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The Canton Project

Episode 7 - Jaynestown

The Canton Project

Postby Yellowjacket » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:07 pm

The recent announcement that Dark Cryo is going to seek crowd funding for an online Firefly game brought me to their site. The forums have a lot of people talking about various towns, planets, space station and the like for setting, so I posted a link to the Ransom Project. Dannyboy, one of the regulars on the Dark Cryo forums suggested that we might do something similar with 'Jaynestown', so that got me all fired up to tackle a map of Canton. As Mike has already pointed out the shooting locations for Jaynestown here, my starting point was pretty easy. I immediately jumped on Google Earth, and the rest, as they say, is history.

To begin the project I first took the best, high resolution images I could get off of Google Earth pro and pieced them together into one 'base map' for my template. I've already started removing parts of Santa Clarita to give the map a Rim World feel. I'll be taking most of the modern buildings out and adding in shacks, huts, water towers, etc.

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Next, I researched the episode of Jaynestown and other available materials to find the Canton locations at Sable Ranch. Here's what I have...

1 - Serenity lands at Canton. This shot of Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California was taken on August 23, 2002. I used this shot to explain Canton, because it is clearer than other shots from 2002, and early enough that it still shows the Canton filming site as near to the production of Jaynestown as possible.

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As Serenity first touches down at 2 minutes, 15 seconds seconds into Jaynestown, she comes to rest almost immediately North of the first shooting location, which I'll refer to as the 'curved ditch' from here forward.

1a - In reality, the CGI scene of Serenity was shot from a different direction from within the curved ditch looking out, Point 1a shows the most likely point of the camera in relation to the CGI Serenity. This speculated shot is based on the trees in the shot which have been at the location from 2002 until now. It is likely that they did this to avoid capturing any part of Santa Clarita in the background.

Image examples from 'still-flying.net'

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2 - The crew departs the ship via the ramp facing South towards the curved ditch and the line of dead bamboo stands which line it's banks. Several vehicles are seen passing by between Serenity and the ditch and the production team maximized the use of extras by filling the tree line with moving people. It should be noted that all the shots facing into Serenity (including the lowering of the ramp) were shot on the sound stage which housed the Serenity set.

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All of the shots facing towards the ditch were shot with the portable ramp.

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These were seamlessly pieced together from the two locations through the use of lighting and the addition of bushes and rocks. You can see these ridiculously green bushes and random rocks in the opening and closing scenes at Canton and on the soundstage.

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3 - The cast enters the curved ditch (outlined in red) and are met by the 'Foreman', played by actor Jordan Lund. The Foreman takes them through the curved ditch area and on to 'pond 1'.

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4 - The location of Pond 1 (outlined in orange) is identified by its relative position to the ditch and the buildings in the background. Towards the end of the conversation with the Foreman, a small tin roofed building and a larger reddish roofed building can be seen in the background. These two buildings are easily identified on the Sable Ranch maps. The Foreman gestures towards the buildings as he tells Simon that they 'brick' the mud right on site, so I'll refer to this grouping of buildings as the 'bricking yard' (4a)

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During the time of shooting in 2002, a livestock paddock (4b) could be seen in the background of the same shots, but it was removed sometime after 2009. Also, the area surrounding the curved ditch on the North and East side has been heavily developed since 2002. In ten short years many structures have been built there, including a water park that appears abandoned.

5 - Yep, Canton, Pond 1 and the Curved Ditch are the same place. You see, they filmed the shots of Canton in the Curved Ditch and Pond 1 among the dead bamboo stands while the area was bone dry. In most of the Google Earth shots, including many from 2002, the locations are dry, so the shots with the Mudders working were done towards the end of shooting for Jaynestown once they flooded the place with water.

Once you know this, the 'streets' of Canton are easy to spot, as most of the shots of the 'town' are along the dry Curved Ditch and the North end of Pond 1. The curved north end of Pond 1 is most likely the 'town square', as it is the largest open depression near the dead bamboo stands. The location allowed the crew that dressed the set of Canton to take advantage of the side banks of Pond 1 and the Curved Ditch. Little hut like doors lined the banks to give the impression of underground dwellings. The curved ditch has the advantage of a disappearing line of sight, so that it gives the impression of a large place disappearing around the bend.

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The bar set was on a sound stage, so they built a little portable dome like exit on location at the Curved Ditch, so that it would appear that the cast was coming up from the bar below ground.

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6- This is most likely where Jayne's statue stood during shooting.

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7 - Pond 2 (outlined in yellow) is the most likely location for the night shots when Stitch Hessian (played by Kevin Gage) is released from the hot box. In the scene we see a green, murky pond surrounded by large trees. There are two other ponds which could theoretically be the hot box location, but Pond 2 is convenient to both the Canton set and the main road. The night shots of the hot box and the town cheering Jayne for the first time were probably shot on the same night, also for convenience.

8 - Of course, the large 'hacienda' house on the ranch is the shooting location for Governor Higgins' home and can be plainly seen today.

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Now that I've explained the locations of Canton, I'm faced with the problem of building an accurate ariel map of the fabled 'Jaynestown' for two reasons. One, the better detailed images of 2011 are missing some of the finer parts of Canton, so I'll have to use early and late maps. And Two, the mud pits and the town occupy the same physical location. These aren't huge obstacles by themselves, since most fan built diagrams and maps are base on approximations and guesses, but I have my work cut out for me.

Sadly, much of the site has changed since the shooting of Jaynestown, as seen below in the 2011 image from Google Earth. I had one day hoped to visit the stands of bamboo and look down into the streets of Canton.

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As you can see above, the Canton town site in the Curved Ditch and among the bamboo stands is completely gone, though Pond 1 remains. It is a dry depression near the bricking yard which only has standing water in wetter months. The following timeline of Jaynestown from 1994 until 2011 clearly demonstrates how much can change over the course of a few years.

May 31, 1994
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April 21, 2003:
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December 3, 2005:
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March 15, 2006:
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July 27, 2008:
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November 14, 2009
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July 15, 2011
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Whew. This is just what I needed. More obsession fuel.
Last edited by Yellowjacket on Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Canton Project

Postby AZSneed » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:20 am

William, another ambitious project, and with you doing it, it will be ultra shiny!
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Re: The Canton Project

Postby Bronson BB » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:34 pm

Oh, holey Big Balls, man!
I think 'Canton is the current shooting location for Wipeout!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wipeout_%2 ... me_show%29

That's no water park, it's a water obstacle course!!
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Re: The Canton Project

Postby Yellowjacket » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:28 pm

That's too funny, but you know what would have been more fun? A Mudders version of Wipeout.
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