Tag Archives: #Photography

The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Star Wars Celebration Europe (SWCE, July 14-17, 2016) ended with a much-anticipated panel featuring the upcoming Star Wars films, Star Wars Episode VIII and Han Solo.

SWCE Ep. VIII and Han Solo Director Panel

Pablo Hidalgo hosted a panel featuring Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm President) and Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL).  First up: writer-director Rian Johnson discussed the filming of Episode VIII (code named: Space Bear).

(This article was initially published on LaughingPlace.com after Star Wars Celebration Europe, on September 20, 2016). 

A New Look from Lucasfilm: Star Wars Episode VIII delves deeper into character

Kathleen Kennedy is very happy with their choice of director. “Rian moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.”  And she doesn’t say that lightly.

Rian Johnson’s goal was to “tell a story that feels alive right now.”  Writing for Episode VIII corresponded with principle photography for Episode VII.  Johnson spent six weeks working on Story at Lucasfilm, watching ‘dailies’ of Episode VII with Kennedy and Hart to ensure continuity of story details.

Pablo Hidalgo’s hint: to impress leaders at Lucasfilm, bring homemade ice cream (Rian Johnson did).

Johnson was influenced deeply by classic Hollywood films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, Twelve O’Clock High, Letter Never Sent, Three Outlaw Samurai, and Sahara (Humphrey Bogart version).  He had the Episode VIII story team (Kathleen, Kiri, and Pablo) watch these films together ‘like a film camp’ for inspiration developing Story on VIII.

“We are gonna end up breaking kind of a longstanding Star Wars tradition, and for the first time, Continue reading The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

The world of Geek Fashion has blossomed, thanks in big part to Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe.  This was my article published July 29, 2016 on LaughingPlace.com reporting from San Diego Comic-Con’s Her Universe Fashion Show!

her-universe-fashion-show-runway-2016

The third annual Her Universe Fashion Show was an absolute runway success at Comic-Con 2016. Growing each year, the Her Universe Fashion Show returned with 27 Finalists premiering their Geek Couture gowns to a packed ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on July 21, 2016.

For the first time, the entire audition-to-runway process was recorded as a docu-series on Comic-Con HQ, a novel video-on-demand channel.  Also new this year was also an open call audition at Hollywood & Highland a few months before Comic-Con.  Contestants had an opportunity to present their designs, explaining their ideas in front of the panel of judges.

This year’s Fashion Show was a joint effort between Her Universe, Hot Topic, Blondie Girl Productions, Espionage Cosmetics, and Comic-Con HQ.

“27 contestants. 4 weeks. 1 dream.”

all-finalists-on-stage-2016

Winners of the Fashion Show receive an opportunity to develop their own fangirl clothing line in collaboration with Her Universe, to be sold exclusively at Hot Topic stores nationwide.

In previous years, there were two winners of each fashion show: one Judges’ Choice, and one Audience Choice.  This year, a third winner was announced on July 28, 2016, based on voting online with Comic-Con HQ.

Meet Ashley Eckstein, Founder of Her Universe.

Ashley Eckstein has been a popular on-screen and voice actor, with screen credits including Muffy from That’s So Raven, and Ahsoka from Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.  During recording for Clone Wars, Ashley noticed that there really wasn’t anything for her to wear except for boys’ T-shirts when she wanted to show her fandom.

ashley-signing-at-sw-celebration

Ashley set out to create a Star Wars clothing line for women, and pitched this idea to Lucasfilm, who turned her down. She did not have enough experience creating a clothing line.

This did not discourage our favorite Fangirl.  Ashley did her research, partnered with The Araca Group (a merchandising and production firm), and pitched her idea again.  In 2010, Lucasfilm granted Her Universe a license.

Continue reading Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on July 25, 2016.

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 is in the books, but the shockwaves are still resonating like an ion cannon.  Lucasfilm shared their latest news with fans from around the world who congregated in London July 15-17, 2016 for a Celebration to be remembered.

Star Wars Celebration Europe after Rogue One Panel
Star Wars Celebration Europe Rogue One Panel

Rogue One was certainly THE highly-anticipated panel, and Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm and Rogue One Producer) did not disappoint.  Accompanied by Gareth Edwards (Director), Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL), and John Knoll (Executive Producer), Kathy welcomed us to the new world of stand-alone Star Wars films.

Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma, and our host for this panel) opened with a moment of silence for the lives lost the night before in the terror attack in Nice, France.

Rogue One, the first stand-alone Star Wars film.

The production team was initially concerned about whether there needed to be more introduction for Rogue One.  It is the first of the planned “stand-alone” Star Wars stories (not part of the saga trilogies Episodes IV-VI, Episodes I-III, Episodes VII-IX).

From early screenings, Lucasfilm realized that fans understood immediately where Rogue One fit into the Star Wars timeline.  This is the story of how the first Death Star plans were stolen; many lives were lost to get this intel to the Rebel base, to set up Luke Skywalker’s mission in Episode IV.

John Knoll (Executive Producer) developed the idea for Rogue One as a Mission Impossible-style story during the filming of Episode III in Sydney.  While this story did not fit in with the live action Star Wars TV series planned back then, an opportunity arose when Disney announced a whole new set of Star Wars films.

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards as Director

Kathleen Kennedy described her visits to the set during the filming process of Rogue One.  When she looked for director Gareth Edwards, she consistently found him with “a camera on his shoulder” trying to capture “different angles.”  His style creates an “immersive” experience for the viewer unlike any other.

Continue reading Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

What have we been up to? Hint: Shanghai Disneyland

 

Sunset At Shanghai Disneyland Castle
Sunset At Shanghai Disneyland Castle

 

Some of you may have been wondering why we have not posted here recently.   So, what have we been up to?  We have been writing articles for LaughingPlace.com.

Recent adventures took us to Asia — and Shanghai Disneyland — in May,  where we were able to preview the coming attractions.

We have now seen all six Disney castles  (Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and now Shanghai).  If you hadn’t considered Shanghai before, this should be on your list!

These are links to our articles on LaughingPlace.com

5 Must See Attractions Unique to Shanghai Disneyland :

This article will help prioritize not-to-be-missed moments when you arrive at Shanghai Disneyland.

Answers to 10 Essential Questions About Shanghai Disneyland:

Essential knowledge for questions you didn’t even know you had, but will be glad you know.

 

Stay tuned for more!  We will share the full articles on this website soon!

 

Making Your New Year’s Travelutions

As we ring in the New Year, everyone talks about making resolutions — how about “Travelutions”?

“Travelutions” — travel resolutions. Set a goal to explore a new place in 2016!

Perhaps it is a dream vacation from your bucket list. Or a local treasure you’ve been meaning to see.

We were blessed to travel extensively in 2015, logging about 70,000 flight miles and visiting 13 different countries.

Where do you dream of going? Please let us know if we can help you reach your “Travelutions” in 2016!

Fishing dock at Les Andelys, France

At the end of your life, would you ever wish you spent more time at work? Usually, people wish they had spent more time making memories with their families, or exploring unfulfilled dreams.

Time. We all have a limited amount of time. As we say goodbye to 2015, we are reminded of the passing of another year.

What have we accomplished? What legacy have we built to leave behind?

Continue reading Making Your New Year’s Travelutions

Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

 

Come with us as we share a pictorial tour of the (much coveted) over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows of Disney’s Polynesian resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Hotel has been a premiere property at the Disney World resort since it opened.  Located on the monorail track of the Magic Kingdom, it is a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.

Polynesian Bungalow Outside walkway

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) added Villas and the Bora Bora Bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.

There are twenty Bungalows, built over the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  They are accessed by specially-keyed, gated boardwalks on the northeast side of the resort property.

Each bungalow has two bedrooms (but the equivalent DVC points cost is equivalent to a 3-bedroom unit).

Here is a map layout of the Bungalows by room number, and the Polynesian Resort buildings (click to enlarge).

Continue reading Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.  Disney Vacation Club added Villas and the over-the-water bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
We had the chance to stay in a studio villa at the Polynesian in June, and wanted to share our impressions.  There are four Disney Vacation Club (DVC) buildings at the Polynesian: Moorea (waterfront), Pago Pago, the newly-opened Tokelau, and of course, the Bora Bora over-the-water Bungalows.
All the main buildings have only studios (as opposed to other DVC accommodations that have studio, 1-,  2-, and even 3-bedroom configurations).  These were converted over from previous Polynesian hotel rooms.
Polynesian Moorea Building
Polynesian Moorea Building

Continue reading Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

 

The Avalon Impression (2014) is a beautiful new ship in the Avalon fleet.  I am reviewing this as a ‘hotel’ because it is your floating hotel along the rivers of Europe.  Our cruise sailed from Budapest, Hungary to Amsterdam (14 days) in August 2015, and was filled with many surprising ups and downs.

Avalon Impression
Avalon Impression
The Small Ship Difference

This was our first river cruise.  We had been on many ocean cruises, ranging from 3600 passengers to ‘small ships’ of about 650 passengers.  This was much smaller.

The Avalon Impression holds about 166 passengers — there were 150 passengers on our sailing.  The Impression has 67 Suites, and 16 outside staterooms with windows (lower, Indigo deck)

The front desk reception (also your Security team), knows each passenger by name and stateroom number.  There is a lost and found, where things that are lost might actually get found!

You get to know your fellow passengers with only 150 people on board.  River cruise passengers tend to be friendly, social people who want to get to know you.  If you don’t enjoy meeting new people, then river cruising will be more challenging for you than ocean cruising.

Avalon Impression Panorama Suite
Avalon Impression Panorama Suite, photo from the Avalon Waterways Website
Suites and Bathrooms

The Panorama Suite cabins are large with beds that face French balconies that open up almost wall-to-wall.  This French balcony design maximizes your personal cabin space, Continue reading Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

Hotel Review: Westin Europa & Regina, Venice Italy

 

We have all had some fantastic hotel experiences — whether it was the service, the location, or commemorating a special event …. and then perhaps some not so great hotel experiences.
In this series, I want to share with you some of the hotels that I have experienced.
It is a pleasure to share with you my review of The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy.  This hotel is a gem in the heart of San Marco, and is conveniently located near museums and transportation options.
Westin Regina lobby flowers
Westin Regina lobby flowers
Westin Europa & Regina, Venezia
Last stay: May 2015
Rating Scale, for reference:
1=poor
3=average
5=great
6=exceptional (rare ranking)
NE = no experience
Price — 4.  Venice is expensive, and this is the best-value Starwood hotel in central Venezia.
Westin Europa & Regina view from the Grand Canal
Westin Europa & Regina view from the Grand Canal

Hotel Location — 6.  Closer to Piazza San Marco than any other Starwood property, there are only 2 bridges to traverse from the Alilaguna stop to hotel.

Ideally located on the Grand Canal directly across from the iconic Santa Maria de la Salute church… It doesn’t get better than this.

Continue reading Hotel Review: Westin Europa & Regina, Venice Italy

10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler

 

Smartphones are indispensable in our daily lives.  While in our country, I can check the weather, plan a route home that avoids traffic, research restaurant reviews, and update my Facebook account (not while driving of course) without thinking twice about how to connect to a network.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have shared in previous blogs (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel and 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘Airplane’ mode while out of the country.

Therefore, it is very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here, I share some more apps I have found particularly useful while traveling.

Currency App Pic

Currency – (Free) or XE Currency (Free).

Having a foreign exchange app is important to understand how much you’re actually getting for your dollar.  Before traveling, check the exchange rate of the countries that you will be visiting.  Updated currency exchange rates can be updated with a Wi-Fi connection while abroad.  Right now, the euro is incredibly low against the US dollar.  Time to go to Europe!! Continue reading 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler