Saturday, June 21, 2014

3D Modeling

I was flattered to be contacted by designer Raoul van Kammen (website) who took it upon himself to digitally model the Leonardo's Workshop attraction for DisneySea that I had drawn and posted here a few months ago:


And here is the progression of Raoul's stellar modeling work:




I think he brilliantly captured what I was trying to communicate for this environment.  Thanks, Raoul!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scenic Plan - Daark Valley Orphanage

UPDATE: Video at end has new scene added.

Professional illustrator Kevin Karstens has pulled off a pretty remarkable piece of ‘home-imagineering.’  Inspired by the Haunted Mansion, Kevin created an attraction called Daark Valley Orphanage – a creepier, more horror-oriented, FX-based omnimover. 

He came up with an elaborate backstory, a scene run-down and illustrated storyboards for the ride.  Then he built physical models of each scene, put together an audio soundtrack/narration and filmed a ride-through with a mini camera, complete with working special effects!  How he accomplished all of this can be seen in detail on his site.

When I came across this project, I contacted Kevin to see if he wanted to collab on a schematic for the ride, specifically an illustrative scenic ride layout.  He did, and what follows is my interpretation of the attraction:

And here is a scene-by-scene description, paraphrasing Kevin’s much more detailed synopsis.

QUEUE 0: COURTYARD: Exterior of the attraction is the once grand, now abandoned Victorian Orphanage, weeds choking the fountain, gate falling off its hinges, old gazebo.


QUEUE 1: PATH DOWN TO CELLAR: I imagined the path winding down past the rockwork cliff towards the cellar entrance.

QUEUE 2: EXHIBITS & ARTIFACTS:  In the dank cellar, the fictional TV show ‘Spectre Seekers’ has put together some exhibits and original artifacts from the tragic history of Daark Valley.

PRE-SHOW 1: SCREENING ROOM:  Here the full history of the Oprhanage (
discussing murderous Headmistress Sally) is set up, as is the Spectre Seekers TV tour.

PRE-SHOW 2: SERVICE ELEVATORS:  Moving through narrow, cave-like cellar passage, visitors will board old elevators for a disquieting FX journey up to the main level.

SCENE 0: LOADING: Straightforward.



SCENE 1: DARK WELCOME: Pitch black; intro narration; walkie-talkie chatter from TV crew.

SCENE 2: PARANORMAL PORTRAIT: Hall with grand portrait of Miss Sally… shadow hands stretch up from the darkness below as the portrait changes into a demonic face, howling in rage.


SCENE 3: SHADOW PEOPLE: An impossibly endless corridor... within the shadows on the floor and walls, figures rise and fall, their red eyes staring out at the living... whispers and mumbling can be heard...


SCENE 4: HAUNTED HALLWAY: Lightning flashes at the opposite end... along the sides of this hall, small hands can be seen attempting to 'push out' through the walls...they grow out a ways, but then retreat, defeated, as the cart slides along its path... visitors swerve to face the bay windows, long free of glass panes, their shredded curtains rippling inward from the wind of the storm outside...

SCENE 5: ATTACKING APPARITION: A long deserted hall which offers a turn to the left about 20 feet ahead... far off down the corridor a ghastly phantasm appears, roaring down the passage, arms outstretched, its shredded petticoat flapping in the breeze... the cart swerves into the opening, the ghost vanishes, cheated of its prize:



SCENE 6: VALLEY OF DESPAIR:  Three bay windows provide a view outside... visible is a seemingly 'bottomless' mist-filled valley next to the Orphanage... streaming ghost orphans can be seen flowing endlessly up out of the valley into the night sky, as lightning flashes and bolts illuminate the heavy clouds hanging over the valley.

SCENE 7: FORGOTTEN NURSERY: The cart rounds the corner, out of the blackness, and visitors have a clear view of the highly-haunted Nursery come to life.  Dirty, dusty old toys are scattered about, three rusted beds are lined up under the windows.  Situated on the floor in the center of the room, two transparent orphans roll a physically-real ball back and forth between them.


 The bed on the far right shows two alternating 'depressions' that rise and fall, as if two orphans are bouncing up and down on the bed...which they are, to an extent...

Bloody hand prints appear on one wall, letters spell out 'HELP US'...a framed painting, directly above these manifestations, changes randomly from a cherubic-faced Humpty Dumpty to a spiked-toothed nightmare.

SCENE 8: SOULTAKER SALLY:  Rounding the corner, visitors can see an open doorway (on the door, 'MISS SALLY MAPLE - ORPHANAGE HEAD MISTRESS' is visible)… lightning flashes and thunder bellows, as we see a Team Member gasping and his body lurching upward... the ghastly spectre (the same torso ghoul previously seen in the hallway, but now more clearly defined) of Sally Maple flickers into existence above him, seeming to 'pull' his body up...


SCENE 9: THE BONEYARD: Broken French doors lead onto an outdoor landing, where the heavily clouded night sky gives birth to a raging thunderstorm.  The cart moves along the landing, where we can see the former playground down below.   A rusted 'merry go round' sits broken, but this doesn't prevent the ghost orphans from endlessly revolving around in the air, slightly above the shattered device, as they chant a musical nursery rhyme...
 

Further along we see a battered swing set, a teeter totter and a sandbox...the swings rock back and forth endlessly, devoid of any visible riders, as the teeter totter moves up and down... a hopscotch game takes place…



SCENE 10: DOORWAY TO HELL: As they re-enter the orphanage, visitors find another TV Team Member slumped over a pile of debris on the floor... the wall behind him cracks and breaks apart... a swirling green blue VORTEX can be seen, as pictures on the wall start to 'swing in' towards the rift, and hanging lights are pulled in that direction, flickering, then going out...  The fallen Team Member's head rises to stare out at the passing visitors, his eyes turn RED, and his jaw unhinges to emit an angry, evil roar… The cart seems stalled, unable to resist the power of the portal... To make matters worse, the ghastly visage of Miss Maple emerges from the vortex, and she speaks for the first time, her attention now on the trespassing visitors...


She cackles a mad laugh, triumphant in her victory...Until multiple small, blue orbs burst forth from the walls surrounding the edges of the scene, swooping towards the evil Mistress.  The lights swirl around as we hear orphans' laughter.  They then converge on the ghost of the old spinster, as she is dragged wailing into the vortex... with a shudder, the cart is free!


[SWW: Since this scene required the cart to feel as if it were stuck or getting drawn in (tilt forward) - and have an important, somewhat lengthy SFX sequence unfold directly before the rider, I put in a carousel system (akin to something like those used on Imagination, Horizons or Harry Potter), where multiple, identical FX sets/screens rotate in sync with each individual cart, giving the illusion of no longer moving.  In retrospect, I think it would be much easier to accomplish this with the rotating set on the interior, rather than on the exterior (as shown) of the ride path, but I hope the idea gets across.]

SCENE 11: TV LOUNGE: Epilogue… An old television, sitting on a broken table, claims the Orphanage is safe for tourists... We know better.

SCENE 12: UNLOAD

POST 1: RETAIL:  At ground level (pre-show screening room shown below).




And for the grand finale, here is Kevin’s video ride-through (work-in-progress, shows through Scene 8) of the model he built for the attraction: 











***




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventurers Club


When the rendering of “The Hangar” – a facility at the under-construction Disney Springs - was posted on the construction walls a little while ago, I was reminded of the glow that master WDI artist Bryan Jowers gave to many of his paintings, which were often set in exotic times and places.  This got me thinking: what if a retail/dining/entertainment center like The Landing at Disney Springs had a distinctive theme, that of pulp adventure.   One of the buildings on the Springs model caught my attention when I first saw it:


 The four very tall chimneys give the building a distinctive Victorian look and my mind immediately went to what was once adjacent to this site: The Adventurers Club – the crown jewel of Pleasure Island and one of the coolest entertainment venues ever built at WDW (or anywhere else), filled with incredible theme-ing, details, special effects and populated by an eccentric cast of characters.   For some good information on this lost gem, check out articles on themerica and allears

This Four-Chimney Building looked to me like a good placeholder for a new Adventurers Club Headquarters, so I set about creating the piece of media below.  I saved myself a lot of time by painting over the official Mystic Manor portrait (I think it was by Chris Turner) to show a view of what I imagined as the dilapidated Clubhouse.  Then I painted in one of the Club Members (I believe it was ichthyologist Otis Wren who wore the white suit and red fez) surveying the Club’s new acquisition, along with a telegram.  

This has been my contribution to the cause of resurrecting the Adventurers Club.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Elevation and Colorboard

Tokyo DisneySea's Mediterranean Harbor has several sub-sections based on Italian geography.  Closest to American Waterfront are the Canals based on Venice.   In the center, where one enters the park, is Porto Paradiso, based on Portofinio Harbor and the Riviera.  The other sub-section is based on the hill towns of Tuscany.  For a top-quality photo tour of this area - and all areas - of DisneySea, I recommend sets by JeffFromHouston on Flickr:

Samples here and here.

Part of the genius of TDS' design and master plan is that it is a theme park with a layout in three dimensions.   I am reminded of the line from 'Contact': "An alien intelligence is going to be more advanced. That means efficiency functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions."  There are a number of theme parks with great master plans, but DisneySea is the only one I know of that really takes advantage of (or did so by necessity) the vertical aspect.   Stairs lead you down to boat rides below you, pathways take you, unknowingly, up over the roofs of restaurants and ride buildings, walkthrough attractions traverse three levels, and there are always alternative staircases or ramps up or down to other passages or pathways.   I don't know who or how many deserve the credit (WDI master architects Ahmad Jafari or Wing Chao?  Anyone know?), but I stand in awe of it. 

For this piece, I imagined a unique family darkride on two levels taking up part of the area used for boat/float storage: Leonardo's Workshop (a distant cousin to Mystic Manor?).  The idea is you approach an extravagant but dilapidated Renaissance structure: part 15th-century factory, part villa, part fortress.  The architecture must meld seemlessly with the surroundings and compliment the park's iconic Fortress Explorations, but also be a weenie in itself for a major attraction.  There should be some whimsy in the building (like the mechanical tower), but also stay true to the realism of the neighboring structures.  So I designed the front facade and created the main approach elevation and colorboard:



The gist of the attraction is tried and true: One queues through the workshop rooms, seeing various machines in the process of being invented, triggering effects, maybe passing through the living quarters and painting studio.  Then there is a pre-show featuring Leonardo, followed by a boarding room (DaVinci-esque ride-vehicles) for an adventure through the secret chambers of the workshop and then out into the Florentine countryside (indoors) for testing.  The ride would include a mild thrill element, but be accessible to all.  Since the footprint is limited it would take place over two major levels (its entrance is already at the upper level).

Maybe I'll post a detailed ride layout at some point.