Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Racing Legends LA Times Article


Today the LA Times had an interview with the Creative Director at Mousetrappe behind the Ferrari Experience attractions.  They also posted a few photos of the rides.  The stills aren't from the scenes I worked on, but it's fun to finally see some hi-res images of the actual footage.  Here's a description of the experience from the article:

Racing Legends, Mousetrappe’s other Ferrari Land attraction, combines Universal’s Simpsons simulator ride experience with the test drive conceit of Epcot’s Test Track in Florida. Built by Britain-based Simworx, the domed screen and motion simulator attraction features wind, water and aroma effects.
Riders climb into one of 10 Ferrari F1 race cars arrayed before a 75-foot diameter domed screen.  The backstory places riders in a Ferrari racing simulator used to train up-and-coming drivers on race tracks from any era. 
The journey starts in present-day Spain behind the wheel of a Ferrari F1 on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Traveling back in time, the car company’s founder, Enzo Ferrari, battles up a bumpy and muddy 1919 hill-climb race in Parma, Italy. The time-traveling race continues in 1960 on the banked corners of Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza, hopping over perilous hills at Germany’s Nürburgring in 1975 and ducking and weaving on the Circuit de Mónaco course in present day. Graphics-heavy computer transitions call up each new course. 
Theme park fantasy takes over near the end of the trip with a Formula 1 car speeding through several scent-centric near misses on the streets of Rome and a futuristic concept car trek on a Speed Racer-like looping course. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

FLASHBACK: Ray Harryhausen


Enjoying the start of summer, today I finally cracked open my DVD of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.  I love this movie and can still remember the first time I saw it - actually, it's among my earliest movie-watching memories...along with Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  It was a summer night and my family had just returned to the house at night.  Coming up from the garage, my dad and I stayed in the basement and when we turned on the TV "The Beast" had just begun.  I was instantly sucked in and stayed in the basement glued to that television set till the last minute of the movie.  It was such impactful film for me that I even referenced it and showed a clip during my initial interview/lecture at APSU.

So naturally, one of the more amazing moments I've had in my career was being able to meet Ray Harryhausen, the man responsible for animating the stop-motion Beast along with dozens and dozen of classic movie creatures.  Back in 2006 Heather's boss at the time was Craig Barron at Matte World Digital.  He was friends with Harry and hosted a night with him at the San Rafael Theater screening The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.  Joining the two of them on stage was Phil Tippet, the also-legendary stop-motion animator from ILM and owner of Tippet Studios.  It was a great night - Ray brought one of the famous and original skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts and afterwards we got to meet him and get his autograph.

That's one of the biggest advantages of living in a big city where (at least at that time) a thriving vfx/animation industry is happening.  There's many opportunities to meet people who helped shape your history to the movies.  Being able to see them in person and shake their hand really brings the movies home.  You feel part of the history.


Monday, May 22, 2017

"Racing Legends" Ride Footage


There was a few articles going around about the company that built the vehicles for Racing Legends.  I've also seen a few videos getting posted of the ride footage.  I worked on the first scene, the Rome one, and the final futuristic one.  It's fun to see the final footage in context.  Apparently in additional to the vehicles moving, they also have "4D" effects like wind and water mist during the ride.  Pretty fun to get an idea of the omni theater setup.


I also ran across some promotional posters that a design company produced for Mousetrappe for use in the attractions.  It was a series of travel posters for many of the areas visited over the course of the attractions.  It's just fun to see all the peripheral design that goes on with any attraction.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Heather's "Happily Ever After"




Heather has been able to once again work on a theme park show - this time its the brand new nighttime fireworks show at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.  Called Happily Ever After it premiers tonight!

Check out more of the behind the scenes clips below - it looks like it's going to be one hell of a show. They are bringing in just about every disney character ever and creating original 2D animations for the show.  Heather has been helping Mousetrappe create the background projections that will be displayed on the castle.  This is as close as you can come to traveling back in time and getting the chance to work on Aladdin, Lion King, or the other classics of the "Disney Renaissance"

I'm so damn proud of her!








Wednesday, May 10, 2017

End of the Semester and 2nd Year


Well, another semester (and year) at APSU has wrapped.  I'm still getting used to the idea of having months off of work in the summer!  It was quite the transition year - literally transitioning to our new building.  I think we all had a form of senior-itis trying to wrap up the semester in the old building knowing this awesome facility is empty and waiting just a few yards away. The last week of finals and the following week consisted of moving the equipment from the old Mac labs to the new ones.  My sons came with me one day and we played frisbee outside the new building - the quintessential college activity.

One last thing to share - something I ran across while cleaning out the old computer lab.  Drawn on the white board was this cartoon (yes, that character is me). As you can see, my students first semester diving into Maya was met with....a few technical hurdles and learning curve.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Golden Moose & Gaming


At the end of last year I had a wonderful time working with the new Golden Moose Studios on a game prototype.  It was going to be a stylized narrative-driven PC game.  While it was an amazing concept and looking great, for a variety of reasons it was put on hold.  Karin, the CEO, has posted a couple of insightful and fascinating blog posts about the development process and the subsequent shelving of the game. It's been interesting to be a part of this while also reading on the reflections and insights after the fact.

Read the posts HERE (Part 1: Prototype) and HERE (Part 2: Reboot)

I can't say enough wonderful things about working with them.  I'm excited to see where they go next and encourage everyone to follow their blog.  Speaking of which, Karin also posted another great blog post about applying for jobs and their thoughts after looking through over a hundred applications in just a few days.  I think it's essential reading for anyone in the video game, animation, or vfx business!

Check that one out HERE (Job Application Tips)