)
The second year of "Ulna-13" saw, as per usual, the finishing of some things we hadn't had time for in 2012. ALSO, we put in new servo control boards that were WAY more reliable. That was a relief.
We also built new, self-lit suitcases for power and data under the stage. They were a great success, and they're much easier to use. Whereas before we had to have two wires going to each skeleton (a power line and a data line), now we have one custom cord that plugs into the suitcase and plugs into the skeleton - Done. It's elegant, and more robust. Plus it looks cool glowing green under the stage, thanks to el wire.
We had some neighbors (Bounce and Craig) who joined us for the last few days of build - they were great! Plus a coterie of high-schoolers helping out behind the scenes on show nights. Nice.
Lastly, we had some of the fastest skeleton repair work ever. About an hour into the second night, Sam Vomer's jaw servo died. He's our narrator, he has to be able to talk! So in between shows, Jen and I got his skull top off (5 screws), pulled the skull plate out of his head (4 screws), replaced the servo (3 screws) and put it all back together. In about seven minutes. In the dark. I was proud of that.
And now it's a new show "Beyond The Pale", our nod to the Bond movie franchise. It's a big show...we'll see how much of it we get done!