Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to want to get to know more about the person behind the website. I thought I would break down the information into the different chapters of my life so that you can scroll and bypass the ones that may put you to sleep LOL.  As Obi Wan famously said to R2-D2… Hello there ! My name is Frank Diorio, the designer and web master of DioramaWorkshop.Com. and this is my story.
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GROWING UP IN MONTREAL

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. Yes, that makes me a CANADIAN 🙂 . I feel I grew up in the BEST decade for a kid, the 70’s were amazing. You could take your bike out to the corner store and leave your bike unlocked at the door, and still have it there when you went back outside, get pop and chips for 5 and 10 cents, you would play in the streets with your friends until darkness came and moms would call everyone in for dinner, you would anticipate the premiere of the blockbuster films on tv and be forced to watch KRAFT commercials that showed you how to squeeze cheese on crackers from of a giant shaped hot dog looking plastic thing.
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The house we lived in was in a suburb called town of mount royal, and on our street, similar to the photo below, were 8 kids the same age, kinda like Stranger Things actually 🙂 and this was before internet obviously, when kids spent all our time OUTSIDE !!! (at least until ATARI came out 🙂 riding bikes, hanging at the park swings, jungle gyms eating popsicles and drinking sippy sacs, flying kites, disco roller skating, ice skating, krazy karpeting down the mount royal and into speeding traffic LOL. Those were the days. I truly believe being a kid in the 70’s was the last GREAT decade with no special worries and stress kids feel today.
XFast forward to 2017 when I sold my loft and packed my bags and Star Wars collection to go buy a house in the maritimes, closer to family and away from big city corruption and lawyer madness. It was a rough past 4 years maybe one day I will get more into it, but let’s just say, I am now in a much better place, hence the new look of the site and finally the time to get back into the hobby full force, but I am getting ahead of myself 🙂
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1977 : THE SUMMER OF STAR WARS

I remember clear as day my best friend at the time John Gavio, who lived directly accross the street from me, ran towards me one morning waving a Starlog magazine in his hands. On the cover were two vehicles that we now know oh so well, a Tie Fighter chasing an X-Wing. John said “Frank Frank Frank, look how cool this is ! it will be the best movie ever”. I looked at the cover and said “MEH, looks boring” hahahahahaha, boy was I stupid and so so wrong 🙂
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Couple of weeks later we were on a 5 minute bus ride to cinema Cote des Neiges, $1.25 to go to the movies back then if you were under 14. I was good for another year 🙂 My life changed forever after that first screening, both hobby side and career, I was blown away. We quickly ran into the bathroom and hid in the stalls until the next show started, at which point we would sneak back in and watch it again and again and again. You could get away with that back in the day. My friends and I must have seen Star Wars more than a dozen times. So much so, that when listening to the LP soundtrack (I still have it) we could recite every line at the right cue of John Williams perfect score.
XThat summer was just too awesome, I remember just standing in the theatre lobby, absorbing every detail of the original poster, that art that is framed in my office today. The excitement of your friends coming over to watch the MAKING OF STAR WARS on TV !!! Star Wars was EVERYWHERE… Mom got me the novel, comic books, iron ons, blueprints, calendars, super 8 movie, cereal, oh and yeah… the early bird kit – my FIRST Star Wars action figures !!!
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MOM, TOYS & DIORAMAS

As a kid growing up in the 70’s I remember having lot’s cool toys pre-Star Wars like Evel Knievel Stunt cycle, Smash up Derby cars, Star Trek Mego, Space 1999 phaser water pistols, planet of the apes figures and playsets.  Yes I was spoiled as an only child (or lonely child as I joke with my friends 🙂 I will admit it 🙂 Those toys came and dissapeared after couple years. Then in 1977 EVERYTHING CHANGED. You know that small movie that came out that summer, something called STAR WARS, those toys my mom gave me, a little more yellow in the plastic but I still have them all today. As you can figure out by looking at the site, the rest is history. From that day on, I became a Action Figure collector 🙂
xI have a “greatest mom” story to share that i one of my best childhood memories… It was my 14th birthday. I woke up that morning, one eye half closed, I saw a NEW action figure next to my pillow. I was THRILLED, I rubbed my eyes to get better focus and remove the morning crusts that was stuck in the corner of my other eye LOL … ok TMI 😛 as my head tuned I saw there was a 2nd figure on my night stand. a 3rd on my dresser, wait WTF is happening ? 🙂  Then i look at my shelves on the wall, another 10 figures !!! My mom had spent months going store to store to find me the entire collection available at that point and sneaked into my room after I fell asleep to place the figures for me to discover upon my wake up. Mom, that was just AMAZING of you, I miss you and thank you for the figures but more important, that memory so imprinted in my mind like it was yesterday. 🙂
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Fast forward to 1994 when Hasbro re-launched the Star Wars toys with POWER OF THE FORCE. Well, now I was 30, with my first real “adult” good paying job, I didn’t need to ask mom to buy me something, I was now an ADULT collector 🙂 and I was gonna buy EVERY toy that had the words Star Wars on it. And I did 🙂 Well after 6-7 years of that, it became just ridiculous, there were now way too many crap stuff coming out mixed with the super cool. Who knew fans would still have stuff to buy come 2000. So I calmed down (a lot) the buy one carded buy 2 or 3 or 10 to open for dioramas. Thank god, today in 2018 I would be broke $$$ KECHING and I would have not one inch of spare space to put it all.
XBack to 1999 when Episode I toys came out, that is when I started to really go nuts with diorama displays. I had a large enough basement room in my first home that I could put shelves all around and build dioramas onto them. What you see above was my very early work that caused my colleagues at work to push me into creating my first website… NiubNiubsUniverse.com. It is still online today if you want to check it out. It was pretty rad for the time. Lot’s broken links and missing pages now but it pushed me to not only display my work, but share my tutorials, decals, blueprints etc with the fans, and from what many of you tell me today, got you started in making your own dioramas all those years ago. For when I hear that, it is really really cool and justifies all the long hours setting all that up for you. Plus how time flies !!! Niub Fans who were kids are now in their 30’s with kids of their own.
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After few years, I stopped making “shelf” dioramas and started pushing myself into making the most accurate to the movies (like the blastshield training below) as I possibly could even if it was 3 feet long while still keeping the same materials and techniques so that the fans who have been with me from the beginning (well NEW fans too of course) could continue using my tutorials and push their own limits of artisanship. This is the direction I see the site going for the advanced builders mixed with kid friendly options taken from the Star Wars Celebration diorama builders designs I create every 2 years or so.
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LOVE OF MOVIES

As a kid, I remember always loving movies. My very first film was either sound of music and bedknobs and broomsticks double feature.  After seeing 7th Voyage of Sinbad 5+ times, my mom bought me a super 8 camera when I was 10 and I started doing my own plasticine animations. Remember Jaws was my first PG movie, Exorcist had me running home from my best friends house after watching it, eyes half closed, on TV. We always watched the Oscars. I remember how PISSED I was when E.T. lost to Ghandi. PHOEY !!! how cares about Ghandi :)E.T. PHONE HOME !!!! Before Star Wars,  as a kid, it was all very simple Sci-Fi, Logan’s run, Planet of the apes, it was all cheezy fx but so much fun and good scripts which is missing in today’s movies. I actually rewatch these classics at least 1x every year. Then Star Wars came out and CHANGED summer blockbusters forever. I was fortunate to be born young enough to experience this evolution and wow, what a thrill that was.
XEvery year after 1977, a NEW movie came out (90% of the time ILM did the visual fx, they pushed the bar) that stunned and amazed the audience with it’s visual effects. Close Encounters, Alien, Poltergeist, gremlins, Young Sherlock Holmes, the Goonies, back to the future, roger Rabbit, Aliens, Robocop, it goes on and on. Every movie got better and better. Movies of the 80’s were DA BOMB 🙂 I am glad I got to see Return of the Jedi at the 1983 premiere in a long gone cinema palace, on a giant screen and have the ENTIRE audience give a STANDING OVATION after the biker chase scene. People no longer do that. I will never forget that night. Today, kids are used to every tentpole movie having a gazillion layers of CG and are so numb there is no more WOW factor we had in our youth. Even for myself, who worked in Visual FX for 20+ years, am bored of it all. Especially with the terrible scripts that get greenlit now. Don’t get me started on re-boots WAKE UP HOLLYWOOD !!! UGHHHH. – OK Deep Breath…. 🙂
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I still love movies, but I think I have become the old fart LOL and find it harder to like the movies I once did as a kid. I wish the scripts were A+ before they greenlit. Once in a while you get a great new gem like the new Apes movies, or winter soldier, or get out among the crap of suicide squad, Justice League, wonder woman (you can’t see that sword up her bum at the dinner party ? really ? LOL), Valerian – worst casting since until Solo :P, king kong, tarzan,  Young Han Solo 😛 #notmysolo LOL
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ILM & VISUAL FX

I graduated university with a BA in Graphic Design in 1991, not even 1 month after that, turns out I was at the right place at the right time as I got hired as designer/animator at one of Montreal’s top television stations. I did some corporate videos but most of the work was in opens, like the news and all kinds of local shows. My dream was always to one day work at Lucasfilm’s ILM, ever since seeing Star Wars in 1977, way back when I was 13. I knew I had to elevate the skills so I again got really lucky and changed company to go work in advertisement vfx.
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For 5 years, I did digital compositing on combustion and flame platforms, for some of the biggest commercial contracts in the city, car, beer, campaigns with million dollar budgets. The work was more intense and stressfull but exciting and I learned a lot. The company I worked for, Buzz image group, started dipping their toes in movie fx 1998 with RED VIOLIN. It was my first film that audiences loved, an art house film compared to the big summer movies yet to come, but one I am very proud of still to this day. This experience led me to few more small budget films before going to Meteor Studios Montreal. Discovery Chanel was making a sequel to their TV classic walking with dinosaurs and because of that the studio got Scooby Doo 2 animating a ghost pterodactyl. The contacts of Scooby brought me my FIRST – BIG SUMMER FILM – the FIRST to have cereal, lunchboxes, and yes… ACTION FIGURES !!! The movie was FANTASTIC FOUR. My friends make fun of me that I actually like the film, for an early superhero movie I find it still holds well as a character origin story. And because my friend went on vacation to Hawai, I got to composite the shot of a truck crashing into Thing which was a lot of fun to do.  My next movie CHANGED EVERYTHING …
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300. The entire studio was over the moon to work on this. I had never seen the comic book so I couldn’t care less 😛 UNTIL… I found out, they were flying in a supervisor from ILM. This is when I met Doug Tubach, (2nd from the left in photo #4 below, next to my friends Christophe, (doug) a young skinny me and Etienne) I thought to myself, in the year it will take to make 300, there are chances we could become friends and just maybe he could put a good word for me back in San Francisco. And that is exactly what happened 🙂
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Christmas 2007 was when I flew to San Francisco and checked off my bucket list. ILM had just left the Lucasfilm ranch  and moved into the presidio complex (the red roofs you see in photo #1) and that would be my home for the next 6 months. First time I entered the main lobby (photo #2) and scanned my I.D. Card it still didn’t feel real. Then you start walking the hallways (photo #3) and start seeing props and statues from films you may recognize 🙂 My entire youth was everywhere, One guy had the actual ENTERPRISE model from Wrath of Khan hanging over his office desk. THE 10 foot enterprise !!! original E.T. Slimer, Stormtroopers, 3P0, Han in carbonite, even a JAR JAR in carbonite. Next to my own desk was the rubber Roger Rabbit used for scale and lighting references on set, and the 8 foot tall model of THE NAKATOMI tower from the Die Hard. I had been hired to work on the first Pirates film but then was asked if I would be ok to switch to another little project… the very first (and best in my opinion) TRANSFORMERS movie. My first shot was Bumblebee but even that still didn’t hit me. it was 3 weeks in, I had just gotten back from dailies with my first compositing shot approved, I was in a great mood, I was walking down long hallway and past a stormtrooper and burst into tears. OMG I sait to myself, I am INSIDE ILM !!! I am working at ILM !!! my dream since I saw star wars 1977 was REALITY.
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After Transformers, I went straight to Celebration IV to do the Ewok Landscaping diorama builders. My friends stayed to work on Indiana Jones but I had to fly home as mom’s alzheimers had taken a quick turn for worse and we had to prepare sell the house and place her in a residence. I did return in 2009 for Terminator Salvation and then my aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimers and I now had to take care of them both. The good news from this hell situation, is that Montreal now was THE city to do Visual FX. 3 of England’s HUGE companies were opening offices here at home. MPC, CineSite and Framestore, where I worked on one of my all time fave films of my career. Edge of Tomorrow. After few more years working on other shows (you can see my IMDB PROFILE to see all the movies I worked on in my career) I decided to retire last fall. The movie industry having changed a lot for the worse in my opinion, I didn’t want to work overtime the rest of my life, plus I reached my dream of ILM. The BEST of times 🙂
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STAR WARS CELEBRATION

In 2002, Mary Franklin from Lucasfilm, gave a chance to this Montreal Star Wars Diorama Builder – that would be me  to create a Diorama Builders room in Indianapolis for STAR WARS CELEBRATION II and let fans build for FREE a GIANT MOS EISLEY Hasbro scale diorama. The end result was AMAZING – and I have been designing and producing DIORAMA BUILDERS at EVERY USA STAR WARS CELEBRATION ever since. You can read about each celebration in detail in the CONVENTION MENU. Every time we are so tired by the end and say it will be the last, until we re energize after 6 months and then say what will we build next 🙂 Also by now, my Core crew is family. To me it’s as much about getting together like summer camp than just about the dioramas which in themselves, are the most fun thing to do in a room full of Star Wars fans 🙂
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If you have attended Star Wars Celebrations and come build with us, then you are in the right place  In this FAN CLUB, we hope you will share your stories and photos of what you have created. If you haven’t had the chance yet to see us in person, well then here’s the perfect chance to look at what your fellow Star Wars fans have experienced and maybe motivate you to come join us NEXT TIME … 2019 ?
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RETIREMENT & THE FUTURE

Last winter I worked on my last film ever… ALIEN COVENANT sweet to end with a franchise that scared the pants out of me in 1979. It may not be everyone’s fave but that’s ok. It was time to leave Montreal, and at 53, I just didn’t want to work 80 hour weeks anymore in front of the computer doing stupid changes of moving one pixel to the right and one pixel to the left. The young ones can do that now 🙂 Me, I packed up and as I said in the very beginning, moved out to the east cost, in the Canadian maritimes and now I have a actual beach 5 minutes from the house. Ocean !!! I never had that ever in my life. it’s a real nice change. Very peaceful compared to the big city, actually feels like 1977 and the town of Amity in Jaws LOL. So I have returned to my childhood in sorts 🙂
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The great news, is that now I DO have the time to get back into the hobby, I DO have the time to update the site, I DO have the time to interact more with you guys and motivate others to get into the fun of making diorama displays at home for your action figure collection. So that is the plan. Let’s hang out, do some art and go to the beach … 🙂 See you around… Frank.

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So that pretty much sums up this is Frank’s life 🙂 .  Make sure to switch the Category text links on and off  if need be, and HAVE FUN !!! If you have ANY questions about the Diorama Builders workshops, you can email me at DIORAMAWORKSHOP.COM@GMAIL.COM and be happy to reply asap. I do read ALL my mail so if you don’t get a reply within 2 weeks, write again to bug me about it 🙂
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