Monday, July 12, 2010

Snoopy Studios

I was working for the Universal Studios, Japan project on a live show called Animal Actors, when I was asked to take on another attraction as well. Snoopy Studios (called Peanuts Studios in early concept) was to be an area geared primarily to children. The area would function similarly to Fievel’s Playland at Universal Studios Florida.

When I first started on the project a preliminary concept plan had already been generated and it was my task to make this concept work. When Japanese investor’s first reviewed the concept they were less than enthusiastic. Their biggest concern was that the area was located entirely outdoors. The weather in Osaka, Japan is very hot and humid in the summer, and sometimes snowing in the winter.

The critique offered me a chance to address their concerns along with a few of my own. First, I wanted to ensure that the area would be more kid-friendly. But also, I was having great difficulty with the Snoopy theme in an outdoor environment.

I created a new plan for the area and I was able to get approval from management, but they remained wary of the investors and wanted to ensure that the ideas were fully understood. I was given six-weeks to turn a single two-dimensional plan into a very small scale show model.

I tried to explain to management just how big this challenge was, but in the end I decided that it would actually be a very fun opportunity. We contracted with Rijn & Reisman, a model shop that I had a very good working relationship with. I had to, single-handedly, draw every building and set element in the land. The detail necessary for a model was nearly as much as for building a final project.

The model shop couldn’t wait until I was done drawing and meet the deadline too. They had to start building while I was still drawing. When I brought them the first drawing I got my first surprise. They asked me what color the floor was. I wasn’t sure what was going to sit on the floor and they wanted to know what color it was!

The model had to be drawn, painted and built all at the same time. But six-weeks later it was ready to go and on a plane to Osaka. This jewel of a sales tool worked perfectly and the final project closely resembles its earliest concept.

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