Photo 2: Another aspect was the coloration. Again, at first glance, these textures are simple patterns of basic color palettes. I decided right away that my versions should be hand painted rather than printed and mounted, and this decision would set the tone for what was going to be a week of hell!
Photo 3: Even the simplest characters would require endless amounts of mapping to get the paint just right.
Photo 6: Vu Bui really wanted to make the con an interactive experience for fans, so he devised a photo booth were people could get a shot of themselves inside the game. He wanted a physical build rather than a greenscreen composite. He built this version of the booth IN Minecraft to show me how he wanted it.
Photo 7: Danielle made this foam core model of the booth based on my design for construction. Once again, the block nature of the booth gives the illusion of simplicity, but a lot of engineering needed to go into the building so that it could break down, fit in a truck, get to Vegas, and re-assemble quickly.
Photo 8: In the meantime, animals were being built from 1/2 inch cabinet grade plywood. Here, a few wooden chickens share a pizza.
Photo 12: One of the longest parts of the process was griding out all of the animals. Minecraft seems to have a unit of measurement, but not necessarily a standard increment. We scaled every character out to the best of our ability based on the reference we had, but it seemed like every character had different sized pixels. Here, Jordan Dodge grids out a zombie arm.
Photo 13: I chose to grid each character out using a colored pencil that was just darker than their base color, so it would be acceptable to see the grid even if pixels were not painted. Once that was complete, the individual squares were colored in by hand. Here, Gino paints a creeper face.
Photo 15: Mojang was nice enough to send us the raw texture maps for all of the characters. I was excited, because I thought we could just print them out and use them as guides. But I guess the game needs very little info to wrap the polys, cause the maps we got were like 123k each! The image above is actual size to what we worked off of.
Photo 17: The tamed wolf was the most intricate builds. Here, he is base coated and waiting for the next step.
Photo 18: We mixed hundreds of colors for this job. Some characters only had a few pixels of a color, so we worked in small cups to save paint.
Photo 19: It took FOREVER to paint all of those pixels. As the clock ticked down, I needed to call in reinforcements. In case of emergency, call in a unicorn! Milynn Sarley of Team Unicorn dropped by to paint some creepers.
Photo 20: And Kenny of Knights of the Guild fame stood at this table painting Steve arms from dawn till dusk!
Photo 21: While mad painting was going on outside, I built some inhabitants for the photo booth. The first of which being a cave spider. He is made from a series of sintra boxes, and wrapped in printouts Red 5 created from scratch based on the tiny texture maps.
Photo 22: Amish made the torches. He used them to discover the mooshroom's shrooms. His productivity greatly declined after this discovery!
Photo 23: We were deep into making a million things when Vu sent me an email with this image. He stated that the guys at Mojang had just created this Enderdragon, and no one knew about it yet. He thought it would be great to unveil it at the show with a giant model. You know, if I was interested...
Photo 25: The size of the thing didn't really hit me until I got to the legs, which ended up being taller that I am!
Photo 26: Here, you can see that the beginning stages of the dragon's head are almost as large as my arcade cabinets!
Photo 27: The dragon was made entirely out of sintra boxes. Here, Anthony covers the feet boxes in printed textures Red 5 made to match the dragon's skin.
Photo 28: Finally the time came to pack up for Vegas. Here, our week and a half of work waits in the driveway.
Photo 29: Between the photobooth, the animals, the dragon, and all our equipment, we actually needed 2 trucks for the trip to Vegas. A 16 foot, and a monster 24!
Photo 31: We also realized that there were many things we forgot in the mad rush to get there. Cosplay Queen Ginny McQueen came to the rescue with a late night pizza and Home Depot run! She got us zip ties so we could finished hanging the banner sides of the 20 foot creeper.
Photo 34: Red 5 is watched by a chicken as she cuts out the Enderdragon's wings.
Photo 38: The biggest hurdle for me was the photobooth. I had so much going on with the animals and dragon that I hired a separate team to construct and paint the booth. They got it built pretty quick, but the painters decided to quit before they even started. I hired another team, and they walked out the day before the booth shipped, saying it was "too complicated!" I had no choice but to get the thing in the truck and take it to Vegas unfinished.
Photo 39: My goal was to get everything set up, and then try to re-paint the booth myself on site. of course, it took way longer than expected to get the rest of the stuff in place. I didn't even get to start on the booth until about 4am, and that was after having already been up for 48 hrs. With the show opening in a few hours, I attempted to do a wash over the whole booth to get the color values more like what you see in the game. It was not anything like what I hoped it would be, but fans seemed to enjoy it none the less, and it looked like an organic, "real world" version of the game in the photos.
Photo 40: When the show opened, the guys from Jones Soda gave me an official Minecon bottle of Creme Soda, and it was the greatest thing in the world. It kept me going for the next few hours.
Photo 54: Thousands of seats were set up for the opening ceremony. In the far distance, you can see my grass blocks.
Photo 55: For easy of transportation, assembly, and cost, I made the stage blocks by covering 3x3 feet cardboard boxes in printed graphics. Again, Red 5 made the graphics by painstakingly recreating the tiny texture maps as hi-rez files.
Photo 56: My carpenters actually FORGOT to build the "Activate Minecraft" lever block tower, but thought they did and said it was on the truck, so I had to scramble at 9am Friday to have something workable on stage by 10am for rehearsal. My lead carpenter and good friend Ronnie Wilson bailed me out by helping built this prop from scraps in the truck and some styrofoam. Luckily, Red 5 had pre-printed the brick graphics.
Photo 57: Everyone liked the stage dressing so much they left it up for the rest of the panels, even though it was only meant for the opening ceremony.
Photo 60: My buddies from Jinx had a line that cut across the whole convention. People were going crazy for their Minecraft collection.
Photo 64: I missed the closing ceremonies cause I had to break all our stuff down, but I heard Lydia gave me a huge thank you that got massive applause. The reaction of both the game creators and the fans really made all the work worth while.
Photo 65: Here I am back stage with Lydia. She was so busy during the show that I barely got to see her. She and her team did an amazing job, and I have to thank her and Vu so much for letting me be involved.
Photo 67: Even though I had a VIP bracelet, they wouldn't let me in! I guess the VIP area was over capacity, and no matter who tried to get me in there, the club wouldn't let up. I was mostly bummed because I wanted to give Notch the Activate Minecraft sign and say goodbye to everyone before I left Vegas. It was pretty disappointing, but on the bright side, I finally got to go to sleep!
Photo 70: Actually, everything started to look like MineCraft architecture by the time the week was up...