Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm not really sure if anyone ever reads this blog, seeing as how it hasn't been updated in a year and a half and was never super popular in the first place, but on the off chance that someone does a Google search for "Disneyland 3D model" and clicks on the first result, I thought I'd explain just a bit.

This blog once hosted this little project of mine, but progress stalled as I reached the limits of the information available to me - and the limits of what my computer could handle in terms of complexity. Around the same time, I realized that Disney is an environment where I could see myself functioning professionally at some point, and I decided I rather not shoot myself in the foot by spilling Disney's secrets all over the Internet.

So yes. If anyone from Disney happens to be reading this, rest assured that I'm no longer in the business of promulgating every tidbit of backstagey knowledge I come across. :) I still think that understanding the way the parks are put together is a valid interest for fans and a crucial requirement (obviously) for actually designing and operating them, but I also understand that Disney attempts to keep backstage under wraps for a variety of very good reasons. I've also come to what I believe is a more realistic, well-rounded attitude toward backstage, mostly due to a number of (legal) real-world backstage experiences I've had in the last few years.

Still, for those who enjoy these sorts of things, have fun with projects of your own! It's rewarding to research a topic as thoroughly as you can and then create something with that knowledge. And if there's anyone who is sad to no longer be able to view updates on this project, focus that energy toward correcting the problem by working on your own projects. I started my model because I was inspired by other fans' models, but disappointed by certain things they weren't doing. I learned a whole new piece of software, collected information from every public source and fellow fan that I could, and created the model that I'd wanted others to make. You can do the same if you want. =)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Change of plans...

Well, so much for that. =P Right around the time I obtained my new Indy resources, I realized I was going to need to get to work on another 3D project, one that's not really Disneyland related. This is an original project, actually - the concept is one I'm developing with a team of 9 others, and one of my tasks is to put it all together into a sweet model that would instantly make anyone go, "Yeah...let's build that." So I've been working at it a lot for the last week or two, and it's paying off...things are looking pretty great, and I'm learning a lot, but there's definitely a lot left to do. Once we've presented this project at Imagineering (!!!) in March, I'll probably post some renders and perhaps even some flythroughs, just for the sake of showing some of my original work, rather than keeping it to myself as I often do.

HOWEVER, once this project has come to its thrilling conclusion, I do intend to get back to work on the Indy queue. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Renders coming...hopefully!

Hello hello hello! I'm so sorry it's been so long...I've still been taking somewhat of a break from this project, largely due to my computer having trouble working with such a complex file. In the mean time, I've mostly been working on music projects. (If anyone is interested in obtaining my homemade replica of the type of 8-staff sketch paper John Williams uses to write his film scores, just ask...) But I've recently procured some new resources that are providing a wealth of new information about the Indiana Jones queue, and specifically about its backstage areas, so I just can't help myself. Although I unfortunately can't share exactly what I've obtained, suffice it to say that although I did nothing illegal, I now have some cool information that I've yet to see anywhere online, and I look forward to sharing it with all of you via the model! :)

Thus far, I've fixed some of the berm areas and retaining adjacent to the queue, added a ventilator on the queue building roof, and built a small footbridge that leads from the roof to the nearby Jungle Cruise berm. I've also increased the height of the roof further north. Lots more details to add and correct...hopefully, I'll be posting some renders before too long. Expect updated textures, improved interfaces between backstage and onstage, and more details in areas that are very well hidden from the onstage world.

See you soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Side projects

I apologize for the lack of updates, folks! Work has been a little slow on the model, I'm afraid. I started running out of things I could do for Soarin', and I wasn't feeling like working on the main model, and then I was struck by a need to start painting in Photoshop again. So I've been doing a lot of 2D artwork of late, and not much 3D. (If you'd like, you can check out some of my recent paintings here.) I also recorded and posted some piano recordings to my YouTube channel yesterday. If you like Star Trek, Michael Giacchino, and/or piano renditions of film scores, you should check out these 5 Star Trek recordings, starting with the one simply entitled..."Star Trek." The others are longer, mind you.

But through all these side project, fear not - history tells us that I always come back to the Disneyland 3D model before too long. As you may have noticed in the CURRENT FOCUSES box, I've put some work into an interesting little side project, too. The Shipley-Lydecker house was a real mansion in Baltimore that was demolished sometime between 1957 and 1971, a photo of which was the primary inspiration for the exterior of the Haunted Mansion. I've matched the camera angle of that one good photo of the house and built a model of it, using aerial photos to make sure its scale is identical to that of the real model. This will allow me to do interesting comparisons between the house and the Haunted Mansion facade, as well as simply see the house from lots of different angles. I hope to do another post soon with lots of renders.

On a side note...I ordered myself a 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator the other day! I first tried out one of these little beauties in the "Holodeck" at Google's campus, and I instantly fell in love with how it enables you to navigate through 3D spaces in a fluid, dynamic, flexible way. It's compatible with all the 3D apps I currently use with any frequency (Blender, Google Earth, Bing Maps 3D, SketchUp, NASA World Wind), and I intend to make constant gleeful use of it. Only problem is that it probably won't arrive till the end of the week. =P It'll actually be a bit of a race to see which will arrive first - my SpaceNavigator, or the new Haunted Mansion soundtrack that I'd ordered over DelivEARS a few days earlier?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Soarin'

Well, what the heck. I'm still working on Soarin'. My first order of business after the last post was adding the pairs of columns that support each theater. I then textured the screen with the blue lighting scheme Disney uses during loading and unloading. I had to reproduce that look, since there aren't any photos of the whole screen due to its insane size, and the light is poor in there anyway. So I collected reference photos and then put together this image in Photoshop from scratch:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Pretty close, n'est-ce pas? I UV-mapped this to the domed screens and set up their material so that lights in the model wouldn't affect it. (With this setup, you can also see the image from the back of the screen, which is how the screen actually is in real life, or so I'm told.) I also added the black walls that surround the screen, and rudimentary versions of the walls of part of the queue between the two screens. The floor of the loading areas received some preliminary texturing - a shiny, off-white concrete look - and I also built the lower floor next to and under the screens, which I believe is a shiny black. You can see all these changes in this render:

But that's not all, folks. See, I started getting this hankering to add a rather important part of the attraction: the ride vehicles themselves. Although the US patent office has some pretty interesting schematics of the hang gliders, they're not quite the same as the ones Disney built for the attractions, so I found appropriate photos and more or less traced over them in 3D. Now all the vehicles sit in place as they should. I did cheat a little, though...two of the rows in each theater are supposed to have nine seats instead of ten, but to keep things simpler, I just squeezed those same ten seats to be a little narrower. I'm lazy! =P

The other changes visible in this render are the safety railing along the front of the loading area and a large grid texture applied on top of the concrete-looking floor. Luckily, I was able to reuse a grid image I'd made for some other texture in the main model, so, in the words of a certain famous button, "that was easy!"

What won't be easy, however, is adding all the machinery above the vehicles that lifts them up toward the screen. No idea if I'll even make an attempt at that. However, I would like to set up a basic animation so that the vehicles will levitate up into their appropriate positions. More on that as things progress.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inside Soarin' over California

Well, the main model has just gotten so clogged due to ironwork and large images and so forth that I've been taking a bit of a break from it. The good news is that I've done some digital painting instead, which has been fun, and now I've started the interior of Soarin' in a different file, just for kicks. This is especially helpful because I've been slowly developing an alternate concept for the exterior, queue, and loading area.

Now, I'm working from blurry blueprints of the WDW version, so if I start getting too detailed, there are bound to be mistakes, but the interiors of both versions' main show buildings are identical in size and shape, so everything I've got so far should be pretty spot-on. One thing I'm not too confident in, however, is the shape of the screen. The overall scale and curvature are correct, and I THINK the bottom half is totally spot-on, but I'm not positive about the way the edges bend forward at the top. If you've got photos, blueprints, personal observations, or anything else that might help me understand the shape of the screens more completely, your help would be greatly appreciated. =D

Notice how the two theaters are just mirror images of each other. The queue will run between them and then along their outer edges. You can already see the long, rectangular structures that I believe house the projectors.

One thing I've learned already is that the Anaheim version is half underground! I never really thought about the fact that you enter the building at ground level and then continually descend a lot of ramps until you enter the loading area. But seeing the blueprints made it obvious that nearly half the building's height is below ground level. (This is not the case in the Epcot version, however, which is located all aboveground.) In fact, when you first walk into the building, half of each screen is lower than the level where you are.

Anyway, I'm done with Pirates or anything. I just need some time to mull over how I'm gonna coerce my machine into handling the ever-increasing complexity of the model.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Technical difficulties

Well, I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news. The good news is that the ironwork on the front of the Pirates facade is basically finished - excluding the stuff on the curved stairways, that is. In fact, here's the proof!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

The bad news is the reason why you're seeing Blender's non-rendered preview here instead of a fully rendered image. Uh...Blender is crashing when I try to render views of the facade, and it's the ironwork's fault. This is, as you can imagine, problematic. And I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. Worst case scenario, I hide the ironwork and work on other stuff until I get better hardware someday. But I'd rather not have to hide all this hard work I've done...I had to correct numerous photos for perspective distortion, line them up in the model, and manually trace over them in Blender.

Sigh...we'll see what happens. I've certainly got plenty of other stuff I can work on.