All posts by Ben Watkins

Planet Comicon 2015: Photo Albums plus Jail n Bail pics

Thursday Setup and Friday

Some of the Brass Engine crew arrived Thursday to set up the steampunk area and make preparations for opening day of Planet Comicon. After the time machine and some tables with props were set up, the crew retired to a local bar and grill to relax and prepare themselves for what lied ahead.

Friday was an exhilarating success! As the crowd of thousands poured into the convention center, the steampunk area was one of the first things they would see and experience. We felt honored to be front and center in such a huge arena. So many folks admired the props and asked for their picture on the time machine (see Time Machine photos here!). When the convention closed on Friday, we all made the short walk to a local mexican restaurant to celebrate the birthday of our very own Steampunk Vader.

Ben and Larry (with some help from a few other Brass Engine members) built a time machine to bring to Planet Comicon. (Click the image for the full album)



Just like any other convention we attend, there will always be shenanigans. One of the big reasons we decided to make the Steamworks and Shadows web series was how much fun we had being in character. Of course, Saturday was also filled with some of the best cosplays, and we even got a steampunk group photo in front of the time machine!

Shenanigans! Judge questions Mac’s desire to sip on a fruity drink and wear a floral bonnet. (Click the image to see the full album)




The last day of a convention is always the hardest. You’re completely exhausted, but it’s been such a wild ride that you push yourself to make it through one more day. We photographed even more amazing cosplays, and even got our photo with the Delorean from Back to the Future!

That’s right, it’s Layla and a gender-bent Throttle from Biker mice from Mars! (Click the image to see the full album)


Want to see higher res photos? You can also view the albums on our Google+ page!


Charity Jail n Bail

Did you get “arrested” for charity during Planet Comicon weekend? We’ve got the photos of all our jailbirds on facebook!

Click the image to visit the full album, and tag yourself!



Episode 6 – A Daring Rescue is out now!

In this episode of Steamworks and Shadows, the steampunk web series, the crew of the Airship Vindus set out on a daring mission to retrieve the kidnapped Professor Lloyd from the villainous clutches of the Academiae Veritas.

Will the crew finally succeed at the mission given to them by JP Morgan? Watch and find out in this new installment of the steampunk web series!

You can also watch on

Behind the Scenes Blog:

Greetings, Steamworks fans! This is Director Ben Watkins. I’ve decided to write out a short blog entry for some behind the scenes of Episode 6, “A Daring Rescue”, written by Joe Myers.


Story Flow

The scenes were rearranged in editing to tell a more visual story. In script, the Vuitton-Coates conversation happened at the end of the episode, similar to our previous episodes where you would see Vuitton at the very end of the episode. For this episode, however, I felt that the excitement building with the cliffhanger for Judge, Gunny, Carlisle, and Tobias was very powerful, and any scene put in after that would take away from it. At first, I put the entire villainous conversation at the front of the episode, but it seemed to drag on too long. After getting some secondary opinions from the production crew, we finally settled on splitting the conversation into two parts.


All of the scenes, except the interior airship scene, were filmed in Blackwater MO. Blackwater is a small tourist town in Missouri, not far from Columbia. They have some historic buildings, and a gunfight show that happens on occasion. The Vuitton-Coates scene was filmed behind the Iron Horse Hotel, on their restaurant patio. Audio was especially difficult for that scene, since the AC unit is also on the patio. The Gunny-Judge-Umbra scene was filmed inside a grain tower next to the railroad tracks in Blackwater. The grain tower had one large open room that was great for filming. The Carlisle-Tobias-Fulgur scenes were filmed just outside the same grain tower, on the railroad tracks. Filming took longer than expected, since a train would come through Blackwater about once per hour. It sort of felt like playing street hockey, and having to grab everything and run out of the way when a car was coming.

Special FX

The effects for this episode were somewhat more difficult than other episodes, since there was a lot of things that had to be created, and made to look like they fit in the scene. First, there was Judge’s flashlight. I actually never got around to making the flashlight work for real, so I had to create a light beam in After Effects with no fancy expensive plugins. I probably spent more time learning how to do convincing light beams in three dimensions than it took to create the final effect. The lightning effects for Fulgur took from 5-8 layers of effects for each clip. It took a lot of tweaking on the lightning to make it look like it fit the scene, and didn’t stick out too much.

Stay tuned for behind the scenes photos and blooper reel!

New S&S Steampunk Shorts Series – Story Time with Sunitori!

Although we are still in the midst of releasing Season one of the official web series, ideas continue to flow for new films. Over the course of the next few months, we will be producing a few new series of shorts, featuring characters from all over the S&S universe. The first series is all about the Hand of Glory Gang, the notorious thieves and constant pain for the Vindus and the Marshals.

Sunitori, the right hand of Adrian Colt, dreams of being much more than just another thief in the Hand of Glory gang. For this first short, Sunitori would like to tell you a tale of epic proportions. So sit back, and enjoy Story Time with Sunitori!

Episode 5: Searching for clues in the forest and in books, plus bloopers and behind the scenes photos

In the fifth installment of the steampunk web series Steamworks and Shadows, the crew of the Vindus has divided into two groups. The first is on a mission in the Arcadian Forest, looking for signs of Professor Lloyd. The other remains on the ship, trying to break a secret code in a book they found at the Masquerade.

Will either team uncover the secret information they seek? Find out in this episode of our steampunk web series.

The reason we make films is because it’s fun. So of course, our escapades in filming are full of shenanigans. Enjoy some bloopers below!

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Airship Vindus Turns 2 – A Steampunk Family Grown Beyond An Airship (Special Art by Cristin Thompson-Watkins)

On July 4, 2012, Airship Vindus was born. The day was spent at a crew member’s house, plotting out the details of what would become known as the Vindus. Ben Watkins devised the name Vindus, which the latin roots of the word can be interpreted as “the vine with teeth”. Kevin Purvis designed the overall look and size of what would be the ship.

Though, a name and a drawing of a vessel doesn’t make an Airship. The interesting collective of people and their characters is what made Airship Vindus. Over the last two years, we’ve expanded our Vindus family to include the Ben Watkins and Joe Myers creation, Steamworks and Shadows. While they may not all be “Official Vindus Crew”, they are all part of our steampunk family here in the Midwest.

To those that have been part of the various Airship Vindus projects, or just watched from afar and supported us, we thank you. How far we’ve come and where we’re going would not be possible without the amazing people that have helped to shape the Vindus and Steamworks and Shadows.

As a special tribute to this day of remembrance of our roots, Cristin Thompson-Watkins created an inspired work of art to represent our time together.

Click for full resolution
Click for full resolution

Here’s to another two years of growth in our steampunk family!