Skip to content

Leo’s Kingdom 5 First Time On Site

Off for our first site visit…

Donning hard hats we pile into trucks to be driven across the street to the site. James our Themepark Operations manager accompanies us decked out in some kind of webbing vest thing, adorned with many pockets and a military grade laser pointer. We later find out these are a favorite of Chairman Li,  often we can figure out where he is by the little green dots flying around.

Doggie

Doggie

Immediately onsite I am reminded of how differently things are done here then in the states. Everywhere you look materials and tools are piled and or dumped. The ground is a literal mine field of wood, steel and concrete pieces. Jagged edges, holes in the floor and exposed piping make this a place you best watch your footing else an unscheduled trip to the hospital… Its a massive concrete structure soaring off in all directions with cranes and work vehicles buzzing around. The workers are a miss mash of types many wearing military style garb and others in suits. I always get a kick out of a guy in a suit laying bricks.

For now it is almost impossible for me to reconcile this site with the plans we were shown just a half hour ago, about the only thing that makes perfect sense is the the two central dome areas which are even now in the process of being covered with their steel and glass roofs…

Domes In Process

Domes In Process

Top Side3

Top Side3

Doug On deck

Doug On deck

Doug in the Lake

Doug in the Lake

Primo On Deck

Primo On Deck

Our first stop is on the ground level of the structure where there will eventually be a giant lake as illustrated here in the model…

Thas A Big Model 6

Thas A Big Model 6

We are told its depth will  be between 14 cm and 3 M.

Seems to me that would be something we should already know for certain as whatever water is placed here will be on the roof of our theme park. I am sure the ” architect ” has already considered this…

Top Side1

Top Side1

Top Side2

Top Side2

From up here you can actually see just how far down the structure has been dug out. Ground level of our park will actually be around 5 stories below this point sure hope they thought of drainage.

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Gurlz Work Too

Gurlz Work Too

For the first part of our walkthrough we are treated to a constant barrage of loud proclamations from James, translated of course. He is very proud of what he keeps referring to as the Esskelletons we later realize he means escalators. Apparently there will be a lot of them and James wants us to know where each one is… My impression so far is this may be the only thing he knows…

After about 20 mins of this we are treated to what will later be known as a ” WTF ™ ” moment when Doug politely but firmly ask Sarah to tell James he doesn’t care where the F*%(*&ing Eskelletons are, can we please see the Themepark! I know for a fact now we are going to have fun here!

We head down into the structure. As you can see from the pics this place is only partially complete, a lot of work to be done…

Debris For All

Debris For All

Obviously no real lighting as yet so it feels quite cave like. From the temporary structures we see, I assume whole groups of workers must be living down here while the build…

Dark Down Here

Dark Down Here

We enter through the 5M area walking towards the central space where the Theme Park will live. I am glad to know we will not be doing much with this area as its pretty claustrophobic. At 5M height it is much better suited to a retail environment then a Theme Park.

Nice Perspective

Nice Perspective

Coming out from the 5M space the scale of things starts to become more apparent.

Dark Down Here

Dark Down Here

Dark Down Here

Dark Down Here

There is no floor as yet, and as you can see the ceiling is a bare concrete structure as well, going to be challenge to make that work.

Watch Your Step

Watch Your Step

As you can see the space is truly massive, but even as large as it is, all these columns are going to be an issue.

Under the Domes4

Under the Domes4

We dub this view Main Street as it seems to be a natural flow point. Later we will realize its not going to be that simple. This structure is odd, there are almost no natural design flow / force lines. Major structures don’t line up and even things like the domes are not equidistant or symetrical. Would really like to talk to that Architect.

Main Street

Main Street

Watch Your Step2

Watch Your Step2

This picture is funny to me as it turns out the Asian man, smiling in the white shirt there ” cannot remember his name ” is the only one on Lian Bang’s team that actually had experience in the Theme Park industry. He will of course disappear shortly after this site visit, I believe he made the mistake of telling the Chairman he couldn’t do something…

from left to right, Doug, Chris, Danilo, Brian, ?, and James. I of course am behind the camera.

Where are we again?

Where are we again?

There really is a lot of debris down here.

Watch Your Step4

Watch Your Step4

from below you can see how complex these roof structures are, periodically the workers above will demonstrate why we wear hard hats by dropping things…

Roof Structure

Roof Structure

Seems Complicated

Seems Complicated

More views from below the Domes, these areas will be the most important in my mind as only here will we be able to build anything with significant height.

Under the Domes1

Under the Domes1

Under the Domes2

Under the Domes2

Under the Domes3

Under the Domes3

The site tour winds down as we begin to fall out from Jet Lag. Its off to our hotel to drop off luggage and move on to the next event of this first day in Shijiazhuang, the infamous ” Client Dinner “.

More to follow…

Leo’s Kingdom 4 An Introduction to the Scene…

I realize in looking at my earlier post about the project in Shijiazhuang, its obvious I am not really sure how to organize this. No mystery as to why, these event occurred over a period of 2 years and to say that a lot went on is a gross understatement. I will do my best to help it make sense, I can’t put exact dates as honestly I would be lying to claim I knew them :P,  just not how my mind works… My aim is to tell this story as best I can. Who knows maybe some of the others will chime in and help as I am sure to miss things along the way.

I am thinking to add a cast of characters at the end of each post to help keep it organized, feel free to check it out if you like..

Back To It…

Train Station

Train Station

Upon arrival in Shijiazhuang we are met at the train station by 2 member’s of Jake’s staff, Brian Ong and Cathrene. Both are Korean but have some english. Brian is the Korean team’s manager and lead designer, Cathrene is their translator for Chinese and English as she is actually ethnic Korean from the north-east area of China. They both seem very nice and help us get our luggage into taxis.

The first impression you get of Shijiazhuang is that its loud, densely populated and extremely dusty. We arrived in June so the air quality was actually quite good for this city, actual blue skies and clouds. Shijiazhuang is a second tier city, this has many meanings but one of the more noticeable to foreigners is that we are truly alien here. It’s very common in China to be stared at by the locals but outside the big cities its much more pronounced. It’s quite possible for a person to be looking at you with wide eyes and mouth slightly ajar because they have in fact never seen  ” anyone ” like you in person in their lives. I have yet to spend much time in the rural areas of China where I assume the ” Polar Bear effect ” will be even more pronounced…

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Like many places in China almost everywhere you look there are buildings either being put up or torn down. Even the roads are under heavy construction as they are in the process of installing a Metro system. The drivers and pedestrians here are some of the craziest I have yet to experience in China. I have it on authority that it’s nothing compared to India but I have yet to go there… The taxi is an old VW ” Bora , Magotan, Sagitar  also known as a Jetta… ” and quite dirty. Unlike in the first tier cities the driver is separated from the passengers by a full bar cage assembly, I assume to keep us from throttling him…

For the car people out there here is very interesting read on the way  VW names its cars in China.

The driver is quite aggressive and drives with fast seemingly random lane changes and  liberal use of the horn, rules of the road and traffic signals are obviously more a suggestion than anything else. There are people everywhere, walking running, riding bikes, electric scooters and “Moa Di” 3 wheeled carts, many of which seem to be carrying the type of load we at home would put in a Uhaul truck. Busses and larger trucks drive with jungle rules, meaning they go where they want, when they want and you had best get out of the way. The overall effect is an amazing assault on the senses, unfortunately its something you have to experience to really understand, the pictures never quite get it. Amazing to think that I used to consider Shenzhen drivers bad, I suppose everything is relative.

Shortly we come upon a large 4 lane roundabout. It’s under a freeway which is notable as here the traffic intensifies even more despite the efforts of several cute female traffic cops standing on small pedestals in the road. Having already spent years in China and traveled around a bit  I actually kind of enjoy this type of thing. I am a bit crazy after all. Doug is less appreciative and I can hear him mumbling instructions to the driver or possibly prayers for deliverence…

On the other side of the freeway up ahead lies our destination at the end of the road. Lian Bang’s project is massive even for China, there are the standard giant residential towers stretching far into the air, large tower buildings in various stages of construction and a huge half built  “coliseum ” looking thing in front. Later we will find that this is where our Theme park will live. The whole place is covered in dust, workers and vehicles going every conceivable direction. We pull into a gated parking lot across from the Coliseum and are greeted by young men in what appear to be army uniforms. They wave us through when they see it’s the Koreans.

We are met at the door by some Lian Bang employee’s, I can’t actually remember who all it was now other than Sarah Shang who will be serving as translator and special assistant to Chairman Li the owner of Lian Bang and our client. Sarah strikes me as interesting right away as she has excellent english skills and a charming English accent to go with it. As we enter the building one of the first things you see is a giant cylindrical fish tank which occupies the center of the huge reception area.

Small Fish Big Tank

Small Fish Big Tank

It has a lot of colorful fish and what appears to be real coral growing inside it. In the picture you can just see the fish tank cleaning guy, he was there every day taking care of Chairman Li’s Fish. There are dozens of young men and women running around wearing what seems to be the uniform for their profession here in China, Black dress pants and white  button down shirts. Up ahead is a giant scale model lit up like a christmas tree ” also a standard for the real estate game in China ” and a giant LED screen up above.  I will let the pics tell this part.

Big Model

Big Model

Thas A Big Model 1

Thas A Big Model 1

Thas A Big Model 2

Thas A Big Model 2

Thas A Big Model 3

Thas A Big Model 3

Thas A Big Model 4

Thas A Big Model 4

Thas A Big Model 5

Thas A Big Model 5

Thas A Big Model 6

Thas A Big Model 6

This model reminds me of my very first freelance job while still in school. I and 4 other guys built a scale model of Manhattan Island for the observation deck of the World Trade Center, Twin Towers in New York. I never got to see it in place and it obviously no longer exist…

Godzilla Me

Godzilla Me

These pics are probably all thats left of that piece…

All Thats Left...

All Thats Left…

Upstairs we are brought to an office to wait for the remaining member of our little team. Danilo is coming in from his project in Changsha by train to help us get a kick start. It turns out that we are actually already behind schedule as the client wants to see our first pass in two weeks. I am glad to hear that El Primo is coming as I know together we can accomplish something good. As for the rest of the group here not so sure, there are 4 or 5 Koreans here, only one of which; Brian, is a designer. 2 girls Cathrene being the only one I can remember at this time and an older man introduced as Dr Park. They have been on site for 3 months now and from what I can see there has been very little done…  I suppose this kind of thing really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but I am always amazed at how little seems to be accomplished by employees versus consultants. Maybe that is a topic for another time…

Once Danilo arrives we are met by another Lian Bang employee, James. He is in the position of Themepark Operations ” or so we are told ” and will take us on a tour of the site after a brief discussion of the project needs and a quick look at that big ass model in the lobby. James is actually Korean and speaks almost no English so Sarah translates for him as he discusses the current scope and their progress. The site is 245,000 square meters, all indoor with the ground level actually dug down about a story. The central area is enclosed  in a roof which rest at 17 meters, with 2 huge domes which have a maximum height of 25 meters. These domes will be the only source of sunlight for our park. All around this 17 meter area is a huge swath of area which only  has 5 meters of clearance. This area will hold a Venetian style canal that circles around the site and  be made up of shops, restaurants and other assorted venues. Our focus for now is the central 17 M Zone and the 5 M area up to the canal. We are told by Jake and Chris that this is a sticking point with the client as there is some disagreement as to who is responsible for what…

Master Plan

Master Plan

We are all shown a pretty typical video presentation extolling the wonders of the project. In true Chinese fashion is it full of ripped off design content from just about every major western studio and lots of smiling Chinese shoppers and children doing ” Stuff “. Interestingly there also seems to be a lot of images of some other attempts at designing this space. It turns out that we are the 3rd group brought in to design the Park, following The Goddard Group and some Canadian company I cannot recall the name of. In truth I am getting a bit nervous as I can see that not only is the scope of this thing about twice what was described but our team is really too small for the task.

Park overview is pretty impressive, as I told you before the size is gigantic. This will be the largest indoor Themed Entertainment venue in the world. with over 300 shops and restaurants in the surrounding buildings and what is proudly proclaimed as the largest parking garage in China. As per the current design the idea of the park is to be split into 2 separate experiences a Water Park and a Theme Park. This seems a good idea as DPI ” our employers ” are specialist in Water Parks, something Doug, Danilo and I have no experience with at all. After the question and answer period which held such highlights as…

Q. Can we see the Feasibility Study?

A. Whats a Feasibility Study?

Q. Can we see the as built CAD drawings or 3D model of the construction?

A. No because they don’t exist…

With all those questions resolved its time to go check out the model and then off to the site. Not much to be said about this except its big and illustrates another interesting challenge to our project. The entire roof of the building will be comprised of a lake. What could possibly go wrong…

To be continued…

 

The Fun Begins – Leo’s Kingdom 3

After 20+ hours of travel fun I arrive in China. The flight to Beijing is actually much shorter than my flights to Hong Kong at only 12 hours. Because in the US, I don’t live near a major hub I actually spend almost as much time flying in the States as to China.

Couds

Clouds

Everybody has their own way to cope with these flights. My only advice would be to bring good reading material, “I keep mine in a Samsung tablet”, some good music and pain killers…

Over Siberia

Over Siberia

Once on the ground I start looking around for my new co-worker, Douglas K May. We have never met but I do have his number and eventually I notice a tall distinguished gent looking around as well.

Right off I know we will get along. We talk about the flight and spend some time good-naturedly complaining about the state of the world and airport security. Its getting late but the airport is still crowded. After getting through customs and grabbing out luggage its off to the taxi area as we must now make our way to Beijing Xie ” west ” train station where we are to meet up with Jake Park our new employer…

Upon exiting the station we are greeted by a really long line at the taxi station, this is not good since time is already tight. Immediately we are approached by a Black Car driver or as called in Taiwan a” Wild Chicken”. This is an unregistered taxi, they are everywhere in China and sometimes may be your only real choice for a ride.

Just Kidding

Just Kidding

Generally speaking it’s not advisable, there is the real danger of being stolen from abandoned somewhere or even hurt.  Almost always you will pay more than a real cab will charge unless you have a native along to barter. I know better, but its late and we have to get to the train and there isn’t much chance of somebody trying to get fresh with me and Doug.

The guy has a van it’s actually pretty nice inside and except for this driver being the only one in Beijing that believes in the speed limit, we are on our way. The trouble is you have no recourse with these unregistered guys, when we arrive at the train we are about 30 min late, and the guy wants 600 RMB, that’s about 5 times what it should cost but truth is we don’t have time to f$%k around so we pay the thief and we have arrived.

We find Jake near the entrance to the train station with him is another westerner,  Chris Stuart, Vice President of DPI. Chris and Jake are both friendly if a bit harried as we really are late now and must attempt to get the last train tonight or its a stay in Beijing for the night. We rush inside and make our way towards window 16 which sports the most appreciated ” English Speaking ” sign above it. This is my first trip to the Beijing train station and its massive,  crowded even at 10pm. Chris pushes his way to the window while we watch our bags, it seems there may be an issue as it appears the ticket lady is yelling ” LISTEN TO ME!!! “. A smiling Chris later explains she was refusing to sell us tickets for the last train as in her opinion we could not have made it to the train in the 20 min we had till departure.

Looks like we are here for the night so we decide to get a room at the nearest hotel and grab a bite for dinner. Jake get’ s us checked in at a hotel right next door. By this time I am seriously fading so my recollection of the rest of the night is pretty much a blur. I know we ate, I don’t know what it was, I know I slept but I don’t remember even going back to the room. Jet lag is funny, I have had it most times I come here in various amounts but this trip was special. The feeling is really disconcerting as you simply begin to crash and there is no way ” without chemicals ” to stop it, one min you are up then next you are down…

Morning rolls around and we make our way to the station to try again. Luckily the high speed rail is very efficient here and a train heads for our destination on the hour.

Beijing Xie1

Beijing Xie1

Beijing Xie2

Beijing Xie2

High Speed Train

High Speed Train

We purchase business class tickets, definitely worth the money, especially if you are carrying any luggage and the price is still reasonable. I believe our tickets are around $60 USD and as you can see from the pics the accommodation is very nice.

Getting Acquainted

Getting Acquainted

Nice Seating

Nice Seating

Cool Pod Seats

Cool Pod Seats

300 KPH smooth as glass

300 KPH smooth as glass

Por moi?

Por moi?

So far I am feeling pretty good about this gig, Doug who will be heading the team as Creative Director is really cool, I realize while sitting in the train next to him that with my eyes closed he sounds just like the guy who appears in all the Mens Warehouse commercials back in the States.

Not Doug

Not Doug

It turns out he actually was an actor for television and even did some modeling in his early days.

I Guarantee It!

I Guarantee It!

Jake is nice his english is good if a bit hesitant, I can see why Danilo likes him and he is right around my age I figure we will get along just fine.

Chris is fun, within 20 min of meeting him I know quite a bit about him and can tell he is a genuinely fine human being, he is around Doug’s age but seems much older, maybe it’s the 8 children and 30 something grand kids :). Interestingly Chris speaks fluent Korean which would make sense as DPI is a Korean company.

Next stop Shijiazhuang…

 

Quick before I forget again

Just this morning had a technical issue with my 20 WSX  Wacom Cintiq tablet  ” again ” and realized ” again ” maybe I should just write this down so the next time I might remember how to fix it instead of every time having to search the forums… Probably much better for my spirit as well since will mean less cursing and hand waving.

This will be short and maybe even helpful to someone, as there is nothing more frustrating then a sophisticated ” read expensive ” piece of tech that mysteriously no longer will do its job!

For those who are not aware Wacom makes the best graphics tablets for use by digital artist. They are indispensable tools for anyone wanting to create art on a computer. The flagship of their long line of products is the Cintiq which is essentially a monitor that you can draw directly on, using a highly sensitive ” pen ” stylus. Expensive but well worth the money… This is what I am talking about, although this one is brand new and way nicer then mine.

Maybe someday can get the new one...

Maybe someday can get the new one…

Looks like they finally decided to upgrade the monitor to HD… Interestingly enough thats right around the price I paid for mine 6 or 7 years ago…

Mine is not quite as sexy but still gets the job done. Having brought it over here to China for work this time maybe when I return to states can justify the new one 🙂

The Beast

The Beast

So Wacoms are cool, and Cintiqs are the coolest kids on the block. That being said I have had much experience over the years with them when, ” for no earthly understandable reason” simply stop working. Both my 20WSX and my smaller 13HD will do this. My favorite issue is when the stylus does not register on the tablet but rather on some other monitor in a completely random fashion making it completely useless. The Cintiq has a calibration utility that allows you to make sure that your stylus will be accurate when you draw.

calibrate it

calibrate it

When you open it the screen goes black and you get a series of cross hair points to touch in sequence. This is supposed to calibrate the pen. All fine and great  when it works…

Crosshairs

Crosshairs

Many times, ” usually at the 11th hour on a deadline ” it decides to not work. You may get the crosshairs on another monitor, the pen may not register at all or I have even had it tell me that no such device exist. This of course is after I just finished using it and I am holding the pen which doesn’t exist… Its technology so who knows what causes it, I am actually pretty careful with my equipment but maybe my ” energy / Chi / Fung Shuei is off ” whatever the cause its frustrating and makes me feel like finding out just how far I could throw this expensive non existing thing. My guess about 15 to 20 feet its quite heavy 🙂

It happens on Macs and PCs, it happens on all of my computers so I know this is not a hallucination or something specific to my computer its a problem with Wacom. Sometimes when you produce great products the tendency is to get lazy, Adobe, Apple, Wacom are all guilty of this…

Enough talk here is the best solution I have found.

Lets assume you are not an idiot and the cables are still attached. Go to your application folder and find the wacom folder open it.

findit

Find the Wacom tablet utility open it.

findit2

You will see a window that looks like this.

Removeit

You want to choose all users and hit remove. Go back and calibrate again…

Easy as pie when you can remember to do this. Nothing else works for me. Even uninstalling the drivers and reinstalling them doesn’t work if you don’t first force it to remove its current user data. I have no idea why, I don’t even really care… You can also remove the software from here but so far this has fixed my problem every time. This is of course how you would do this on a mac, There are other issues dealing with PC usage but I no longer use them so… If you need that info or just want to know more here is a link to the place I found the solution, ” this time “. Surprisingly its actually on a Wacom site in the past I always found it in some obscure place maybe wacom is finally trying to address the issue…

Hope someone finds this useful, I know I will again, as surely the problem will return.

Thanks…

 

Fireworks Tonight

Chinese New Year has many very interesting things about it. Its based on a totally different time keeping system then the current Western calendar, truth is its based on the original calendar one all out ancestors would recognize, the movement of the night sky specifically the moon. It’s considered the largest human migration, every year on the mainland millions of Chinese stop whatever work they are doing and travel as far or as long as it takes to return home and celebrate another turn of the cycle with their relatives. Around the world any place with a substantial Chinese population, ” thats pretty much the whole planet ” there are similar festivities. One of the main recognizable traditions is that of fireworks. Everybody know the Chinese invented gun powder and have been using it for fireworks since ancient times.

Fire Crackers

Fire Crackers

This year in Taiwan I found out something new ” to me ” and very interesting. I had always assumed that the fireworks which go off in Taiwan right around midnight on New Years Eve are in celebration  much like our 4th of July in the states. Turns out theres more to this…

Bottle Rocket Chinese Style

Bottle Rocket Chinese Style

The old stories say that the ” New Year ” is actually a terrible ” Monster, Demon , Dragon ” that comes down from the mountains in search of its favorite food at the beginning of every New Year, or as its also know “Spring Festival”. That food of course being unwary Chinese especially children. The early people would then come together to help protect each other during this dangerous time, making lots of noise, wearing the color red and lighting fires to keep the dragon ” Nian ” at bay. Maybe this is why everyone must return home to family… Safety in numbers.

Nian

Nian

Once the discovered gunpowder it makes sense it would be utilized for such an important function…

A few nights ago we were treated to this bit of fun. While most people fire off the fireworks right at the New Year you will actually hear it for many days afterwards as well. I have been told people do it at times that are auspicious either for their family or their business, much like in Taiwan the burning of Ghost Money or the offerings you see on alters in front of office buildings. Officially there is no religion in mainland China  but even here you can still see strong hints of their cultures spiritual history.

Hope you enjoyed…

 

Saga of “Leo’s Kingdom” – Packing for China, The Journey Begins

I hope this doesn’t bore too much but I like it when I get actual info I can use from an online source, and my particular experience might come in handy for someone so…

I will be going not just to explore China but also to work and will not be with Fanny in our apartment in Shenzhen. I need to bring whatever tools and equipment needed, with me as I know from experience, finding things in China is not always easy. Pretty funny when you consider that almost everything we buy is made there but its the truth nonetheless…

I know from Danilo and Jake that the client would like me to work by hand for at least a portion of this project, ” This is being requested more often recently, maybe the pendulum is swinging back…” That means I will need those tools as well as my regular digital gear.  I pack 2 big cases one for clothes and personal and one full of art supplies and computer gear. This is ok since on international flights you have a larger weight limit but it will be a pain for maneuvering. In addition to the carry ons I have a great rolling computer bag and good backpack. I always carry my most valuable stuff in these as at least if something happens to them I will know what and why… There are specific things you never place in checked baggage, Money ” obviously ” important documents and for me  my laptop and hard drives.

I will be adding my new traveling cintiq to the mix since it is much smaller and lighter than my old full size one.

This is what we imagine it will be

12 WX

12 WX

This is the reality when it comes time to pack…

Cables Galore

Cables Galore

 

I am also taking my new macpro laptop and my basic analog drawing tools.  Basic set for me is 2 boxes each Prismacolor and Verithin colored pencils in Indigo Blue, Sharpie markers in black thick and extra thin tips, electric pencil sharpener and kneaded and electric draftsman’s eraser and assorted sweeps and curves. I even bring 2 pads of 18 X 24 Vincent Vellum to work on. For those who know this is the ” Good Stuff “they don’t even make it anymore but thanks to my days of doing it all by hand I still have a stash…

Tolls of the Trade

Tolls of the Trade

All This adds considerable weight to my packing but I am going for work and this first contract is for 3 months so its well worth the trouble…

A general note for artist going to  work in China whatever electronic gear you have except for computers and their peripherals will not work in China. Well technically they will work one time and then possibly blow up, so its worth your time to invest in a power converter before hand. The chinese use a different voltage (220V) I forgot one time and fried my brand new super fancy alarm clock so… While the computers will operate I would suggest the converter for them as well just to be safe but they do seem to handle it without much issue.

A word on luggage. It’s absolutely essential you bring good luggage, not only to protect your gear but also to make it easy to transport. I brought cheaper luggage the first trip to China one bag per flight as the luggage was unusable after its journey…

If you have never been to mainland China you may not understand this fully; but trust me, you need bags that can roll over rough terrain and cushion your gear. this is just as true in a major city as it is in the countryside.

This is a bit extreme but you get the idea 😛

Rough Road

Rough Road

I have a good Samsonite hard case and a great bag we picked up in Taiwan. Both of these are full size with expansion space and have the 4 caster rollers. This is crucial the bags that only have 2 castors will make your trip that much more difficult. Trust me its going to be challenging no matter what you do so take care of what you can control…

Good Luggage

Good Luggage

Good Luggage2

Good Luggage2

Good Luggage1

Good luggage

As I travel with a good deal of computer gear I know from experience you must prepare it to get past the security types at the airports. I try and package all of my considerable cables and peripherals into neat packages usually inside gallon size ziplock bags.

Have cables will travel...

Have cables will travel…

The security agents will still be very curious but much less likely to take you bag apart and it makes it easier to put back together when they do. If you carry external hard drives put them in your carry on, for some reason the powers that be lose their mind if you pack it in checked luggage. My project manager friend turned me onto a great little product for wrapping cords its worth it…

Bobino

Bobino

Every trip I get a little bit better at the logistics but its a process. My next luggage will probably be even more rugged as even my Taiwan bags are getting worse for wear. maybe something like these.

Future Gear

Future Gear

Thats enough for now more to come…

 

 

 

The Saga of Leo’s Kingdom ” or continuation of what I did last Summer “

This is going to be really difficult as so much happened. Way back in 2014; in fact its the only post of 2014, I spoke of the project I was currently on. Since that time the project has gone through 2 more complete concept designs, the beginnings of Design Development, much internal shuffling including but not limited to a change of ownership after the disappearance of our Chairman and now an indeterminent waiting period to see if it will even continue.

Needless to say I am pretty disappointed at the current status. With much; blood, sweat and tears our tiny little team has designed a really kick ass park. At 245,000 square meters it is one of the largest indoor Themeparks in the world. With 64 Rides and attractions and 4 distinct Lands “Leo’s Kingdom” would / could be a truly world class experience. Maybe not up to Disney or Universal Studio’s level but hey, there were only a hand full of us…

For now I will simply try to put down here the experiences I had, I will not do it justice as this was one of the most intense projects I have ever worked on and there is no way to fully relate it through my words alone. Maybe Doug will write that book he keeps threatening…

 

It all starts back in 2013, around april if  I remember correctly, I was back in the states working from my home studio in Baton Rouge. One of my best friends Danilo Montejo calls me up very excited as he would soon be leaving for China to design a theme park. Danilo and I have been great friends since we met working for BRC in Burbank CA, he is an amazing illustrator and designer and a true friend. You can check out his work here.

http://www.danilostudio.com/index.html

3 or 4 years ago Fanny and I built him this site for his portfolio. I should say fanny built it I just designed it… This used to be a way for us to make extra money. We even considered a service providing custom websites for artist but with the availability of cheap templates no one seems to want it anymore. Was fun however and its nice to see it still working for him.

Danilo2

Danilo2

Danilo3

Danilo3

Danilo4

Danilo4

Danilo is also a graduate of the Art Center for Illustration. His career began in advertising back in the days before digital art was even possible. Thankfully his transition to digital hasn’t removed any of his artistic brilliance.

Primo Danilo

Primo Danilo

 

He wants to touch base and get some info from me as I have been living in China off and on since 2008. I was working on a commercial for Toyota at the time but as my career actually started in Themed Entertainment I am really curious to hear whats up. Doing set design for film and TV is very lucrative but it doesnt often feed the artist inside.

I got him the best info I had and set him up with direct contact for Fanny as she was already back in China and nothing beats a friendly voice while traveling especially for a westerner in China. I of course put it out there that I am interested if they need more people.

A few weeks later Danilo calls again while I am working on another commercial. Why is it that people always call about work while you are working?

He is now in country and really having a blast on his project in Changsha, turns out his client has multiple projects and needs someone else for another one. The client is a south Korean water park company called DPI, Danilo is very positive about it and so I tell him of course I am interested. I won’t be working directly with ” Primo ” but in another city he calls “CheechaChong”. Over the next few days I talk more with him and another american Peter Blouestein who is also working in Changsha.

Eventually I speak to Jake Park the owner of DPI that I now know is Dream Park International. Jake seems a nice enough guy with pretty good english and we begin to rough out the details of what is needed.

Over a few days Jake and I agree to terms, Pay is quite nice with half a months up front before I even leave the States. I strongly suggest anyone thinking to work on a chinese project to insist on getting money up front, its not say you cannot trust the Chinese but things just are a bit crazy over here… This is doubly true when working with new people again just words to the wise.

The timing is a bit last min for me. I like to plan my asian trips well in advance but I agree and await the contract. A few days go by, then a week I begin to wonder if this will be a no go and decide to take some more commercial work. half way through the second week I receive emails from Jake with a contract to be signed and request for info to purchase flights, I had by this time written it off as no joy but I go ahead after another lengthy talk with Danilo and sign the contract.

I will be leaving in 5 days for “Shishchatchewan”. My task is to be senior designer on an indoor theme park / waterpark. There will be a Korean team already in place which I am told has all the information I have been requesting like a project brief etc… I had hoped to have copies of this before I leave in order to wrap my head around the project but this isn’t possible for now.

GOING TO SHIJIAZHUANG

Where is Shijiazhuang

Where is Shijiazhuang

 

WTF is a Shijiazhuang.  OK the Chinese language is extremely challenging for the western mind especially one like me not inclined to language. But this name is special even for China. I turn to Fanny my source for all knowledge of China, first off she knows exactly where I am going and by the way has relatives living there… more on that later…

Shijiazhuang is the capital of Hebei Province, of which Beijing is a part, Yes it gets complicated. Beijing is the capital of the country and the seat of power for the central government but it somehow is not the capital of the province.

Provinces of China

Provinces of China

Hebei map

Hebei map

 

I had this explained to me many times over the last 2 years and I am still unsure what this really means, in my experience of it Beijing pretty much rules the place but whatever makes ya happy…

Here is what Wiki has to say

Shijiazhuang is a modernizing and ever growing city. It experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The population of the metropolitan area has more than quadrupled in only 30 years as a result of fast industrialization and major infrastructural developments.

Here are some pics I found online before going.

Beautiful Shizz2

Beautiful Shizz2

Beautiful Shizz

Beautiful Shizz

street scene 2

street scene 2

street scene

street scene

Mountain Temple

Mountain Temple

Spynx2

Spynx2

Those pics I am sorry to say are a bit misleading. Shijiazhuang suffers from extreme pollution, pretty much the worst in China so it actually looks a lot more like this.

More like it

More like it

Shijiazhuang or the ” Shizz ” as we came to know her is a 2nd tier city rapidly being developed into a 1st tier. This has more to do with population  then anything else as I understand it but it means its going to be an interesting mix of the old and the new. Its also a center for industry which means its environment is under stress. Being second tier doesnt make it small either, the Shizz boast a population of right around 5 million people and growing, so its freakin huge by western standards.

It is also has the honor of being where Mao led the communist during their ” Long march ” of the Chinese Civil War and served as the headquarters of the PLA. It also; from its name, was at some point the ” Stone Family Village ” as thats what the name means in Chinese…

Next post The Journey Begins…

 

%d bloggers like this: