Travels with Rich
After 23 years in the travel industry, Rich Rubin has seen it all and has been almost everywhere. Now that font of information is available to everyone, as Rich and his cameraman Doug explore the highways and byways of America, one road at a time.

“Travels with Rich” is a TV travel series like nothing you have seen, as we pick a road and travel it from one end to the other, exploring all the unusual sites along the way. For example, we might follow Highway 101 down the edge of the West Coast or find out what still remains of Route 66 or retrace the steps (by car) of Lewis and Clark.

Or, we can get out our passports and head for parts truly unknown. And let’s not forget a tour of all the National Parks and Rich’s own unique system of ratings! We can visit all the sites that used to host World’s Fairs, and see what they are like today compared to when the Fair was the center of attention. The possibilities are as long as the highways.

Each trip would be told over 4 to 6 episodes. Rich’s ascerbic yet friendly personality will keep us informed and laughing along the way, as he avoids the obvious tourist traps and focuses on the small road-side attractions, museums and points of interest that could easily have been overlooked by the more casual traveler. Additional information will be supplied by cleverly animated maps that help to tell the whole story of these fun-filled adventures.

TRAVELS WITH RICH promises to be a journey you will not want to miss!

Keeping a Float
It all started in 1955 with a single, modest entry in a well established and time-honored parade. Now, over 50 years later, the small town of Battle Ground, Washington continues the tradition with award-winning floats in the Portland, Oregon Grand Floral Parade.

The Grand Floral Parade is the 2nd largest of its kind and is televised nationally. Every float must be completely covered in flowers, seeds, or some other organic material. All the floats are built, at least partially, by one professional float-building company in Portland. All of them, except one.

Battle Ground is a town with a strong sense of independence and community involvement. It comes as no surprise that people with all sorts of skills and divergent personalities come together in a flurry of activity whose result is a moving work of art.

Aberle Films has had the privilege of videotaping the float-building process since 2002, recording the triumphs and tribulations of this annual event. And keep in mind that this show is not really about either the event or the town… it’s about the people, and the struggles that manifest themselves throughout this process. Personality conflicts, financial pressures, legal ramifications and conflicting schedules all come into play. In 2002, while the float was being towed the 30 miles from Portland to Battle Ground after the parade, the float’s spare tire came loose and bounced across the freeway, damaging several cars and resulting in the near loss of the float association’s insurance. In 2003 the float took 2nd place overall, edging out all but one of the professionally built floats. But the float was positioned last, and because of numerous breakdowns by other floats during the course of the parade, by the time the Battle Ground float made it to the street the television broadcast had ended in favor of an infomercial. The TV station received over 300 e-mail protests, and the next year the Battle Ground float was first in the parade.

In 2006, Battle Ground did the impossible...their float won the Sweepstakes award, making it the best float in the entire parade. All this, while declaring itself independent from the long-time sponsorship of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce and its former administrator, who has been indicted for misappropriation of funds.

Aberle Films invites you to ride along through the last five years (soon to be six years) of this amazing annual event. Each “year” would become 6 to 8 half-hour episodes, highlighting the trials and tribulations, wonders and delights of building a community-sponsored float every year. Interviews would highlight each episode, from the welders and designers and flower decorators, to the head of the Portland Rose Festival association. Visit the people it takes to make this all come together. And learn how the tradition is being passed on to the next generation of float builders.

Welcome to SPACE!, a proposed series of 13 half hour animated educational episodes about the nature of space and everything contained within, told in a warm, whimsical manner that kids will enjoy while they learn.

It is the story of Wendel, a 11 year old boy about 75 years in the future who has his own space ship that can travel to anywhere in just a matter of moments. All the facts about space itself, however, are real. Along with a funny, overbearing computer that appears as a face in the control panel, Wendel sets off to visit planets and asteroids and moons. He will learn about different atmospheres, and why gravity works, and what the sun is made of. And he will explore other stars and galaxies, and wonder about how it all began.

SPACE! combines both stop-motion animation and state-of-the-art computer effects into an informative yet delightful show. The first episode is a tour of the planets in our solar system, stopping briefly at each to learn the highlights then progress on to the next. Other episodes will explore each of these planets more carefully, as well as teach us about the stars, galaxies, how gravity works, the life cycle of our sun, and how the Universe was created and how it might end. We could also explore comets, terraform Mars, and even visit planets in other solar systems and what might be going on in the center of our sun.

The wonder of SPACE! is that we can explore, at a moment’s notice, any part of the Universe we want and still be home for dinner. Wendel’s ship has the ability to travel at any speed he wishes, and through time as well. We can visit ancient astronomers, watch the first moon landing, or be there billions of years from now when the sun expands and swallows the Earth.

Scary? Maybe. But Wendel and Face (his computer/teacher) make it all understandable and even enjoyable. So sit back and enjoy this wild ride!

ANIMATION: Art that Moves
Animation is a truly incredible form of communication. During this 6-part half hour television series, master animator and director Doug Aberle will take you on a journey into a world where drawings and puppets and computer images seem to come to life. With the help of his Pipe Cleaner friends and easy-to–understand graphics, Doug will explore each phase of the animation process.

We start with the Science of Animation, and cover the history of animation from cave drawings to various devices designed to make drawings move, to the invention of film and it’s use by the first animators. Doug will show, in simple illustrated terms and graphics, how animation (and film itself for that matter) works, and how it has changed and developed over the last 100 years. He will also illustrate how the science has changed, from blackboard drawings to paper to clear “cels” to computer scanning and coloring. Animation involves almost all the sciences, from math to chemistry to optics to paleontology to engineering to electronics to aerodynamics to …well, you get the idea.

The next step is the Art of Animation, and covers the actual techniques and practices used to make animation not only work, but work well. Doug will cover timing, registration, squash and stretch… all the things needed to make animation move convincingly. He will also cover the different styles and methods of animation, including (but not limited to) cel, stop-motion, puppet, sand, clay and computer animation.

We then cover the Practice of Animation; those little things that are so rarely seen or taught, but are very important to know… like where to get supplies, how to build a simple animation stand, what is an armature, what are the affordable programs for computer animation, and how do they compare? Doug will also discuss storyboarding, reference film, sound recording and script writing.

We will also be visiting animation studios throughout the country, comparing styles, techniques, and the latest developments in both the science and the art of animation. Every studio is different, and every studio has it’s own way of working. There is only one rule of animation, and that is that there are no rules to animations….just very strong suggestions.

So come join us on an adventure into art that moves.

CHIP the Rock Hammer
Chip is a rock hammer who teaches children about the Earth Sciences in a way that is both fun and informative. It is the “fun” that makes the information memorable and encourages both children and adults to learn more.

This series of 13 half hour episodes begins with Chip The Rock Hammer in the lab, illustrating the nature of the earth sciences, like geology, paleontology, volcanology, anthropology, and ecology. Then he moves out into the field for practical demonstrations of the things just discussed in the lab.

Chip is a computer-animated rock hammer with a positive attitude and just a touch of clumsiness. Along with his friend , the Magic White Board, he can talk about and demonstrate many scientific subjects and, at times, he’s been known to actually jump into the whiteboard for a hands-on demonstration. This technique helps to get him personally involved, like when he showed us the history of the earth compressed into a single year, or when he had to stop an erupting volcano on the white board from destroying his own lab.

The first episode, “Earth Stories: Paleontology”, already exists as an award-winning educational video. It received the Independent Spirit Award from the International Family Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2003 and later that year received the Platinum Award of Excellence from the respected Oppenheim Toy Catalogue. Many endorsements from educators followed and teachers continue to purchase this video as a supplementary aid for their classrooms.

Chip is an easy-to-understand method of introducing children to the earth sciences, one that they will remember for a long time to come.

WIRE WE HERE? The Adventures of the Pipe Cleaner People
What if you lived in a world where everything you knew wasn’t quite what it seemed to be? Welcome to the world of the Pipe Cleaner People! The Dottlesons are a family not unlike any other, but with one big difference: they occasionally become aware that there is a world beyond their shallow cardboard existence.

Based on a series of internationally award-winning short films, these characters have delighted audiences over. They have even appeared on Sesame Strees. Despite the normally high cost of stop-motion animation, the Pipe Cleaner People are relatively inexpensive because…, well, they are pipe cleaners, living in a cardboard world.

Dad is a good father, but firmly believes that he is in control of his life when it is very clear that he is not, and because of this, he flusters easily. Mom is a backyard archeologist… literally, and she has the layered hold to prove it! She is part pussycat, and part drill sergeant. Sis wants to be an astronaut and won’t let anyone stand in her way, not even her own good sense. Junior tries hard to be a normal kid, but he’s confused by the fact that he is usually the only one to see the weird anomalies in their world. And Baby is well, just a baby, after all.

Within this world come Edith and Edna, the next-door neighbors who have a crashed UFO in their basement; The Greens, who live across the street in the green house who are mirror images of the Dottleson Family; and Earl, the myopic neighbor on the other side, whose gruff exterior hides a hideous personality.

Each episode would be ½ hour long, and highlight a personal or family problem that might end up having ramifications in the outside world.

Have you ever had a really good idea and just couldn’t get the point across to someone else, no matter how hard you tried? Well, now imagine that you are a dog.

FLUFFY is an animated comedy series all about the nature of communication, and how it’s so easy to get it all wrong. Suppose you CAN solve all the world’s problems. How do you get that idea across when all you can do is bark?

Fluffy is an energetic and enthusiastic young dog who sees life as a challenge to be conquered, even if he doesn’t understand most of it. All these stories will be told from a dog’s point-of-view, in a world where they understand each other, but they have no idea what the humans are trying to say. It’s classic mis-communication at its best… or worst.

The stories will revolve around Fluffy and his friends, and how they interpret the world of humans in their own special manner. Dumont is the basset next door, but he prefers to be called “Woof”. He’s a big gentle lovable dog, but everyone always assumes he’s depressed, which really ticks him off. Felicia is the poodle across the street. Fluffy would gladly dodge through traffic for her any day, but Felicia has a slight speech problem: she can understand human, but not dog. That frustration alone has Fluffy drop-kicking moles until sunrise. And let’s not forget Squirt, Fluffy’s nephew, who easily lives up to his name), and constantly gets Fluffy into trouble.

Fluffy is based on the internationally award-winning short animated film by Doug Aberle that was received at Siggraph (the computer graphics convention) with a standing ovation. The shapes are simple and easy to animate on the computer, and the look of the film, as though each frame was printed on parchment paper (which it was) is unique.

Each episode will contain 2 separate stories, and each will delve into a problem that can eventually be solved by good communication skills and working together.

In 1935, 16-year old Ernie Amundson had had enough of school. That summer, when his friend Elmer Buntz suggested that they hop a train and go see his uncle in Wiappe, Idaho, Ernie agreed. Mind you, they didn’t exactly know how to “hop a train”, so they went down to the station and climbed into an empty boxcar. When the train started moving, they realized that they didn’t even know where it was going! Between them they had a map, $10 and a knife. They took turns during the night keeping watch, and holding the knife so that other tramps wouldn’t get the jump on them. To top it all off, the two sixteen year-olds hadn’t even told their parents what they were doing, or where they were going.

Experience Ernie’s adventures as he travels first from Miles City, Montana to Wiappe, Idaho, and beyond. Sometimes the other tramps or hoboes helped them learn how to avoid trouble and sometimes the other tramps were the trouble. Always a restless young man, Ernie traveled the rails, joined the C.C.C. looking for work and enjoying his adventures. The first time he returned home to his family, his father didn’t recognize him and thought he was a burglar.

This is the story of a likeable young man coming of age during the Depression of the 1930’s, when many were out of work and people would still feed a hungry stranger who came to the back door. Hear it being told by Ernie himself, in his own words, over seventy years later. And relive with him a time when he would ride the rails.

Lightning Man: Tesla and the 1893 World’s Fair
There are times in human history when events seem to all come together for a brief moment, and mankind seems to focus, think, and then leap ahead, waiting for the next focal point. A moment when great people and great ideas seem to be all in the same place at the same time. One such moment was the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

This is also the story of the inventor Nikola Tesla and how the events at the Chicago World’s fair shaped both his life and the direction of technology for the rest of the world. Never heard of Tesla? Most people haven’t, yet he invented the power that comes into your house. He invented remote control, fluorescent lighting, and radio (not Marconi, as most people believe. The Supreme Court said so in 1943). His Tesla coil has a descendant that lives inside most desktop computer monitors. And he spent his life working on a plan to literally broadcast power to every home and factory in the world.

In 1892, Tesla and Westinghouse, who had leased Tesla’s patent for the generator that makes alternating current (AC),were preparing a bid for wiring and lighting the Chicago World’s Fair, scheduled to open the next year. Also bidding for the same contract was Thomas Edison, who believed that the best power was direct current (DC), despite it’s inability to travel through a wire for long distances. In fact, Edison went out of his way to frighten people away from AC power; he would pay neighborhood children 25 cents to bring him stray dogs and cats, which he would then electrocute using AC power. After many tests he developed the Electric Chair, to show everyone how dangerous alternating current was.

Tesla fought back. He would put on vivid demonstrations of the safe use of alternating current, allowing the electricity to ripple and flow over his body. He would often shoot lightning bolts out of the ends of his carefully-protected fingertips. In the end, Tesla and Westinghouse won the contract, underbidding Edison by almost a million dollars. When they began work, it was discovered that Edison held the patent on the light bulb, so Westinghouse was forced to design their own light…it didn’t last very long, but they got around Edison’s patent and just replaced a lot of bulbs every night.

Called the White City, the fair was a marvel to look at and its influence lasted for decades. People attending the fair included Teddy Roosevelt (before he was a “rough rider” or president), a young Frank Lloyd Wright (who hated the architecture), and L. Frank Baum, who used it as the inspiration for The Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz”. Buffalo Bill had his wild west show set up just outside one of the entrances. George Washington Ferris was building a 26-story wheel that would visually rival the Eiffel Tower; each carriage was the size of a railway car and when filled it would hold over a thousand people. Scott Joplin first performed ragtime at the bandstand, but his music was often drowned out by John Phillip Sousa performing in the nearby concert hall. And just a few blocks away, Herman Mudget rented rooms to weary visitors, then killed them and experimented with their corpses. His 100 room mansion was outfitted with gas chambers, trap doors, acid vats, lime pits fake walls and secret entrances. Some say he killed over 200 people.

The heart of the story centers around Tesla and his impact at the fair. His demonstrations attracted huge crowds, despite the fact that the Westinghouse display and the Edison display were right next to each other. And Tesla had quirks of his own. He couldn’t stand to touch someone’s hair, and he tended to do things in multiples of three. He was tall and thin, almost the antithesis of George Westinghouse, who was shorter, large, and had a gregarious personality. Together they made the World's fair a spectacle of light, especially at night. And because of their success, they were awarded the contract for building hydroelectric generators at Niagra Falls, some of which are still operating to this day. It is a powerful tale of greed, envy, and power, and how the inventions of a forgotten inventor changed the world.